Monday, November 28, 2005

Cayee, cayee...

This is the variant for carry, carry. Which indicates that please carry me up so I can see if there is anything of interest on the kitchen platform for me to eat. Considering that his intake is next to nothing these days, cayee cayee, cayee is a means to filter out the tripe (read nutritious dals and sabjis) and zoom in on the more interesting stuff like pasta and fries. (Fies, to be specific). As I write this, the child has not eaten a full meal for the past three days, and given that two of these three days were spent in straining to expel the bowels, one forgave him. But yesterday, when he had a stomach so empty it was hollow, he still refused to take in solid nutrition. Only gu gu, juicey and yes, cayee.
Planning to set up a parenting magazine with a friend. Please advice on the wholesomeness of this plan, and any help if available is welcome.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Open House at Playschool

I have finally decoded who Mouullli is. This mysterious moulli is called for at odd times from the windows, in line with Tilak and Silli (who is Sunil, our ex driver). All of whom Krish enjoys playing with. The obvious uninformed conclusion was that Moullil was also someone whom Krish loved playing with, but I wasnt aware of who he was. Turns out he is Mohnish, Krish's bench mate in class and best friend of the moment. Apparently all the two want to do is have a good session of goobledegook gabbing in their babble right at the back of the class, before they set off terrorising the rest of the kids in the class. Looks also like I have a bully in the making on my hands. Also, the brat wants to grab the hairbands and kerchiefs off the more docile kids in class and swab the floor with them. He is also an acknowledged narcissist spending most of his time admiring himself in the class mirror. And yes, all this tripe apart he is also picking up words and songs, and hums tunes and sings to himself. Plus is showing an interest in recognising colours, objects, fruits and vegetables. Compared with other brats his age, he is still way behind, but what is of relevance is that he is picking up and how. His vocabulary has burst into fruition from around 30 words a couple of months ago, he must use at least 80 now. He lets me know when he wants food and when he wants to be carried and is more interactive now, somethhing he never ever did earlier and is interested in interactive play. God bless his little soul. His class teacher tells me not to worry, not to panic and take him into therapy, he processes all the information he feels, and will speak when he wants to. Its not like he doesnt understand. He understands everything, but every child develops differently, and your child is not dull by any standards.
Keep the faith. And till then, here's to Mouillllliiii.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lets eat mum mum

Last night was a miracle of sorts in the Manral household. Mum mum, said the brat and led me by the hand into the kitchen. After all these days of force feeding him, to be told that he needed to be fed was such a relief that I almost got down on my hands and knees and thanked the Almighty Lord for giving my kid some appetite. Being the paranoid mother I am, I do a run down of all that he has ingested everyday, that stray bite of a biscuit included to ensure that he is getting his daily dose of vitamins and minerals. I also run over the amount of liquid he has taken in and the amount he takes out--sometimes I wonder if it is my own over zealousness that had put him off food. Well, to be honest, it was also the potty problem. Yes, wont sit on the potty, will stand and do. And is also constipated very often too. Which all results in an uncomfortable fullness constantly, and not really any desire to eat. One can understand that. But when one sees the cheekbones and ribcage stand out, the heart cries out.
Anyway, he is now at an age when he can recognise the pasta pack and pick it from a supermarket shelf, as well as his chocolate brand, and his potato chips. But thankfully, these are still brands that I choose for him, not stuff he chooses on his own. But given the preponderance of advertising he is exposed to, I wonder how long this will last.

Buy buy baby
Let me confess at the outset, this snippet was born as a consequence of my just turned two year old’s staple reaction to the golden arches. “McDonald” he pipes up. Ronald McDonald is an old friend to be climbed all over. And “Fies” (French Fries in translation) are the hottest thing to eat since man discovered fire. God forbid you pass the place and don’t get him some Fies. He’s not alone. Kids his age are fast becoming the next gen of super consumers being exposed to brands and brand ambassadors with an intensity our generation couldn’t even imagine. Children as young as six months can recognize brands, so marketers are aggressively going after babies and toddlers in hopes of implanting “cradle to grave” devotion to their products. Most children under five can’t tell the difference between programming and commercials, and don’t understand that not all advertising is true. According to a news report out recently, today’s average child is familiar with over 400 brands by the time they turn 10. One study found that 69 per cent of all three year olds could recognize the McDonald golden arches, and this is interesting considering half of them didn’t even know their own full name. Now this is a study conducted in UK, but you could easily transpose it to India in a few years and have it wholely relevant. According to the UK NHS, an increasing number of children are succumbing to depression given the pressure to own and consume preferred toy brands and food items. Some companies making products targeted at children actually hire hire psychologists and behavioral scientists to help them target children’s vulnerabilities and exploit their relationship to their parents.
In the Indian context, one must comment on the use of kids in categories which are not obviously connected with them. Cars? “My daddy’s big car” is the latest ad for the Maruti Esteem, which attempts to leverage the father’s desire to make his child proud of him. Earlier too, Hoodibaba Bajaj used a kid being dropped to a picnic spot as the driver of the storyline. TVS Suzuki also has a child being taken by a father to a spot where there is no rain to allow him light firecrackers.
Obvious categories like mosquito repellents, food products, snacks, juices, beverages and confectionaries do have kids as a staple ingredient in their advertising communication. And the pressure on the kid to consume these products is immense. Try sending a kid to school without a branded bag and cartoon merchandised pencil box and the like. Also products which traditionally spoke to mothers about the kids health needs like Bournvita and Horlicks have now repositioned themselves to speak to the kids directly, making the drink a cool thing to have rather than something mom shoves down the throat. This is reflected at the supermarkets where you see the kids picking out the products they consume, whether the snack foods, the beverages or even the soaps and the toothpastes, which are meant for family consumption.
Children’s channels and advertising using children (one has an issue with some of the oversmart children depicted in some ads) has changed the average Indian child from one who happily used whatever mom felt best, to one who actually now, can dictate what the entire household will use or buy. Some children use their pester power to even influence the purchase of consumer durables and cars (which might explain the presence of those kids in the car advertising one spoke of earlier). The childhood obesity epidemic is becoming a reality in India as well, and in some countries like Sweden, advertisements targeting children below the age of 12 are banned. A study by Namita Unnikrishnan and Shailaja Bajpai titled 'The Impact of Television Advertising on Children' in the early 1990s looked at this phenomenon. "In 1992, an estimated 35 per cent of all TV ads were using children to attract consumer interest and a larger portion were targeting the child viewer specifically," says Unnikrishnan. According to the study, published in 1996, "...Almost 75 per cent of the children in the 8-15 age group say they want to own products advertised on TV.... Their 10 favorite ads include even detergent and airline ads." Sadly, all this is making our kids grow up faster than they should, get more commercial and acquisitive.Marketers refer to this trend as “age compression” or KGOY (“Kids Getting Older Younger”).Things are progressively worse today. Schools are actually tying up with brands and companies to allow on campus promotions of products.


Do go to www.savingchildhood.org, a forum that discusses important issues concerning raising kids in an increasingly commercial world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hushabusha all fall down

Ring a ringa roses is our current favourite song, next only to chal chal chal mere hathi. Which means, I had to sing both alternately, till around 12 midnight when our eyes finally drooped off into neenu land. Developed a hoarse throat by the end of it all, which was only soothed by a hot concoction of honey and ginger juice. What is particularly encouraging for me, given my concern that he will not be able to settle down in school, is that he now actually runs into class and then turns around gives me a wave and a goodbye kiss. In a way this makes my heart break. Now he doesnt need me anymore. He has his friends and his school and his teachers. I mop up a stray tear and get back home to realise, there are going to be many more such moments of Mom get out of my hair as he grows up, and perhaps when he falls in love and gets married, it will be Mom, get out of my life. These small seperations make you realise the validity of that Kahlil Gibran verse of children being born through you, but not being yours. You need to give them wings to fly and set them free, you are mere custodians of them and they are not bound to you. Okay, enough of the schmaltzy moaning. The point is the brat enjoys going to school. He has friends there. He loves his teachers and has finally made peace with the classroom. ANd in six months, I plan to take him out of this and put him into another class in another school. How can I be so cruel? But I must. He must go to a good professional school, with good facilities and good teachers. And the struggle will begin all over again. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Picture time



Here's us on Diwali day, looking all bright and festive. And yes, for those who read my thirtysomething at blogsource, this is the Madhuri Dixit outfit, that didnt quite work the magic, and this is also the brats dandiya outfit that won him the best dancer prize at the playschool contest.

Back to school

This morning was the testing time. School reopened and brat had to be coerced into wakey wakey land by eight am, so we could pop in some breakfast and have a nice leisurely bath, and be dressed without the manic rush that his waking at 8.45 am ensures. So at 8 am sharp, I cuddled next to him and began a litany of the food groups he loves. "Choc-o-late" "Pasta" "Mum Mum" "Auter" "Juicey" "Eggie" and voila, he opened eyes with a big grin on his face, ready to take on the world. Apparently, when Mom in law went to pick him up post school, he was roaming the playpen like a ruffain, shirt akempt, shoe laces untied and in general disarray. He is the sort of kid who doesnt believe in keeping still for a second, and even his classteacher calls him her havaldar as he is constantly walking up and down in class, investigating the flooring and the niches for any means of investigation or destruction.
Brat is due for the typhoid vaccine which I will probably have administered to him over the weekend so he can deal with his fever and crankiness over my two days of holidays and not need to take a day off from work. Not that there is too much work happening to start with, but the fact remains that if you break the routine of coming into office, it becomes oh so tempting to just rest your sweet patootie at home and chill. Because one is doing one's own thing, it is easy to slack off, there is no one to haul you over the coals and no one to answer to except yourself. And you do feel that you can do the same amount of work at home, given that all you need is the internet and a computer. But it doesnt work that way. The moment I open the laptop, brat will waddle over, overbrimming with curiousity at this Teee (TV to the uninitiated) that sits on mamma's lap. Then he proceeds to park his esteemed self on my lap and insist that I switch the crappy display of ant like heiroglyphs (my word file) to "song". Did I mention before that we are a song addict and MTV/Channel V rules. These days NDTV 24/7 rules too thanks to its wonderfully energising promo track. Then he will insist on pressing a few keys himself and at the end of it all, ruin a perfectly good work moment. I have zillion educational dvds which I cannot show him because all he wants to do is to have a go at the key board. The Tee on the other hand doesnt allow for such adventurousness, so is safer. By the way, we have know learnt our name. "What is your name?" Pat comes the answer "Kishhhh". Ah, well.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

No, nai

Been sometime since I actually updated everyone on the happenings in Krish Manral's rather eventful life. To start with well meaning relatives pointed out that I needed to get the brat assessed by specialists since he wasnt speaking well enough for his age, and hinted darkly at autism. Bring on the grey hair. Anyway, to cut a very long and depressing story short, got him evaluated by no less than three experts, and no, he is not autistic, something my wonderful pediatrician, Dr Tushar Maniar, had always reassured me. Only, probably a little slow for his age. But, now four months down the line (if you notice the time lag between the last regular updates and this update, you will realise the reason for the hiatus), he is speaking and how. The vocabulary has expanded rapidly. We now know A for Apple (so what if we pronounce it akal), B for ball, c for car. One two and three is also part of our arithmetic and we actually know the chorus to Johnny Johnny yes papa. So what if we get stuck on the papa bit, and then say, rather melancholically, "Papa gone". And yes, when we dont want to do someone, its "No, nai". Both languages in case we dont get the message the first time round. Then there is "Chalo chale" to go out, "Shoes" to be put on, "Juicy", for juice obviously, "Auter" for water, "Choc-o-late", "Pasta", "Birdy", "Doggie bow wow".
School reopens day after tomorrow and one wonders how the brat will get back into the groove of waking up by eight am. These days, his lil peepers dont open before 10 am, and that too under much cajoling and awakening with cold water towels. Billabong High (the school I plan to get him admitted into if they will have him) issues admission forms on the 21st of this month so the dreaded process draws closer. I have it easy now with his school barely three buildings away which allows me to wake him even 15 minutes before school time and get him into uniform and out of home in time.
But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Any tips on how to get a brat to wake up bright and early do let me know.

Friday, November 11, 2005

If your child stammers

This article was published in Femina, and I hope it has helped some parents whose children stammer

Does your child stammer? Stammering is perhaps amongst the most traumatic speech disorder a person can face, making them the butt of ridicule amongst insensitive peer and social circles. And as a child, this ridicule can scar a growing psyche permanently leading to more psychological and self esteem issues.
Interestingly, through history a number of historic figures were afflicted with this disorder. Most notably Demosthenes, the fabled orator, of ancient times, who then trained himself to speak clearly even with pebbles in his mouth and went on to become a rabble rouser of the highest order. Even Moses, St. Paul, Sir Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill and King George VI were stammerers. There are more than fifteen million stutterers in the world today, and the majority are children.
If you are a parent of a child who stutters, you are the crucial link between your child and fluency. How you deal with your child can either exacerbate the problem or resolve it completely. Stuttering can be viewed as a developmental problem that often begins during the early years of speech and language development that is between the ages of two and seven. The onset of stammering is often subtle and most stutterers only become apparent during their preschool or primary years. Sometimes an older or an adult may also begin stammering, as a result of a brain injury or an emotional event. The cause of stuttering remains unknown, and a number of complicated issues have been credited as being participatory causes towards stuttering. Often most stutterers speak fluently most of the time, can whisper fluently and can even sing fluently.
It has been observed that stress or emotional tension increases the incidence of stuttering. Also boys are four times more likely than girls to be stutterers, and hereditary factors are said to play some part in this though no proof has been found. Stammering also tends to run in the family, and children who have a close relative with an active stutter have a more likelihood of stuttering themselves. Contrary to common perceptions, stutterers are less intelligent than non stutterers nor do they have emotional problems, but the ridicule and the embarrassment caused by the stuttering might lead to emotional problems. According to estimates approximately 4 % of preschool children and 2 % of school children stammer, and of these half will outgrow this by adulthood.
To quote a stutterer, "What for other children was an easy task (tell others about the day they just had) was for me a traumatic experience. I could not express myself, I kept struggling with words. In school, I was afraid to ask a question. Simply to answer the attendance call was difficult for me. Some kids made fun of me. At home, I was unable to ask for what I wanted. I would get an orange when I really wanted a banana, because my parents didn't want to wait for me to end my sentence. In the outside world, at the restaurant, playing with my friends...I had to ask others to speak up for me. All these behaviors only served to increase my concerns about my stuttering. I still worry about whether I have smart things to say. Will I never be able to speak for myself? Will I never be able to express my own personality?"
What can you do as a parent to help your child? Here are some tips given by experts on the issue.
Pay attention to your child when he or she talks to you. Let your child know you're listening and not rushed or impatient. And if your child has something urgent to say, listen patiently. Look at your child while he or she is talking, don’t interrupt and ask the child to hurry up, or insert words into his sentences to hurry up the conversation. Most importantly always show the child that you care and understand what he or she is saying. If your child is upset, crying or injured, don’t demand the child tell you immediately the reason for his or her distress. Stuttering is likely to be aggravated in such a situation.
Most parents, in a bid to make the child more social, put the child up on display for guests and relatives. Doing this only forces a child to become more reticent and conscious of his or her shortcomings in fluency. Forcing a non fluent child to recite rhymes, and sing songs can be a terrifying ordeal for the child. Also do make it very clear with siblings, friends, relatives and babysitters as well as those in school that you would not like imitations or jokes of your child’s non fluent speech. Don’t hesitate to intervene and stop teasing amongst siblings. Try and ensure everyone in the house treats the stammering with a positive attitude. If a child lisps, don’t encourage it on the premise that it sounds cute. Your child could get caught in the lisp zone forever.


Imitation is the best form of learning. Keep your own speech slow and deliberate when talking to your child. Your child should be able to copy your speech easily, and keep your language also simple. On a particularly difficult day, keep your cool and speak calmly. Rapid speech, loud commands, shouting and strict disciplining all contribute to stammering. Keep your discipline consistent. Overly strict discipline, and lax discipline both contribute towards stuttering. Keep the atmosphere in the home as peaceful and happy as possible. A disturbed home, with overtly strict disciplinarians as parents, constant quarrels and disturbances all contribute to aggravating non fluency of speech.
Cut out suggestions for your child to talk in a better way, that only serves to draw attention to the fact that he or she isn’t talking correctly. Statements like “Slow down”, “breathe deeply” “Count to ten” etc only serve to make your child feel that the way he or she speaks is not good enough for you. Trying to get your child to speak correctly with any tricks or devices you might have heard, might be counterproductive. If stuttering shows no signs of diminishing you should consult a qualified speech therapist.
Do try to ensure that your child does things he or she is good at and enjoys—in sports or painting, etc, to build self confidence. Don’t try and keep him or her away from situations where you feel he or she might become the butt of ridicule. If your child becomes frustrated and complains that "I can't say that word" or "I can't talk right", then reassure her by explaining how some words give everyone trouble. If a child becomes alarmed by something he or she has said non fluently, calmly repeat the sentence fluently, in a non judgemental manner. On days when your child speaks fluently, increase his or her opportunity to speak, conversely on bad days, reduce the necessity to speak. Change the subject or shift into activities where the child doesn’t need to speak too much. For instance, sketching, painting, watch TV together, go for a walk, go to the park, etc. Donot also make the mistake of ignoring the non fluency and pretending it does not exist. A simple, loving statement of “It is hard for you sometimes to speak, isn’t it?” Can reassure your child that you love and accept him or her with or without the problems. Also don’t ever discuss your child’s stammering with other adults, in the presence of the child. This will only aggravate your child’s feeling that there is something wrong with him or her and lead to more self esteem issues. Most of all, don’t shout or chastise your child for stuttering. He or she is not doing it deliberately, and shouting at the child will only increase the child’s nervousness while speaking and cause more stammering.
A simple speech therapy you could try at home would be to have the child read out his or her story book to you, and listen calmly whether or not the stammering takes place. Praise fluency if it happens, don’t criticize stuttering. Sing songs together, play and have fun together without too much emphasis on speech. Remember most stuttering lasts till around seven years and then gradually diminishes till the child reaches adolescence or early adulthood. It is your handling of it which will determine its impact on your child’s psyche.
Ends

If your child stammers

This article was published in Femina, and I hope it has helped some parents whose children stammer

Does your child stammer? Stammering is perhaps amongst the most traumatic speech disorder a person can face, making them the butt of ridicule amongst insensitive peer and social circles. And as a child, this ridicule can scar a growing psyche permanently leading to more psychological and self esteem issues.
Interestingly, through history a number of historic figures were afflicted with this disorder. Most notably Demosthenes, the fabled orator, of ancient times, who then trained himself to speak clearly even with pebbles in his mouth and went on to become a rabble rouser of the highest order. Even Moses, St. Paul, Sir Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill and King George VI were stammerers. There are more than fifteen million stutterers in the world today, and the majority are children.
If you are a parent of a child who stutters, you are the crucial link between your child and fluency. How you deal with your child can either exacerbate the problem or resolve it completely. Stuttering can be viewed as a developmental problem that often begins during the early years of speech and language development that is between the ages of two and seven. The onset of stammering is often subtle and most stutterers only become apparent during their preschool or primary years. Sometimes an older or an adult may also begin stammering, as a result of a brain injury or an emotional event. The cause of stuttering remains unknown, and a number of complicated issues have been credited as being participatory causes towards stuttering. Often most stutterers speak fluently most of the time, can whisper fluently and can even sing fluently.
It has been observed that stress or emotional tension increases the incidence of stuttering. Also boys are four times more likely than girls to be stutterers, and hereditary factors are said to play some part in this though no proof has been found. Stammering also tends to run in the family, and children who have a close relative with an active stutter have a more likelihood of stuttering themselves. Contrary to common perceptions, stutterers are less intelligent than non stutterers nor do they have emotional problems, but the ridicule and the embarrassment caused by the stuttering might lead to emotional problems. According to estimates approximately 4 % of preschool children and 2 % of school children stammer, and of these half will outgrow this by adulthood.
To quote a stutterer, "What for other children was an easy task (tell others about the day they just had) was for me a traumatic experience. I could not express myself, I kept struggling with words. In school, I was afraid to ask a question. Simply to answer the attendance call was difficult for me. Some kids made fun of me. At home, I was unable to ask for what I wanted. I would get an orange when I really wanted a banana, because my parents didn't want to wait for me to end my sentence. In the outside world, at the restaurant, playing with my friends...I had to ask others to speak up for me. All these behaviors only served to increase my concerns about my stuttering. I still worry about whether I have smart things to say. Will I never be able to speak for myself? Will I never be able to express my own personality?"
What can you do as a parent to help your child? Here are some tips given by experts on the issue.
Pay attention to your child when he or she talks to you. Let your child know you're listening and not rushed or impatient. And if your child has something urgent to say, listen patiently. Look at your child while he or she is talking, don’t interrupt and ask the child to hurry up, or insert words into his sentences to hurry up the conversation. Most importantly always show the child that you care and understand what he or she is saying. If your child is upset, crying or injured, don’t demand the child tell you immediately the reason for his or her distress. Stuttering is likely to be aggravated in such a situation.
Most parents, in a bid to make the child more social, put the child up on display for guests and relatives. Doing this only forces a child to become more reticent and conscious of his or her shortcomings in fluency. Forcing a non fluent child to recite rhymes, and sing songs can be a terrifying ordeal for the child. Also do make it very clear with siblings, friends, relatives and babysitters as well as those in school that you would not like imitations or jokes of your child’s non fluent speech. Don’t hesitate to intervene and stop teasing amongst siblings. Try and ensure everyone in the house treats the stammering with a positive attitude. If a child lisps, don’t encourage it on the premise that it sounds cute. Your child could get caught in the lisp zone forever.


Imitation is the best form of learning. Keep your own speech slow and deliberate when talking to your child. Your child should be able to copy your speech easily, and keep your language also simple. On a particularly difficult day, keep your cool and speak calmly. Rapid speech, loud commands, shouting and strict disciplining all contribute to stammering. Keep your discipline consistent. Overly strict discipline, and lax discipline both contribute towards stuttering. Keep the atmosphere in the home as peaceful and happy as possible. A disturbed home, with overtly strict disciplinarians as parents, constant quarrels and disturbances all contribute to aggravating non fluency of speech.
Cut out suggestions for your child to talk in a better way, that only serves to draw attention to the fact that he or she isn’t talking correctly. Statements like “Slow down”, “breathe deeply” “Count to ten” etc only serve to make your child feel that the way he or she speaks is not good enough for you. Trying to get your child to speak correctly with any tricks or devices you might have heard, might be counterproductive. If stuttering shows no signs of diminishing you should consult a qualified speech therapist.
Do try to ensure that your child does things he or she is good at and enjoys—in sports or painting, etc, to build self confidence. Don’t try and keep him or her away from situations where you feel he or she might become the butt of ridicule. If your child becomes frustrated and complains that "I can't say that word" or "I can't talk right", then reassure her by explaining how some words give everyone trouble. If a child becomes alarmed by something he or she has said non fluently, calmly repeat the sentence fluently, in a non judgemental manner. On days when your child speaks fluently, increase his or her opportunity to speak, conversely on bad days, reduce the necessity to speak. Change the subject or shift into activities where the child doesn’t need to speak too much. For instance, sketching, painting, watch TV together, go for a walk, go to the park, etc. Donot also make the mistake of ignoring the non fluency and pretending it does not exist. A simple, loving statement of “It is hard for you sometimes to speak, isn’t it?” Can reassure your child that you love and accept him or her with or without the problems. Also don’t ever discuss your child’s stammering with other adults, in the presence of the child. This will only aggravate your child’s feeling that there is something wrong with him or her and lead to more self esteem issues. Most of all, don’t shout or chastise your child for stuttering. He or she is not doing it deliberately, and shouting at the child will only increase the child’s nervousness while speaking and cause more stammering.
A simple speech therapy you could try at home would be to have the child read out his or her story book to you, and listen calmly whether or not the stammering takes place. Praise fluency if it happens, don’t criticize stuttering. Sing songs together, play and have fun together without too much emphasis on speech. Remember most stuttering lasts till around seven years and then gradually diminishes till the child reaches adolescence or early adulthood. It is your handling of it which will determine its impact on your child’s psyche.
Ends