Some interesting conversations

Incident 1

Vyas: Amma, hold Varun, will you?! (angry)

Me: Just let him be dear. You carry on with what you are doing.

Vyas: Gir! (says it loudly, prolonging the ‘ra’ sound)

Me: What? What is that?

Vyas: (Rolls his eyes): Gir!

Me: Spell please. I don’t understand what you are saying.

Vyas: G. R. R…R.R.R .. (says with the dot dot dot too)

Incident 2

Vyas: I want to play for some more time. Its only 8.00 PM.

Me: No. Time up. Put all the toys back. You have some homework to do!

Vyas: Please ma!

Me: I will count till 10 by which time you should have started clearing up the mess!

Vyas: (Rolls his eyes this time too): Few!

Me: (Again) What few?

Vyas: (Gives me an angry glare, with hands on his hips and almost on the verge of crying)

Me: What are you saying?

Vyas: Do I have to spell everything I say?!

Me: (I almost got it, but just wanted to hear him say!): You better. To save some trouble for both of us!

Vyas: P.H.E.W! As if you don’t know!

Incident 3:

A conversation between Vyas and Varun

Vyas: Varun, say ‘amma’.

Varun: amma

Vyas: poochi (for insect)

Varun: thoo chi

Vyas: bathroom, sollu

Varun: thaaathm

Vyas: pongal

Varun: thannan

Me: Vyas, get him say simpler words.

Vyas: Ok. Varun, say Chakkarai Pongal.

Varun: !!! (Total silence!)

Me: (looking out for something hard to hit the elder fellow with)!

The eluding Paa…

.. and occasionally its cousins Kaa, Raa, Vaa and Saa.. There is no definite pattern for sounds other than paa, but usually the second syllables drown silently. Varun trots about the house saying too many things to too many people at the same time! He calls out to ‘thaattiii’ (paatti), squats on the floor pointing at his tiny legs and complains of mosquitoes. He demonstrates the rest of the problem by frantically scratching his legs.

If he is not asking me for ‘dhaaachee’ when am in the kitchen, he’d be asking for thaatham. The first time I heard his demand for ‘thaatham’, I racked by brains (I guess a little of it is still left!) to find out what he was asking by which time he was red with anger and just about ready to throw anything within his reach at his stupid mom who did not understand a ‘word’ of what he was saying! It then dawned on me to simply replace ‘thaa’ with ‘paa’, and there! he was asking for ‘paatham’ which in turn refers to ‘paathram’ and that is Tamizh for a vessel/container!

He looks at the frothy white batter in the ‘dhaindha’, (grinder) and says , ‘maaa-ooo’ (for maavu).

A picture chart of animals in their room is almost in rags, thanks to the little brat who uses it as a floor mat mostly! He points to the elephant and goes , ‘aaaaneeee’, and points to a pig when asked to point to the doggee/juju. Anything else he is asked to point out has one standard response, ‘dho kke’, which is for ‘dho irukke’, and the object pointed to is a simple guess work. If he sees disapproval in your eyes, the little finger pointing to the object will shift to the next nearest picture on that chart!

The ‘anna’ is a proud man though. He instructs his brother thus:

V1: Varun, say ‘paa’
V2: pvaa
V1: ttee
V2: ttee
V1: paa-ttee
V2: thaatteee
V1: cho-taa
V2: thotha
V1: bheeem
V2: beeeemv
V1: chota bheem
V2: thotatheem!

Varun is somehow convinced that no one else at home is competent enough to wield some magic and bring ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ on the TV screen. He trusts only his anna when it comes to playing this particular DVD. Even if his anna is in the loo, he’d drag him holding onto his shirt or trousers, bring him to the TV, pull out the Tatasky wires from the TV and ‘look up’ to his anna and say, ‘anna, Thomaa’. At which, the anna beaming with pride that his little brother is ‘looking up’ to him for ‘help’, would look at the rest of the household from the corner of his eye to ensure that everyone is looking at him. He would re-affirm the need with his little brother again, ‘Does pappa want to watch Thomas? Should I play part 1 or part II of the DVD?’, and hold out the one which he actually loves to watch! The little one would invariably pick the one which his anna brandishes and there is peace. There is a slight feet-tapping from the little trotter when the lovely songs feature in between the episodes including the title song. His favorite song in the series goes ‘Silly old Gordon fell in a ditch, fell in a ditch (2), all on a Monday morning’…

Amma goes to awchip (office) these days, anna goes to thool (school) and he usually goes dai (bye) wearing his chooo (shoes). He insists on singing baa baa chee (baa baa black sheep) over and over again and never seems to get bored. When he starts saying paatti, office and school, he’d have forgotten the beautiful dialect that we all are so used to now! Vadhun, theeth dhon thop sayin thaa too soon!

The little busy-body

The busy-body Varun finds great joy in placing his diaper-clad bum right on the face of any member in the house lying down with face up, or on the head if lying face down. The piggy-back or elephant-ride on his brother is always on the reverse.

Piggy ride
Piggy ride

Piggy ride
Piggy ride

He holds me by a finger using his left hand and puts out his right-hand in the direction of the kitchen and talks his talk as he drags me in pointing to a box. “Dhaaacheee” he says asking for dry grapes and does not let go till I pick the box. He opens his mouth for me to pop a raisin into his open mouth and insists on taking one between his tiny thumb and fore-finger and ambles out of the kitchen.

Assorted utensils with ladles of different sizes and some water can hold him in a place for a solid 20 minutes. “Amma, theeethaa”, he pleads when he wants water. He pretends to drink from the tumbler and does drink a sip or two. The eyes then suggest mischief and even as you are watching him you see a fountain spray from his mouth. He dashes in any random direction to avoid getting caught by anyone of us, giggling away to glory.

The play things
Who cares for toys!

His potty-training is yet another lesson on patience and I must say we have almost hit the threshold! This man thinks that just by virtue of the sitting-act on the potty, he will find the expected! He sits for 2 seconds, gets up immediately to look disappointingly at the empty pot, gesturing ‘why nothing?’ with his palm. And decides to put both his feet inside the pot and sit comfortably! The potty is also his store-house for putting away his brother’s stationery or his toys (disgusting I know!)!

Multi-purpose potty
Multi-purpose potty

Whenever he bangs himself against something (both, intentionally and unintentionally), he comes rubbing his head saying , “Ammaa, dungaa”, meaning his head, back, hand, whatever, hurts!

He goes green with envy if he sees me cuddling Vyas. He pulls his bother by his hair or shirt, whichever is in reach and pushes him away from me and places himself between us. Expresses discontent strongly if his anna puts his arms around me again or kisses me! A brat!

The choice of lullaby is his. If there is any soul on this earth that is happy listening to me singing, it is only Varun:) “Amma, Nandaa” he says when I have to sing him one of the 3 bhajans that has the word Nandana. If not the bhajans, he ‘requests’ the rhyme ” aee iyaa iyaa (A B C D E F G)”, or “baa baa baa baa (Baa Baa Black sheep…)”. These go on in a loop when he insists on a change. And then we switch to Thaaye yeshodha or sakala vidhya or any such that comes to my mind. He excuses all abaswarams!

And when his eyelids really grow heavy, he puts a plug into my mouth!! He thrusts his thumb or the fore-finger of one or both hands into my mouth and I have to hold it between my lips just hard enough for me not to bite and at the same time not let him touch my teeth or tongue! Plugging his own mouth seems to be a better option!

The vocabulary list is growing by the day and the primary list is something like this:

1. Amma – for mommy
2. Appppa – (bites his lower lip as he says it) for dad
3. Anna- for his brother
4. Thaatha – for grandpa
5. Dhaadhaa or paaapu – for this grandma
6. Akka – any girl whose name he does not know
7. Chitthi- for his aunts
8. Chittha – for his uncles
9. Aaacheee – for Aashraya
10. Duddeeee /Anna- for Aathrey
11. Chaethaa – for Swetha (few of his girl-friends in our apartments:))
12. Acchhhaa – for Varsha
13. Athyaaa – for Sathya
14. Nannni – for Nandini
15. Aanni – for aunty
16. Thannu or theetha – for water
17. Kaayee -for veggies
18. Aaappii – for all fruits- apples, mangoes, bananas, grapes!
19. teeyaa – for tea, coffee, or any drink
20. Baa – for ball,
21. Kaanii- for tamil Kaanom (when playing hide and seek)
22. Taataa- to take him out for a walk
23. Dhaai – for bye
24. A Che- for AC
25. Mammam – for any food

This besides a lot of other mumbo-jumbo that we struggle to decipher!

Double Trouble

Incident 1:

Was discussing a holiday plan with my son Vyas, and we both made a check-list for the trip. At the end of the task, I told him I was all excited about the short break and was looking forward to it. And the big boy stuns me saying, “But I am calm about it” and mini-lectures me on saving the excitement for the actual trip, and it is fine if I start getting excited the moment we board the bus/train!

Incident 2:

Received a small lesson on prioritizing things. Vyas was looking for his spectacles and it was nowhere to be found. He had just a few more minutes to start to a camp and was getting restless. I tried my bit by looking around but could not find it. His dad was just finishing his pooja and like every other day, wanted to adorn his son’s forehead with the Sri Churnam. ‘Romba mukyam! (As if this is important right now)’ was all Vyas could muster to say in frustration! Though the counter was a little too much, I could not but agree with him. The spectacles or the thilak? The timing was great and we had a laugh:)

Incident 3:

We had to attend a betrothal function of a relative. It happened to be a weekday and the function was in the evening. My MIL had planned to leave early and so took along Varun in the morning and the rest of us were to join in the evening. My husband and I reached there in the evening to only have a dozen random relatives complaining that Varun had broken 2 mobile phones and a TV remote and that there was huge bill waiting! But Varun’s thatha came to the little one’s defense, brushing aside all the accusations saying that it was wrong to place such objects of lust within reach of the children. What can poor Varun do?!!

Mommy is angry!

Varun is giving Vyas a nice run for his things. I thought there was still a long way to go for petty quarrels, complaints and fights, buts it has arrived sooner than expected. The little one refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer from his anna, and immediately turns to one of us for support. When we do not relent, his brouhaha brings our neighbors out of their home! You can see him almost rolling on the floor in protest! If he were a little older, I would have replied with a tight slap. Just like the one the little boy in the movie ‘Punnaigai Mannan’ receives for insisting that Kamal Hassan hang upside-down! And the transition is so sudden! Where do kids learn these things from?

Vyas mostly plays a good anna and yet he has his moments! He drives the little one crazy taking the usual tit-for-tat route, and it vexes me! He suddenly finds his own toys and books boring and his brother’s very interesting. Even the small picture hand books with fruits, colors, vegetables et all are super reading stuff for an 8 yr old! I told you he understands me like no one else! He knows which chord to pull to please me or peeve me. And though he does not roll over the floor like his brother, he associates all possible adjectives when he ‘lovingly’ refers to his brother. For instance, he comes complaining that Varun is acting like a ‘demented monkey’! Catches the glint of anger in my eyes, and content in the knowledge that he has achieved what he wanted, he takes it a little further and adds, ‘He is all dotty’. He doesn’t stop there. ‘This fellow is balmy today’ and ‘He is such a dingbat’!

There are a hundred nice things for a child to pick up from books, friends, or other people around. But no, there is nothing like the joy of learning crazy stuff and liberally using it on a younger soul. That the little one is an equal match even when not being able to mouth two full words, is a different story altogether!! Whoever romanticized parenting!!

Sons or Daughters?

Duddu (Aathrey) is mamma’s boy and sees to it that he does not make my sister sad. He was barely 3 and a half when his elbows were fractured. My sister almost heard the bones crack and with one swoop gathered the boy and her 1 year old daughter Aashraya, and rushed to the doctor. It was only when the doctor was wrapping the fractured limb did she notice that Aathrey had not let out a single cry of pain or protest!

Aathrey is now 8 and a half. The other day, he magnanimously declared that his mom should make it to the movie Avatar along with her colleagues and must not feel bad about not taking him and his sister along. He reasoned that he and Aashraya have a lot of fun but his mom hardly gets to go out with friends!! That is Duddu for you!

Aashraya is how I love to be:-) Fierce, independent, confident, and beautiful!! She has an amazing hold of herself and gets things done her way at least 9 out of 10 times! She is daddy’s pet. She is yet to set her eyes on the moon!!

During our recent get together in our aunt’s house, her dad took her, Aathrey and Vyas shopping. On their way back, Aashi conspired (she leads her brothers mind you!) and told that they should leave the toys back in the car. Mummy might not appreciate the amount of money shelled out on the toys! Somewhere during the conversation, one of the boys blurted out and sure enough, my sister gave a good piece of her mind! Aashi was quick to rebuke her brothers with, “See? I told you not to tell amma till we get home!!”.

Last Sunday, she let me into another secret. She tells me that she is always upto some mischief and quietly leads her mom to believe that it was Duddu’s doing! When prompted to tell me some instances, she extracted a promise from me saying I must not tell my sister about it! I promised. In whispers, she tells me that she quietly changes the letter ‘i’ to ‘e’ in his homework notebooks and the brother gets to listen to sermons on wrong spellings, carelessness et all from the mother, while she quietly escapes!! And this is Aashi for you!

As the children grow, I see that the daughters get more close to the parents and are better friends than the sons who seem to drift slightly. Am I right or am I biased and imagining? With two boys, I’ll be happy to hear you guys say that it is all my imagination:-) If I’m right, is it a cultural thing? Do share your views while I wait for Aashi and Duddu to grow up and see them doting over their mother!

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:-)

Trysts with ants and random things..

A baby is just an extension of the mommy till it learns to turn over. Life is fairly a simple affair the first few months where all the baby needs to do is let out a small cry. The mommy knows if its a hunger call, a tummy pain, sleep, or well, a wet diaper! How do the babies grow so fast?!!

Time never ceases to amaze me! It seems like it was just a few days back that he attempted to turn on his tummy and failed! And like Ghazni, succeeded after several attempts! He is turning 9 months old next week and is all set to take on the world, which by the way is a small one for now. His world now comprises of his doting brother, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, the maid, the telephone, anna’s small chair, grandpa’s spectacles, and big black ants among other things!

Doors and door-stoppers fascinate Varun. He drags himself on his tummy at a lightning speed, turns around to see if anyone is catching him in action, and makes one big dive at the stopper and thrusts it into his mouth. We dare not rush up to him to stop because he still has an eye on us and moves even faster and bangs himself on the door. We device a strategy not to notice him and casually walk-up to him and pick him up! This goes on in a loop until we are tired of distracting. But he seems to have his goals clear!

The phone rings, and you see him making an about turn with the eyes lit like a 1000 watts bulb!. And makes a dash at the person picking the receiver! And insists on holding the receiver and licking it, or holding it at his ears and smiling at no one in particular! The person most affected here is the grandpa, who is a person on a trapeze balancing Varun on one side, the receiver on the other while also trying to save his dear spectacles. His spectacles make a crash-land at least 2 dozen times a day. He is seriously considering switching to contact lenses!

The yellow-colored Winnie-the-Phooh on the red wooden chair is his dear friend. He’s still not got his acts of sitting right, but crawls up to the chair and manages to hold and stand. While he manages to get on his feet with other support systems like us, or other furniture etc, this chair is special. He can be at it for an hour at a stretch or maybe more, trying to lift his feet off the ground, going around it, pulling it down, falling on it, tapping Winnie et all!

But the game he best enjoys is chasing the big black ants, which for some reason seem to be breeding too fast this season! Like a cheetah on a prowl, he spots the ants going about their business, and makes a dash at the one nearest. His anna is going mad with his little brother’s trysts with these giant ants because he has taken it upon himself to chase like crazy and smash the ants, lest it gets to taste his baby brother. The other day, tired of hunting down the ants, Vyas desperately tried driving sense into the 9-month old head, telling him how dangerous the ants are, only to find his cheeky brother holding 2 ants in his hand! Enjoy baby. You will soon know what it is to be ‘licked’ by an ant that size. If you are lucky, the season will pass through and the ants will mysteriously disappear. So what’s the next on agenda?!!

Inspired by ‘The Famous Five’

Yet another moment that indicated Vyas is ‘really’ the big brother was his graduating from comic-reading to short novels, his favorites being The Famous Five and The Secret Seven (Enid Blyton).

Well, like everything else in life, his book reading habit has brought its own share of positives and ‘not-so-positive’ consequences (no negatives though!). He is thoroughly enjoying the adventures of the famous five and he too wants to be a part of such adventures and claims to be as courageous as the super kid, Julian. But visiting the bathroom alone after 7.00 PM has nothing to do with courage. So someone has to stand guard! He has the bathroom door closed of course! Acquainting himself with strangers and being at ease is not important either. One just needs the knack of identifying the ‘wrong-doer’ and the ability to deliver a kick in the villian’s butt and claims he is that material:-)

I understand how such things inspire kids. But what I was not prepared for was this. He suddenly announced one day that he has wished God for another sibling and this time it must be a girl! I simply asked him to ‘un-wish’ and put such wishes to rest and literally threatened him to never ever wish for more and that the two of them were ‘blessings’ enough! Tough nut that he is, he wouldn’t budge. He insisted that I ‘listen patiently’, while his wish still had me in a stupor and thoroughly shaken! He wished for a sister to create a famous five team here. He is Julian, his little brother is Dick, and the girl-to-come will be Anne! I asked him how the team will be complete without Georgina. He had the plan well chartered out. He has wished for a girl to be born to his uncle. Wait, the wish does not end there. That girl, his cousin, should desire to be like a boy and she must also rear a dog and call it Timothy!!! UUfff!!! Now its my turn to pray and wish. Wish that Anne part of the wish goes unheard and Georgina part comes true. Not worried about Timothy yet. That’s for his uncle, aunt, and George to figure out!!

Awaiting more surprise packages from my ‘dreamer-son’ and totally clue-less about what to expect from the 7 month old toddler-sweetheart who at the moment is vying for attention… Looonng lovely way to go..

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