Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Reading is something new to Pappa. He last volutarily read anything thicker than a newspaper when he was in studying mode a couple of decades ago. But a couple of months ago, some rejuvenation and relook at life paths happened. In fact, a few months ago you needed to pull Pappa like a reluctant overworked bull to a heifer on heat if you needed him to get his nose into a book. Probably papering the cover with a picture of Pamela Anderson would have then worked as better incentive. The change occured a few months ago when Pappa got into book buying overdrive, thanks to rethinking of life and strategy and wanting to know meaning and purpose to life and such tripe and now is almost as bad as Mamma. Thankfully, they have their own separate books to pore over so no infighting happens. And separate reading spaces too.
As it happens, Mamma has been reading furiously for the past few days. In the car, while she travels to pick up brat, while waiting outside his tuition class, when the brat is playing in the lobby (given current rain situation in the city, the park is a pond where the brat could probably go for swimming practice) and she is needed around to keep eagle eye on him and prevent him from sending more docile children back home squealing in rage and hurt.
The brat notices it. It is nothing new to him. Mamma even laughs and snorts occasionally if reading them chuckleinducers. Of course some books have her guffawing violently with tears streaming down her face, which gets him all panicky and gets Pappa to ask her to zip it and not disturb him.
Then last night, when he is playing for his last half an hour with his squad of Power Rangers assembled into battle formations against his Superhero action figures, he notices again, the father sprawled on the sofa in the room, devouring Thinking Big. And Mamma sprawled across the bed struggling valiantly to get through The Alchemist without giving up altogether and running manically to the welcoming arms of her Comedy Omnibus. And he goes on his ownsome to his shelf, opens the doors. Pulls out a selection of random books and comes sprawls next to Mamma on the bed. Cupping his face in his hands. Turning pages with a furrowed brow.
"Dont disthurb me. I is reading. I very busy."
He looks with one eye at both parents to check if they've got and comprehended his message of busy ness.
"I is reading book."
Mamma smiles indulgently. Pappa snorts. Brat furrows and knits eyebrows and reads through book detailing the escapades of Roary the racing car who takes a short cut to win a race after being forced off the track by Flash the rabbit. His current favourite book for no other obvious reason other than the fact that twas gifted to him by his comrade in mischief, Rohini's little dynamite, Ayaan. He read through it twice, making up his own story as he went through, not letting Mamma read the printed words to him like she normally does. And brought in Ben 10s and Spidermen into the narrative as well.
Then he read through a couple of the other books from his library. Read through is an euphemistic phrase. He scanned the pictures on each page and made up a story for each that was so wonderful and original and inventive that Mamma had half a mind to take notes and start penning a series of children's books.
Then he kept them all aside. And picked up one of Mamma's books lying around randomly.
"Mamma," he demanded petulantly, "Read Karo. Big people ke book se. Loudly. Dont make mistakes."
Mamma has read to the brat before. Often. But always from the brat's stock of books. This was different. This was a book with fine print and no pictures. And only the rhythms and cadences of mamma's reading to give him a clue as the where the narrative was heading.
And so mamma did. Read out the story of Jeeves and his languid master to the brat who listened attentively for a full three pages, until he yawned big and wide and snoozed right off to Dreamland. It must have been High Latin read in mamma's sinusoid frog voice to him.
If Mamma could turn cartwheels without dislodging a couple of floor tiles she would have. She contented herself with a soft whoop of joy. Finally, the perfect nightcap for a hyperactive, difficult to wind down brat, something that she enjoys reading too. Something tells her though, that Pelham Wodehouse would perhaps not be too flattered at the thought of his works being used as a nightcap.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Yesterday a couple of his classmates called to chat.
I can only report one side of the conversation, as I couldnt hear the other side of said exchange.
"I is fine. No. Am okay. Whussaid am notwell?"
"Ony one ingecshun. In d bum."
"Nah, I dint cry. Crying is for gurls."
"Whachyu did in skool tuday?"
"Why he cried? Who beat him?"
"U went d sandpit? You threw the sand at A?"
"I wantu come. Mamma not sending me. Is raining na. Will have to swim on the road."
"My park is all water. Even the sandpit is all water. I cannot play."
"You coming my hauz? Come na. I aks my mamma"
This said on an aside, a loud theatrical aside albeit, to eavesdropping mamma.
"Mamma I call V home now. To play wid me." Backed into a corner, Mamma nodded frantically hoping the offer wouldnt be taken up given that V on a good day can make the brat look like the tortoise in the hare and tortoise race.
"I gotta new DVD, Spiderman 3 and Superman. Come na!"
"Okay, I cometo skool tomawro. I is okay. I wantodo padhai."
No music sounded sweeter than the last sentence to Mamma's ears.
And this morning we were up with the drenched sparrows, and asking for our nails to be cut, and our clothes to be laid out and brushing our teeth to a sparkle.
We were finally, truly and completely ready to go back to skool. Praise the Lord.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Yup, Mamma had her book collection for rainy days, the brat has his DVD collection, lovingly added to by a newly indulgent Pappa who sees it necessary to replenish the stock a couple of times a week to complete disregard of Mamma crowing her disapproval in the background like so much static disturbance to the sweet sounds of brat's whooping glee and joy. Mamma tries hard to countermand the insidious influence of the burgeoning DVD library by going on book buying overdrive, which generally comes to naught given that brat gives them books a cursory glance and then switches his loving attention to them DVDs arranging them in order, dropping mamma dead with the shock of seeing the hitherto messy and careless critter keeping VCDs and DVDs according to size of cover, order of preference, putting said diskettes back in correct jackets and in correct numeric order, and deciding his playthrough for the day. A librarian in his previous birth?
But yesterday, a book triumphed over a DVD and how. Thankfully, the picture of the protagonist in the book resembled one of the brat's classmates. And the book didnot have her named. Therefore, Mamma named her. And the brat's ears pricked up to TV tower levels. And wandered over to check out the escapades his friend was upto. And what escapades they were. His eyes widened in amazement. And before long he was lost in the story. Therefore Mamma pulled out some more books with protagonists who could be easily mistaken for some classmates.
"J went to see Penguin? In the Antartic?"
"D lives on a farm. He has pigs? He plant trees?"
"A became astronaut?" Eyes popping open in appropriate wonder and awe. A has since superceded Superman in Godawesome scale of wannabelikeness.
The brat has since been poring over his pile of illustrated books picking out the possible renditions of adventures his classmates are at, from travelling on trains, to sailing on ships, to meeting and chatting with animals in the woods. Ad infinitum.
It will be interesting to see him genuflecting before them in class in reverence.
Selfish Mamma, meanwhile, is just patting herself on the back for having got some interesting books read.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Ever walk in a cloud. We're walking in them practically everyday and tis not a very nice feeling to feel damp if you have even a smidgeon of the balcony panes left open. Not to mention the eerie rattling of them panes when the winds are at gale force.
The brat, though, is having a blast. Not to mention the fact that he's getting a hands on experience of the water cycle of evaporation and vapourous clouds and condensations and water droplets of rain and such like. And given the fact that he's just risen from a not so nice week of intermittent fever and multiple grey hair formation on Mamma's scalp, its all I can do to tie him down to the sofa when the clouds start racing in. This morning, the eyes opened early to the sort of eerie darkness that comes from the clouds blacking out a bright sun, with the glow of the solar rays reflected in the distant sky behind the black pall, and visibility nil from the windows. Nil. Like misty white candyfloss outside the glass panes. The brat sat up and stared out. And prised my unwilling eyes open. "Mamma, mamma, look, there's cloud."
Mamma opened a single protesting eye, affirmed the presence of said cloud and futilely tried to pat unwilling squirming with excitement brat back to sleep.
"Mamma get up, get up, see cloud. who's on the cloud?"
Mamma sat up with the kind of start she reserves for momentous occasions like discovering she'd lost two kilos thanks to a malfunctioning scale which she has since refused to get repaired.
Given recent incidents, Mamma is a bit wary of such esoteric utterances
and began giving the brat the third degree.
"Who's on the cloud? Whom can you see on the cloud?" All said with as much calm as could be mustered given early morning sleep had been totally ruined.
"Thodapyaarmaaagic!!! See, see on cycle!"
Yes, I agree completely, we really are watching too many movies these days!
So today, we're at home. No Saturday movie as is the norm. No Inorbit mall too. Though mamma's hands and feet and credit card are on permanent itch given the magnificent sales on, and the number of vouchers she has to dispose off, many of which seem to be expiring by the end of this month, which, she being she, has only just realised.
And the brat has fallen asleep after interminable whining about being denied an evening out. Given that them clouds are lashing buckets on the roads, and Mr Thunder is yelling manically, we'll give the mandatory Saturday outing a pass for the day.
Any tips on how to entertain a high energy fellow in the house on a bleak, rainy day? Books, crayons, painting, colours, crafts, etc have all been done and discarded. The latest is am getting the brat into my fetish of spit and shine of the entire house. Double whammy, it tires him out and gets some surfaces shiny as well. Of course, at times, I need to do it again, but then thats a workout that I'm craving too, so I'm not complaining.
Given that I am a lazy person during my waking hours and only really get busy during dreamland time, I will take the lazy way out and thank each and every one of you who called, emailed, sent messages, facebooked, and took time out to enquire about the brat, and prayed for him, and moved me to unabashed tears with the realisation that this bundle of madness has more people out there praying for him than I could ever dream of. Once again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am sure it was all the prayers and good wishes he received and has had the luck of getting from all of you that made all the difference.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Hopefully will be back to regular programming on Monday. And once again, thanks for all the emails, calls, messages and comments. Am truly, deeply, completely overwhelmed.
As I write this the brat is watching and playing at Spiderman. In his Spiderman costume with a black cape tied on for added power, from Batman of course. He's alright. I'm the one who's still pretty shaky.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
My heart collapsed in my chest like a deflated balloon. I'd been through the drill often enough to know what was to be done. Picked up my still and silent child and ran to the medical store, bought the anticonvulsant and gave it to him in the car. And then had the driver drive like a maniac to the pediatrician. All checks done.
It had been two years since the last convulsion. I'd forgotten the fear. It came right back the other day.
He's been home for the past couple of days. Feverish. No appetite. Mischief when the fever subsides. Eeriely silent and limp when the fever rises.
Age five the doctor says. When he's five, the risk of febrile seizures subsides, if this was a febrile seizure. We dont know. We're observing him for 48 hours. If I see any signs of speech slurring, unconsciousness, bleeding, jerky or dragging movements of any limbs, I've to rush him to the hospital. Pray that I dont need to.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The theatre was housefull and prescient mamma patted herself on the back for having the foresight to book tickets in advance unless Mr Spontaneous Pappa who believes in rolling into Inorbit in the evening, fighting second class train compartment levels of crowd at every step and managing to make it to the multiplex to find the tickets to any remotely decent show are sold out till midnight the next day, and no chance of waiting till some show gets tickets and then stand surreptiously near the entrance where the staffers in uniform themselves do brisk business in black tickets. You thought blackers went out with the rise of the multiplex? Think again. Fame Multiplex management, you listening?
Anyway, like is my standard, I digress. The movie was, in a nutshell, fabulous. Haunting. Eerie. And full of enough stunts to keep the stunt maniac glued to his non folding in seat and not wander the aisles in search of unwary people to pick up conversations with. He's actually become manageable in a theatre, now only his penchant for piping up with random questions at volumes that pierce eardrums every fifteen minutes needs to be tackled.
Mamma being mamma needed coffee, needed to empty bladder (ran from home and forgot essential task), and so went out of the theatre a couple of times to find brat waiting for me at the foot of the stairs to hold my hand and guide me back to my seat. Of course I could do with the help given that I am becoming increasingly blind, but it didnt help that bleeding heart me teared over at this sincere expression of love only to find out later that the father had put him to it, "since you were falling all over people and I thought you'd trip and break your face" on the way down.
The movie? I loved it. You are free to your opinion of course. I might just clout you on the head. And you might have a brat to answer to. But I loved it. Go see it. And no, no one's paid me any money to say that. I fell in love with Heath Ledger as the Joker. He brought a pathos to the Joker that Jack Nicholson couldnt pull off, and I dont wonder why he sank into depression doing this movie considering he was a method actor. Anyway, enough serious movie review stuff, will leave that to our erudite and esteemed movie critics, most of whom I think write with their butts.
The scary part was the emergence of Two Face. At which point Mamma shrieked and clamped the brat's eyes with both her own. Try holding down a very vocal, wriggly and curious brat in a dark auditorium. Pappa's help was called for, and Pappa barked brat into silence and acquiescence from which sly efforts to pry Mamma's fingers apart were being made. Pappa then clamped his sledgehammer of a hand over brats eyes, and for good measure took him into his lap and made him sit facing the back. But we didnt want to budge and leave the movie half way, it was that good. Okay now, throw stones at me for being a bad mother, exposing the child to such horrific sights.
The brat picked up conversation with the group of teenagers sitting behind us in that interim and was quite happy to be force held that way, he even conned some popcorn off them much to Pappa's disgust at the bhikari pani shown, which he promptly blamed on Mamma and her stingy habits. Obviously, Mamma has been hiding a lot of her shopping from Pappa.
The movie got over and a dazed audience refused to budge even as the credits rolled down to the Dolby sound bit. The lights in the theatre came on. Some people clapped. Mamma joined in, despite Pappa's glare of disapproval at such teenage behavior.
The brat emerged blinking into the light and asked Pappa, "I cant fly now, na?" We stared at brat in consternation wondering what this was leading to, and ready to squash any remote plans of getting airborne with the ruthlessness such plans deserve. Brat continue unfazed. "I first have to drink all my gugu everyday. Eat all my khana, eat sabji and paneer. And chicken and mutton and become big like Batman. Then I can fly."
Mamma burst into uncontrollable laughter. Brat continued. "Mamma dont buy me Batman costume now. It will become small for me. Wait till I become big."
Needless to say, getting the milk down the hatch is now a breeze.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
On the flip was his first playschool teacher whose favourite way of dealing with him was to keep him outside the class. In the play area of course. But outside. Away from the very children I wanted him to interact with. Isolated. And then I shifted schools to this one which had a policy of inclusion for special children, and had special educators on board to help deal with them. In his nursery year, he was made to sit separate from the rest of the children, and it raised my hackles no end until it was patiently explained to me that he sat next to the assistant teacher, so she could give him extra attention and keep him from being distracted and distracting the other children. And it was done with love. He adored his teachers. Whenever he got worked up or was in the throes of a meltdown he was taken to the resource room next door with the special educator where there were trampolines and punching bags and his own huge chubby stuffed boy doll to either cuddle or punch depending on his mood. This was until last year. This year, touch wood, he is fine. There are children who are a million times worse behaved than he is, and absolutely uncontrollable. He listens now. He controls his impulses to swat back when attacked. Ive seen him try to reason with the attacker, and more often than not, he's learnt to withdraw himself from the aggressive situation and get busy with something else. I watch him with a hawks eye in the park every evening, and I dont interfere until I see him being aggressive. And I rarely have to butt in these days. In fact, he's calmed down so much, that more often than not, he's being the victim. But the label tarnishes him.
At school he is labelled. Unfortunately or fortunately. They have his case history.
But how would I have felt if I knew that the teachers were pinning my child down to the floor for 20 minutes till he calmed down? Whom could I blame, the teacher for not being trained or able to handle the situation, or the child for being unable to control his behavior? It is horrible. The very thought makes me nauseous. Restraining cuffs, and chairs, isolation rooms, timeouts. If this is the result of schools not being able to integrate special children, what is the option they have. And the case of the nine year old being suffocated to death thanks to the weighted blanket being wrapped around him by the special educator had me sobbing as I read it. The poor poor child, not being able to communicate to start with, having a meltdown due to the overload of sensory stimulus and the weighted blanket being force wrapped around him to keep him still till he suffocated. I hope that special educator is locked away forever. The face is never to be wrapped in the blanket. Never. What kind of a special educator would make such a crucial mistake.
For a child with mild to moderate autism spectrum disorder, or high functioning autistic children, getting integrated into mainstream education has been a dream come true. Very often they are scarily intelligent children, with their primary issues being that of social skills and communication. But then their behavior can definitely be scary to deal with, and to witness for other children. It is a tough situation, a tough call for parents and educationists. When is your child okay to go to regular school? And when should he go to a special school? As a parent, everyday you are on pins, you never know what has happened in school that day, the child is far from telling you. Yesterday the brat came home with scratches all over his face, apparently another child had scratched him, but the complaint I got from the teacher was that he was being aggressive. I dont know what actually happened. I do know that he is much calmer now, and doesnt attack unless provoked. And I dont know what the provocation could be.
His previous year's teacher met me recently and told me she'd happened to substitute teach in the brat's class for a couple of days and was amazed at how well behaved he's become. I cant believe it, she told me, he is amongst the naughty kids, but he's not uncontrollable. She was the one who allowed him to run around the class till he'd worked off his energy and was ready to pay attention. She was the one who made him sit separately while writing practice was on, so he could concentrate with her next to him, and she was also the one who made him blackboard captain and games captain making him feel ten feet tall and very important. I owe her a hell of a lot for her role in bringing him to where he is today.
His teacher this year knows him as a spirited boy, a little slow where studying and writing is concerned but no cause for complaint so far. My heart bleeds for these children, terrified to go to school because they're treated like criminals, by teachers unable to handle them, and unable to understand them. More scared and terrified and frustrated than the children themselves.
We need some sensitivity as a society to children who are different. They might be badly behaved. But they cant really help it. Forcibly restraining them is not the solution to their behavior, nor is doping them into calm. I have no answers. It really is a difficult situation for the teachers as well, given that a full scale meltdown can be scary for the other children to witness, and for a teacher not used to it to handle. All I have is prayers that every school sees the necessity to employ special educators and take the effort to sensitize their teachers towards these children.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Among the signs that your child loves you are the following: (The Parentcenter statements are the ones in italics)
Your toddler throws wicked tantrums. Nope, those screaming fits don't mean he's stopped loving you. He wouldn't be so hurt and angry if he didn't trust you so deeply.
Well, I could do with a little less of that kind of trusting. Have had enough of that love and trusting to last me nine lives. At the average rate of around three per day over the past four years. Currently tapered down to one per day. My brat really loves me. His tantrums are beyond wicked.
Your toddler runs to you for comfort when he falls down or feels sad. Kids this age may not truly understand the meaning of "I love you," but their actions speak louder than words.
The brat picks himself up and marches upto me angrily. "I fell down." He says biting his words out. "Why did you let me fall down? See now I got hurt!" I then have to apologise abjectly for not being in his immediate vicinity to prevent said disaster.
And if he is angry or upset. "Mamma, I crying. I very sad.You cry also." Alas for this non empathetic mother he's been saddled with.
Your preschooler gives you a flower picked from the garden, a finger-painted heart, a sparkly rock, or another gift.
My son gets me insects, caterpillars, earthworms. Do they count? The recent most scream inducing moment was when he gently and tenderly brought a beetle and put it in my unwary lap.
Your preschooler wants your approval. He'll start to be more cooperative around the house, and he'll look for chances to impress. "Look at me!" will become a catchphrase.
The brat does Kungfu Panda moves to impress me. Or Rocky Balbao stunts. And I need to clap and vocalise my appreciation at volumes that cause a sore throat. I have no voice box left through constant appreciation. Am thinking of making cheerleading signboards and keeping them in strategic locations through the house.
But I really do know that he loves me because his face lights up when he sees me come to pick him up from school every single day. And he pulls my hand out to be his pillow every night. And sleeps holding me tight, as if telling himself that mamma will protect him from all the monsters who chase him in his dreams. He comes to me when his tummy aches and he feels sad and asks me to hold him. And he tells me when other kids tease him, and asks me to reassure him that he is indeed the smartest, tallest and handsomest kid on the planet. And he believes it because his mamma told him so. And his mamma never lies. And when he is scared, the first word that leaves his lips is "Mamma".
I try hard to live upto his love.
And all this is thanks to my wisdom and foresight and complete selfish interest in buying him every action figure he could ever dream of.
Therefore we now have a seperate toy basket which is overflowing with action heroes crawling their way out. Piled inelegantly one on top of the other like so many crabs, they claw at each other and probably have themselves a royal shindig when the lights are dimmed and the family populating the room is noise polluting it with their snores. During the day, they are called into official duty and we are witness to the wonderful sight of lines of action heroes facing each other like the armies of yore as witnessed by brat in The Chronicles of Narnia and such wondrous movies, and then the battle begins. Spiderman against Power Rangers. One million of them, both Spidermen and Power Rangers. Batman. Superman. Soldiers. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Drat, even Nemo gets into action, nibbling around at warring feet one presumes. The casualties of war need to be cleaned up and disposed after every battle on the battleground which is specifically my bed, and for some peculiar reason, needing the purple background with yellow flowered bedspread that I had hidden away slyly, it being horrific gift from immediate family, for the battle to be worth the cries of war.
Discarded weapons, swords and guns litter the bedspread, amputated arms and legs caused by much bashing together in the spirit of things, and the dead litter the bed when the bugle sounds.
I did a double take here. Dead? What is dead, beta? I asked the brat, wondering where and how and what he knew of this before I had even thought of getting to the talk about life in the hereafter.
He looked at me gravely. I half expected him to do a Haley Joel Osmend on me and speak of seeing dead people. I wouldnt put that past him though, at some point I'd thought I saw them too. But that was only my reflection in the mirror first thing some bad mornings.
"Mamma, dead is when people die."
"But what is die? How do people die?"
He sighed gravely. Picking up his wounded soldiers, and taking them to hospital (a white shoe box) where he would proceed to empty out my packet of Bandaids on their wounds.
"They die when their heart stops beating. And they stop breathing like this." A demo happened here of deep breathing techniques.
Mamma being mamma, pushed further, since the boy already seemed to have a clue about things and probably could give mamma the talk himself. "And what happens after we die?"
At this point he turned around and looked at me. I mean really looked at me, making me feel like a wunce from the hinterlands.
"Mamma, we go back into another mamma's stomach and be born again."
And who told you this, beta?
"Nobody. I know." And he turns around and continues treating his wounded. "I learnt in school."
All they've learnt in school is parts of the body and their function, which explains the heart and lungs part of the explanation, but the last bit?
A cold finger ran up my spine. A sixth sense moment, or the brat has been watching too many action movies with Pappa? And put two and three and four together to make up his own theories?
Either way, I'm happy I dont have to do the talk. He's figuring out things pretty well on his own.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Therefore Pappa decides to ask a brat, engrossed wholly in the truly enjoyable task of bouncing self using Pappa's stomach as a trampoline, questions of great import. Questions that mamma forbids because she considers them the height of stupidity. Of course, Pappa had to ask them.
"Whom do you like better, Pappa or Mamma?"
Both Pappa and Mamma wait with bated breath for the response, while brat ponders this important question over, with the due diligence a question of such import requires.
"Pappa," pipes up the fruit of my womb with absolutely no hesitation and no pretence to diplomacy and even trying not to hurt my feelings by saying that he liked both equally.
I picked up shards of my shattered heart and flicked the page of the current Vogue I was leafing through and concentrated on the latest IT bag on display in glossy five colour on its pages.
And shed a silent tear at the unfairness of it all that made me a shrew to said child.
Emboldened by his success, Pappa tries a second stupid question. Also hitherto forbidden by mamma because she feels it puts pointless stupid pressure on kids to conform to the right answers which will draw the appropriate positive reinforcement responses.
"What will you be when you grow up?"
Brat ceases his bouncing and thinks hard, his eyes going glazed and vacant as they do when his brain goes on overdrive.
Pappa decides to help out.
"A doctor?" No, shakes the brathead vigorously. "A pilot?" Nah, again. "An astronaut?" Nah, this time with clicking disgusted tongue.
"An actor?" says Pappa, convinced that this had to be the one. "Nooooooo Pappa, I be Superman. I fly in the sky."
Pappa and Mamma collapsed in unseemingly paroxysms of laughter and Mamma seized the moment to impress on the child the need to drink milk thrice a day if he wanted to get anywhere near Superman levels of height. The brat settled for a navy blue nightsuit worn tucked in under a red Spongebob Squarepants undie and a red towel tied round his neck.
Third stupid question time in the span of the same evening. Pappa was really on the roll yesterday.
"Who does Pappa look like and who does Mamma look like?"
Brat pondered long and hard. And then piped up without hesitation. "Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor."
Obviously he's not gone on physical resemblances for this one, Shah Rukh perhaps reaching Pappa's knees and Kareena probably being the width of Mamma's single thigh.
But then wise Mamma figured out that they were both his favourites, one from Om Shanti Om, and the second from Jab We Met, and let a good thing be.
And late in the night. When Pappa was snoring unseemingly next to us, brat opened his eyes wide in the dark and looked at me, his head on my shoulder. "Mamma. Actually I like you. But then Pappa would feel bad, no? You're not angry with me? You take me Inorbit?"
Yes, my little silvertongued diplomat. I will take you to the ends of the earth.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
To start with, the mandatory disclaimer. Do not panic when you read this post, and find any similarities in behavior patterns or issues. This is purely my experience with my son, and the doctors are the best evaluators.
When Krish was one year and a couple of months, he had his first febrile seizure. Luckily he had his seizure just as I was in the pediatricians cabin getting him checked up and rushed him to the nearest hospital. He went on to have five more febrile seizures over the span of the next couple of years. Each time he had one, a little part of me would die. One particularly horrific one happened when I was staying at my mothers, in the middle of the night, he was just slightly feverish, spat out his medicine as I tried to get it down his throat and then the convulsion began. And went on, and on, and on, and on, till he collapsed numb and completely blue in my arms. Have you seen your childs skin pale deathly white and his lips and nails turning blue? His body still and limp. A part of me turned to stone, yet the saner, more rational half had the good sense to bang on a neighbour's door to get us to a hospital.
Naturally, he was on anticonvulsants since the frequency of the seizures was scary. And while he was in the hospital, tests were done. EEG, MRI, and the first MRI showed up some area which was probably affected by perinatal hypoxia. Flashback here, he was delivered through emergency caesarean due to cord round the neck and tachycardia. All the investigations done, the prognosis was grim. Add to this, the brat's behavior was downright wierd. He didnt talk too much. A few words perhaps. Unmanageable. Tantrums from hell. Wierd fixations. At times he would want to be rocked in his swing for hours. I mean hours. Four hours, five hours, and doze off in the swing and refuse to get off even in his sleep. My arms would fall off. He would turn his cars and bicycles upside down and turn the wheels endlessly for hours. With no interest in riding them. He would open and shut doors. Open and shut, open and shut. Refuse to play in the playground. Scream if I kept him down in a public place. Push other children needlessly (well he still does that sometimes), not respond to commands, pointing, even his own name. Be terrified of brushing his teeth, part of the reason why his teeth are in such blackened state today. Have food jags where he would want the same food morning evening night for weeks on end. Tags bothered him. Textures bothered him. Sudden noises could terrify him. Strange people and strange places bothered him. I was in agony. Was it something I was doing wrong as a mother. What was wrong with my child? He could climb down stairs on his own, while other kids his age were sprinting up and down. He was lost in his own world, even in a classroom situation he would wander off to the playcorner of his interest and spend all his time there rather than interact with other kids.
I consulted the specialists. I wont name them here. Many of them. All attached to the best hospitals. One of whom I booked an appointment a month in advance, and received a confirmatory call one week in advance with strict instructions to be there at least half an hour before the scheduled time only to be taken in four hours later. For a four pm appointment we finally got to see the much overbooked doctor at 8 pm. What two year old child would respond appropriately in such a situation?
Autism spectrum syndrome, very mild. But I was sceptical. My child didnt fit in the classical parameters. He had eye contact. He was terribly social, he sought out people and children in fact. He loved being hugged and kissed and cuddled. And couldnt go to sleep without me holding onto him.
Then I got the Sensory Processing Disorder diagnosis from a doctor, not so well known, not so hyped, and who saw me as a walk in patient, with swollen eyes from crying, and a hysterical demand to see her, straight from yet another appointment with a so called specialist, convinced that I was not getting the right diagnosis. And I went home and researched. And researched. And the jigsaw fell into place, the fear of jumping, the demand for swinging constantly, the need for tactile stimulation, the constant seeking of stimulation through spinning wheels and opening and shutting doors. And couple this with a Semantic Pragmatic disorder of speech and you had the perfect formula for a child no one wanted to play with, and everyone labelled wierd. Even the speech, I was told by all and sundry that boys began speaking much later than girls, and not to worry, and given countless examples of children who didnt speak till they were five and then spoke in perfect sentences. But of course, I worried. I couldnt take a chance of five coming and going and him not speaking.
I began therapy. Two sessions a day, thrice a week. I began dragging the brat out everyday, throwing him in new strange situations forcibly, forcing his brain to adapt to new stimuli (to my detriment now, since he demands to go to the mall or at least go 'somewhere new" everyday), I took him with me wherever I went to compel him to make conversation and make himself understood.
So what is my point in this entire rambling post? The moment of acknowledging that yes, there is something wrong with my child, and yes, he or she needs help. It is the most difficult trying moment ever. Your heart breaks into a million pieces, you wonder if you will ever be able to smile again, and how will your child ever grow up to be happy, and more importantly independent. This is a disorder that is not obvious to the casual onlooker, so the child does not get any sympathy from bystanders, and yes, the mother does get a lot of them stares implying bad parenting.
There are kids and there are kids. But, if you as a parent ever feel that there is something about your child that you cannot explain, that makes you uneasy, dont sit back on your haunches. Very often it is the fear of what we might discover should we ask that holds us back.
SPD is becoming an epidemic of sorts. I wonder why. I see kids at the playground everyday, some of whom remind me of an earlier version of the brat and I look at their hassled mothers and wonder whether I should take the liberty of going upto them, and asking them to get an evaluation done. For their peace of mind. And also because the earlier the therapy starts the better. Then I hold my counsel. It is not for me to tell them what to do. How would I have reacted had some strange woman come upto me and asked me to take my child to a neurologist? Would have probably socked it to her with a punch that dislodged at least a couple of molars.
I can only pray that the child gets the help it needs in time. Therefore, a humble request to all the mommies reading this. Dont live with your doubts and then live to regret them. Go to the experts. Get evaluations done. You owe it to your child.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Having torn the scrimmage apart, and dragged brat, hopping and throwing punches in the air and snarling at said offender much like Linda Blair on overdose of pea soap, I managed to reach the car and dump in brat, his bags and self in, before beginning the inquisition. Offended party's mother stared at our retreating backs, aghast and screamed out something about me controlling my child since he was such a public nuisance. I panicked as to whether blood had been drawn and smiled apologetically, all the while itching to smack my critter in public, but restraining self with iron control which I wished I could draw on when confronted with pastries and samosas and such like. Anyway, I digress.
Therefore, I asked sullen, utterly unrepentant, pouting faced brat as to the reasons behind this unseemly display of violence. Praising the right hook, I decided would be best postponed to calmer times. "He threw my sandwich on the floor and put all the butter and chatni in my hair in snack break."
I investigated tiffin box which was miraculously empty giving credence to his claim.
I investigated said hair which was sticky to the touch and smelling of chatni to boot, given it had been freshly shampooed in the morning.
Gave the brat benefit of doubt. "Why did you not tell your teacher he was throwing your sandwiches on the floor, and putting them in your hair?"
Brat looked at me pityingly. "How can I do that? How can I complain to a teacher? I am mard ka bachcha. I have to fight after school. Not in the class. I have to do my own fights apne aap."
With horrific visions of swords at dawn, mamma could almost imagine being called on to drag brat home from street fights and honour duels involving smoking guns.
At this point, mamma passed out and almost crushed her three and a half foot mard ka bachcha to pulp.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
"I wear this only. I look very handsome." To complete the horrific vision, he took out his battery powered light up Ben 10 eye mask and his Spiderman watch. Which in his own words, is "Very Sexy watch."
The first time he commented on the watch's attributes in such fashion the father snarled at me, "What is this? From where did he pick up this word?" Well, considering that no one had called me that in a long while, I said, with pointed look and icy tones, not from this house, he didnt.
Having got his ensemble for the day sorted out, and such an ensemble that would give him walk in rights to the big ring, with some face paint and a false nose on, he fast forwarded his morning routine. Milk went in smoothly at seven am. Potty, bath and all such mundanities were disposed off by eight. Breakfasted ingested and burped by nine, and then the interminable wait to leave, and while mom went about getting things organised in the house considering we are currently in a hospitable phase. So it came to pass that Mamma would be picking up the clothes from the clothesline, and feel a tugging at her pyjamas. "Mamma, go get ready. Go have bath. Put your eyes and lipstick. Put clothes. Or Ayaan will go away."
Mamma shushes him away from precarious balcony, and gets into the kitchen to check whether breakfast preparations are in order, and the tugging begins again, this time rather more violently, almost revealed ratty undergarment to the hired help. "Come on Mamma, gerready fast. We get very late. I dont want Ayaan to go."
Finally, in desperation, Mamma dresses him up in chosen ensemble with devious plan in mind. She then offers him a glass of juice, once fully dressed. Of course, Cruella de Ville Mamma had her way, and the splotches of juice were quite enough to convince him to change, and change in a hurry, therefore in clothes that mamma chose, and without too much fuss as long as a jacket was involved in the final look. So there we were, G&J chocolate brown corduroy jacket, moss green corduroy pants, and brick red Timberland tee. Topped with black Lilliput sunglasses. Who's d baap, baby baby?
The playdate was a hoot, for one it brought me back flashback memories of Krish at age three. The same whirlwind of energy, the same restlessness, the same running on the toes, and the same frazzled hassled mom constantly being called on to reprimand and control over enthusiastic aggro. Even if one put it down to the tummy bug Krish had been struggling with for a couple of days, there was no denying that this child has sobered down. And is quieter and more able to play with other kids without swatting them every couple of minutes and making sworn enemies within the first ten minutes of play. I had paradoxical feelings within me, a sense of expected and anticipated relief, but also a strange sense of unease and worry, is he alright, this is not really him, should I take him to the doc. You get my drift. Am still to get used to him being moderately well behaved. As Rohini put it, there were two energy vibes in the play area, the first was Ayaan and Krish together. And then second was the rest of the kids put together. Any wonder why they get along like a house on fire.
Went to see Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na in the evening, where Krish further redeemed bonus points for good behaviour. For one he sat on his seat throughout the movie without deciding to ramble the aisles, pull out fire hydrant hoses, kick the seat of hapless person seated in front and such like. Or maybe the presence of father dearest was deterrent to such activities which are reserved for the express pleasure of a movie seen with only Mamma as responsible accompanying adult. But to hand it to the movie, it had a song he loved, and got up to dance in the aisles to, it had young people in it, (unlike Sarkar Raj where he, like his mother, was bored into slackjawed apathy), and lots of parties, a cat, a mouse, horses and a bhoot on a horse, so in brat terms, the film was fun.
We reached home to have him change his barechested shirt off the shoulder Dard e Disco look for a collared tshirt with a shirt over it, to the moves of Pappu Cant Dance Saala, speaking of which, in brat speak, was earlier an unmentionable sort of activity a depraved Pappu indulged in which normally is seen on DVDs pubescent and older males smuggle in from the DVD shop. This being public and family blog one will not mention said words which involve a gang and much big bang, saala. Much corrections later, which involved high pitched shouting from Mamma that he is not to sing his version in public or risk being layered with his ruler, he has now actually got the actual words and sings them too.
The Sunday went in a haze of eating. And sleeping. And eating some more. And visiting Nana house, where beloved ex best friend in the whole wide world Sonu was around next door to whip up some storms with. Much dancing to Pappu song happened, with best friend Sonu happening to have the song on CD. Reached home head drenched with sweat from the relentless running around, this on an overcast cloudy day, and fell into deep dank sleep. And in his deep dank sleep, shuffles around restlessly, and asks plaintively, "Mamma, why Pappu cant dance saala?"
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
His eyes staring at me wide and earnest when he had no words to call me by.
The whiff of his milk breath from his toothless mouth.
The smell of Johnsons baby soap and baby lotion from his freshly bathed and powdered body.
His frail arms thrashing about furiously as I tried futilely to swaddle him.
His loud burps. And then his contently falling off to sleep once he was fed.
His howling and thrashing to get to me when taken by someone else.
The deep creases in the crooks of his elbows and knees and thighs, which I had to powder to keep dry and free of rash.
The drunken efforts at raising his head to look up at the world when he was first gaining neck control.
Him moving his head, pursing his lips and sucking air when deep in sleep and hungry.
The determination to flip himself over, trying endlessly, over and over again till he had perfected it and could go to sleep content.
The need to put everything within grasping distance into his mouth.
His chubby chubby cheeks which were pinch magnets for everyone who saw him.
Sitting him in his bath tub with his ducks and toys and then cutting his hair swiftly before he could realise it.
The feeling of holding my heart in my hand when I first held him.
The overwhelming feeling of being needed more than I have been ever needed before.
The need to push myself beyond my physical limits in order to care for him when he was unwell.
His soft gurgle of happiness when I bounced him on my knee.
The joy that came from having him poop after three stressfilled constipated days.
His tiny fingers curling over my index finger and holding it tight.
Sitting for hours because he'd gone off to sleep in my lap and I didnt want to move him for fear of waking him.
The immeasurable feeling of being needed, without words, without language.
I miss my baby. Who is this tantrum prone monster come in his place?
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
My take? Children back then were more manageable than the lot we have today. I have a thesis, and correct me if I am wrong, and do let me know why. The thesis basically is that the kids today have so much of stimulus bombarding their brains continually that their brains are on constant overdrive, and this shows in their way of behaving.
To take the example of any random kid from the brat's class, including the brat. Chances are of ten kids, eight will be bouncing off the walls. The few who arent finding any walls to bounce off will be tearing another's hair out. The teacher will be screaming into the distance, and chaos reigns supreme. Or so I imagine given I have seen how these kids behave once they're out of class. But the teachers swear by their Gods and all that is holy that they are perfect angels, halos intact when they're in class and only morph into devil's spawn when they exit the gate.
But they're happier too, than the previous generation, which stood when asked to, and sat when asked to, and shut up most of the time. I remember quaking in my shoes should my mother raise an eyebrow at me. I can raise eyebrows and limbs and sticks and the brat will just chortle cheekily and continue on his destruction spree. There is no fear of adult, male or female. A dinosaur or a ghost from the Pirates of the Carribean is often a better threat and a deterrent but my bluff is being called too often these days, so am back to trying hard to discipline with explanation, which basically involves wrestling down said squirmy brat to prone position, pinning arms and legs down with a hold that could have got me the WWF Championship belt anyday and threatening bloody murder should said act of destruction or disobedience be repeated. And then I sashay off, hoping the message has sunk in or in troth, dont dare look back for seeing visual evidence of my absolute lack of disciplining abilities, and repetition of said act with renewed vigour.
Having said this, and to the credit of brat, he's more rational these days. Which means he will actually wait and hear me out before continuing with task at hand. Seriously though, he is eminently more manageable than he used to be. I can actually take him to a mall on my ownsome lonesome without quaking in my shoes and needing to down some shots neat for courage. He actually holds my hand, gasp, in a crowd and does not even attempt running around at warp speed in playzone area, which given his size and my size has me blocked behind tiny entrances and crowded spots, yelling for him to put brakes on it before a posse of police uncles track him down with searchlights and torches and sniffer dogs. The sniffer dogs at the malls these days are also very handy to scare the living daylights out of him, and get him to hold hand and walk meekly. One snarled at him the other day as we passed by and he leaped into my arms and didnt get down nor for icecream, nor for pastry, nor Power ranger SPD, so that was a scare thats been labelled the mother of all scares in his files.
With the rains and the flooding and the muck, the park has been out of bounds for a while. The sandpit has become a sandpool. The mall playzone has become our evening refuge. Have been keeping peeled eyes out on the brat and the other kids there and find that the brat, contrary to my expectations is not the worst behaved kid in the playpen. He waits his turn, asks politely, is known to push and shove a bit, but is not of the rapscallion insolent variety that my arms get the itch to administer two tight slaps to. I guess, the brat knows the mother is hovering around to administer them two tight slaps should he fall out of line, while insolent rapscallions know their moms are off unloading the contents of their wallets in stores. Yes, he is hyperactive, but in a more controlled way than he was some months ago. And that gives me hope. He is definitely better behaved both at home and out of the home. Active, and hyper but not out of control. And is he a happier child than I was when I was his age? I dont know. But I sure hope so.
On an aside: He's been asking to take in 'particles' to school everyday. The first day he threw a right tantrum and meltdown demanding a particle, I sent a panic SMS to another school mommy asking whether her son had been demanding similar strange thing. I got a reply that the children are supposed to go through the newspapers and get an interesting article, and then explain what the article is about to the class. Great, I thought, brilliant. Lovely way to sneak in the love of newspapers. So I sat the child down and spread the newspapers in front on him and asked him to look at the pictures he found interesting, so I could cut them out for him. And so we began zeroing in on the interesting articles. I spotted one on crocodiles ready to be hatched calling out to their moms from inside the egg, and showed it to him. Rejected. He wanted one of Pamela Andersen and how Tommy Lee googles her to keep track of her activities. Then there was a piece about the Sariska tiger relocation project. He picked one about how the Left threatens withdrawal of support over the nucleur deal. Much tearing of hair later we zeroed in on one we both liked. About an electric autorickshaw, which I cut out and pasted. And sent with him to school with said 'particle'. The next day am asked, "Do you drive an autorickshaw?" Given the only driving I do is that of driving the husband up the wall, I frothed at the mouth. "According to my son, Krish told him that his mamma is going to drive him to school in electric autorickshaw."
Thank goodness there was no article on the evolution of the bullock cart.