Adopted Miracles – My New Book

June 3, 2014

Adopted Miracles CoverSomebody asked me the other day whether it had now sunk in that I am an author twice over.

Let me tell you: It’s not like becoming a mother twice over. Of course you could ask what would I know about that, considering I became a mother to both my kids at the same time, them being twins. But still. It’s only a book, after all.

No, I don’t really mean it that way. A book is important. This particular book is particularly important. It’s an extremely personal narrative. You could say I have bared my heart in it. Perhaps, if you don’t mind an overly dramatic turn of phrase, you could even say I’ve bared my soul. I’ve talked about wanting to be a mother, about trying to be a mother, about failing to become a mother and about, eventually, adopting to become a mother. I’ve talked about wanting something so much it hurt and about not being able to have it and then about finding a way to it. It wasn’t an easy book to write. I hope it isn’t an easy book to read. It isn’t meant to be easy.

It is meant to reach out. It is meant to tell other people in a similar situation, you are not alone. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And I’ve made it through. And so can you. If you are open to it, if you are honest with yourself and each other, you can make adoption work for you too. I don’t want to preach or persuade. I am not an activist for adoption. I only want to say, if you are considering adoption, here’s my story, to add to your consideration.

This book was written back in 2009, before I went back to work. It took me a couple of months to put it together. It took me a couple of years to find a publisher. In fact, I had all but given up, when things suddenly fell in place, thanks to my agent Kanishka Gupta, who actually got me a contract for this book in an incredibly short time.

After that, it’s taken a full two years for the book to hit the shelves. In the last couple of months, I was hearing “next week” or “end of the month” for quite a while. So by the time it was actually available online (I don’t know about bookstores; I don’t go to bookstores anymore unless it’s for a book launch or signings or something meaningful like that. 😛 ) there was more a sense of “oh, finally!” than “oh, wow!”

The “oh, wow!” factor comes from people who’ve read the book and got back to me. And here’s some of the things people have told me in writing.

Actually I was overwhelmed. On a number of levels:- Firstly, you went through all this!  Then you wrote about it all! It takes guts to share your innermost feelings with the world. Its probably easier to talk to strangers than it is to “let in” the people you know. Specially the negative thoughts and feelings one has. and how one deals or learns to deal with them. Then, the writing bit – was beautiful. It was almost like I was with you on the entire journey. Don’t know how you do it. Even with the travelogue, the words were graphic. Beautiful writing (even if its just me saying so) – if the reader is able to visualize what you write.  The last few sentences of the book – “the you are not my mother anyway” – was scary! Hits you in the gut! So, sharing your worst fears – hats off to you.  The details of the adoption bit, the legal details, the processes – great starting point for anyone interested in adoption. Last but not the least, great going on the adoption. Everyone loves their own. But to take someone else’s and make them your own – only few special kind can do it and do it well.

-Aparna Garg

I read the book today in 4 hrs (just got it today morning)! Hard to put it down, nice book for people who wish to adopt (or in general going through tough decisions). Very well written indeed and I know I am repeating myself, if is amazing how you express your feelings so well!

-Prakash Krishnamachari

Read the kindle version of the book written by your wife. Please share my compliments with your wife. She has written it very nicely. I rarely read books and especially drop many of them after reading few pages if I donot find it interesting, engaging and more importantly meaningful. However with this one it was a different case. I read it in one go 😊. By the way never knew that your champions are adopted. The thought never came in my mind that they look different ( learnt that such things happen after seeing a movie called skin and after meeting many families where kids do look different). I really liked the approach you both have taken with them. Mitali & I never see adoption the way most of Indians see. Probably It’s because we are staying outside India. Proud of you and your wife. Inspiring to see that you both are so open and in fact doing such a big service to the society by sharing your experience.  Touched indeed.

-Viswanath Kamat

I read Anamika’s book in two sittings. It’s well written. I felt as if she was sitting in front and talking to me. Do congratulate her from our side. It’s quite silly some of the questions people ask of parents who adopt. Here, adoption is more prevalent. I know of a handful of couples who adopted here, including our close friends and our lawyer, although in India I only know of you. I think Anamika broke a glass wall by writing this book. I can see many people wanting to talk to her and you about your experience.

-Siddharth Saran

And of course, nishitak has reviewed my book on her blog.

I treasure these lovely words – each one of them and the others that were told to me verbally and now live only in my memory. As a writer, I have confidence in my ability. I don’t need to look for external validation. I don’t need my readers to tell me I write well. I know I write well. But as an author, I do need to know from my readers if my book has touched them in any way. That’s not an ability that I can take for granted.

So, if you’ve read my latest – or even my previous – book and there’s anything you want to share, please write to me or post a comment. So far, I’m happy to say I’ve received mostly glowing reviews. But if you have any adverse comments, feel free to let me know. Those are the points of view that show me how to improve.

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Too Good To Be True

June 10, 2011

So you remember how our last expedition to the passport office ended, right? We had to get letters from the agency with the kids’ photos pasted on them, which we’d got very quickly – by Monday, in fact. But it was Thursday evening before I managed to really make up my mind to go to the Passport office the next morning. And that meant, on Thursday night at 9.30, Amit was out visiting our neighbours and getting their consent to put their names and addresses on the Personal Particulars Forms. We filled up the forms – two per child – and even managed to find out their height without waking them up from sleep. As to eye colour, we weren’t very certain. Amit said brown, but I thought black. The other particulars weren’t too difficult, with one minor exception – Applicant’s signature.

Four year olds, even if they are close to five than to four, can’t sign. So presumably we would need to put thumb prints. This posed two problems. First, neither one of us knew which thumb (or finger, for that matter) needed to be printed. I was under the impression that it was the left thumb, but I couldn’t swear on it.

In any case, it was irrelevant, because the other problem was that we didn’t happen to have an ink pad handy. When it’s 10 p.m. and the kids are going to go to school at 7 a.m., taking their thumbs along with them, the chances of getting one’s hands on an ink pad are rather slim, and so are the chances of getting the required thumb prints.

It’s most frustrating when you have firmly made up your mind to undertake a tedious chore, to find that you will not be able to do it. So when I had packed the kids off the school this morning, and Amit had found his way home after tennis, we wondered whether we should to ahead anyway, without the thumb prints. The Personal Particulars forms didn’t actually mention anything about a thumb print. Amit checked the online version of the form and found that it did mention thumbprints – left for males and right for females – but the forms we had had been given to us by the Policy Section of the passport office, and they didn’t mention thumb prints. Could we just sign for the Applicant and be done with it?

Amit called the 1-800 number, but we had to wait till 8 a.m. to get a person on the other end. The person said, of course, that thumb prints were required. I had picked up my laptop case and was almost out of the door heading for office when Amit called me back. “Let’s try anyway,” he said.

So off I went, expecting a long drive, a long wait, and not much joy at the end of it.

The first two parts were as expected. I waited in queue from 9 till 10. I got token number 139 and 140 – quite a bit worse than last time. I entered and whizzed past the waiting hordes straight to the Policy section, where there were only two people ahead of me. I showed the letter, and was told to go to Counter 10 on the first floor and get it uploaded. That took a quick five minutes. By the time I got back to the Policy section, there was a queue of 20 people. The security officer took my form and pushed it through ahead of whoever was at the window. Then I spent half an hour or so sitting at the edge of my seat, waiting. At last, the name “Nayantara” was called. I jumped up.

“The particulars for both applicants are the same,” said the woman at the counter. “Are they twins?”

I confirmed that they were twins and sat down again. Five minutes later, “Nayantara” was called again. I jumped up again.

At this point, there were four people at the window. Two or three had been called, and one was the person who was actually being served at the time. Security was trying to get some people to clear away, but the women behind the window wanted all of us there. One woman looked at me and said, “The passport is sent for printing. It will be delivered to you.”

I gaped at her. Was she really talking to me? They hadn’t seen the originals of the letters yet. They hadn’t asked for the Personal Particulars form. They hadn’t pointed out a hundred problems in the forms, including the lack of the thumb impression. They hadn’t said Police Verification would be required in Pondicherry and Bangalore.

“Um… it’s gone for printing?” I asked, stupidly.

“Yes,” said the woman shortly. I could see that she was mentally moving on to the next person.

“How long will it take?” – I needed to keep her talking while I thought of what else I should ask.

“Two weeks.” Still thinking of the next person.

“I don’t have to do anything else?”

This time she actually looked at me, as if to say, “What are you, stupid?” “No,” she said.

As I stumbled off, still in a daze, it occurred to me to wonder if they had processed Mrinalinee’s passport as well. They hadn’t mentioned her name even once. But that, of course, could be because they didn’t know how to say it – they saw the M and the R and they got worried and went on to the next name, which has nicely alternating consonants and vowels and which, moreover, is the name of a Tamilian actress, or so I have been informed, and therefore perhaps not such a strange concoction to them.

A couple of hours later, Amit checked the status on the Net. Both passports were shown as approved today and sent for printing. If all goes well, we’ll have them in hand in a couple of weeks. It’s hard to believe, what with the missing thumb prints and everything, but this might just become a reality sometime soon.

Still,  we’re not celebrating just yet. You never know – another trip to the Passport Office could very well be written into our future.


Passport Update: Four Months Later…

May 31, 2011

It’s unbelievable that we let four whole months pass by since our initial attempt to get the kids’ passports. And out of four whole months, two whole months were summer holidays, when we could have picked any day to go to the passport office without having to yank the kids out of school. Yet we waited till the very last day of the summer holidays.

We knew it would be drudgery taking the kids to the passport office. Amit left home at 6.15 a.m. to get into the queue early. There were only 30-40 people ahead of him. The token counter would open at 9.30 and would issue up to 250 tokens or until 10.30 a.m., whichever came first, so there was a bit of urgency to reach early. I intended to reach with the kids only around 9.30, but traffic was surprisingly light, so I left home at 8.15 and reached at 8.50. Much too early. Only after I reached, did Amit leave his place in the queue long enough to find out that he was in the wrong queue. He took a place in another queue – now there were 100+ people ahead of him.

The downpour last night made the long wait bearable. The kids and I found some deep shade to sit in, and I took out their colouring books, so they were happy for a bit. I’d also carried lots of snacks and some water, preparing for a longish siege, which was just as well. We got our tokens just after 10 – 105 and 106. Now we could go indoors. There was a huge hall with lots of chairs and a few fans. Luckily, it still wasn’t very hot. There was drinking water and toilets which were – at that early hour – quite clean. There were seven counters, but only two were manned (by women, actually, so can one say “womanned”?). They were on token 9 and 10 when we got in. By 11.30, they were at token 40 and 41. At this rate, we’d be here at least until 3 – and that’s without counting on a lunch break. The kids were behaving well, but that couldn’t last very long.

Amit went up to the counter and asked them if they would expedite our case. They agreed, and five minutes later, they were done with us. Not that we were done, of course. Something was scribbled on our forms and we were directed to the Policy section on the second floor.

Here there were only a handful of people. Our turn came in less than five minutes. The woman at the counter barely heard us out and told Amit to go around to the room behind; the kids needn’t go. In a few minutes Amit was back. It wasn’t all bad. According to the passport office requirements, adopted children should have their photo on the court order. In our case, there was no photo. The Policy folks said that if we could get a letter from the adoption agency with the photo pasted, that would do. If we could come back tomorrow, the same token number would hold. If not, we’d have to get a token again, but we wouldn’t have to go to the ground floor section, where we’d spent an hour and a half waiting. And we needn’t bring the kids.

So right now, there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic. We should be able to get the letter soon enough – at any rate, a whole lot sooner than getting the judge to stick a photo on the order. The only hitch is that they want to do the police verification for the kids. Normally, it seems, they don’t bother for minors. In our case, they will do the police verification in both Bangalore and Pondicherry. That could take some time. Apparently, we’d better not plan on taking a foreign vacation any time this year.


Blame It On Adoption

November 22, 2010

The other day, a friend was talking about someone she knew who was having trouble conceiving, but didn’t want to adopt. Her reason for being very convinced that she didn’t want to adopt was that she knew someone else who had adopted a boy who had grown up to be a “delinquent” and was “criminally-minded”.

But wait.

My friend and I went on to talk of other things, so I don’t know what exactly the delinquency and criminal mindedness involved, what were the possible causes of it, and whether there was any possible resolution… but unless it was behavior that had a clearly psychiatric root (like schizophrenia, or OCD, or multiple personality disorder or somesuch*) it couldn’t possibly be blamed on the misguided boy’s genes, could it? You couldn’t possibly say, “Oh, he’s adopted, he has petty thievery, or arson or whatever in his genes. That’s why he’s like this.”

I’m not even saying that adoption itself could not have influenced the boy’s behavior in any way. Perhaps there were complex psychological reasons that drove him to “delinquency” that were somehow tangled up with the fact of his adoption (assuming he knew; or worse, suspected). As far as I know, he was not adopted at an older age, when he might have seen, understood, and been affected by many things in his former life; I think he was adopted as an infant, so the adoption was prior to his earliest conscious memories and experiences. There are those who argue that the scars of abandonment and subsequent adoption are terrible and permanent even on very young infants, and this might be true, but certainly they wouldn’t be conscious scars that could lead to certain types of thoughts and actions in that boy. After all, not all, nor even (as far as I know) many or most, of adopted children turn “delinquent”.

And besides. When you blame the adopted child’s unknown genetic ancestry, you are basically saying, “my genes are better than your biological parents’ genes.” But that’s crap. You might say, my social standing or my house of my job or my education or my pay package or my ethics or even (most controversially) my religion are better than those I suspect your biological parents might have had (since we know practically nothing about an adopted child’s birth parents in most cases in India); but to say that my genes are better than theirs is utter nonsense. Even if you knew everything about your adopted child’s birth parents, you still could not win an argument based on “my genes are better than theirs”. Look wide enough and deep enough into your family tree and you’ll find plenty there to shake your belief in the superiority of your genes – and everything else. That’s my bet. (At least you will find cancer, diabetes, heart disease, psychiatric disorders of some kind, a criminal tendency of some kind, alcoholism, and some degree of illicit relationships; family trees are almost without exception absolutely fascinating in this regard.)

So, if your adopted child turns out to be “delinquent” or “criminally-minded” then it’s either not due to his genes, or, if it is, you can’t be sure that your own genes would have done a better job.

It’s unfair, on the other hand, to place the blame entirely on his adoptive family for his delinquency or criminal mindedness. After all, anyone who adopts a child does so with every intention of loving that baby and making it their own. (That might be a naïve assumption, but let’s assume it is true for this particular family.) This family, like any other family, presumably gave their son all the love, attention, and material needs to help him grow into a normal, happy, successful person. In my experience, when your adopted child has been with you for only a few months, much less for many years, he is just as much your child as if he had been your biological child. If so, then when you see your child going astray, surely you wouldn’t blame it on the adoption, or on his genes, and quickly wash your hands of it. Surely you’d step in and try to take charge of the boy, try to help him, try to understand him, without ever feeling “oh, he’s adopted, it’s in his genes, nothing to do with me.”

I mean, we’re adopted parents. I can’t imagine any kind of eventuality with my girls where I would react at all differently than I would with biological children. Any medical, behavioural, or psychiatric problem would be our problem to face and figure out. Even if they eventually turn out to have some sort of genetic or congenital problem that has not manifested itself yet, we could still not shrug it off saying, “oh, that’s from their biological parents, nothing to do with us.” When we did the medical tests before we adopted them, we might have not gone ahead with the adoption if any serious medical problem (especially HIV) had surfaced. But that was before. They are now no less to us than our own biological children would be. And if your biological child turned out to have a medical problem, or turned out to be “delinquent” or “criminally-minded” – what would you do? Would you disown him, saying, “I don’t know where he got that from but it’s not from me”?

It’s not as if biological children never go wrong. It’s not as if every biological child is an angel for life. There are plenty of misguided kids out there, so-called “delinquent” and “criminally-minded,” and most of them are biological. Has that stopped anyone from having biological kids? Does anyone say, “I know so-and-so, such a nice family, such decent, respectable people, but their son turned out to be a thief and their daughter ran away with the car cleaner when she was 13, so that’s why I don’t want to have kids.”

Maybe there are people who say that – but not too many, given the rate at which the global (and Indian) population is growing. More often, I believe (or hope) the reaction would be “my children will never turn out to be like that”; or at least, “I hope my children never turn out like that.”

So it upsets me that when an adopted child goes wrong, people blame it on adoption.

Some aspects of a person’s character and destiny are determined by their genes. There are some twin studies to show that identical twins brought up separately might grow up to look identical, have similar hairstyles, similar preferences, similar careers, similar illnesses, even similar names for their kids and dogs. They live similar and parallel lives, even though they’ve been subject to quite different environments. This is the “nature” part of the Nature-Nurture argument.

On the other hand, so many things are also influenced by environment, specially family and home. Our children are presumably Tamilian by birth, but they speak primarily English, eat the mixed up cuisine we make at home, listen to western classical music along with Hindi Oldies, and watch primarily tennis on TV. They are going to grow up a very confused, cosmopolitan mish-mash. This is what “nurture” is going to give them.

They might still turn “delinquent”. Or they might turn out to be geniuses at something quite unexpected – like bharatnatyam, or marine biology. Their character and their destiny can’t possibly be derived directly either from their genes or from their environment. Every person is a complicated outcome of both nature and nurture, along with a little something extra that they bring to the table which nobody can say where it comes from.

Then how – how? – can you point to a boy who was adopted and is now apparently “delinquent” and say, “See, adopted boys become delinquent, that’s why I don’t want to adopt.”

How?

There are many reasons that people might choose not to go for adoption. Some I can sympathise with, others I can understand even if I am not in sympathy with those. But this? I simply cannot comprehend. The only way I can make sense of this is to conclude that this person essentially does not want to adopt and is looking for a way to rationalise/justify it.

But it’s sad.

——————-

* On re-reading this (yes, sometimes I read my own posts…) I realise it sounds like these psychiatric conditions can be justifiably blamed on genes. This, as far as I know, is only partly true. As with most things, the causes here are partly genetic, partly environmental. But at least these are demonstrably partly genetic or congenital – as opposed to behaviour which is not caused by psychiatric factors and has no discernible genetic cause.

——————-

Postscript (27 Nov 2010): Today’s paper, strangely enough, had an article about the genetic origins of criminality as demonstrated by a study of criminal tendencies in adopted children. If the new article is taken at face value, it is indeed correct to say that adopted children whose biological parents had criminal tendencies are more likely to have criminal tendencies. I still think that at the moment this study shows only a correlation, and not cause-and-effect relationship demonstrating that criminality is in the genes, but I could be wrong. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, though.


Home-coming Day: Third Anniversary

September 27, 2010

Saturday was the third anniversary of the kids’ home-coming day. We didn’t do anything really to mark the occasion. Luckily we went to S&S’s for dinner and they had ordered in a delicious white forest cake – not for us – that we all demolished with gusto.

It’s sad that we haven’t managed to create any ritual for the home-coming day anniversary. I’d like to do something small and significant but I just can’t think what. Going to a temple or something would be completely fake for a staunch atheist like Amit and a non-conformist believer like me. Donating to some charitable organization would be a better thing to do, but neither of us has the conviction to actually do anything about it. So we spend the day feeling profoundly thankful (like we do many days) without knowing how, exactly, to express our thanks.

The day before home-coming day, we got a courier from Pondicherry. It contained a photocopy of the adoption order. Finally, after three long years, we held the paper in our hands and read each line through twice. Apart from two very, very minor typos, it was ok. But it was only a photocopy. Now we have to wait for the original.

Meanwhile, four has already turned into an interesting year. One day a week or so ago, I went to daycare to pick up the girls as usual. Tara came to me, I picked her up, and she buried her face in my neck. Nice… but unusual. It became even more unusual as she stayed that way, refusing to look at me or talk. I began to wonder what was wrong. The assistant told me, sheepishly, that Tara was upset because she’d been given timeout. She was swinging too high on a swing and shouting too much, so the assistant, B, had made her sit on a small bench for a few minutes. That’s all. After that, Tara had gone and joined her friends in the sandpit, where she’d been playing when I came in.

Tara, meanwhile, still clung to me like a limpet, refusing to talk or look at anyone. After a good few minutes, tears slowly came. She deigned to look at me and nod or shake her head to my questions, but she refused to speak either to B or to anyone else at the daycare centre. It took a good 15 minutes of trying to get her out of my arms and standing on her own feet. She wasn’t crying by then, but she was still refusing to speak to anyone. B clearly felt terrible and tried to make it up to her, but Tara didn’t even look at her, despite B’s best efforts.

She continued to be quiet and sad in the car on the way home, and refused to talk to her beloved GP (my FIL) when we reached home, but after 15 minutes of play, she was almost back to normal. B, however, continued to feel terrible about it.

To be honest, I think we were all quite shocked by Tara’s reaction. I couldn’t be sure whether she was ashamed or whether she felt that the punishment was unfair, but she was clearly very, very upset about it. What was most surprising was how she’d kept it completely hidden until I showed up. My little girl is growing up!

While GP was here, Mrini became a bit unmanageable. She realized that there was one additional adult in the picture and that this changed (or so she thought) the balance of power. When I scolded her for anything, she immediately turned to him for support. Once, for instance, I scolded her for taking a slice of cucumber out of his plate without washing her hands and sitting down at the table for dinner. The rule is, eat at mealtimes, at the dining table, and eat only what’s on offer for you – not whenever you like, wherever you like, whatever you like (though at least in this instance it was something healthy, not a biscuit or chocolate).

I took the cucumber out of her hand and told her to go wash her hands. You know what she did? She promptly ran to GP and asked for another slice of cucumber!!!

Since I couldn’t exactly scold GP, I scolded her for that. He got the message.

But then, on Saturday Mrini was just amazing. Amit and I were at the dining table having breakfast when Amit idly said to her, “Go get me a glass of juice.” We didn’t expect her to do it, because they aren’t allowed to open the fridge. In fact we didn’t even think they could open the fridge because the handle is quite high and the door is quite difficult to open. Plus the whole getting-juice operation is quite complex, so it was really just an idle comment. But, you have to be careful what you wish for. This is what Mrini did:

1. Ran to the fridge, stood on tip-toe and yanked the door open.
2. Took out the juice and went to the kitchen.
3. Put the juice carton on the counter and took a washed glass (a glass glass) from the draining board and set it on the counter next to the juice carton.
4. Opened the juice carton and stood on tiptoe.
5. Poured the juice into the glass.
6. Covered the juice carton, took it to the fridge, yanked the door open and put the juice carton back in its own slot in the fridge.
7. Went back to the kitchen, got the glass and carried it carefully in both hands to where Amit was sitting.
8. Gave us a proud and pleased-as-punch look, while we looked at her in utter disbelief.
9. Asked Amit for juice!


101

August 17, 2010

We took the kids for their annual health checkup on Saturday. Actually, there wasn’t much need to take them for a check-up, they seem to be so very ok. But we do have to provide this letter to the Family Court each year, testifying to their mental, physical, social, emotional and academic fitness… so we had to go anyway.

One thing is for sure: the healthcare industry is booming. The hospital was so crowded that we couldn’t get parking, even though they have a huge open parking lot which I never thought could possibly be filled up unless there were some kind of city-wide calamity. I went in, while Amit sat in the parking queue, but he eventually handed over the car to a valet to park. It was a smart move: A couple of minutes later, even people asking for valet parking were being turned away!

Inside, the chaos was equally evident. The pediatric department was full and overflowing, and the two attendants at the desk were harassed and busy. I asked how long we’d have to wait and was told it would take an hour. I immediately regretted having paid up the consultation fee already, but then it turned out that that was the waiting time for those who didn’t have appointments. With an appointment, we wouldn’t have to wait long.

Their weight and height was checked. They weighed in at 14 kg each, and Mrini was measured at 100.5 cm, while Tara was 101! When we found our place in front of the doctor a few minutes later, she told us their height was good and weight was only a little (1.5kg) below normal.

I had worried a lot about their weight and height in the early days. What do you do, when your one-year-old adopted babies are in the bottom 5th percentile for weight and height, and you can’t seem to get the word malnutrition out of your head? But that was a long, long time ago. It was gratifying to see them shoot up in the first six months with us, gaining inches at a time when for most kids growth slows down to a crawl. And it’s been a long, long time now since I worried about whether they were on-track weight-height-wise. I see them with kids in their class and I can see that their height is about on par. As for weight – they are obviously thin and probably always will be, until emotional issues begin to influence their food habits; but they are not unhealthy any more, and that’s the important thing.

It was good to hear from a doctor that their weight and height was no longer a cause for concern, but it was not a surprise, nor a cause for celebration – just an affirmation of something we had come to realize and accept over the months already.

What the doctor said next, though, was a surprise and more delightful than I’d have expected. She said that the girls have started to resemble us in their “dentition” and features. I don’t know exactly what features she was referring to, and to what extent this is true and to what extent it is fanciful I can’t be sure; and I don’t really see much resemblance between them and is in dentition or anything else myself; but it was strangely elevating to hear and to think that our girls might actually look like us a bit. I realized, suddenly, how much I’d missed hearing anything like that. Personally, I still don’t see it – I don’t think they look anything like us; but it was nice to think that to somebody, they look a little more like us than they did before.

It made the whole effort of driving, parking, paying, waiting, waiting some more, and finally driving back – it made all of that seem well worth while. We left the hospital with quite a smile on our faces – yes, even Amit.


Officially Naughty

August 14, 2009

Recently, the kids were paid the highest compliment by their class teacher.

Those who’ve followed this blog for an extremely long time know that we adopted the twins in September 2007, when they were just over a year old. When we brought them home from Pondicherry in a taxi, and for many weeks and months following that, they were meek, quiet, scared little girls. They each had a spark of mischief in them, but fear, apparently of punishment, and timidness were by far the predominant characteristics. I look at the very earliest photographs that we took of them and I see two rather miserable and distinctly scared little girls.

We must have done some things right in the past couple of years, because now there’s not a trace of fear or apprehension about them that I can see. Quite the opposite, in fact. Even when I scold them severely, they just laugh at me.

So in a way, though keeping them busy at home is not that easy, I’ve also been enjoying the swine-flu-enforced holiday. Not only do I get to not drive, I get to not experience the sheer madness of picking them up from school too. The last couple of times that I went to pick them up from school, I found myself wishing for an extra pair of arms… And legs. Most parents have to manage just one child, and appear to do so with elan. I, on the other hand, am clearly frazzled, outnumbered, and outsmarted by my kids, and rapidly end up completely losing my temper or my footing, to the endless amusement of about a million onlookers.

As soon as the girls are let out of class, they run to me and grab my legs. That’s the good part. After about four microseconds, they run off, and the mayhem begins. Naturally, they run in opposite directions, and finally converge on the slide in the sandpit. Here they climb the steps, and stop before they reach the top. That way, as long as they refuse to slide down, or sit on the top, I can’t get to them. After infuriating me for a while, one of them proceeds to slide down and quickly scamper around to climb the steps again. If I manage to catch her before she reaches the steps again, which I usually do, then the other girl manages to slide down and run around. Running to catch her means letting go of the first, who then runs off to some other corner of the sandpit. By the time I’ve rounded them both up, one wrapping her legs around me like a coconut tapper climbing a tree, the other dangling by one arm like a rag doll and almost yanking my arm out of its socket, my shoes are filled with sand – a highly irritating sensation.

Completely fed up, I try and drag both of them to the bathroom, and, immediately, I’m plunged into another prolonged skirmish. Many admonitions of “go to that cubicle, it’s clean and dry,” “hold your frock up” “front and back” “flush” “don’t play with water” “don’t step in that” and “put on your panties/pants/skirt” later, we emerge, exasperated, only to have them run off in opposite directions again, while I struggle to get their shoes and bags on them.

The whole thing is 15 minutes of absolute chaos which starts with amused indulgence on my part and ends with me ready to tear my hair out – and not necessarily just my own hair, either. On one occasion, as I ran after Mrini, I lunged for her collar so furiously that I succeeded in knocking her down. She sprawled full length, bawling hopefully, as I ignored the horrified glares coming my way, dragged her up and marched off with her, mumbling vicious threats as we went.

Just the other day, when Mrini succeeded in knocking my glasses off and tearing out one of her earrings in one single swipe, I lost my temper, gave her a spank on her bottom and a severe dressing down in full sight of her teachers, akka, and classmates. I don’t know what they all thought of that little exhibition, but I was SO past giving a fig by then.

It was, of course, abundantly clear in many ways by now, that the two timid little creatures we’d brought home two years ago had blossomed into full-fledged, maniacal brats.

So, it actually came as no surprise when their teacher smilingly, almost approvingly, told me last week that they’d suddenly become very naughty in class. “They climb everywhere, they never do what they’re told, and they don’t listen to anyone,” she said. I took it as it was intended – as a compliment, and told her, “I’m surprised it took them this long.”


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