Children, Books, and Language


Vyas called a while ago. He usually calls after he is back from school for the following reasons:

To,

1. remind me of some promises that I made like getting him a book or toy.

2. help him find something he mis-placed in the morning.

3. seek permission to watch TV

4. have an extra chocolate!

5. complain about a classmate.

After he is done with his share of questions, information, I have a few usual questions:

If,

1. he has had something to eat after school?

2. he had emptied the snacks, lunch, and water that he’d taken to school?

3. anything interesting happened in the class?

4. it was a classmate’s birthday ?

5. if there was any other news at school?

6. and what his brother Varun was upto?

He called me this afternoon to remind me of something I’d promised to buy. When it was my turn, I asked him what Varun was doing.   “Prancing around like mad!” came the reply!!

Thanks to the Roald Dahl series he’z been reading recently! Am not complaining:-)

the journey


This is just the beginning,
Still a long long way to go,
In this beautiful journey called life
Whose start and end we do not know.

Oh but! there has been
Several twists and turns
Some ways too narrow,
Few too wide and sudden!

Just when you thought aloud
Yaay! I’ve almost reached there!
You discover the road has thrown a teaser,
Ahead is deeper curve to negotiate!

You still go on for by now
You have met most of them:
Love, mirth, pain, sorrow,
Birth, death, today and tomorrow.

And look forward for more to follow
For somewhere on your way
You unearthed Friendship,
The kohinoor of treasures.

With friends for company
You can cruise a desert or river
Who cares where you are going!
As long as you enjoy the journey
Which I wish goes on forever.

Wish you and your dear ones a very happy journey through 2010 and all the years to come! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Love stories


Seething with rage and teary eyed, I held out a chit to my mom. On it was written: “I Love You. Sajju”! This was when I was 7 or 8 maybe! Just before our summer vacations began. The anger hit a new peak when my mom laughed so much that she was in tears and then said it was OK to be loved! The flame must have died very soon for I do not remember seeing Sajju when I was back after the holidays..

A couple of weeks back, Vyas shared a secret which brought back old memories. Including the one above.

Vyas: Amma, I want to tell you something. In your ears.

Me: Oh sure. What is it?

Vyas: Come closer. Promise not to tell appa.

Me: Ummm.. tell me first:-)

Vyas: Sayuj loves Sanjana! (covers his mouth with his tiny hand and giggles)

Me: Really? Good. So?

Vyas: Says he will marry her!

Me: Oh? So soon?

Vyas: Yessu (a stressed ‘yes’ that is!). But Sailesh also loves Sanjana.

Me: (love triangle already?!!) Oh, good. It is nice to love. You must love everyone.

Vyas: You don’t understand. It is not that love (its hush hush conversation still..).

Me: To love, is to like someone dear. I love you. Appa loves you. You love Varun pappa. Keshu loves you. Aashi loves you. I love your friends.. Understand?

Vyas. No, but Apramey says it is not that love. This is different. Something silly.

Me: Yeah, if you say so!

To Vyas:Kanna, I did not tell appa. I just blogged for everyone to read. Promise.

Merry Christmas to you all!!

To be or not to be!


Crows, squirrels and pigeons mark their attendance on our window sill and the neighbor’s terrace every morning. Varun engages in an animated babble with these friends. While he is still busy at it, something tells him that his mom has tip-toed to the kitchen. He swiftly turns around to confirm, and he is right. As he shows slight signs of protest, the attention shifts on hearing his thatha clear his throat and the little eyes seek him out. He smiles that sweet smile seeing thatha clad in a shirt and is ready for the morning walk. The mommy in me though relieved, is also a little sad! He leaps from his dad’s arms to the grandpa’s and fixes his gaze on the door. When grandpa does not show any signs of moving, he loses his cool and gives a ‘Come on! Time to go’ look at him.

Back from the walk, he eyes his toys with contempt. Like a hungry lion refusing to eat dead meat! Ambles straight to the kitchen where amma is busy getting the breakfast and lunch ready. His lovely eyes, and the cutie smile beckons leaving mommy no choice than to lift him up and squeeze him in a tight hug! He looks on while the mommy pours the dosa batter on the tava. Thinking of ways to distract, I give him a washed tomato and make him sit on the floor. And some assortment of utensils and onions too line up. The tomato suffers some bites and squeezes and 10 minutes later makes its way into the rasam. And I reason that the rasam tastes extra nice because of that tomato.

It is a while before the little one receives the undivided attention. But then, it is time to bathe him and feed him his breakfast. And when that is done, I guess he understands its time for amma and appa to leave, for he clings onto me and refuses to let go! Then we invent more ways to distract him and then bid good-bye. He seems to understand and looks on. It hurts. And at such times, I wish time ticks at extra speed and its already evening. Or better still, its already 4 years past and he does not feel bad any longer about amma having to leave home only to return at dusk.

Krishna is bad!


Vyas: Amma, Krishna is bad.

Me: Who is bad?

Vyas: Lord Krishna. He is bad with wives! (rolls his eyes)

Me: Why do you say that?

Vyas: Why did he need to have so many wives? That’s bad.

Me: Yes, I agree.

Vyas: (says with furrowed brows)One should have just one person for a wife or a husband! He’s very bad!

Me: Yes kanna. You are absolutely right!

Dare I dispute? What if he thinks it right and toys with the idea of many wives for his dad or many husbands for the mom! While the possibilities are interesting, being in just one relationship is by itself a daunting task! Who would want more trouble? If you ask me that is!

Small Savings Big Dreams!


Winnie-the-phooh is one happy, nicely fed, big-sized kiddy bank. He is the owner’s pride. Vyas takes care of Winnie by feeding him with the ‘disowned’ coins in the house and with a lot of Rupee notes sourced from grand-parents, aunts, uncles and sundry. Before Winnie entered his life, there was another little over-fed porcelain boy. It needed just one more coin to burst him. That was when my friend Rajavel gifted this kiddy bank to Vyas, which he bought on one of his trips abroad. In hindsight, I think Raj should have gifted himself one too for reasons best known to him:-)

Vyas has developed a penchant for saving ever since this bank arrived and we are very happy at the progress both are making:-) The curiosity bug bites me often and I ask him what he plans to do with the money he saves. He comes up with different answers each time. Am listing a few that I remember:

The happy bank1. Will save ‘enough’ money so that we can visit the UK and take a ride on the famed Thomas The Tank Engine train. He sourced the train information from the net when he was at some games in the Thomas… website.

2. Build a house each for his parents, grand-parents and for himself. And he’ll build it with his own hands.

3. Cars fascinate him. And so, he is going to save ‘lots and lots’ of money to buy a BMW top-open!! Even the idea of buying over a dozen Nanos in place of a BMW did not appeal to him.

4. A laptop all for himself. He can load his favorite games, and google for Power-rangers videos which is banned at home!

5. And this is the second best: He will use it to fund his business! He will design and sell a computer called ‘GENIUS’ which will be like Windows. He will set up a shop from where people can buy Genius. He will also provide a variant called JAEFFER, like Vista or Windows 7 he says!! I have no clue from where he invented these names! And his brother Varun can join him and together they will set up a huge establishment with glass doors et al!!

6. This is the best and my favorite. And a practical one. He wants me to set up a small library for him in our house. The library must have nice sliding glass doors. The lower racks will have books for his tiny brother so that he can reach easily. He will use the rest of the space to stock his collection!

While the mommy in me wants every one of his dreams realized, am seriously considering helping him with the last one. Will come back and tell you guys when it is ready.

Dream more dreams dear son for, sky is the limit! And follow them too…

Sunitha Krishnan & her TED Talk


As I sit to write, words fail me. The imperfections of the world as Sunitha Krishnan sees it is in stark contrast to the ideal, picture-perfect world we think we live in. In a world where we have KCRs demanding a map be changed, we find little innocent children and unsuspecting women losing their entities with no ground beneath their feet. I shudder to think that trafficking, sex slavery, and child abuse is such a huge racket and her account is chilling! Her TED talk has left me numb, in tears, in shock and total disbelief! It seems so unfair to revel in luxuries while there is a world out there that is fighting for a basic right to live well!

Do listen to her TED talk if you have’nt done yet!

Her blog: http://sunithakrishnan.blogspot.com/

To Sunitha, I would just like to say this: Sorry and Thank you….

Men are men!


He is naughtiness personified. Look at his eyes, catch him smile, hear him speak, or see him cry. No matter what action he is at, it is written all over him. That is Keshav for you. My 7 year old nephew and just 2 months younger to Vyas. These two bond too well and even in sickness, you’ll see them glued together. . The two usually conspire and plan on a night stay either at my SIL’s house or at ours, and announce their decisions for us to take care of the other logistics like pick-up, drop:-) Vyas dearly misses his cousin Keshu (as we call him) and Varsha, my 13 yr old beautiful little niece, now that they have relocated to Saudi.

Keshu is a cool mischievous cat and is too adept at getting things done his way. You’ll never know the things that he makes a mental note of only to recall them at the appropriate time, and to his advantage. We watch our kids grow in front of our eyes and yet we are not prepared for some googlies from them. Like the other day when Keshu showed the ‘True-typical-Indian-brother’ in him. Varsha’s aunt had gifted her a dress, a little hugging outfit. She looks good in anything and my SIL did not find it odd either. The little moral-police Keshu enters the scene. One look at the new outfit his sister is wearing and says, “What are you wearing? Its like the one Assin or Priyanka Chopra wear and dance like this (gyrates to show how). Change to some other dress!” The mother and daughter were stunned of course! I mean when did the little brother notice all this and when did he learn to say right from wrong, good from bad, and what’s wearable from what is not?!!

While this advice was taken lightly, my SIL came to know that he was really serious about the dress code when he agreed to Varsha wearing the same dress back in Saudi because she’d have to wear a burka/abaya over it!

Men are men I tell you. Event if it is a pint-sized kid like Keshu:-)

Kids and lateral thinking


With kids around, you always wish there is an intelligent camera focused on them and capturing those right moments!

My friend JC and her tiny 3 yr old drama-king, Harish make a wonderful mom-son pair. If the little fellow is not sleeping, he surely is at something! They were at a game of naming things and here’s a recap of the conversation between.

Harish: Name a living thing.

JC: Elephant. Name a Flower.

Harish: Roja (rose). Numbers?

JC: Three zero – Thirty. Living thing?

Harish: Elephant.

JC: Hey.. I named the elephant already. Try naming some other animal.

Harish: No way! You named a big elephant. I named the kutti-elephant (the calf).

JC: ##???!!!?!?!

Now that is some lateral thinking I say!

ma_n_son

What a teacher is to a student


As a child, I used to love whacking a cane, tapping at a chair in front of me, talking to an imaginary ‘student-audience’. The teacher was a person with the most authority. And the teacher was always right no matter how wrong he/she was.

The student-teacher relationship seems to have evolved quite a bit over the years and there is a paradigm shift in the relationship between the ‘teacher’ and the ‘taught’. Have been attending the observation sessions in Vyas’s school for the last few years. And for now, am happy with what am seeing.

I had planned to stay for the first two periods of the session and ended up staying till the last period. Soon after the 1st period, Vyas turned around and raised a finger threateningly and said I must stay through the day! The day started with the teacher making a few children do some math on the board. The children enjoyed this. This was followed some mental maths, quiz, pretend-play, craft, language, and Indian music with 2 breaks in between for the children to ‘snack’ and for lunch. The kids declared more breaks for themselves with requests and questions like this:

1.”Maam, I would like to use the toilet “,
2.”Maam, can I have some water”,
3.”Maam, I would like to sharpen my pencil”
4. “Maam, my eraser/pencil is missing”
5. “Maam, I don’t understand. Please repeat”
6. “Maam, I have a doubt”

And guess what? The last one was the most frequently used excuse. And the word most uttered in the class was ‘Maam’! So, when the teacher showed a slide with some black-bird laying its eggs in a crow’s nest, the children in no time guessed it was a cuckoo. But, one little elf out there raised a hand and spoke thus: “Maam, I have a doubt. Will the children cuckoos never know the mother cuckoo?”. LOL! Do any of you know?

The teacher made the session interesting by putting the kids in 4 groups and assigning points to the team for the right answers. It worked like this: A team gets 5 points for a right answer. The question can be passed if a child does not know the answer, but they lose a point for every pass. And if anyone answers out of turn, prompts answers, yells, leaves the seats or misbehaves, the team again loses one more point.

I have a feeling that the kids have been watching too many reality shows on the TV. When a child was trying to figure out an answer for a question, the others kids around her in the team were getting restless and I could see a few holding their fists in a tight roll, some hands clasped, trying to send up a silent prayer etc! And when the question passed, there was a bang on the table by a disappointed team-mate. One point lost! And when the teacher marked another ‘-1’ because someone in the group violated the ‘behavior’ rule, a child was in tears. And surely enough, the friends next to him were empathetic and called for the teacher’s
attention. When the teacher was told that the lost point was the reason, the teacher simply said “OK” and proceeded! She obviously knew her wards in and out:-) and she must be a witness to this drama everyday! However, the points system worked and kept every child focused!

Pretend-play is a hit with the kids and the adults alike. The children were asked to visualize a jungle and each of them must act like an animal of their choice. The animals were to attend a party in the jungle because there was a coronation of a new lion as the king! And each of these animals must take some food along to the party! Each child should pretend to be that animal and must give obvious clues like the animal sound, gait etc so the others can guess. So my fellow was a tiger, carrying a dead hyena as food! eeks!! There was a cute bulbul and a couple of peacocks that carried worms. A cheetah came leaping and hurt his knee in the process. He claimed that he came hunting for a deer to carry to the party, but was not taking anything as he had an injured knee!! Some smart thinking:-) Quite a few cats carried fish and milk and a dog carried plenty of bones..

It was a feast not only in the jungle, but in the class too! And my resolve to never venture into ‘teaching’ has found new strength. Parenting is cooler:-)

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