We recently purchased a toy kitchen set for our older daughter. And when I say cute, I mean this thing is freaking cute. I was stifling the urge to elbow her out of the way so I could play with it. (Just kidding folks, I don't actually "elbow" my kids). These things didn't exist back in the Stone Age when yours truly was growing up.
While I was growing up, I absolutely loved Barbie. I would beg my mother for a new Barbie every time we ventured into the toy department. As soon as we neared those Pepto Bismol-pink displays, I would get butterflies and daydream of Barbie's and my next adventure together.
Back in the day when yours truly was just getting comfortable in my own skin circa the mid-90s, I realized something which would soon exasperate me to no end, but which I found pretty cool at the time: I was taller than every other girl in my class and as tall or taller than some of the boys. I thought it would keep boys from picking on me, but instead some of them (the runts) were intimidated by me. All the girls secretly envied me, telling me wistfully that I could be a runway model, given my height and (stick) figure. What they didn’t know about was the tearful frustration of a teenage girl who wanted to look cute in clothes that were always too short everywhere—sleeves, legs—or hung like a tent when going up a size. It was incorrectly assumed that I must be an expert at basketball and volleyball, but when the cat was out of the bag, I would hang my head in shame.
In school plays and dance recitals, I was always in the back “so the others can be seen.” Strangers meeting me for the first time would glance quickly down at my feet before returning their gaze to my face, convinced for a second I must have been wearing skanky stilettos or the chunkiest of platforms.
It’s even worse when I take trips to India to visit relatives, and I’m taller than the average Indian male, who is around 5’6″. I’m taller than both of my parents, all of my girlfriends, and most of their husbands.
So you can see why I’m feeling frustrated all over again for my elder daughter Pumpkin, who is almost 3 years old. She has inherited her tall height from me and her few-inches-taller-than-me father, and people who see her automatically assume she’s much older than she actually is, which doesn’t seem like a big deal–except she’s not “caught up” developmentally.
At the park:
(Talking to another mom while Pumpkin plays with a random little boy who is only two-thirds her height but about 2 years old)
“Your daughter doesn’t even climb yet?”
“Uh, no, she’s only 18 months.”
“Wow,” she says. “Wow.”
Storytime at the library:
“We have a kindergartner here today!”
(Me looking behind my back) “Uh, what?”
“She’s in kindergarten, right?”
“First grade? Second..?” She sees the skepticism on my face and falters.
“She’s two-and-a-half,” I say, looking her straight in the eye.
The librarian stunned, asks, “Really? Two-and-a-half?” She shakes her head. “What are you feeding her?”
And the most annoying one of all:
“Why doesn’t she talk in full sentences yet?”
(Tearing out fistfuls of hair) “Because she’s not as old as she looks, dammit!”
Pumpkin’s pediatrician warned us at her 2-year checkup to ignore the other parents who would mistake her for a child a year or two older. At the time we laughed and shrugged it off. We were so young and foolish. Not only is it annoying, but at times truly hurtful when others think my child is “slow”, when honestly, she is so bright it makes me want to burst with pride.
I guess she has a few more years of this, and then pretty soon she’ll be intimidating the boys like her mama!
(Or playing the tree in the school play. Ugh.)
*The title of this post is adapted from the song title, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies
Also from the Handbook:
So it came as no surprise that, last week, when a preview for this year’s competition appeared on TV, I laughed to myself and promised I wouldn’t watch—again. I also laughed because I saw that Chris Harrison (of The Bachelor fame) would be co-hosting. To be fair, I do watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette, even though we have a nickname for Chris (Hint: It starts with “P” and rhymes with “wimp”).
But I digress.
What did come as a surprise, however, was reading yesterday in the news (I realize I must be the last to know) that an Indian-American contestant had won the title. Her name is Nina Davuluri, and her parents hail from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Nina is from Syracuse, and entered the competition representing her home state of New York. Nina’s win unleashed a hostile and racist stream of comments on Twitter, calling her “Muslim”, “Arab”, and accusing her of having terrorist links.
[Insert eyeroll here.]
Nina, who is classically trained in Bharatanatyam and performed a dance during the talent portion, reportedly brushed off the comments, saying that first and foremost, she considers herself American.
- The First Indian-American Miss America Has Racists Very, Very Confused (theatlanticwire.com)
I read this online with Peanut perched on my knee, and let my mind wander. I am also a first-generation Indian American. During my lifetime so far, I have only begun to see a shift in the Indian population in the US, from a minority status, known only for running convenience stores and driving taxis, to full-on ubiquity: running corporations and driving sales, to saving lives, starring in movies and television, and holding public office. Analysts predict that in about 30 years, Caucasians will no longer be the majority demographic.
And by the time my daughters are my age now, that word minority will most likely be in the dumpster—for them, at least..
Also from the Handbook:
To this day, I still don’t know how she learned that.
Once, as I finished reading her a story, I closed the back cover while announcing, “The end!”
“Again!” she squealed. She leaned forward and tapped the center of the front cover repeatedly. “Again, again!”
She was doing the same thing she usually does when she wants to replay a video on my phone.
I felt kind of bad, to be honest.
Speaking of phones, the only kind she has really seen are touchscreen smartphones. I still refuse to buy a tablet so she can have the genuine experience of flipping through pages of a real book instead of swiping across a screen.
While I’m eternally grateful there was no Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube when I was in high school, I wonder what social media or technology will be in place when she comes of age (hopefully none, but I guess I’m asking for the moon). I still stand by my prediction that there will be no more Facebook within 10 years, although a site like this would’ve been nice back when I was younger. Meanwhile, there is a special space reserved in a museum somewhere for the future acquisition of my laptop and phone.
Oh well…technology marches on!
Also from the Handbook:
We took our girls to the San Francisco Zoo, excited to point out real animals to Pumpkin, animals she had only thus far seen in My Big Book of Animals.
Despite some inconveniences, such as difficult parking, small and ill-placed exhibit signage and a very hectic food court, my girls had a fun time on their first visit to the zoo.
If you are planning a visit to the San Francisco Zoo, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Come early. The parking lot fills up very fast on days with pleasant weather, and after that only paid valet parking is available if you want to park near the zoo entrance. Another reason to arrive at opening is to actually be able to see most of the animals. After about 12 noon, most of them are asleep or hiding after their midday meal.
2. Pick up a map. Maps are provided at the entrance and we consulted ours on more than one occasion to navigate the zoo. The signage is not clearly placed, and we went in circles a few times in order to find our way around.
3. Bring your own lunch. The Leaping Lemur Café is more of a zoo than the actual zoo! It’s structured like a food court, but all three counters are right next to each other causing a mess of a line, not to mention confusion. The food is way overpriced, the music blaring, and by the time you receive your tray and turn around, you would be lucky to find a place to sit, as the sitting area is very crowded. We did in fact grab a table as soon as another family had vacated it, but if I had known ahead of time how hectic it would be, I would’ve brought lunch instead. If you have little ones, I don’t think highchairs would be available either (I didn’t see any).
Overall, the grounds are very stroller-friendly, so no worries there. We did have fun posing and taking photos with the animals, and we definitely got our workout in for the day. Pumpkin enjoyed being outdoors, and although this zoo has no “effant” (elephant) she was excited to see a real live “ghee-affe” (giraffe)!
Also from the Handbook: