Friday, December 15, 1995

How To Have Smarter Parents

by Tejasi Bhatnagar



In your neighborhood bookstore, or at a nearby web-site, you will find many books concerning parenting: A New Life, Bringing Baby Home, Baby's First Year, and so on. However, there are no documents at all about How to Train New Parents, Calming Mommy and Daddy when they are Freaking, Don't Let Them Sleep, etc. Since I was born so recently, I decided to keep notes of the event, and a few days after. Of course, your parents will be different, your grandparents will be different, their friends will be their own, so much of what I say will not apply to you. But, I took notes anyway.

First, some notation. New users of any computer software are often referred to as newbies (pronounced: new-bees). I call my new parents newpies, pronounced new-pees. Other unfamiliar words may be found in the Lingo Section.
***
The Birth Itself
Dr. Moorma told my parents that I was due on November 26, 1995, with an expected error of a fortnight. She also warned them to be ready a month in advance, which advice they disregarded completely. As an example of the lax attitude of many parents, let me reproduce a conversation between my parents on October 26 (or it could have been a day or two earlier) before The Birth:
Priti (mom): Gaurav, When will you get a pager, so I can call you in an emergency.
Gaurav (dad): Yeah, OK, soon.
Guess what. At 1:00 p.m., Thursday, October 26 1995, my mom was in Labor. She was in her office. Toiling in the fields, so to speak.

Its not that I had not warned them. A few days ago, mom had spent four hours cleaning up her office. She just felt the urge to clean up: a classic example of what is called the nesting instinct. She told my dad, and they laughed it away. Mom said: "Why would I clean my office." Now you know.

Back to 1:00 p.m. Oct 26. Mom's water broke, and for a while there, she just lost it. I calmed her down, and she called Dad in his office. Completely a waste of time, and I could have told her that, since I knew he was in class, teaching. Luckily, I kept her calm and suggested she send e-mail to some of the desi junta in OSU, and look for Auntie Jennifer in the next room. In less than an hour, Uncle John K. and Auntie Jennifer took her to the hospital. (Tip: Don't let Uncle John give you a ride in his car, even if he buys you lunch.) Meanwhile, what of the desi junta?

It can be said, that at any given time, at least one Indian in the Math Department is playing on the computer. It was Prabhav Tau who saw mom's message, and proceeded to put Radha Mausi and Manav Chacha into a panic. To make a long story short, they found Dad, and everyone went to the hospital, all except Manav Chacha, who proceeded to show Dad's next class what Logarithms are all about.

After mom got comfortable in her hospital gown, the resident Doc said that labor has started, and that I was to be born soon after. That is, soon after Mom and me had gone through enough pain, and Dad had to watch and help. That's no triviality, mind you. Karan Chacha went yellow, and then green, when he came to visit mom, even though he saw her through only 2 contractions. After several hours of intense pain, mom took an epidural, and had a restful couple of hours. That was when my work started, and at 3:59 a.m. on Oct 27, 1995, I was out, and my newpies were born.

***
The First Hour
As I came out, the first person I saw looked like a green Darth Vader: In fact that was Dr. Wagner, who performed the delivery. Then I saw some blinding lights, and surmised that it must be Dad, taking pictures. I was a bit worried on how he will react when he sees me, since I was covered in some disgusting white goo, but Dad thought I was just beautiful, and so did mom. I was with them for just afew seconds, before a couple of nurses took me away. I was early, you see, and they had to make sure I was OK.

The nurses checked me out as they cleaned me up. My mom was being looked after by the Doctor, and Dad had of course started ignoring mom, and was busy taking pictures and talking to me. After the nurses pronounced me to be 5lb. and 2oz., and furthermore, all of 18'' tall, we both returned to mom, and we bonded.
***
The Ride Home
Soon after that, I was taken to the nursery, and mom got to nap for a little while. Dad went home to call everyone with the news, and tried to sleep a little bit. He returned in the evening after buying a lot of baby stuff, which he should have bought weeks earlier. I sent him out again to find some cigars. He bought a box of cigars, whose wrappers said "Its a Girl", and some chocolate ones for the wimps. In the evening, lots of Junta arrived, including Sneh Dadi (the one with the fancy haircut), and made a lot of noise.

Since there was so much activity in the room, a funny nurse was sent in to kick everyone out. I suppose she was still under training, for she did a pretty lousy job. Eventually, however, people left, and Iwas back to the nursery. Next morning, we were told to pack up from the hospital, and were back homeonce the newpies had figured out how to install me in the car seat. Vivek Chacha and Vidhi Chachi were there, helping out in the move. They just got lost once in the hospital.

***
Hunting for Food
It is well known that in the first week, all the female newpie can do is to feed her young. Meanwhile the male of the species cleans up, does the laundry, and hunts for food. In our case, Sneh Dadi cooked rotis which lasted for a week, and some daals which looked like nothing on earth, but tasted great. Besides, there was Latha Mausi, who got some great food, and Auntie Kim, who sent Uncle John (of the Took-Mom-To-Hospital-Fame) with a major dish. In addition, Vidhi Chachi boiled some water and added something which made it look a little yellow. When Uncle Ken looked at it, Dad assured him that it wasn't what he thought it was, but Uncle Ken did not risk a sip anyway.

Food being taken care of was a big relief and now I could concentrate on the most important job of the first week.

***

How to Have Smarter Parents
In the first week after being born, your newpies are most fragile, and also the most receptive to new stimuli. This is the time to be most careful in their care. This is also the best time to fully educate newpies. So do not let this opportunity pass.
Essentially, your newpies have four senses: Touch, Hearing, Sight, and Smell. There is a fifth sense too, but you can forget that (see Hunting for Food, above). A well thought out Newpie Stimulation Program should work on all these four senses. The program I describe requires very little effort, very few things to buy, and best of all, works for everyone. Here goes:

Sleep: If you stay close to your newpies now, they will be secure for the rest of their lives. One way to give them a feeling of closeness is to sleep only on top of them for the first few days, and then frequently thereafter. This also helps you acquire your Biological Clock, and helps your newpies get used to less sleep. You will spend most of your day sleeping, and newpies will love to watch you sleep.

Paradoxically, newpies do not know what is good for them, and they try to force you to sleep in a bassinet or a crib. Howl loudly each time they will do that, and quieten as soon as they put you to sleep on top of them. If Mom gets too tired, check out Dad. It makes him feel especially big and strong once you sleep on his chest. Right now do your best to encourage those feelings. After a few years you can tell him how short and flabby he really is.

Food: While the newpies' hunger is easily taken care of, thanks to helpful friends and relatives, your own food supply takes some getting used to. Just one suggestion: Keep the radio on a classical music station. They say this helps with your food supply. It seems there have been experiments with cows ...

Diapers: A baby book says, and I quote, "(Baby's poop) has a characteristic aromatic smell and may look like scrambled eggs". Even changing as few as 8-10 diapers a day will fulfill newpies' needs admirably, stimulating all four of their senses. Once you get going, give newpies this treat as many times as you feel like. And they'll come back for more.

Play: When you're not sleeping, eating, or being changed, its time to play. This is the reward newpies get for not getting enough sleep. It also keeps them awake a little longer, but I don't hear them complaining.

***
Happily Ever After...
After the first week things cool down appreciably, especially if Nani is able to come and help you take care of your newpies. By now, if you have stimulated them enough, newpies will be potty-trained, stay alert for relatively long periods of time, and feel refreshed if they can get even three naps totaling 6 hours of sleep.

From now on life will be much simpler. However, there will be surprises and challenges. By no means is your newpies' education complete: It is a lifelong project. From time to time, there will be crises, and you will feel the need for help in handling your parents. They will not stay newpies for ever, and before you know it, will become middle aged, and ultimately, senile. When the time comes, look for Newpies in Adolescence: The Mid-Life Crisis; They Call me Adolescent, But I Call Them Senile; How to Stay Out All Night (And Get Away With It), and other similar books. They should be available at a nearby web-site, or in your neighborhood bookstore.

Lingo


Biological Clock: All humans have it. Newborn babies soon acquire it. Newpies lose it.

Chacha/chachi, tau/tai, mausi/mausa: In Hindi, the generic Uncle/Auntie gets split into more precise titles. For example Chacha stands forDad's younger brother, and could be applied to his friends. (Tau for elder.) Chachi would be his wife, thereby helping keep track of Who is married to Whom. Similarly, Mausi is mom's sister, and again could be applied to friends.

Dadi/Baba: Dad's mom/dad, my grandpies. They organized a big bash in my honor; over a 100 people, they tell me. Lots of singing and dancing and fun was had by all.

Desi Junta: Desi means Indian, Junta means crowd. This neatly identifies nationality, and since it is chosen by theIndians themselves, does not offend.

Nani/Nana: Mom's mom/dad, my grandpies. Nani took grandmaternity leave and flew in from India, bringing a suitcase full of goodies. Half of them she made herself, and the rest were gifted by everyone else. Thanks everyone, for sending her over, and thanks KLM, for not losing her luggage.

Roti/Daal: Staple desi food with no frills.

Tejasi: Tejasi means full of Tej, which in turn could be described as a combination of brightness, heat, glow, aura -- you get the idea. Still confused? Ask Dadi, she's the one who found this name.

Some Trivia: I was born on October 27, the birthday of P. R. de Montmort, of the Probl'eme des Rencontres fame. A coincidence? I am also the fourteenth in the third generation from the Yugal Sadan (if you skip 13), approximating pi to 2 decimal places.


Addendum

ABOUT THE AMBIGRAM
The design of Tejasi's name has been made by Punya Mishra, http://www.punyamishra.com. He had made the basic design as a birthday gift for Tejasi's parents, when she was born. He has updated the ambigram as a gift for her, on her 21st birthday! 

Punya's gift is not the only strange one we received. The following was gifted by my friend Michael Schlosser. 

For the cognoscenti, its quite a unique theorem, which converts a multivariable sum into a product, and generalizes a famous result. The product is more "one-variable" than the sum. It appears in: 
Summation theorems for multidimensional basic hypergeometric series by determinant evaluations [Discrete Math. 210 (2000), 151-169].






2 comments:

katana said...

I am loving it. Being a newpie myself. Thanks for the tips Tejasi. :-)


Regards,

Devjyoti

Maneesha said...

Aww! So insightful and witty.