...and never give anyone any advice.
Advice, after Himmesh, is doubtlessly the worst thing on this planet. Have you noticed that the word 'vice' resides in the word advice? And you, my innocent friends, thought it was just a coincidence.
As a new mother, I get to hear loads of advice. Look, some of it is pretty useful - when it is asked for. It is the unsolicited advice that is the truly vile stuff.
But in the spirit of trying to take it all lightly, I recount some of the true gems that I have received:
a. When I told my mother that Peanut has been consistently cranky during her bath these days, and almost always bursts into tears, especially when we wet her hair to try and shampoo it - her immediate and serious advice was:
'Why don't you use Johnson's 'No More Tears' shampoo?'
Right, Momma. Thanks. That will solve it, for sure. Considering that the problem is that she cries because of her hair being wet even before any shampoo touches it. Talk about taking branding seriously.
b. When I remarked later to Vijay that the water temperature for Peanut's bath seems to make a big difference as to how happy or unhappy she is about bathing, he said:
'Yes, yes, I've noticed that. You need to make the water temperature as close to the temperature of her pee as possible...haven't you seen how happy she is when she pees all over herself?'
Wow. Another pearl of pissdom from my darling husband. He should write a book on child-raising. Just so that I have the pleasure of burning it and then stomping out the flames.
c. One of the maids at our grandparent's house, Asha, lectured me when we went visiting
' You should give the baby your own milk. Do you give the baby your own milk? Your own milk is best for the baby. There's nothing like your own milk...' ad nauseum.
I assured her, somewhat tartly, that I knew that and I was indeed breastfeeding Peanut. This, I thought, was a bit much. Now simply everybody is bunging silly advice in my general direction.
This was also the day that we had taken along bottles of pumped milk so that Vijay could have the pleasure of feeding Peanut. He was doing so with great enjoyment when I caught sight of Asha, watching this from the doorway, with a horrified expression on her face. This self-appointed advocate of breastfeeding clearly thought I had been lying to her all along.
I was rather irritated but couldn't be bothered to explain the concept of breast pumps and expressed milk to her - and anyway, she disappeared soon after, when she saw me looking at her - but not without a last lingering, reproachful stare at me.
I wanted to run after her and smack her silly, but restrained myself with my usual patience.
d. I've already mentioned Vani's wonderful advice during pregnancy 3D ultrasounds 'Tell them to look at the baby from all angles...'. When she came over to see Peanut recently, she kept telling me 'I'm sure it must be so boring for her to be mostly inside the house...seeing the same things over and over again...'.
Now I'm not denying that there may be some truth in this statement, and it's always nice to take Peanut outside, onto the roof or generally visiting. But considering she is fascinated by her farts and spellbound by her own toes nowadays, and gapes at the blue lamp behind my head in awe as I burp her, I hardly think she is getting too bored -yet.
And anyway, you know you're in trouble when you start getting any advice from Vani.
e. Oh wait. It gets worse. Because even worse than getting advice from Vani is getting advice from Abhimanyu. Firstly, he is always scoffing at my pictures of Peanut, advising me to buy a Canon instead of our lowly Kodak.This would be okay, but then he brings his brother's Canon over and then takes terrible pictures of her, triumphantly showing them to me while I lie 'Hmm. Very nice.'
And even he doesn't limit his advice to the pictures. He tells me I don't know how to cut her nails. 'You should always trim them round for the fingernails, and straight for the toenails.' I asked him how the hell he would know something like that, but he refused to divulge where he had picked up this singularly girly piece of information.
f. Finally, our beloved maid, the K, is full of advice and information about the baby. Firstly, there are the usual half-hourly reports on the baby's activities, spanning 'has raha hai...' to 'sho raha hai' to 'khel raha hai' to 'potty kar raha hai'...looping all the way round to 'potty karte hue has raha hai'.
And now, she has taken it a step further. Having brought up my baby sister, she is still totally obsessed with her although the latter is now 24 and going to work. So now, everytime the baby cries, I have to struggle to comfort her, while hearing the most annoyingly mournful information 'Masi nahin hai na, isliye ro raha hai...' , repeated over and over until I send her away on some random errand merely to make it stop.
Thus, the K has masterfully combined her obsession with my sister and my baby - driving me nuts in the process.
Let me assure you, all this is the mere tip of the adviceberg. But nowadays, I just try and remind myself that all this advice is coming out of concern for the baby's wellbeing. So it's all good and to be handled with grace and maturity.
After all, when my husband helpfully says, with great authority and conviction, as Peanut cries particularly loudly, crankily and miserably ...'I think something is bothering her'...
...I am forced to wonder: Where would I be without penetrating insights like that?
Thank goodness for my family and friends.