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Kabir’s First Day at the Day Care

March 20, 2011 Leave a comment

March 18, 2011
Kabir is now 9 months and nine days old. Nine seems to be THE number. Coincidently, I shaved after nine days. Why? Read here.
He is now a bundle of limitless energy, demanding the same from Guriya and I. We cannot be happier seeing him grow, each day is an opportunity to teach him something good. But, the coming days are getting busier with Guriya starting her new gig @ The Childrens National Medical Center @ D.C. in a week.
Moreover, we have always believed that a good day care will help his growth and development as a good and social baby. Having looked at, visited and inspected a few facilities, we decided upon the child care center @ Dock Woods. (Read more about why we decided upon SLMCC here) Guriya had visited this child care center with Kabir yesterday to complete the paperwork and to help Kabir familiarize himself with the place and people. Of course, we feel that he is the most handsome baby in his class!
The day got off to a frantic start…pretty much the least desired start to this special day. Guriya and I have only ourselves to blame, but we affix it on Kabir for lately he starts sleeping in his crib, but mysteriously (wink wink) ends-up in our bed by around 3:00am, and sleeps-in late…until one of us wakes him up! He is our cutest alarm clock ever, but his alarm needs to be reset!
We went to sleep with the plan being to wake-up at 6:00am; I would change Kabir’s diaper and play with him; Guriya would take a shower and get dressed; 7:00am, Kabir and I would drop Guriya off at the Lansdale train station (Guriya had to go to D.C. to finish paperwork for the new job and catch the 8:35am Amtrak train from 30th Street train station, to be on time for her appointment); Come back home and feed Kabir his breakfast; 8:15am, take Kabir to the child care center and spend some time with him there; 9:00am, back home to get on an office call)
The wake-up plan misfires, for we don’t hear the 6:00am buzzer alarm. Don’t know how or why? Well, we know the answer 😉 It is 7:24am when we wake-up. And, all three of us are in the car at 7:40am, driving to the Lansdale train station, hoping we can make it there in time for Guriya to board the 7:46 train. We soon realize how impractical the plan is and decide on driving Guriya down to the 30th Street train station in peak-hour traffic. Anyway, we make it there in just the nick of time. Guriya dashes through the station doors at 8:34am, and Kabir and I start our drive back home. I am now resigned to missing my office call for Kabir has to be dressed, fed breakfast and taken to the day care. We reach home at 9:15am. I check his diaper and quickly feed him a couple of his favorite Pozuelo Maria biscuits from Costa Rica and a serving of Gerber’s Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal mix. He does not get his usual breakfast of a full bowl of cereal because it is too late for that and we need to get him to the day care in time for the photo session. A photographer was coming that day to take pictures of all the babies at the day care. It would be a great start to Kabir’s time at the day care. I try to change his t-shirt and realize that the one Guriya had put out the night before is not fitting him anymore. I scramble to find an alternative that Guriya would approve of. Kabir looks handsome in anything…in fact, I think he looks the guapoest in just his diaper. We head out at 9:35am and get to the day care at 9:45am I enter the room and find it empty. The teacher from the toddler class tells me that all the infants are getting their pictures done and that she would walk us there. We step out the door and see that everybody is returning to the class. We have missed the photo session. 😦
I am disappointed…more so for the photographer…for where would he find such a handsome subject! 🙂 Guriya has promised me a Picture People photo session to make me feel better!
Well, we settle down and I give Kabir a few toys to play with and stay with him for a while. He is enjoying himself when I quietly slip out of the room. By the time I get home, it is almost 11am.
Guriya, in the meantime, is in the taxi to get to the medical center, and calls the day care to check on Kabir. She hears him cry in the background and is sad/upset. I am sad too. I call again after 45 mins, and am told that Kabir has quieted down and it now sitting, sucking his thumb…sulking. But, he drank his bottle of formula (5oz). Mera bachcha, my heart cries out.
My 12:30pm mtg gets cancelled and I decide to make a quick run to the day care to see how Kabir is doing. Upon reaching there, I find that all the infants are sleeping. The teacher tells me that Kabir was a little sad, and ate only a few spoonfuls of his lunch, before sleeping in his crib with very little fuss. I don’t see him, but return feeling a little better.
I finish my meetings and the day’s work by 3:30pm and am back at the day care by 3:45pm to pick-up Kabir. A nervous knot in my stomach, I enter the room and hear Kabir’s voice….not crying, just my happy Kabir. I feel relieved, but quickly feel strange that he is OK. I had expected an upset Kabir, wanting nothing but to be in the arms of his papa and mummy. I underestimated how resilient he is (and, I guess all babies are). However, he does not disappoint me, for when he sees me, his happy sounds turn into squeals of joy (Zoo-Ave style). Holding up his arms towards me, he is smiling…giggling. I am almost in tears…of joy, of course. I pick him up and hug him and kiss him. I felt him hugging me too…or, was it my mind playing games with me. I can only imagine what was going through his mind. I am glad to learn that upon waking-up, he had finished his remaining lunch and dessert and also his second bottle of formula (5oz). He has a bowel movement and I change him before coming back home.
The weather is just awesome…almost 75 degrees outside. I give him another Maria biscuit and a few rice puffs, and take a few photos to send to family, before taking a walk in the stroller. The weather is gorgeous and Kabir is enjoying it immensely. He is sitting upright and just taking it all in. Guriya is now in the home-bound train. I take a few more photos and after an hour’s stroll, we are on our way to pick-up Guriya at the train station. During the 9 minute ride to the train station, Kabir dozes off, prolonging his reunion with his mummy. We head to Target, wanting to reward Kabir with a late evening outside the house. Guriya cannot wait for Kabir to wake-up, and I can sense that. We are cruising the aisles, when Kabir wakes-up, notices us, smiles and extends his arms up toward Guriya. He is smart enough to realize that it is now mummy’s turn to get (and give him) a hug and a kiss. Pure love. I am delighted to see both of them smiling and truly happy. And, having lived that moment only a couple of hours ago, I can truly relate to what Guriya must have felt.
We feed him his mixed vegetable dinner at Target and top-off with a couple of Maria biscuits and banana rice puffs. It is almost 8:45pm, but he is HAPPY – yes, capital letters HAPPY! As if, he is making-up for the lost time with us during the day. On a regular day, he would be sleepy or cranky or both by 9:00pm. Upon returning home, Guriya changes him and I prepare his bottle. Guriya feeds him the bottle and lulls him to sleep. Finally, we have our time – the YOU time from the EASY routine (Eat-Activity-Sleep-You) we are following. We end the day rewarding ourselves with a movie night. We watch the hugely entertaining Band Baaja Baaraat. Ainvayi Anvayi…

Guriya and I went through a range of emotions on this day. A mixture of sadness and excitement at leaving Kabir alone in the company of people yet to be familiar, but happy at the prospect of him expanding his social circle and learning new things in the company of people his age. Guilt at having to leave him without a proper hug & kiss farewell. Peace at knowing he was sleeping, but guilty again that he did not eat his lunch well, probably because unlike at the day care, we humor him and let him take his time. Nervous anticipation, as I enter the room at the end of the day. Jubilation at seeing him smile and giggle and extend his arms up towards us when he saw us.

Another challenge awaits on Monday – Kabir’s second day at the day care. We are fervently praying that all goes well.

Categories: Family

Choosing a Day Care for Kabir

March 20, 2011 1 comment

This seems to be like the first test for parents, before enrolling your child in school in a few years time. We happen to be forced to take this test sooner than we had planned. I believe that the environment of a good day care provides significant benefits to a growing child’s mental development. Guriya agrees, but disagrees that the day care experience is necessary, if there is family and friends nearby. That isn’t the case here for us here, so we are tasked with evaluating day care centers nearby our home. I sought advice from Subbu-Sushma, since they have already gone through this process with Gargi. I then scoured the internet for information, and learnt about The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Keystone STARS (Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources) program. NAEYC is a national advocacy group the provides accreditation services to institutions involved in early childhood education programs and early childhood professional preparation programs that meet NAEYC standards and guidelines. The Keystone STARS is a similar initiative by the state of Pennsylvania, focused on early learning programs in the state. The STARS program also provides a listing of the facilities with their STAR rating. I started there and called-up almost all in the vicinity to get information and set-up appointments to visit the promising ones. The list boiled down to just 3: La Petite Academy, KinderCare Learning Center and Salford Mennonite Child Care Center at Dock Woods. I left messages to schedule a visit at all three locations.
La Petite Academy was the first one I visited, prior to Guriya and Kabir returning from Costa Rica. I went prepared with a long list of questions and a notebook in tow. The visit lasted about an hour and 15 mins, and I left with the distinct impression that they are in it for the money foremost and then for genuine child care. Some of the responses of the center director were outright odd e.g. Keystone STARS rating is merely a lot paperwork and they haven’t had the time to do it, so they are ranked at 2 stars. Now, who in their right mind, especially not a corporate entity, would not seek the best rating when that could be a key selling point? It is clear upon reading the Keystone STARS guidelines that each star rating is awarded only when certain criteria are met, such as separate diapering area, specific educational requirements for teachers, safety standards, etc.. Did the center director truly think any parent is so naive as to believe that BS reasoning?!?! I guess there are parents who don’t care to ask about the star rating or are too busy to be bothered. Either way, it’s the company’s gain and the child’s loss. When asked if I could know how many infants (not their names, just how many) in their center were not immunized, the center director said she would have to check if she can share that information with me. When I called to set-up an appointment to visit the center again with Guriya, I reminded her that she owed me a response. Her response was that she could not share that information with me. When asked what their policy was around immunizations/vaccinations for infants in their center, she said the company meets the state requirements. When I requested that they enlighten me on what the state requirement/guideline was, she summarily said I could find it online. I was stunned at her rude response. I should have dropped this center from the shortlist after this response, but since the visit was scheduled, we went ahead. When I visited the center again with Guriya and Kabir, the center director would not let Guriya go beyond her front office, because Guriya did not have her Driver’s License. Probably OK if that were the first time we were there, but I had been there already, and had informed her that we would be visiting again, and we would realize upon visiting the other centers that this was the only place they had such a stupid requirement. Absolute bureaucratic red tape-ism. The center director finally used all the marketing gimmicks such as enrollment fee ($90) waiver and $200 rebate if I sign-up by March 31st, and another week free since I knew somebody who send their kid to this center. I am amazed the company is still in business. Short list down to 2.
Next, Guriya and I visited the Salford Mennonite Child Care Center at Dock Woods. I had not heard back from them until after 3 days of my having left a message for them. This wasn’t impressive, but the center director apologized for the delay in getting back to me, explained the reason for it, and set-up an appointment for us to visit the center. It was pretty difficult to locate the center, but once there (with kind assistance from the center receptionist), we were wowed every step of the way. Clear and straight-forward responses combined with the love and care for the infants we witnessed at the center and the excellent facilities, pretty much made the decision for us. Moreover the center has a 4A Keystone STARS rating. The center is run as a ministry of the Salford Mennonite Church, but is open to all and there is no proselytizing agenda. They teach good values. Their website FAQ section clearly answers any questions in this regard. Surprisingly, the full week fee for this center was less than the part-time (3-day) fee at La Petite. Guriya and I were very happy with all that we saw and decided that this was the day care for Kabir. We however, decided to still visit the third center in our shortlist.
KinderCare is another company with a national presence. Researching them, I landed on their Facebook page and some of the discussion items showed the company in very poor light. The fees and facilities are different at each KinderCare location, leading me to believe that overall standards would also differ. Subbu and Sushma send Gargi to a KinderCare location in NJ, and have been extremely satisfied thus far. However, our experience wasn’t that great. The infant room smelled of baby formula, and the teacher was a veteran (20 years at the center) and frail looking gentle lady. We doubt she has the energy to play with infants. All the infants in there, when we visited, seemed very quiet and passive…almost conspiring to not tax the old lady too much. Guriya and I did not like that at all. Kabir is an ebullient baby and we feared his ebullience being toned-down in this environment. The interaction with the center director was better than at La Petite, but the hard sell approach was overt and off-putting for something as delicate as child care. I guess that’s what you get with these corporate entities.
Anyway, we had a clear winner, and are hoping Kabir enjoys his time there.

Categories: Family

Pick Your Battles Wisely

March 19, 2011 1 comment

9-day shaving curfew is nothing unusual for me, for I have gone longer without a shave a few times in the past, when Guriya is away and I am living as a bachelor. It isn’t out of laziness that I don’t shave on such occasions, but merely my love for facial hair. Guriya loves a stubble on me, but after 4 days, she too wants me to shave. The latest “shaving curfew” however, transpired due to a combination of my sloppy wake-up pattern and Kabir’s recent transition to a very light sleeper. He has become light sleeper since returning from Costa Rica, probably because he co-slept with Guriya while there. Or more likely, because he is becoming sensitive to the sudden disappearance of his throngs of fans (family, friends, Sheena’s old colleagues @ Quintiles, staff at Radha’s hospital, Papaji-Mummyji’s friends and many more), and now doesn’t want his mummy out of sight or touch. The same thing happened when we returned from India. He nonetheless keeps us busy our every waking minute. We are preparing his food, washing his bottles, etc. after he goes to bed. And, when he finally does sleep (after Guriya and I have tried everything), we try not to enter the room, for if we do, his wail is shriller than the shrillest factory siren.
Finally, I gave-in and took my shaving kit out of our bathroom in to the second bathroom. Battle lost. I think both Kabir (insert tickle video link) and Guriya were happy about it.
This best illustrates for parents to pick their battles wisely. ha ha ha

Categories: Family

Gifts for Baby Sharma from Nanaji & Dadaji

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Baby Sharma’s Nanaji got his first gift for him – a couple of potted flowers, flapping their leaves and swaying…’dancing’, using solar engery.  These sunny flowers came from Italy, where Baby Sharma’s Nanaji was on his 17th trip.  He goes there to do research at The Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics.

He seems to have mellowed with age, since his first gift for Guriya (at the hospital, a few hours after she was born) was a book. Baby Sharma need not worry though! His Dadaji sent Amar Chitra Katha comic books from India. These are the comic books I read growing-up. Baby Sharma will have to wait for a few years before he can read them on his own. His Papa and Mummy will do the honors until then. 😛

Categories: Family

2009 – Flashback

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

2007 made me a husband.
2008 made us (Guriya and I) understand the real meaning of marriage.
2009 made me a home-owner and a to-be papa.
2010 will make me a papa and Guriya a mummy!
2010 will also make my parents, dada-dadi, Guriya’s parents, nana-nani, Ritu a bhua, Radha & Sheena a masi, Adolfo a tio (he doesn’t like how mausa sounds ;-p)!!
What a wonderful year we have ahead of us!

Back to 2009.
Everything (happiness & sadness) has a reason, and one savors happy moments more if one has been through sad times. My belief is – “Remember the sad times, but don’t dwell on them. Focus on the good & happy.”
So, here goes the list of happy times (in 2009) I am thankful for.

  • Healthy family members & friends.
  • Guriya and I truly becoming one. The year brought a reassuring stability to our relationship.
  • Making our house a home. As the popular ad (at least from a few years ago)…
    Rent an apartment -$875
    Buy a house – $290,000
    Make it a home with family – Priceless

    Doing things around the house with Papaji and Mummyji was a blessing I wish for every son. We did everything from hanging mirrors/paintings on the walls, hardware shopping, gardening, painting the patio, putting together furniture and much more. Guriya and Mummyji organized the kitchen. Hanging the curtains was a family affair with everybody contributing. [photos]

  • Stable jobs for Guriya and I. The economy was in doldrums and a number of our close friends lost their jobs, which made us appreciate our stable jobs even more.
  • Guriya’s pregnancy. Best news of the year.
  • Announcing the pregnancy news to our parents in-person. Guriya had been praying for months to be able to share the pregnancy news with our parents in person, not over the phone. God granted her this wish.
  • Sheena-Adolfo’s wedding. They got engaged a few days after our marriage in April 2007, and finally became a man & wife on April 25, 2009. [photos]
  • Radha starting her pediatrics residency. This smart lady cleared the board exams at the first attempt, right after finishing her internship and will soon become a wonderful pediatrician.
  • Subbu-Sushma. Gargi was born. They also bought a beautiful house.  Gargi just turned one! [photo]

I look forward to another fantastic year full of happiness and love.

Categories: Family, Friends, Pregnancy