Saturday, March 29, 2008

This

is what I will be blogging about this week.
http://lakmefashionweek.co.in/cgi-bin/cms/c_m_s_pub_cgi_BlogSinglePostArchive.cgi?hID=156&ID=343&type=A
Albeit on another blog.
http://lakmefashionweek.co.in/cgi-bin/cms/c_m_s_pub_cgi_BlogPage.cgi?ID=156&hID=155&type=H
Check it out. And mail me your comments.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One million apologies

...I really love love love getting your comments and mails and messages, but thanks to a hectic social life being the tried and tested escort service to multifarious events, activities and budday pahties, I have fallen so far behind on the reply to the emails, comments and messages thing, that I am sure I'm getting hate bombs from all.

Please forgive. Promise to revert to all next week.

Are you a good mom?

Yes, that was the title of the Parentcenter newsletter that hooked me in.

This is a question I have agonised over, mulled over, worried over and whined about till there was absolutely no doubt in my head that I was the worst mom ever. I shouted, I raged, I had no patience, I didnt do as much as I could for my child, I wasnt good enough with enforcing a schedule or discipline or getting him to sit with his writing practice or catch a ball perfectly. Was I a good mother? Am I a good mother? Can I be a good mother? I might never have the answers to that, and the guilt always builds up to skyscraper proportions everyday, when I realise he's not had enough calcium for the day, or that I lost my temper a little too often in the course of the day, or even that I didnt help him with his homework with my complete mind in it.

Today, am deciding to change things a bit. At least within my head. For all the negative self talk that weighs me down, I do know that I would fight like a tigress for my child, and I will move heaven and earth to do things right by him. As I am sure all of us would. And thats what makes me a good mom. Not the little things. He's growing up fine, despite the scares he gave me. Whether because of me or despite me, I will never know.

I am resolved to accepting today that I am the best mom for my child. That's why the powers that be have given us each other. I could be better. Perhaps. There's always room for improvement. And I'm learning on the job. All of us are. And thats what makes us good moms. What do you feel?

At the florists...and the toy shop.

I have this thing about having fresh flowers in the house. And yes, they have to be colourcoordinated with the curtains and the cushions and the bedlinen of the week. Most of the times I succeed, and on weeks like this, when I rule the house, MIL being away ostensibly on a pilgrimage, I go riot. So there I was, like a crack addict, at the florists, eyeing stalks of pristine white gladiolis with a strange intensity that men normally reserve for women with three triangular pieces of cloth on them, held together with pieces of string, costing an arm and a leg, and masquerading as swimwear. "Kitne din chalega, bhaiya?" I ask, with the "Please, please, please, please, let him say they will last a week," prayer going on in my head. "Hafta bhar chalega, madam." If I could have roared with joy I would have, but that would seem unseemly, so I content myself with checking out the ones with the maximum buds yet to flower and have them wrapped up. I then turn my attention to the carnations. Yellow and white. To go with the white gladioli. The man repeats his phrase without even looking up from the bouquet he is making. "Hafta bhar chalega madam." Pack them, I roar.
Then I see some pale yellow liliums and fall in love. "Hafta bhar chalega, madam." Pack karo. Roses I never take anymore, thanks to many episodes of seeing them wilt as I place them in the vase. And then, to my absolute horror, waking the next morning to find them shedding petals all over the floor or the table or the sideboard or wherever they have been assigned their posts as sentinels of cheer.

The brat stood silently by my side, holding my hand as I went about my flower shopping. This was the first time he had ever been allowed out of the car while I did so, thanks to his penchant for running amok amongst the flora, and damaging more than I intended paying for. Thanks to his promise of "Being A Very Good Boy" and the implied threat of not being taken "To Two Two Budday Pahties" this evening, he behaved. And even helped me choose some lovely dahlias, bright yellow for his table. Yes, yes. Am predictable. Everything was in shades of white, and yellow and cream. I cringe when confronted with a motley bunch of flowers in pink and red and yellow and orange.

Then, we staggered back to the car weighed down by the flowers and had to go birthday gift shopping. So there we were at Shoppers Stop, in the toys section when the brat picks up a Hotwheels racing track set for his best friend in the whole wide world. Who probably already has one gadzillion Hotwheels racing tracks, and thankfully enough space in his house for the brat to play it with him. This surely being the ulterior motive behind the selectioon. He looks up at the hovering, nervous salesman, and frowns sternly, fixing an unwavering eye on him. I thought I saw glimpses of a brilliant future headmaster right there. The nervousness on the part of the salesman was quite justified, since the brat had already twice almost succeeded in demolishing two display units in his haste to get at what he found interesting. "Bhaiya, kitne din chalega?" With a firm voice of prissy authority that was middle aged and mine. And then without waiting for a reply, "Hafta chalega????" The salesman, a gangly pimply youth, who probably thought the brat was channelling for a higher soul, had his jaw somewhere near the ground, unsure of what to reply, when this hit him.

"Bhaiya, pack karo."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Of birthday parties to be attended.

The brat has four birthday parties to attend within this week. And yours truly, being the selected one to do the escorting, is already agonising about the infernal inevitable question, no, not the "What do I give?" but the rather more momentous, "what do I wear?" Mother and son both have thrown the contents of their wardrobe to the floor in the fervent hope that amazing clothes that havent been aired at previous birthday parties will emerge from the mangled heap.

Digressions apart, one birthday, coming up tomorrow is that of the brat's best friend in the whole wide world, where undoubtedly brat will be chief guest of honour, presiding over the proceedings. The other birthdays are those where the brat doesnt really know the kids involved, but will be ever too glad to share their joy and celebrate it with them if it involves return gifts, tattoo artists and music to dance to. Not to mention cake. Whatever happened to cake and wafers and softdrinks I will never know.

The brat has already decided that he will wear Jacket and machching pantz and macching shuz and cap for one. His Rajasthani costume for another and his beach shorts and net ganji for the third. I have not figured out the rationale behind the allotment of costume for specific party and am still to get an explanation for the same. While the net ganji and the beach shorts are definitely sensible thinking in this climate given that five minutes without the comfort of a fan or an airconditioner in the near vicinity can reduce mamma to a puddle of sweat, but even I would be hardpressed to rationalise beachwear in a non beach situation.

The other option is the Dard e Disco look with open shirt, and fitted pants and mean expression, which is also sensible to beat the heat, but not a polite look. Thankfully he hasnt got to Saawariya as yet.

I am playing my cards very carefully and trying to convince him of the Shahid Kapoor Mauja Mauja look. God help me if he opts for Nagada Nagada.

Yes, yes, we are one filmi dude.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

An a happy Holi to you too!

No, I didnt celebrate the festival. I am too chicken. It is as it is difficult to look at oneself in the mirror without cringing, to add to the stress of having to wash off multifarious hues and colours off one. And I am one of those who dislikes being wet and grimy and unkempt. Never played Holi in my life. Yup, paranoia queen thats me. I am chicken. I admit it, unashamedly. I have been known to bawl as a full grown adult when water balloons managed to find their way from terrace tops to my back, in the days when one waited at bus stops and walked to railway stations. Now thankfully, one doesnt even have to bother, given that driver is ordered on pain of death and decapacitation to bring the car to within an inch of the building lobby and keep the door open so one can just throw oneself into the seat, rather like someone in an ambush zone. Of course, one kids oneself now. No one is interested in ambushing old ladies like me anymore. Am two decades over ambushable age. But let the delusions continue. The brat takes after me. He's the sort who changes a dozen shirts and tshirts a day, even a single drop of water on one is enough reason for it to be taken off and substituted with a freshly washed and ironed one. The husband is just plain lazy about getting out and about on a holiday when he can sleep in. Our Holi celebrations include, a major proportion of Gujjia, applying abir as tilak and then having a long leisurely lunch. No bhang. The only time I ever had bhang in my life, at a trusted friends Holi bash, where I thought I was just having simple pani puris, I ended up laughing hysterically for hours, much to the horror of behavior in public freak husband who quickly escorted me back home.

We spent our Holi looking out of the balcony at them poor mortals running amok drenched in coloured water, who undoubtedly would be down with cold and cough the next day, while we look on in misplaced superiority. The brat wanted to run down and join the fun, but given that his bony chest has been racked by a bad cough for the past few day, gave him a pichkari and a bucket of warm water and let him run amok in the confines of the bathroom. What helped was the fact that beloved cousin was down from Pune for the very very long weekend and they played together. Contentedly. No whining, no crying, no tantrums, no being difficult. In fact, yours truly even had enough time to herself to paint her toe nails a fireengine red. And as anyone who has embarked on this ardous task would know and appreciate, this is a task that requires a do not disturb sign hanging on the bedroom door. Half an hour of undisturbed concentration and a good fifteen minutes post application for lolling around to let it dry unsmudged.

It was a good Holi. I slept for two hours in the day. What could be better?

The mother hit 70 yesterday. To see my mother is to know that no way does she look or behave 70, though looking and behaving 70 differs in perception from person to person. If you met her, you would think she is in her mid fifties. Add to this, the fact that she lives all alone, without a maid, doing all her household cleaning and cooking, and grocery shopping, and travelling around the city in public transport, meeting her friends, going to church, visiting relatives. She shames me, with all my cribbing about how hectic and busy my life is, when all I do is just ferry brat from point A to point B and point C through the day, with cooks and maids and drivers to iron out the wrinkles in my life. I know I will age faster than her. She greyed only after 50. I am already a slave to the dye brush. She still doesnt have wrinkles, just character lines under her eyes. My face is already a fine network of crisscrossing cobwebs. She is happy and content and at peace. She has lived one of the most difficult lives I have ever heard of, and lived it with such grace and dignity that I am in awe of her everyday, and know I am not one tenth the person she is. She grew up without a mother, and one of the cruellest stepmothers stepped out straight from the Grimm's Fairy tales, and managed to forgive the stepmother on her dying bed with such grace and composure for all she had inflicted on her that it amazed and humbled me. "Its done, its gone and over. It doesnt matter anymore." I try to imbibe that. I learn from her everyday, she inspires me to be a better person without one word of censure or criticism. To her, I can only be perfect, as can the brat. That strength of her belief scares me. I try so hard to live upto it. We are infallible. And that makes me try harder to be infallible in her eyes. It is not fame and wealth that longs to see me achieve, it is the more simple happiness. "Do what you think will make you happy," she says. "The rest will follow."

I try Mamma, I try so hard. Why is it so difficult to be happy? Why is happiness always that one step away?

Happy Birthday Mom.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dear Mr Bournvita Product Manager

Dear Mr Bournvita Product Manager,

I have been watching your recent 'Ravi ki Maa' commercial over the past few days with an increasing sense of outrage and anger.

You might be interested to know that I just chucked away the entire contents of a just opened big sized jar of Bournvita in the dustbin. And replaced it with Complan. Big sized jar. Are you bristling already? Now please do bristle some more. I write this open letter with reference to this rather horrific advertising commercial doing the rounds of prime time television which infers that only if my son studies at ungodly hours, through the wee hours of the night, and drinks mugs on mugs of your beverage could I ever be proud of him.

Well, you are so very very wrong. To start with, I will always be proud of my son, unless he commits a felony, a murder or other unmentionables this being a public blog and with a wide reader base reaching other mother bloggers forbids me from mentioning. His academic success or lack of it is no scale by which I will judge him, and I am sure I speak for every mother out there. We are proud of our children, and we are not bound by their scoring ridiculous high percentages through rote learning and late night cramming in order to feel thus.

Secondly, by putting forth this premise that a child needs to study through ungodly hours in order to make it through the exams, you've raised my hackles in a way none of your other advertising thus far ever has. Yes, granted the examination system and the educational system in India right now encourages cramming, and such deterrents to childhood joy, one would have assumed a Bournvita child would be one who would top the class with minimal effort. I'm sure, that would rather the message you give out too, that the nutrients contained in your product maximise brain efficiency and alertness, to help the child perform well consistently, and through the year, not just during exam time.

Thirdly, you underestimate me, the mother. I donot want to be known as Ravi's mother or Krish's mother. I would rather be known for who I am, I am no longer merely the daughter, wife, mother. Where have you been? I am out there, climbing up corporate ladders, setting my own milestones, achieving goals I can be proud of. I am me. And by insinuating that I draw all my identity from the success achieved by my child you are doing me a great disservice.

I am sure this commercial was conceived after much think tanking and brainstorming and research and consumer groups. But I tell you what, it doesnt work for me. It makes me cringe at the thought of me, being the harridan, pushing my child to stay awake night on night to study, when he should be asleep and letting his bones grow and his muscles repair themselves. Can you please go back to the health platform please? I'll stick to the Omega Fatty Acids and the Seven Seas for brain power. From a supplement to be added to milk (which anyway induces sleep when taken warm), I'd prefer the promise of a strong healthy body.

Thank you,
Sincerely,

A very disgruntled mother.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Reading the Big Book

Much to my horror and dismay, the brat has never taken kindly to books. When he was little I depleted much money on books to read in the bath, books to read while going off to sleep, books with squeaky animals, mirrors, textures and other cutesy little things that I would go ecstatic over in the bookstores, only to have them flung away disdainfully when proferred to him. I never gave up. I have spent a childhood with three fourths of my rather prominent nose buried in a book, emerging occasionally to breathe and bathe. Ingestion of food and liquid was also in the company of a book. Any wonder the pounds packed on, the hand and mouth keeping moving in automation, with the eyes going the way that needed double barrelled spectacles.

While one is definitely not keen about the spectacles part of it, one wanted the brat to love books. To feel the magic of words unfolding visuals before one's eyes. To lose oneself in the magical illustrations that conjured up such wonderful worlds that one could dream oneself away in their magnificence. The brat, however, had other plans. Have I ever mentioned how, when I married the husband, I spent the first month in shock that there were no bookshelves in his house. And the few books I brought with me, were promptly given away to the raddiwalla by the one who must not be named. My books are now bought, read and sent to the mothers where three wall units overflow stacked in double and triple pile loads.

The brat, I fear, takes after his father. Who read his textbooks under duress, and now reads The Economist for pleasure. Not that I see the brat reading the latter.

Wellmeaning friends and relatives bring in the books for him, judging perhaps, that the brat would be definitely influenced by his mother's penchant for digging into a new book every alternate day. So the pile grew, Dr Seuss. Illustrated nursery rhymes, the My First Encyclopedia Series, so many Noddy books that I have lost count (remember he went through a Noddy phase, where Noddy was his ultimate idol), lovely little tales with morals, and lessons, and educative books with young boys I hoped he would role model himself after. But to no avail. Every night I take out my book and his book and tell him, "Krish, come, lets read." But he has more interesting things to do like do battle formations with every action figure in his toy basket, or put his writing desk down in the floor to morph into a mock cockpit of a fighter plane, with a Rajasthani pagdi making his helmet, and him doing amazing flips with said fighter plane which necessitate much "Wheeee---" ing and associated sound effects.

The pile continues to grow. I still cant resist some good books whenever I pass a book shelf at a store, and even if I am running through Crossword with him in Inorbit, I manage to emerge with a couple of books paid for, but which never entice him. The rare times I can get him to sit and read through a book with me, with appropriate dramatisation and narration, I can sense his heart is not in it. He wants his father to read to him. And his father does, to give him credit. But he reads a children's book with the snorting dismissiveness that Very Practical Adults bring to anything magical and imaginary, running through a book like a train making me cringe when I hear him.

Yesterday, all on his own, he opened the shelf that contains some of his books and pulled out the Discovery series big book and sat grimly on the bed, "Dont disturb me. I reading very Big Book." I siddled by in delight, "Come, I will read it for you." To be met with vehement protest. "No Mamma, you go. I will read apne aap." So he looked at some pictures of insects (since this was the book on insects) and then closed it and went off to sleep. And hope flared like a bunsen burner in my chest. Maybe, just maybe, he might still start loving books like I do.

All ye who have managed to inculcate the love of books in your children, please help me here. What can I do to make his a book lover? Any books I should buy? Anything that would help him sit still for a while to focus on a book? Am desperate. I know now that he has a razor sharp brain ticking behind that distracted exterior. I need to get him to open his mind to books and reading, and it is now that this can happen. My time is running out.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

To the aquarium

The brat goes on a field trip today. To the aquarium. As with all his field trips, his excitement overflows, leaving him edgy, bouncy and unable to contain himself, and finally spurting out that all important question. "Mamma, what will you pack in my tiffin box?" The catch being that with field trips, Mamma knows that added weight on the back is not a good idea therefore, he gets a cache of junk food in packets and cream and jam filled biscuits and tetrapaks of his favourite sugar overdoses. Okay, okay, all ye who are just waiting on the sidelines, grinning evilly and thinking bad mother, get that hot branding stamp out and brand me on the forehead.
But field trip time is when the brat will not have his classteachers sitting next to him ensuring that he downs everything in his box, and nor does he have the option of the school snack (he is signed on for school snacks which are healthy and tasty and much more nutritious that anything I could conjure up at 6.30 am, but me, being paranoid me, insist on packing in something as an option for him, a chatni sandwich, some pasta, some noodles, smileys and sausages, anything, to ensure the man has a surfeit of choice, of which of course, he comes home hardly having touched anything, and proudly telling me about what a good boy he is for having 'shared' the contents of his tiffin box with the stoutest kids in the class).

Having got the contents of his treat fest for the next day confirmed, we got down to the less exciting part of the business, discussing what he would see at the aquarium. In this school, they have monthly field trips that take the kids to places connected to the theme of the month. They've been to helipads, to garages, to supermarkets, to florists, to biscuit factories, to a petrol pump, ad infinitum. When I pick him up bedraggled and sweaty after his stint in a cross city bus ride, and ask him the inevitable question, "What did you do today? What did you see?" The answer is inevitably, "I did masti. I ate wafers. Teacher told me sit in one place and dont run in the bus." Hopefully, today I get to hear a different answer.

In a run up to the field trip, I took out the Big Book Discover your world series on the seas lying with the other pile of neglected books and began the slow descent into the oceanic depths. At any other point in the day had I even tried getting a book out and making him sit and read with me, he would have struggled screaming and kicking out of my lap, and run away merrily to whichever other bedroom had a television switched on and plonked himself there, begging inhabitant of said room to switch channels to more conducive channels. What worked to my advantage was that Papa was lying asleep next to us, this being a Sunday afternoon, and the brat didnt dare attempt a flying escape from my vile clutches. He sat meekly and looked. Dispiritedly. "Look Krish, here is the beach. The beach is the edge of the sea, where the sea meets the land. And as you go in the water, it gets deeper and deeper...until you can stand in the water....and you can go even more deeper."

"Like the swimming pool?"

"Yes, only much more deeper."

"Like Spongebob Squarepants?"

"Ermmm. Okay, yes, something like that. But there are no houses there. No pineapple houses and restaurants. And people dont live in the sea, there are only fish in the sea." I expected him to know fish, and types of sea creatures, this has been a monthly theme in the nursery as well as this year. And he does manage to point out quite a few creatures of the sea, given his frequent trips to the fish market with us, where his favourite activity is standing still and staring into the crab basket in horror.

"I know," he replied with the sageness that comes of dealing with this idiot savant mother. "There are dolphins and sharks and jelly fish and star fish and so many different kinds of fish."

I butt in to elaborate the list, "And whales...."

He sits bolt upright and frowns at me. "Mamma. Whale is not a fish."

That loud thud was my jaw hitting the floor. He continued unperturbed. "Whale is a mammal. It gives birth to its young."

I managed to get my mandible back into position trembling with fear, I had hoped to put off the give birth to discussion for a few years down the line, but with the mamma in the stomach and whale giving birth to young, it looked like this was a discussion that couldnt be put off anymore. I asked in a voice that was very, very shaky, "Beta, what is the meaning of give birth to its young?"

Brat looks at me, cocking his head to one side, with a dismissive gaze that really let me know how far high in the idiocy scale I had reached in his esteem. "They make babies not eggs. Other fish make eggs."

I didn't dare ask how they managed to make their babies. I could do without the details. But, maybe I should. It would be an interesting education on the reproductive habits of fish, erm, mammals.

Tales of a fickle fan

Mamma, Shahid Kapur wear sunglasses?

Yes, beta.

Mamma, Shahid Kapur wear red Tshirt?

Yes, beta.

Mamma, Shahid Kapur can dance?

Yes, beta. Fabulously.

I like Ranbir Kapoor.

Ehhh????

How did wearing sunglasses, a red tshirt and dancing make Shahid Kapur lose his fan numero uno?

Any explanations?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lesson on instructions

Scene: Random conversation between Mom and brat. The props include toys scattered haphazardedly throughout the room, much like the aftermath of a bombing scene. Mom at her laptop, furiously typing away trying to complete an assignment before the next furious call from the features editor of magazine said article is promised to. And the rest of the household snoring undisturbed.

Mom: Krish please pick up all this mess and put it back in the basket.

Brat: Mamma, (In indignation), this is not a mess. This is my toys.

Mom, with a deep longsuffering sigh: Okay, pick up all your toys and put it in the basket.

Brat: Okaaaaay.

Mamma, suddenly realises that the toys are going into the bathroom, and springs up: What are you doing? Where are you taking all your toys?

Brat, smiling cheekily, that little slanted smile he has when he knows all too well that he has been upto mischief and will be rewarded with not a shout but a hug for cuteness factor: You said put your toys in the basket. Am putting in the basket. That basket.

Pointing merrily to the laundry basket, now overflowing with a multitude of Power rangers, Spidermen, Winnie the Poohs, Mickey Mice and Transformers, not to mention assorted vehicles and aircraft.

Mamma gasps in horror: Come on take them out. Right now.

Brat, stands arms akimbo on his nonexistent hips, frowning sternly: Mamma make up your mind right now. You said put them in the basket. I put them in the basket.


Moral of the story: Be specific with your instructions. Lesson learnt.

PS: Good news. The brat's therapists and the doctors agree that he doesnt really need therapy much more. We have maybe a month to go and then I am on my own. Its scary, yet a relief to know that he'll cope. Never mind the torture he inflicts on his class teachers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What makes me happy?

The chirpy and bubbly Trishna, mother to the divine Aadya,tagged me on this, and since it was such a wonderful upbeat tag decided to do it without much ado, or too much overanalysing. So if I sound like a footballer's wife, apologies. Such shallow things seem to comprise a majority of my lists right now.

What makes me happy?
A whiff of baby milk breath. Now that the brat doesnt have it any more, am getting withdrawal symptoms.
The smell of a Johnson's baby soap and powdered little body snuggling in next to me at night.
The husband pretending I still rock his world. And am the sexiest little thing alive, never mind the poundage and triple stomachs.
A great knock their eyes out pair of new shoes.
A humungous hold it all new bag in patent leather.
A spritz of a new perfume, one that I havent smelt or used before, and preferably one with musk.
Pastries. Chocolates. Fondue. Yeah, yeah, you get my point. Sweet and fattening.
Someone telling me I've lost weight.
Meeting someone from my college days who says I havent changed at all. (I could hug them for that wonderful lie)
The brat hugging me and saying, "Mamma I really really like you."
The husband buying me something wonderful, completely out of the blue. He does it all the time. I know. I am a spoilt princess.
Eating my mother's cooking. Heaven.
Sitting for a long leisurely girls only lunch with my best girlfriends. Gossiping the socks off the establishment, and then going out for a long and even more leisurely shopping round.
Cooking something that turns out to be edible.
Fitting into jeans which I wore prepregnancy.
Looking into the mirror and liking what I see.
Knowing I have a great man by my side, and a greater little man in my lap.
Knowing that I have a clear conscience, a good heart, and no regrets.

People I think should do this tag, Dipali, Parul, the Mad Momma, Y, Choxbox, Mystic Margarita, Noon, Surabhi and whoever else feels like taking it up, please do so. It is so nice and feel good, I am grinning from ear to ear right now.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A weekend at Nana's house

The husband was off to Bangalore on a business trip over the weekend, which raised my eyebrow, but nonetheless like animals released from the cage, the brat and I hotfotted it with absolute lack of restrained gentility to Nana's house. I spent the entire two days there like a vegetating fungus, feeding and sleeping. When I hauled myself off the bed after the second day I could swear there was a mammoth indentation in the mattress which was nowhere near the size I was when I walked in the door. Nonetheless I digress, the moot matter being the brat and his self enforced diet. Which all went for a right toss at Nana House. Much to my delight and horror.

He reached and asked Nana, "Nana, I very hungry. Gimme Chicken." Nana scurried into the kitchen and emerged bearing demanded cooked dead bird. The brat ate to his heart's content, and demanded a second helping. Spooning in everything on the plate into his mouth. Rather like them baby birds with their beaks wide open and atwitter. While I stared on in amazement, my eyes so out of my sockets I could have gone into the Believe it or not show, and become the hit du jour.

He then ran off to best friend Sonu's house next door and played up a ruckus that would have had neighbours less tolerant than us call in the cops for disturbance to public peace. Then returned and demanded more food. And ate it all. And drank his milk. And ate some chocolates (yes, he had begun spurning chocolates too.) And some fruits. By which time, mamma was flat out on the ground and smelling salts and old shoes were being pressed into reviving service.

Perhaps it would be pertinent to mention at this point that wise wizened old Nana had done the namak rai mirchi nazar utar on him the moment he entered the house. You could hit me on the head. And here was I going ballistic over his refusal to eat anything edible, even stuff he adored and would trade his Power Rangers to get access too, like chickabugawidcheez. The mother's opinion on these arcane matters, "If the child asks for food, and refuses to eat when it is in front of him, he's been eyecast. Dont you know this simple thing?" Much disgusted at her daughter's absolute lack of knowledge and belief in these Very Important Things To Know when raising a child, and absolute disinclination to learn techniques of nazar utarna.

I quickly ran through the list of suspected diagnoses in my mind. Change of weather (yes, that was a possibility, we are now sweating buckets in most ungraceful manner given that Mumbai has passed its brief flirtation with a winter), stomach infection (could be too, since he had runny stools for a couple of days), Mouth ulcers or cavities acting up (Ruled out, this child will raise hell if there is a hint of any pain anywhere, and insist I plaster the inside of his mouth with bandaids to make it well. Plus I took industrial strength torch and examined said mouth), bad cooking (Yes, mamma is guilty of that. The cook too these days is cooking temperamentally. I myself dont feel like eating her output. How can I blame the brat?), or something more insidious that good ole google didnt have an answer to.

I cannot believe that a concoction of mustard seeds, rock salt and dried red chillies could get a child who hasnt been eating well for almost a month to get back to food, he just needed a change of taste, I'm concluding. And he knew he would get that with nana's cooking. Which, even if I may say so myself, is the stuff to die and commit murder for. Unfortunately I have inherited none of Nana's culinary skills, the day I get into the kitchen is the day the husband decides he has to order in for his stomach to survive the onslaught of really bad cooking. I suspect, the real factor was the temptation of Nana's cooking. East Indian chicken curry, masoor pulao, mince cutlets, yes, mother and son pigged out like there was no tomorrow.

Another explanation could be the fact that I had begun Aristozyme as suggested by one kind commentor. Another explanation could be that whatever insidious little bug had been floating around in his system had been washed out by all the Mangola and Maazaa he was drinking enroute to Nana House. Or maybe, he just felt like eating again, and mamma was too busy eating herself to be bothered about harassing him to eat. Given that she had become a wild haired antic woman running circles behind him with plate and spoon and harassed worried expression. Who would want to be fed by something like that. Nana placed the plate on the table with spoon and napkin and left him to it. That I had done too. But it didnt work with me. Maybe what I served up wasnt appetising enough. Enough overanalysing. As long as he's letting food get into his gullet I dont care what made it happen. I'm just going down on bended knees and thanking the powers above.

We're back today to our own home, and brat will be confronted with the tasteless, blah blah blech cooking of my rotund cook, the only one who has stuck on so long, and the horrific experiments I dish up. Lets see whether the strike resumes. I wouldnt blame him for going off food too! I seriously need to get my lazy butt into a cooking class. I owe it to this child.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Urgent plea for help!!!!

The brat is refusing all sorts of food. Consequently he is now alarmingly like a matchstick with a head that is all ready to burst into flame. Am at my wits end. Have tried everything, but anything edible is met with fierce resistance and puckered up lips, that would put a spinster confronted with an amourous admirer to shame.

I can now count every rib on his body, front and back, the backbone is protruding out and he is a poster child for the famine stricken in sub Saharan Africa. I am terrified, I see his classmates shooting above him, he's a good head shorter than all of them. He wont have milk, no matter what flavour, he wont have the calcium softchews, he wont have the syrup. He spits it all up.

He wont have greens, and now that I discovered pureeing and slipping them into the pasta and noodles, and dal, he wont have them too. Have stopped his intake of any sort of junk food, yes, yes, the chickabuggawidcheez has been stopped in the hope that hunger will drive him to real food.

All mammas who have faced this and overcome it, please write in with strategies, suggestions, recipes, any thing that has worked for you. Will go down on bended knees in gratitude.

Schools, and debates...

The entire mommy blogosphere is under fiery debate sparked off by the MadMomma's angst over her choice of school for The brat. Sue, and Dipali joined in, and a lots more whom I (with the memory of that worn out seive) cant for the life of me recollect right now, my abject apologies. But, me being the cant keep my huge parrot nose out of any situation types, I must jump into this debate and add my two cents of opinion, whether asked for or not.

Did I have a privileged childhood? I did. When I was till Standard Five. Till my father was alive I never knew want. I had the best clothes, the best toys, the latest in every latest girlie fad. Whatever I wanted was on the menu. I am not proud to say this, but I was very much the fat spoilt little Princess. (Whoever snorted saying rudely, "So whats changed now?", kindly fess up!!!)

Then of course, he passed away, and everything changed. So radically that I couldnt believe it. We moved from a house where I had a room of my own to a one room kitchen tenement in a chawl. Yes. Those single long common balconied ones. The fall, if you can call it that, was horrific. I walked everywhere. I wore handmedowns. Mom was making ends meet on what she used to spend on a saree for herself when dad was around. She went to the bank through the day and took tuitions in the evenings. I travelled from Goregaon to Bandra to school. By BEST bus. Alone. At age nine. It toughened me up like nothing ever could have. But I didnt fall from grace with my friends because I no longer lived in Bandra. I guess, it could be because we already had established a base comfort level that was not determinate on where one lived or what one could afford. Or perhaps because I was already one of them. This was one of the better convent schools, back in the era when convent schools were considered desirable. Today of course, things have changed drastically.

College was another story. I was at Mithibai College. Where the rich and powerful sent their offspring. They lived in JVPD scheme, in semi detached bungalows. With a fleet of cars. Among my closest friends were a girl who bore the surname of a famous industrial group, a girl whose family was into film production, a girl who is a famous musician today, one who went on to become a film actress, one whose brother is a superstar today. It didnt matter to them that I wore the same shirt thrice a week, or I had only one pair of shoes, which didnt match anything I wore. It did matter to me, though, vainpuss that I was and am, and I began taking tutions to supplement my meagre wardrobe. But the fact remained that I lived in bank quarters, among the rough and ready crowd, I didnt have a telephone at home, and took public transport. It didnt matter to them. They were and are still my friends. While, during my visits to their homes I would catch a glimpse of the privileged life, I knew it was a glimpse to me. I was on the fringes of that sort of lifestyle. They probably spent more on their dogs, than our entire food budget for the month. But, it really, truly didnt matter. They were wonderful fun people, and there were other friends who were like me, from less privileged backgrounds who were all part of the same group.

You might argue that things are different today. Children are different today. Material values have changed. You are what you own. I dont know. All I know is that I want to give my son the best education I can afford today. Yes, it is crazy, to pay in lakhs for pre primary. And the airconditioning only helps in keeping the kids with a perennial cold. But it does make me feel better knowing that the ratio of children is 24 to 2 teachers per class. That there are ayahs constantly supervising the children galloping off to the toilets. That the floors are spotless, and the drinking water from the water fountains is filtered. That the classrooms are bright and cheery, filled with exciting posters, props and charts and cut outs. That the teachers will not have the temerity to raise their hand on my child, and risk being sacked. That the school will put in a special educator to sit with the brat and help him make sense of an insanely difficult curriculum. That the school will allow him to be in the class, and not demand I remove him because he is different. And try to find proactive solutions as to how best they can help him cope, even if it means constantly being in touch with his therapists, and working on common ground to maintain continguity between what he learns in therapy and at school. It means that the teachers have the ability to pay extra attention to him, and try their best to help him cope, even if it means that he sits with one of the teachers who holds his hand as he does his writing.

Would I be able to get this in another school? I dont know. I know I have had difficult moments, but I do know in another school, the brat would have not stood a chance. He would have been out the moment the school realised there was something different about him. To me it is worth the money I pay, to know that not only is he going to school, but that he wants to go to school everyday. And enjoys it. Never mind his academic performance. Thats the least of my worries right now. I dont want him to be a topper. And he will never be one.

Is he leading a privileged life? I guess so. He gets dropped off and picked up by a driver and a car and a slave lackey Mamma everyday. He has enough toys to fill a spare room. He goes to one of the better schools in the immediate neighbourhood. But he is nowhere near the levels of rich that some of his friends are. But they're all really sweet children. I dont see any of them being any worse behaved than he is. Or any more demanding than he is. I hope he doesnt get pressured into believing that he is a lesser person because his parents cannot go off on foreign jaunts every couple of months, or because he doesnt have five cars at his beck and call. Will he even realise the value of the good education we are trying to give him? Hell no. All he has is us to back him till college, after that he is on his own, if he gets that far. Left to me, and my absolute disinclination to push him, it will be a miracle if he makes it to postgraduation. But a good school, the frills aside, is a mandatory. Privileged or unprivileged. I believe it helps. And I need all the help I can get for this child. Am I making sense, I dont know, I am still rather confused. The world is full of disparities and the sooner he realises it the better.

All I can hope and pray is that he learns enough to help him earn his living when we are dead and gone.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

So tired....

The brat had not slept the entire day and was still frisky at 10 pm. He had been through a day of school, therapy, playing in the park with very best friend and alpha male of the brat pack at school, intimidating smaller and less aggressive children on the slides, and a bang on temper tantrum when told it was time to get back into the confines of home. Basically, it was a full day that had been lived to its max. And I expected him to get into Noddyland, with dinner being masticated to cud. But, naturally, the brat had other plans.

So there we were at 10 pm, still bouncing off the walls. At 10.15 pm, tearing off his tshirt, and putting on a shirt, left unbuttoned and taken offshoulder to dance to Darde Disco Darde Disco on the bed, pelvic thrusts, and mean expression included. At 10.30 pm, decide to race the car through the house with insane honking that could wake the living dead. The rest of the populace shut their bedroom doors to this menace, leaving his progenitors to deal with him. The husband threw himself on his side of the bed and drifted gently into not so gentle snores. I waited patiently for the tired to the bone feeling to overtake brat. The television was off. All the televisions were off. We have four in the house, which ensures that even if the one in our room is switched off, he wanders around like a minstrel searching for a conciliatory soul who would be willing to indulge him a few minutes of cartoon viewing. Gu Gu had been ingested. Only sleep was to come.

11 pm. No signs of the eyelids pulling themselves over. Spiderman and Power Rangers were waging war all over the bed, with Papa being the mountain behind the battlefield. Mamma's eyes were falling shut without her realising it, and then startling themselves open. The lights were switched off. And action figures arranged back in their basket, and goodnights said to them, with much agony at the separation.

11.30pm. The brat had been cajoled, bribed and threatened into keeping his head still on the pillow and his eyes closed. Mamma's eyes were gluing themselves shut. Pappa was deep in REM sleep where no doubt more exciting things were happening to him than a tired and obtuse Mamma. Brat's face was scrunched up with the effort of keeping his eyes shut. Yet the limbs were flailing all around, trying to find a comfortable spot to rest themselves, on Mamma's stomach, Mamma's legs, until finally, a reversal brings his foot to Mamma's ear. Having found peace he drifted off into a deep, snore laden, Power Ranger and Spider Man, and Ninja Hattori dreamland filled sleep.

And terrified Mamma slept through the night with one little leg on her ear and the other at her neck, terrified to make a move lest the brat wake up.

Can I check into a hotel just to get a good night's sleep???

Monday, March 03, 2008

300 down. Miles to go

The dashboard tells me I've completed 300 posts. The figure snuck up on me without me realising it at all, I guess its time to celebrate.
The strange thing is that Karmickids was a blog that I really didnt get any feedback on for quite sometime, and the other blog was the one that had the comments pouring in by the truckload. That blog of course, was thirtysomething.blogsource, which shut down and then lead to me starting thirtysixandcounting.wordpress. Suddenly, this entire community of warm and encouraging mammas out there, make writing for karmickids, like sitting in a coffee shop, over a piping hot cappuchino, with a smoked chicken sandwich, and talking about anything and everything that strikes one's mind. And bragging shamelessly about the brat. And whining endlessly about issues that are so minor that I feel ashamed for even daring to whine about them. Its been a good ride. I've made some great friends. And hope I will make many more. Till the 400th...

I had a little miracle yesterday. Somewhere, someone is listening to my prayers.
The brat came home crestfallen yesterday. He was crestfallen all day. In the evening after dinner he tells me sadly, "Mamma, teacher told me to study afabitz at home. Properly." Bristling at the insinuation that Mamma isnt revising school work at home, we sat down to the task. In all earnestness. The very fact that the brat resisted Power Rangers and Spider Man and Mickey Mouse engaged in intergalactic battle and vetoed all thoughts of causing accordion crashes over Hotwheel racing tracks to sit in a single place and write and study, was a sureshot indicator of how hurt he was.

So we sat. The brat and I. On the bed. The alphabet book in front of us. The magic doodle board in our lap. The brat in my lap. And we did our words. And our letters. And the words in capitals and in lower case. And as we did it, and as he kept enjoying doing it, hope floated like a bubble starting somewhere in the vicinity of my stomach and rising to my head, making me feel almost lightheaded and intoxicated. He knew the spellings. I was only telling him the word and he was writing them out. Capital and small. The only criterion was that I had to hold his hand. Lightly. He was moving his hand on his own. He knew. The moment I removed my hand he lost all interest and confidence in doing any writing, but managed to scribble brilliantly. His grip is perfect. Better than mine. His brain is razor sharp beneath all that infinite mischief. We wrote and drew CAR, car; CAT, cat; DOG, dog; BOX, box. All the three letter words I could think up. We wrote our names. We wrote our friend's names (yes, mamma helped him here with the spellings). But he was writing. On his own. It was like you pray hard to the Lord to grant you a wish, to open your eyes and find it sitting right there in front of you, it was there all along. It was you who didnt attempt to look for it. We wrote for one and a half hours. And he showed no inclination of wanting to stop. This, from the child who would never sit still for five minutes. To say I was shocked would be saying, I found an LV original at a thousand bucks on sale. Elated, delirious, ecstatic, would be close to describing my feelings at the moment.

This being 11.30 pm, the father snored none so gently from the other side of the Very Big Bed, unaware completely of the miracle happening at this end.
"Krish, you dont write in school?" I asked him, puzzled. "No, Mamma." He replied belligerently. "You dont tell teacher the correct alphabets?" I questioned again. Very very puzzled. "But why, beta, when you know it all, why dont you do it in school?"

He looks at me with the strange wise old man look he has sometimes, making me believe this is a reincarnation of a zen master. "School is only for masti. I will do my padhai when I become big. Now is only for masti."

End of discussion. Yes, darling. This should be your time only for masti. I wish I could let it stay this way, for as long as you have the inclination for masti. There is your entire life ahead to do padhai.