At EIGHT…


… you are still a handful. Your dramas continue. Between your last birthday and this, you’ve bested the art of negotiation. Your aspirations and ambitions are unique and keep changing every birthday! Let me just record your eight-ness here, shall I?:

At the moment, you’ve decided that you want to be a Youtuber! You are convinced that because you know to sing, you need not take up music classes. You discovered Alan Walker through your friend and can sing ‘Where are you now’ to match every note and nuance in there!

You read and pick your books well. But for a mom who has grown up on a generous dose of Enid Blytons, it’s hard to understand your rejection of Famous Fives and Secret Sevens 😦 “Very kiddish”, you say. I agree to disagree!

You have a very weird sense of timing and a weird knack of picking up and throwing vocabulary. Like this once when you said you’ve learnt a new ‘F’ word. Your bro and I almost choked on our dinner and before we could shut your mouth, you uttered ‘FAMISHED’! Priceless moment. You actually seemed to enjoy the suspense and I’m still not sure if you pulled a fast one there.. And very recently, you came to me with a sad face and said that you will not read ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ anymore because you were learning a lot of ‘bad words’ and particularly a ‘J’ word. You wanted to know if you are allowed to use it:

img_2817Me: What word is that now?
You: You must not scold me.
Me: I won’t. But I may stop you from using it if it is inappropriate.
You: Alright.’Jerk’.

At this point, I was only hoping you were not watching Silicon Valley!

Me: Okay!
You: Can I use it?
Me: No.
You: Why? What does it mean?
Me: Ummm.. It has several meanings..
You: But in the book, it is ‘name-calling’.
Me: !!! Well, it means.. a cheat?
You: Oh, so I can call anna a jerk when he cheats?
Me: I’d rather you don’t.
You: But he does cheat sometimes. If I get really angry, I’m going to call him a jerk!

Whatever!

In school, you continue to be that disciplined, cooperative, and quiet student. I’m sure there is mistake and re-confirm with the teacher but she stands by her feedback. You have told her about the stories you’ve been scribbling away based on all the weird games you’ve been playing on my mobile! You are not far behind your bro in sharing the love stories from your class. The novelty of every generation thinking that it was the first to discover love at 7 or 8, does not seem to wear off :)) Keep the stories coming da. And tell me about your crushes too, okay?

You are a happy, loving big bro now to your adorable new-born twin cousin sisters. And it is just in the past couple of months that it has dawned on me that my little baby has really grown up! It is an endearing sight to watch you hold your baby sisters gently on your lap one at a time, speak softly in that baby-speak, touch their faces gently, enjoy the feeling of their tiny palms grasping your beeeg fingers, include them in all your shopping plans, generally exercise caution around them and being responsible! You make as awesome an anna as you make the bestest thambi to your bro! Your anna is your rock. Despite all the fights and arguments, you always take his side. You are always quick to defend him when dad or I are having ‘the talk’ with him!

One of the best moments that I think defined you as a boy that understands what it is to be kind, fair, and shun prejudice,

is when you came back home from an after-school activity class and said you don’t want to continue going. The reason you gave was that you did not like the way that aunty treated her help. “She is unnecessarily rude, unkind, and disrespectful to her”, you said. “No one deserves to be treated badly like that”. You are absolutely right, darling!

So baby, continue to be that cuddle-able, naughty, talking nighteen-to-the-dozen, funny, funnily-angry, tactfully-negotiating, kind, lovable, bright and shiny light in our lives! Love you loads!! Wish you a beautiful, happy, healthy 8th!

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Moral of a story


Varun, like his Anna, loves stories and story books. He at times narrates stories taught in school and always finishes it with the moral of the story 🙂

Last night, I read Pied Piper to Varun. When I asked him what the moral of this story was, he said,

“If you pay money to other people, they will be ready to do everything”

Isn’t’ that some moral?!

PS: For the benefit of those who don’t know the story, it is about the chap, the Pied Piper, who helps drive away thousands of rats (using his music) from a miserly town called Hamelin. The townsfolk pay the Pied Piper just one gold coin going against their promise of paying him a 100 coins. As a revenge, he lures away the kids from the town to a distant land where the children grow up into unselfish and happy adults.

Kids, cars, ads..


Did I tell you that Vyas is into automobiles lately? He is also a beeeeg fan of Honda and has even been defending their recent recall of some cars due to defective inflators. He tells everyone that he is going to become an automobile engineer and will join Honda. You’d think he already has an offer letter from the company! Well, that is some change of plan considering he originally wanted to become a ‘garbage collector’.

Vyas’s favorite magazine now is Autocar India. He doesn’t miss a word, starting from the title to the copyright information at the end of the book, every month. Will never be bored of talking for hours together on the auto-specs to any random person walking this planet. It doesn’t matter even if the listener is not interested.

The big brother’s influence rubs onto the little fella too. Varun though seems to prefer style over substance. His favorite car (he says), is the Lamborghini Murcielago. Next fav. is the Bugatti Veyron. BMW comes third and last is Honda. The other vendors are not in the reckoning at all. He can keep gawking at the various pics of the various sporty cars in the various car mags and books at home!

Car-craze plus commercials does something to kids. Here’s is a sample..

The other day, Varun was watching a BMW ad. He turned to his dad and said,

Varun: “Appa, shall we buy a BMW”

Dad V: “I don’t have the money to buy one”

Varun: “Listen pa. It is easy. Call Quikr. They’ll give more money for our Honda City.”

Mommy/daddy- *facepalm*

Vyas: Hey, Honda is the best. Appa, you retain the Honda. Buy us a BMW.

Dad V: Ok, will check if it available at Connexions tomorrow.

Told you. Vs are like that only!

We read


read-right1Anna, after thoroughly revising Harry Potter and re-revising and planning for yet another re-revision a few months from now, drowned himself for a period into the world of Percy Jackson amidst other things. To keep his reading pattern consistent, he did a he few revisions of PJ as well. It was then the turn of Artemis Fowl to suffer at the anna’s hands. The thambi therefore is always abreast of what the anna is reading.

A book I was reading was lying on a chair. Varun walks past the book, retracts, casually picks up the book, frowns, makes an attempt to read. He does. “Ennadhu.. (what is this….)? Artaeeeemis Fowl”. Drops the book back on the chair and walks on contended.

Introducing another poet..


This is by my dearest Aashi.. Tinkle overdose surely 😉

My wonderful dream..

When I was sleeping late at night
I heard someone call my name
I opened my eyes and saw
Suppandi, sitting on his watch,
Saying” iam on time!”

I looked around, to find
Raghu looking very sad
And Tantri creating a bomb!
Doobdoob and Chamataka
How happy for once, together!

Kaliya, Keechu and Meechu
Were not far behind!
Shambu, standing with his gun
And Shanti, still behind him
Pyarelal and Lajawanthini
Tapping on my head, lightly
Kapish standing with Pinto
And smiling with Singal and Peelu

When I opened my eyes for real
They all whispered goodbye!!!
What a wonderful dream, it was
Will I ever meet them all again???

In Bon Bibi’s Forest


The boys and I were lucky to meet three stars on one platform- author Sandhya Rao, illustrator Proiti Roy, and the super story-teller Craig Jenkins. Spring & Zoom (where Vyas attends a workshop), had arranged the event and Vyas and I were looking forward to it.

It was a work-day evening and I had to literally rush home to pick up the two boys and hit the venue in time, and we almost made it. Craig Jenkins had begun his story-telling of Ramayana and we missed the first 10 mins:( We got to listen to the story of Bon Bibi fully. His voice and actions had the kids and adults hooked till the end! So much that Varun and his friend Shruti (from his play school) were paying attention too without fidgeting, and what’s more, Varun was having a ball imitating the actions by Craig which included making a face like ‘Dokkhin Rai’, grunting like one, and also threatening to tear me with the imaginary claws:)

It was a treat to say Hi! to Sandhya Rao and Vyas was super excited to get his copy of the book autographed by Sandhya, Proity, and Craig:) Chrishelle David from Tulika was around over-seeing the proceedings. Varun did a ‘Hi’ and hi-five to Craig and then followed a ruckus.. He wanted the tea that Craig was having and wouldn’t end the tantrum even after reaching home.. Before the others got to judge my poor parenting of initiating a child into the ‘tea-habit’, I scooted out of the venue with Vyas in tow! But all that was after the event:)

The Event

The book launch was organzied by Binita & Gargi of Spring & Zoom, a Centre for Literary Arts, Chennai.

The Book

The Book

Title: In Bon Bibi’s Forest
Author: Sandhya Rao
Illustrator: Proity Roy
Publisher: Tulika

The story

Dokkhin Rai, a monster with striped skin, sharp claws and teeth, ready for the kill, terrorizes the settlements bordering Sundarban. The locals live in mortal fear of falling a prey to Dokkhin Rai’s hunger and anger. It is then that Bon Bibi, and her lost and found brother, Shah Jhongoli take it upon themselves to protect the people and other lives in the forest.. Why does Dokkhin Rai terrorize the people? Will he mend his ways? Are Bon Bibi and Shah Jhongoli successful in taming the wild monster? Read the story to find out more!

The kids and I have fallen in love with this book and the little one enjoys when it is read aloud to him:) What has caught our fancy is the names of the characters with a distinct Bangla touch. If Varun knows a monster, its only Dokkhin Rai now! With the lush forests of Sundarban as the back-drop, Sandhya Rao has doled out a beautiful mix of mythology and a message which the kids can relate to so well. The story is supported by brilliant illustrations by Proity. If you want to tell your kids about co-existence, environment conservation and mutual non-interference, this book is a great fit!

Read more about what inspired the story of Bob Bibi’s Forest on the Tulika’s blog here.

Pictures: Courtesy- Spring & Zoom

Chennai Book Fair- Tamizh and Kids Special..


… is what I’d call it!

Over 650 stalls under one roof, good arrangement of drinking water, tea/coffee counters for the floating public and polite folks at the counter made it one good experience.

Having ingested a heavy Pongal feast, my co-sis and I set out with the only aim of walking around the stalls. The M-I-L had placed a request for 3 books besides which I thought I’d pick up one or two books for the kids. Vyas had already earned a bounty from thatha and appa a few days back . Anything more was only going to be a bonus:)

We kept our promise and returned home with just these:

Met another parent at the Tulika stall who was also a fan of ‘A Silly Story of Bondapalli’ and Ekki-Dokki (I bought a copy of these again as gifts for another friend’s kid):) While we exchanged notes on what our children liked to read, we completely overlooked introducing ourselves:( Ne’er mind. At the next stall/fair perhaps! Ulagam is urundai– Greek for World is small.

I thought there was going to be a stall from Pratham Books, and was slightly disappointed at not finding them there:(

From a couple of other publications:

I liked the title of this book and just picked it up at whim. Vyas’s first copy of Hardy Boys. He is yet to open the book. Not sure if he is ready for it yet…

The co-sis who always likes an overdose of bhakthi picked up these.

These, the nice DILs picked up for the MIL- Pongal gift:)

And this was for a friend on request and the whole package came at Rs.600/-. It includes Ponniyin Selvan, Sivagamiyin Sabadham, Alai Osai and Parthiban Kanavu. Am told that this is a super deal. What do you think?

The most crowded stalls were those of Alliance, Higginbothams, Kizhakku Pathipagam, Vaanathi, Vikatan, Century Book House, another one of Sujatha’s and couple of others. People were swarming the kids stalls more than others. MIL’s request for Saavi’s Vazhi Pokkan was not found anywhere. In fact every stall other than Alliance had only ‘Washington-il Thirumanam’! (All the non-Tamizh reading junta, please forgive for a post interspersed with French and Latin) At least to me, it is that and picked these books just by the title/cover🙂

What I liked about the whole (af)fair though was the sight of people pouring in like ants to see/buy books! Long live BLACK AND WHITE READING!

A mini library


Remember the post on what Vyas wanted to do with the money saved in his kiddie-bank?

We both had a grander idea for the library but that can wait. Meanwhile, wanted to gift him a book-shelf and Christmas/new year was a good excuse to buy one. Scanned a few shops and settled for a simple one made of compressed wood and both the little Vs love it! Varun has been meddling with the keys and seems to be putting it everywhere other than the key-hole! Vyas seems to have more need to reference books, put some in, take some out through-out the day!

At the risk of sounding vain, sharing some pictures here.

The Roald Dalhs
The Roald Dalhs
The Enid Blytons
The Enid Blytons
Master in action
Master in action

This book was a gift from his friend Varsha from our apartments:

A gift from Varsha
A gift from Varsha

And it carried this message inside. Don’t you think it was very thoughtful and sweet of her?

A note inside
A note inside

The timing of the book fair at Chennai could not have been better. The little man earned few more books as gifts from the fair from his dad and grandpa, and he got to choose them himself! I’m planning to make it to the book fair the coming weekend. Without any attachments that is;)

NurtureShock by Bronson & Merryman


A friend recently recommended that I read the book ‘NurtureShock’. I have, as far as possible, avoided books that try to ‘teach’ parenting, relationship building, et al. Not because I don’t subscribe to the ideas and theories these books have to offer. Just that I’ll be rid with guilt by the end of the day for having violated every rule in the book, a total failure!!

No two people are the same, adults or kids. What works for my first child, doesn’t work for the 2nd (yes, already!). Aren’t most of our actions, proactive or reactive, instinctive? Correct me if am wrong. For instance, consider a modern parenting rule that says ‘be firm when saying NO’ or another tough one that says, ‘don’t use ‘don’t” or the famous ‘spare the rod’! . My auto-reflex allows me to just say, ‘don’t run, you’ll hurt yourself’ when I see my little fellow dash to the gate and escape a sharp turn by a degree! However much I rehearse to say, ‘Kanna, walk slowly as there is a bend ahead’, I can never say it at the right moment, and I doubt if it’d ever work with my kids! I patiently remind Vyas thrice if he has some schoolwork to catch up with. I’m gritting my teeth the 4th time and that is all the patience I’m capable of. Another minute of delay is asking for a tight pinch on his thighs. Trust me, it works!

That said, I don’t question the intent of such useful positive parenting tips.. It’s perhaps for calmer folks:) NurtureShock was a different ride though! The book works on the basic premise that most modern parenting methods are flawed!

NurtureShock
Img Courtesy: Amazon.com

Authors Bronson and Merryman explore different stages of child development and talk about the reasons for obesity, aggressiveness, lying, sibling rivalry, and impact of  the relationship between the parents on the children. Few things that stumped me were this:

1. Kids watching too many violent shows do not necessarily turn violent, and those watching good, funny, passive ones certainly do not turn out as saints!!

2. Children of permissive parents lie more often than those with ‘strict’ parents! Such children lie to simply keep the parents happy and carry on with their plans.

3. Children who are ‘only praised’ never learn to acknowledge or handle failure. How doing –Very good, you are doing a great job– all the time even for the smallest of tasks a child accomplishes is detrimental to the child’s growth.

4. Parents, if having an argument in front of the kids, must also take the conflict to a resolution. Moving an argument to another room is a bad idea and never having conflicts is equally bad! I liked this one 😉

5. Single child mostly ends up being a snob and those with siblings are wonder kids who know how to share, is but a myth. Hint gals and guys. If you are under great pressure from your folks who are generously sharing gyan on the importance of having a second child, you can consider gifting them this book. Or at least ftp that one chapter directly into their brains!! All is well if you want to have more than one of course 🙂

6. Peer pressure and fear of rejection are the chief reasons for aggression and starts in early tweens!

7. Drugs, alcohol, and sex among the teens, is a chapter I read forcing myself to believe that all these things happen only in the ‘West’ and I know it’s far from the truth!

8. One grouse I have with the book is its claim that the traditional dads make better dads than the progressive dads! By progressive dads, the authors refer to the ‘nicest’ men of this century who share every work a wife/mom/sister does!

I would have loved some casestudies based in India and a tad disappointed at its absence:( According to the book, the Chinese parents do a great job pointing at a failure and enforce the need for hard work to turn things around. Why their ‘good parenting’ isn’t helping improve the teen pregnancies and abortion rate in the country is a connection I fail to understand. The Filipinos are parents who set the rules. Their children fight the rules their parents make, but do not fight the authority of the parent to set the rules. Wow! Both these sounded quite desi.

Conclusion: Worth a read. Makes you feel you are a normal parent:)

Just as I heaved a sigh of relief on finishing the book, the same friend suggested yet another. This time, its The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris. I wished I’d learnt to apparate!! With the ‘ding’ sound with which characters disappear in Crazy Mohan’s dramas!!