Some English lessons!


Why am I reminded of that little wisdom someone shared with me a long time back-that it takes only 18 years to raise a child? 🙂

Having read one Famous Five, the 7 year old brat has declared that it is boring and ‘kiddish’ and that Enid Blyton is boring too. He’s asked me to give him something ‘interesting’ to read.

Some lessons he imparted the last couple of weeks:

Varun: ‘Madre (yeah!), do you know what ‘outlaw’ means?

Me: (?!!!) No, I don’t. Please enlighten.

Varun: An outlaw is a thief. Bad man. Do you at least know what it is to mug someone?

Me: (#$@#%#$^$!) Eh? No! Tell me.

Varun: Don’t know how you passed your exams in schools and college (rolls his eyes). To mug someone, is to steal from someone.

(Well, I’ve not been looking at the right places for lessons in English :/)

Me: That’s awesome da. Where did you learn all these?

Varun: From friends.

Me: Who are your friends?

Varun: Friends ma! You don’t even know  F.R.I.E.N.D.S? You know Ross, Chandler, Rachel, Monica, Joey.. Don’t know? Vyas’s favorite is Chandler but I like Ross.

(This is not happening! No! This is happening!)

I’d like to save the best for the last. Only that I don’t know the difference between ‘best’ and ‘hopeless’ anymore :/

Varun describes a scene from some program called ‘Community’ on Comedy Central where somebody spills a lot of wine.

Me: What is wine da?

Varun: It is the famous juice of Americans. Mostly made in 1968.

Why am I bothering with schooling when so much self-learning is happening?!!

 

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Exams


Vyas is just getting annoyingly better with his play of words.

With the final exams on, and he really having to ‘prepare’, I, like a responsible mom (a mom is allowed to imagine, okay!), set up a tiny objective question paper for his science exam. Exams are in the afternoon with a day off between each exam. So, he has all the time in the world to brush through. Being his mom’s son has some disadvantages. Like lethargy. Which is why, to make things easier, I give him a set of questions to answer, instead of having to do spend time in all the lessons.

Before I leave for work, I give it to him and ask him to work out. He says, ‘This paper examines my patience. The one they’d give in school will examine my science skills’.

Right.

Some lessons from L.K.G


After his first week in school, I was trying to have that conversation with the kid to know what was up at school. Here is what he said:

“Ma’am told that if you smile, your eyes will smile” !!

Wow! I mean, it is a cool thing for a teacher to tell the kids. To talk about a positive trait to small kids. I haven’t seen her yet, but am already in love with her. But, I digress. So a few days after this incident, I asked Varun how things were in school and what other interesting things he was learning from his is ‘ma’am’.

He said – “Ma’am says, if you talk, your ears will talk” !!!

The BRAT! Brattiest I tell you!

Note: Just in case you haven’t noticed, have added another page to this blog – Bopanna’s World. Do hop over and let me know what you think.

Varunism Mar’13


Varun: Amma, do you know how a sparrow walks?

Amma: Ummm… How?

Varun: (Holds a pencil between two toes and takes baby steps): Like this Ma!

The gait perfectly matching that of a sparrow picking grains from the floor.. Cuteness.. If I may say so myself:-)

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Their paternal uncle, another V, is talking to Vyas on phone and is inviting them over to spend a few days with them during the summer hols.. Vyas is making plans, trying to work a schedule amidst his summer cricket camp and another one he is planning to attend with his friends..

Varun forces Vyas to hand him the phone and,

Varun: Yaaru pesaradhu (Who’s speaking?)

Uncle V: Its me da… Will you come with anna during the holidays?

Varun: Hayyoo.. No da. Tomorrow is June da. I have L.K.G. Everyday schooling da. Enakku uniform irukku (I have to wear the uniform too!). Please, ennale vara mudiyadhu (Sorry I can’t come!)

He has a formal uniform the coming academic year and is visibly excited:) The rest of the V-family has done its bit in creating all the hype around Varun becoming a big boy and entering LKG.. So, floating in cloud 9 right now… It will be a while before reality hits.. Not being able to wear his blue-jeans to school for example 😉

Learners


The CEO of the company I work for had linked to this post on our internal blog and he hopes that these kids don’t end up in our company!

How much of this attitude is to do with the indulgence at home and what percentage of it does the school’s heeding to such indulgence contribute to? This article got me thinking about one or two instances of the student-teacher-ayah-ma relationship my kids had and continue to have.

Varun was so attached to ‘Rajamma Patti’ in is playschool that everyday he had more stories to share about her and the lovely Tamizh songs she sang to the kids occasionally! The founder/teacher had this ‘inclusive’ philosophy and would not make statements or signs of them being lesser human beings. She does her bit in making the children see people for what they are. At the same time, I recall her telling me once how some parents specifically request her to not let the ‘ayah’ touch, handle or cuddle the little children! Rajamma patti is an adorable old lady who loves kids and the kids reciprocate if they are NOT fed on a diet of prejudices.

In his pre-school now, he looks at Fathima-amma as a person who will not take too kindly to unfinished snack-box or playing with the school ID card, but not as a ‘lesser’ person. The grand-parents get most of the news of what the fellow did in the class from the ayah-ma. All the kids say ‘bye’ to the teachers and the ayah-ma in the class. It was the same with Vyas too.

After reading this article, I felt compelled to know what is going on in my 10yr old’s mind. I had to be careful with my questions lest I end up getting the sonny to ‘judge’ his teachers. What if my son harbored similar prejudices and haughty attitude?

Post dinner, the fellow was arranging books in his school bag according to the time-table and I thought it was the best time to get him talking.

Me: Finished your homework?

Vyas: No homework. But had to redo a map.

Me: Oh, ok. Btw, am planning to take up part-time teaching da. What qualities do you think I must have to make a good teacher? I mean, what do you like about your teachers?

Vyas: Ummm… They must not load us kids with homework.

Me: But what you are given is so less. Are you complaining?

Vyas: Well… (he really says ‘well..’!), not exactly. But asking us to redo maps and things like that is boring..

Me: ummm.. ok.. And then..?

Vyas: They must be forgiving.

Me: Eh?

Vyas: Suppose I default once, they must not mind. If I continue to default, I can be called a defaulter.

Me: I see.. And?

Vyas: I like their being regular to school.

Me: Oh?

Vyas: And, I don’t like teachers comparing us with other sections (there are about 10 sections in class 5).

Me: They do?

Vyas: Some do. For example, G Ma’am who teaches us English, is the class teacher for another section. She says her class is better than ours.

Me: Why does she say that?

Vyas: God knows why. And she knows. How will we know?

Me: You didn’t ask her? May be she has a reason?

Vyas: No. I think she might be biased because it is her class.

Me: oh… I still think you must ask.. anyway.. so how about other qualities… like.. how they dress, how they talk, what they wear, etc?

Vyas: Maaa! You are asking me as if school is some party or wedding!

Phew! Not bad.. Hope things stay that way!
And then he shows me a map work, something on a world outline map, and asks,

Vyas: Ma, how is this?

Me: It looks awesome da.

Vyas: Hmmm… You think its awesome. The teacher thinks its gruesome. (Rolls eyes and all that)

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Pssssst….. The teacher is right btw;)

Assignments, Projects, Here we come!


Varun’s first school assignment, which amma did with the constant threat of the little one holding a handful of sketch pens over the chart, ready to doodle on it any minute.. He settled for another ‘quarter’ after some cajoling. Quarter chart I mean!

My Family
My Family- Grands, 3 paternal aunts, a paternal uncle, and a maternal aunt, with anna, mom & dad of course!

Forgive the poor Picasa edit effects.. The pics were a color print of a collage on a thick A-4 sheet.

Vyas’s had to do a model of one of the man-made wonders.. I was insisting on the Forbidden city, but he wanted to keep-it-simple and opted for the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Materials used: A 1 liter water bottle (a straight one, not too narrow at the mouth), 3 bricks of off-white moulding clay, few tooth-picks, a saree-box or puzzle-box cover or anything flat for the base, and fevicol glue.

Method:

1. Stuff the empty bottle with bits of waste paper to keep it tight and heavy.
2. Dot the glue lavishly on the outer surface and start patting the clay and spread using finger pressure.
3. Even out the surface using a rolling pin.
4. Roll out thin ‘snakes’ like Varun calls it, and make arch shapes.. There seem to be around 8 floors in the actual building. So 8 floors of arched shapes.
5. Layer the floors by making a ring and pinch them to make it flat. Make sure you keep dabbing the glue at all the stages where you do the sticking..
6. Slide or stick 2/3 tooth-picks between the arched shapes to give a ‘pillar’ appearance.
7. Fix the tower now onto a base with a little more clay on one side of the bottom and incline it slightly.

And you have the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

After we were done, the fellow remembered the following morning that it was a group activity and another girl had volunteered to make one and had also brought one. But was quick to add that it was an out-sourced project and was done for her brother the previous year!! And so, it does not count it seems!! Brat! Well, we enjoyed doing it though!

Back to Ragi & School


Fingers still crossed 🙂

Pic: http://www.graphics16.com/
Pic: http://www.graphics16.com/

Its his 8th day in school and so far only 3 tantrums:

1. I want to carry a bag (back-pack) like anna!
2. I want to wear uniform to school- Like anna!
3. I want to take my new snack-box to school (this, on a Sunday)

So, I let him carry an empty bag one day, besides his basket. The school has strictly instructed to send only a simple plastic basket and no fancy bags.. For the uniform tantrum, he got to wear his anna’s old uniform shirt (which of course reached his knees) for 5 mins before his shower 🙂 He gets to wear a uniform only from the next academic year!

We were at our wit’s end trying to make him understand that the school was closed on Sundays.. His rolling-on-the-floor-bawl would have been answered with a tight spank by the mommy.. But, but, but, for the dad’s intervention.. The dad signed a deal with the fella and promised to take him to the school, but he must return without a fuss if the gates were closed… He promptly agreed and ran with his new snack-box- an empty one- and had his WYSIWYG moment when he saw the closed gates. Came back quietly and sported a long face for about 15 minutes and then forgot about it.. Have this weird feeling that we have been yielding a bit too much for his tantrums, but fine, it hasn’t been all that bad.. And he is happy to be going to school!

To report another nice change, the little man has opted for Ragi kanji over his ‘Bonnitta’! Its an year since we moved from Ragi to regular drinks like Bournvita, Complan etc and I was toying with the idea of re-introducing millet.. He has frequent tiffs with his friend ‘Sammu’ on who is ‘BIG’. Both the elves cannot settle for an amicable- “Both of you are big” solution.. About a week back, he came back, all ruffled, asking what it takes to become strong and big.. I said, ‘Ragi kanji’! He seems to be really serious about the ‘growing strong & big’ bit.. Good for me 😉

So all nice uncles and aunties out there, Varun is officially in formal school and no damages reported so far! He is also enjoying his Ragi porridge 😉 Hope am not saying it all too soon!!

Potpourri – Home made


It was one of the holiday assignments for Vyas.. The first batch of leaves, flowers, lemon/orange peels turned black with fungus when we tried to dry them.. So we trashed it and started all over again and this is what we did:

Ingredients

Flowers used- Few roses (2-3 varieties), jasmine, magnolia (sampangi?)
Leaves – Lemon, mint, tulsi, corn earns
Peels/Vegs – Orange, lemon, a baby corn, the center of a capsicum with the seeds intact
Spices – Cloves, cardomom, cinnamon, fennel seeds
Oil – Few drops of Rose and Sandalwood oil each

Method

1. Put all the ingredients (other than the oil), together in a large bowl and leave it for a day so it becomes limp
2. Shade dry them for 3-4 days
3. When dry, put them in a bowl and add few drops of rose and sandal oil and toss them lightly
4. Arrange them neatly in a bowl and adorn any spot in your house..

Tips: The corn, corn ears, capsicum etc are for mere decoration.. The orange peel can also be cut like a flower and dried.. Use your imagination and turn just about anything into a potpourri ingredient!

Pictures:

On being girls and friends


A convo:

Vyas to dad/me: You know what?

Dad: What?

Vyas: K has a girl friend *rolls his eyes* (K is his classmate)

Dad: Oh ok.. Good!

Vyas: What good? (a little annoyed)

Dad: C’mon, you have girl friends too, right?

Vyas: No. Some of my friends are girls. They are not my girl friends.. And I don’t have any..

Perhaps not just yet?!
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I catch him grinning sheepishly when he is reading Harry Potter, and ..

Me: Hey, what is the joke..

Vyas: Nothing… (and continues to read with that expression)

Me: Tell me da.. Its so long since I read that I’m forgetting it all..

Vyas: Ayyo.. nothing.. its that Ron and Lavender acting funny..

Me to myself: Idhu onakku thevaya (Why the hell did you have to ask!)
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Sigh… By virtue of having read the entire HP series in 45 days flat, my boy is officially a grown-up 🙂

The golden rendezvous (contd..)


The build-up!

The two teachers were friendly, and Vyas had worked with one of them for a school project!

Teacher A: Hello!

Varun: (Turns and sits showing his back to the teacher).

Teacher to me: Please come and sit with him so he feels comfortable.

I do.

Teacher A: Shall we stack these rings? (and hands him a ring)

Varun: (Grabs the ring and throws it near the other teacher’s feet. Repeats it the 2nd time too!!)

The dad and I exchange that ‘gone-case’ look..

Teacher A: What’s your name?

Varun: Solla matten. I’ll not say

Teacher A: Sari, indha book pakkalama.? Shall we see the pics in this book?

Varun: Enakku yedhuvum vendam. I don’t want ANYTHING

Teacher A: (Points at a bicycle pic and asks): What is this?

Varun: Adhu Auto. That’s an auto-rick.

Teacher A: (Points at the auto and asks): Appo idhu enna? So, what is this?

Varun: Ummm… Cycle

Teacher A: (picks another book, points at a camel and asks): What is this?

Varun: Cow

Teacher A: (Points at the cow and then the same question)

Varun: It says Mooo…

At this point, you’d find an involuntary reflex from the dad, mopping the sweat-beads on his brows, and the ‘gone-case’ look now most visible on both our faces!..

Me: Just a moment. Let me try.

Teacher B: Please do! (And is visibly relieved!)

The brat at this point decides to run and check on the others! I bring him back.. I suddenly feel drained of energy!

Teacher A: Now, do you want a chocolate?

Varun: Chocolate vendam, onnum vendam! I don’t want anything!

Teacher A: A wafer? (And pulls out a wafer)

Varun: (Eyes the wafer and before we realize, has snatched it from her! This boy, who is generous with his ‘thank yous’ and ‘pleases’ when i help pick dry leaves or twigs to make a forest on a heap of sand, when i help find his screw-driver or spanner, SNATCHED a wafer, which is not even something he greatly likes! And we all are of course zapped and for a second I forget to even close my mouth!)

Me: (Opened the books with pics of vehicles): Where’s the scooter?

Varun: (With a bite of wafer in his mouth, points correctly at the scooter for a change)

Me: Where’s the motor-bike?

Varun: (Points correctly..)

The teacher gets a cue and leads from there, and what follows is a rapid-fire round!

Teacher A: (Points at the car) Idhu enna? What is this?

Varun: Car

Teacher A: (the plane) This?

Varun: Aeroplane

Teacher: What’s the color?

Varun: Blue (There is a thin blue line on a fully white plane. Technically, a white plane. But pass)

Teacher A: Where’s blue here?

Varun: Dho..(points at the blue line!)

The teacher pulls out few rings in different colors and our man identifies all the colors..

Teacher A: What’s the color of your tee?

Varun: Yellow

Teacher: Whose pic is that on your tee?

Varun: Kisshnaa (his mouth stuffed with the last bit of the wafer!) Krishna!

Teacher: You want to play cricket? Here, take this ball and bat..

Varun: Maaten! Naan foot-ball dhaan veladuven. No, I won’t play cricket. Only foot-ball.

And he thrusts the bat in dad’s hand and hits the ball all over the room..

Teacher B: You must be a good boy like Vyas when you come here next, ok?!

Varun: Looks at her, and turns away without a response!

Teacher B (To us): Here, please fill in this form and pay the fee in that counter, over there!

Phew!! We said a hurried thank-you, lest she changes her mind, and rushed to the counter!The entire 15 mins, felt like an eternity! A good 5 minutes later, when I was leading Varun out of the room, he went to the same teachers and bid a very endearing ‘Byeeeeeeee, voluntarily!!’

Now, we most certainly would not have been refused admission if Varun had not answered even a single question right.. The interview at this school is more to assess if the child is ‘ready’ for school, and if there is a case of a delayed/different milestone etc.. There were cranky kids crying due to hunger or sleep, some simply bored, few still sucking the thumb, and even smaller kids who were barely stringing few words together, few, absolutely mature and so cooperative and at their best behaviour.. (another friend’s son sang Shakira’s waka waka!) All made it… But only our man seemed to be like a fox on an overdose of honey (thaen kudicha nari!). If anything, I’m now sure that they do not refuse admission even for bad behaviour provided, the older sibling is a ‘good boy’:) If they had refused admission, we would have pulled out Vyas also and put both of them in another school just 2 blocks away from my house, and that was Vyas’s worst nightmare:) It was really the anna who sought the admission for the thambi after-all!