Sunday, November 30, 2008

And so school resumes

The brat went back to school today to much moaning and grumbling and grouching about how Mamma is sending him zabardasti to school and all aatankwadis are saying dont go skul Krish, stay at home.
He packed in a huge automatic toy rifle into a side pocket. "To shoot the terrorisms."
Mamma took it out and told him not to be silly, there are no terrorists in school. "But there wuz in dTaj hotel na? And we is gone there na, yesterday?"
Mamma must intercede and explain to the gentle reader that anything that happens in the remote past is yesterday in brat speak.
The lane outside the school was jammed with cars. And an unusually thick throng of parents congregated outside a single gate. All the side entrances had been closed. Parents had to drop their kids at a main gate, and the kids had to make their way on their own to the lobby across the miniscule cement area that masqueraded as the little ground they had.
A sudden chill engulfed me. What if? What if?
Internationally schools have been prime targets for hostage taking situations. We have had guntoting crazies run amok on graduate school campuses in the USA. We've seen schools being taken over by armed men who demand the release of their gang members in exchange of the lives of the little ones they hold hostage. And we've also seen schools being gutted to the ground by arsonists. With the children inside.
At this moment I knew I had lost hope. I had no faith anymore. I would not be able to sleep in peace anymore. I would not know whether I would reach home alive, or would ever be not on edge if my family was not in my immediate vicinity.
I said a little prayer for all the children who had died in the carnage over the last week. And all the adults. And all those who had been injured.
And I said a little prayer for my angel who ran inside, swatting a classmate with his water bottle and spraying half the water all around.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Oh my sleeping child...

The brat was asleep when I left home for work this morning. I hadnt sent him into school again today. He slept, with the carefree abandon that comes from being a child. Unsullied by fear, worry and a sickening gut wrenching helplessness. I kissed his forehead and left. And for the first time ever in his life, I wondered if I would come back.
On the night of the 26th, I had just tucked in the brat and settled down for a good night's sleep when the messages suddenly began flying in from across the world. Aunts, friends, blogging friends, all asking the same thing. The first was Mallika's. Asking me if I was safe.
I sprang up and put the television on, South Mumbai was under seige. We were watching terrorists taking over our city. The husband and I put off the television in our bedroom and gently closed the door. And moved to the living room television, where we increasingly grew numb with disbelief that this was happening. What has happened is so fresh and raw that it is yet to be dissected and analysed. But I do know the moment when I completely felt my stomach sink and churn with hopelessness. The moment when the news flashed that Vijay Salaskar, Hemant Karkare and Kumte had been shot dead. The chief of the ATS, the principal sharp shooter of the Mumbai police and a leading police officer. We were against trained terrorists the likes of which the Mumbai police had never confronted. And had no clue how to deal with. I didnt sleep through the night. Blogging friends across the world were concerned, kept a flow of updates on for them. My eyes hurt with sleeplessness and tears.
Reinforcements were being called in from Delhi. A spineless Shivraj Patil, not a hair out of place, made statements that were completely out of context and could have been cut pasted out of a textbook manual on statements to make during a terrorist strike. It was so damn frustrating. My stomach sank further as I heard him speak. He gave me no courage. He had no courage.
The Taj Mahal heritage wing was on fire. That was when I broke down. Tears streaming down my face. I had flashbacks of all the times I had been to the heritage wing for press conferences, to interview visiting celebrities, to shop, to enjoy a coffee and a sandwich at the sea view first floor restaurant. And every single time I had marvelled at the beauty of the structure. And something so beautiful being heartlessly destroyed.
And the child doing the shooting at the CST station? His face the face of evil. If there was ever evil embodied in an expression it was in that shot of him walking along the road, taken by a TOI photographer. In a black tshirt with a blue bag, he could have been in college. They were children. Barely twenty year olds. What could have warped them so terribly that it became their life mission to kill, destroy and wreak terror? I dont know. I am still in a state of shock. I cant believe that they have managed to hold our city hostage for well near two days, despite all our efforts. This was one boat that came in. With around ten terrorists. Ten boats? They would hold the entire city hostage. And what then?
For which God? No God advocates hate, murder, terror. No God. My poor little mongrel. Bearing the religion of one God, and the blood of all, in a world where your religion defines you, and terror sees no God.
I thought of all those who had died, their death serving no purpose, their lives unlived, their loved ones grieving. I think of all those still untraceable and imagine the agony their loved ones would be undergoing, and know that it is unimaginable. What would I do in their place? Would I have the courage within me not to collapse? Why have innocents died? When is this going to end?
Where has God died?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Marvel, DC, and Disney spokespersons...

...kindly answer the following very pertinent queries as raised by the brat.

How Spiderman breathe and talk in dmask?
How he pullon his umbootz?
What if he wants to make su-su?
How Spidermanz web comes out from his costume hands? He has hole?
Why dBatman's voice become likethat (deep gravelling stones rumbling imitation to be inserted here) when he put on d'mask? The mask is verrrryyy tight?
How Supermanz hair stay combed alwayz? Even when he fly so fast?
When BruzeWeen becomz dBatman how long he take to puton dcostume? By the time he put on all d liddle liddle things the robber will run away, na?
How Noddy's cap dont fall?
Why Mickey Mouse dont have Mummy Pappa?
How Ariel's hair is dry when she come out of dwater?
And finally, and most pertinently,
Why Superman and Batman needz dbelt to hold their chaddi?
Answers anyone?

Friday, November 21, 2008

At the dentist...

It was with trembling knees and shaking hands and with cold sweat breaking out that Mamma ushered the brat into the dentists clinic yesterday for his latest milestone, his first dental filling ever. The dentist, a sweet motherly lady, engrossed the brat is deep esoteric conversation about his name, the superheroes he liked (his first visit was in Spiderman costume as it was carry and run time with excrutiating tears running down the face pain), the planets and the solar system and about how he was such a great trooper.
And mamma sat shivering in the airconditioned room, wondering how the dentist's hand wouldn't shake in such chill, and then realised that it was mamma who was trembling, the rest of the people in the room, brat, dentist and her two attendants, seemed quite at ease and unchilled to the bone marrow. And that constant sound, twas Mamma's own teeth chattering.
The dentist, quite unlike the ogres Mamma has dealt with in her childhood, which has unfortunately resulted in a number of combiflams swallowed everytime a toothache occurs rather than pay a visit to the species now, was a nice, friendly lady. She asked about the brat, his school, his hobbies. Didnt rap Mamma on the knuckles for the state of his teeth, although, she did make Mamma feel like two feet tall for not having brought the brat in sooner, and allowing the teeth to get so decayed. And managed to set off the litany that never ever goes away right on back in Mamma's head. Such a bad mother. Such a bad mother.
Nonetheless, the dentist demonstrated her water spray gun, and her straw for vaccuuming out water from the brats mouth, made her chair go up and down and turn all around, and handed him a mirror to see for himself what she was doing to his tooth. The first tooth tackled was a front tooth which had blackened a bit. She patiently and deftly scraped out "the dirty dirty black black" and painted the tooth white, and put some playdoh to fill in the hole, and stuck it to the tooth with a blue light. And Mamma stopped trembling with fear. The brat was as chatty as ever, admiring himself and his new smile.
And reached home swaggering around baring his teeth in a grimace insisting everyone ooh and aah about how hansome his teeth were now lookin.
Maybe, Mamma can gather the courage now to open her mouth wide and not put her foot in it.....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My teeth is painin....

Mamma reached home yesterday to find the brat with tears streaming down his eyes, as his grandmom attempted to feed him something. "My teeth is painin...Mamma, my teeth is painin...." Mamma informed the grandmom that perhaps this was not the best time to feed the child, immediately put his shoes on and took him to a dentist down the road.
"Dontake me to dDentiss....I donwanna injucshun in my mouth..." he wailed, through the pain.
Mamma reassured him that nothing would be injected in his mouth....rueing all those horror stories given to him to keep him from ODing on chocolates way back. There's this thing about telling your kids tales to get them to do something, it jumps right back at you and bites you on the butt when you least expect it.
Mamma herself has not seen the inside of a dentist's clinic for years, and had to compose herself with great effort and refrain from hotfotting it out again. The sacrifices we make for our children! The dentist emerged, since we had landed up without an appointment. Asked the brat to open his mouth, inspected the emergent caves gravely and discussed Spiderman with equal gravity, seeing as the brat was in his Spiderman costume.
We waited a bit, while the unfortunate on the dentists chair was done with and took ourselves inside. The mouth was examined. The television probe showed me teeth that were pitted and black and not the teeth I brushed twice a day to much struggling. The brat sobbed a bit and explained to said dentist that he did not want an injection in his mouth. Mamma got told off for scaring the child off dental treatments for life by perpetuating such myths. All that was done was the chair was whirled round and round, taken high and taken low, the brat was allowed to play with the air and water drill, and generally have a party. Painkiller prescribed.
We go back tomorrow for the fillings, and hold your breath, one root canal. I feel the pain. I feel like a very inadequate and incompetent mom. I am told it is a combination of mouth breathing and prolonged colds and coughs. Plus genetics. His father and his siblings barely have an original tooth left in their mouths. But still.
And I have been warned that it will take many sittings. And the child will not be forced to cooperate and no GA will be given. I quite liked that. The other dentist I had consulted had told me to bring him back if it pained him and then they would knock him out with GA and do all the teeth in one session. Somehow the thought of GA turns my stomach. Seen him undergo it for his MRIs and it scares the hell out of me.
The brat is back to almost normal. Caught him bragging to a friend this morning at the school gates. "I went to d Dentisss yeterday. I din cry. I very brave boy."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Being considerate in an uncaring world

I'd like to think the brat has his manners down pat. It may not be the Ps and Qs of the norm, but things which are more important than these mechanical reactions to me, his mother. Like sharing, like helping, like being concerned if a friend falls and gets hurt. Like seeing mamma overburdened with parcels and offering to carry a few, albeit end up dragging them over bumpy gravel and ruining them completely. Going apne aap to the water filter when people come over and fill the steel glasses (the only glasses apart from the plastic ones he's allowed to touch unsupervised) and bring them one by one to the guests. Offer them a choice of a cola or a juice, and act on the request, climb up on the sofa to make the fan faster for them if its a particularly humid day. He's that kind of a boy. A sensitive boy. Maybe not a gentle boy. Like his father. Who is the kind to never let a lady travel in the city late at night, and will always ensure that she is dropped home, no matter how inconvenient and how tired he is. And who offers lifts to any random hitchhikers on the highway, much to my terror of highway robbery gangs waylaying him.
The purpose of this rambling incoherent paragraph? This. The brat was a wee bit unwell over the weekend with a cold and so mamma decided he needed to be checked up by the pediatrician. And so we found ourselves in the clinic on a busy Monday morning, with truckloads of sniffling kids and harassed moms cramped in the closed confines. And the clinic has a heavy glass swing door that most moms with small infants found difficult to negotiate. Mamma asked the staff whether the door could be kept open, but was told it had been installed to keep the cool airconditioned air in and therefore keeping it open was not an option. The brat stood a while near the door while a lady struggled to open the door and manage her barely month old child, mamma stood up and held the door open. The brat then took on the onus of wrestling the door open everytime a mother with a baby in her arms came through, adding for good measure, chirpily, "Welcome, welcome," getting a smile and a thankyou and a what is your name from most, delighting him.
A mother and her perhaps eight year old daughter were sitting next to mamma, carrying the latest LV Graffitti, manicured and pedicured to perfection, hair blow dried and the picture of chicness. And the mother sniggered at the daughter, who sat in bovine contemplation, "Look at him, behaving like a watchman." And then the duo tittered much like the Wicked Sisters from the Fairy Tale of yore, and Mamma wished she had a glass slipper to throw at their heads. And to add insult to injury, said loud enough for the brat to hear. Mamma saw his face crumple. He left the door, walked upto them and gave them his equivalent of the middle finger. His little pinky held up to them in trembling anger. "Katti, katti," he said and came silently and sat next to Mamma. Mamma patted him, and said in a neutral tone, loud enough for the entire clinic to hear, "Its alright brat, you were very polite and helpful to all the other mammas. Some people here dont know how to be polite and helpful and so they cant recognise it when others are being polite. They can only recognise being mean and nasty because thats what they are."
A couple of other mammas with the small babies, who had been the recepients of the open door service called the brat across to them and made him play with their babies much to his delight. We went in for our check up. Mamma thought he had forgotten it all. As we left he turned pointedly to the tittering duo who were now looking at brat and Mamma sullenly, and said, "Bye, bye." In a painstakingly polite manner. Like he said to the rest of the crowd in the clinic.
Mamma's wondered if her ribcage would burst occasioned by heart swelling to obscene levels with pride at her little gentleman.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A suitcase full of memories...

Yesterday, Mamma sat down to clear out the brat's wardrobe of clothes that no longer fit well, had shrunk, gotten discoloured or simply stuff he'd outgrown. And she pulled down the suitcase from the loft containing his woollies, now that the miniscule winter we have in Mumbai is almost on us.

The denim jacket with the red and white cuff and collar, which he first wore when he started school. Not a woollen in the true sense, but warm and snug and comfortable and the first jacket that formed the basis of his obsession with jackets that continued for a few years and which he has only just given up. It was right on top of the pile in the suitcase. Mamma picked it up and showed it to the brat. "Brat remember this."

He looked at it nonchalantly. "No"

He didnt. But mamma did. Visions of the brat bundled in the jacket worn with everything. Matching or mismatching. Worn to sleep at night. Worn to school over his red shorts and white tshirt, Mamma recognising him from the throng of uniformed mites at a distance.

Each sweater had a memory. The white woollen handknitted one his grandmother bought for him from the markets of Dehradun. Making him look fluffy and white like some baby bunny rabbit. And as cuddly. Worn over his tshirts when we had to step out in the evenings during the chill of the few winter days we have. Which he invariably ended up mucking with every food item he came across and which needed careful handwashing to retain its pristine whiteness and softness.
The red and white patterned sweater with the matching cap and the gloves which mamma bundled him in last year to go down to play, and which she could spot him in at a distance, running furiously between swings and slides.
And the little sleeveless waistcoat like sweaters. Pulled on over a struggling squirming brat much to his disgust before he went off to sleep. To keep his chest warm and covered in the sudden chill of winter. And the cricket sweater. White, with a cable knit down the front, edged with a black border. Which he wore with a shirt collar sticking out and his denims and looked so incredibly grown up and handsome in.
And the red turtleneck pullover, worn with the red monkey cap. Mamma's favourite look for him. Forced down his head till he was old enough to protest the imposition of the constriction round his neck.
And what will he wear this year? He has his Ferrari racing jacket and a few more jackets, brown corduroy, denim and such like. Many sleeveless sweaters in happy colours. And a couple of argyle patterned hand knitted versions that mamma will arm twist him into wearing while he's still young enough not to sulk and be goth and black with his clothes.
And lovely little woollen caps in bright colours to cover his ears. Some muffs and gloves. Lovingly handknitted scarves. A lovely black leatherite jacket with satin and fibre filled lining. Worthy of snowy climes.

Perhaps Mamma should just move to cooler climes to justify all the loads of winter clothes she has hoarded over the year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Odds and ends...

The brat has been seeing the Batman series. Before I start fending off the shovels descending on my head for total uncool mothering, let me add, that I watch it with him, and sort of gently steer him past the really scary parts. But for a child who watches the daily news with us, nothing a movie can show can ever be scarier.
Except for one thing that skipped me.
The young Bruce Wayne, watching over his parents bodies. Just shot down by a mugger. And the brat wondering. "Whachappened to his mammapappa? They died?"
Mamma unwittingly, distracted by a new pump from Christian Louboutin winking at her from the pages of the latest Vogue says, "Yup, brat, they died."
Brat moves closer to her. "Where they go when they died?"
We've had this conversation before, brat and mamma. So Mamma replies, "They go to jai jai bhagwanji."
"And what they do there?"
That had mamma pretty foxed. "Nothing really, they wait to be born again."
Brat ponders long and hard. "They be born again. From another mamma's stomach?"
"Then they dont be BoosWeen's mammapappa again?"
"No, they would be someone else's babies."
The brow gets furrowed.
"But I am your baby." Mamma doesnt quite get the inference. She looks at brat questioningly. "I not anyone's mammapappa."
No, love, thinks mamma. Maybe the theories on reincarnation have to wait a bit.
"Mamma, no robber come when we go for movie no?"
This, in context of Bruce Wayne's parents being assaulted and shot dead by a mugger when they leave a theatre.
"If anyone's Mammapappa die then they grow up and become Boosween and dBatman?"
And so we went around in circles for a bit, until it was generally understood that people die. And when they die, they can be with Jai Jai or decide to be born again. And that robbers are very bad people. And no one becomes a Batman. Even if they have a costume at home.
And expendable mammapappas.


Mamma is drowning in gift vouchers. Ever since the birthday, she has in her handbag gift coupons from Shoppers Stop, Crossword, Hobby Ideas, etc, etc, and she lugs them around every single day in her already overloaded handbag where they jostle for space amidst contact lens solution, breathmints, hairbrush, tissues and what have you. With the end result that whenever Mamma happens to get herself into a store where the gift vouchers would be of any use, she can never really find them when she reaches the cash counter, and has to put her head into the handbag, with one of them miner's headlights strapped to her forehead and the general baying for her blood from the rumbling line behind her leads her to quickly flash out the credit card and pay for stuff bought. Which in turn means, another trip to said store is required to actually buy stuff. And which means, these being brat's gift vouchers, Mamma feels morally obliged to drag the brat along to chose what he wants. Which in turn means he takes his task very seriously and sets about loading them damn black shopping bags to the brim, with items that take the total bill amount to some stratospheric levels of which the value of said gift voucher is some 0.0something percent. You get my drift. Or of course, she will realise she has just changed bags and left the damn vouchers back home deep in the recesses of now packed and stored bag. And given Mamma changes bags at a frequency that rivals the speed at which a model does a trunk show, you can bet your last rupee that this is the most likely situation. And which will only be discovered at that nth moment, before the cash counter. With the hordes behind baying for the blood of the fat woman holding up the line, with her head stuck in said bag.
Therefore Mamma is going to do the next best thing she can do with all them vouchers. She's going to put them in envelopes and pass them on. And be rid of the compulsion to spend them.
Edited to add: This is merely Mamma's laziness speaking. Vouchers are the most sensible practical gift ever invented on the planet.
Now if only they included the cost of impulse shopping occasioned by the need to cash in on vouchers received, they would be just perfect.

And finally, the brat celebrated Children's Day at school today. They were asked to come in party wear. Which had the brat agonising all through yesterday. "What I wear to skul tumaru?"
He decided on his birthday ensemble and then was subtly coerced out of it by insidious mamma. Not for nothing was Eve the tempter in the Garden of Eden, such levels of subtlety would only occur to the female mind. "All your classmates saw you wearing this on your birthday," said mamma. "Wont they think you have no other party clothes?"
Bristling at the insinuation, the orange jacket and white panted look was quickly discarded for his Boyz and the Hood look. Black leather jacket with gold metallic print and gold metalware on it. A lesser evil than the orange number though.
He strode off to class with the swagger that is the key to knowing that he is expecting "You're looking so handsome today." And when he was handed back by the teacher, his face was pretty chuffed. "Eveeebuddy said wow Krish you lookin so hansome!!!"
I looked at his classmate next to him for a confirmation. "Aunty, if we din say, he wuz beating us."
The brat was unfazed.
"Even teacher said, wow Krish, you is lookin very hansome...."
I dread to ask what methods of coercion were used in this case.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In which the brat pulls a surprise...

Collecting the brat from school. The class teacher disperses the lot of kicking, squealing terribles to their respective collectors and hands the fruit of the womb over to me. And gestures. "Krish's mamma, I'd like to speak with you after I finish this," she gestured helplessly at the straggly line of five year olds swotting each other, throwing the water from their waterbottles on each other, running amok up and down the stairs. Well, you get the picture.
I collect my parcel and take him to a safe niche where we cannot be overheard.
"What did you do today?" I question him ferociously.
My mind on overdrive, one eye rolling like Mad Moody to check out signs of scrapping and bruising on any of the classmates being rolled out to their guardians.
"No," says the brat happily. "I didnt do nutting."
Mamma was not to be deterred.
"Did you do your classwork? Did you back answer?"
The list of possible causes of the teacher wanting to speak with me grew longer and longer until I could no longer bear the torment.
"Brat," I said. In most threatening tones. "Whatever you have done, I'm telling you this is the last time I will tolerate it. And no more action figures for you."
And Mamma turned around composing her features into placid bovine pleasantness and approached said teacher mentally chanting to herself, "Like water off a duck's back."
The teacher smiled as Mamma approached. That was promising.
"We had dance practice today," she said.
Mamma gulped, and swallowed hard. Waiting for the blow to land. Almost wincing beneath the perceived impact.
All the onlooker could see was bovine placidness. And a soft smile.
"And we had ten minutes free after the practice and the music was still on."
Come on, come on, out with it. What did he do? Whom did he hit? Did he break the music system?
"And the class stopped their dancing but Krish continued, and he was dancing so beautifully, I called all the other teachers to see him dancing. He was so lost in his dancing he kept dancing, and we kept watching him, and we didnt realise it was time up. And thats why the class is late in coming down."
Someone bring a pin quick to deflate me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I doing colouring...

I have a Pablo Picasso in the making at home. Yup, the works are as abstract and as full of the childish lines and metaphors that make up Picasso's work. Yup, I am not a fan of modern art. Give me a picture that looks like a reproduction of something and is pretty. But this recent fixation with penting and colouring is fascinating me. Given that the best the brat could normally do till recently when handed a brush was make a right mess with the water intended to dip the brush in, this is reaching master levels. He paints. He chooses the right colours from his poster colour set, dips his brush appropriate in the water, mixes a bit of colour onto his brush and paints.
With broadsheet newspapers spread under his works of art to catch the water on spill alert, his tongue protruding slightly from between his teeth while he half crouches half sits on the floor, concentrating on getting his painting perfect, he reminds me of myself. I used to be a good painter. I didnt pursue it. My love for books and language was stronger than my love for art. And yes, we didnt have the money for the supplies. It is an expensive business nurturing an artist. And for a widow on a salary of peanuts, from a job given to her on compassionate grounds, well on impossible to fund.
He dips his brush into the paint and swirls up a flower. Each petal in perfect synchronicity. The brilliant unabashed red he chooses for it shouting against the pristine white of the paper. The green stem and leaves meandering down the length of the page with a purposelessness that is so beautiful because it is indeterminate.
And he turns to me and smiles. His face lighting up with a joy of achievement that swells my heart to bursting point and forces tears to spill out of my eyes.
And stares at his sappy mamma with tears clogging her vision. "Mamma, wipe yer eyes. How you see my fower poperly?"

Sunday, November 09, 2008

And so it starts...

The brat is unusually silent before bedtime.
Then he burst out.
"Mamma, C pulled my nu nu."
C being neighbour little boy cum best friend in the whole wide world the brat worships at the altar of best friendhood. And a couple of years older than the brat.
Mamma blasted off into the stratosphere making a dent in the false ceiling with fragments of Plaster of Paris raining down on our heads. To an onlooker, Mamma merely put down the book she was hurriedly trying to complete seeing she has some five others to plough through in as many days. For professional purposes of course. For pleasure she has Vogue and L'Officiel and Dave Barry.
She composed her face and her voice into neutrality. Which meant she stopped herself through immense self control from grabbing brat by the shoulders and shaking him in a fury and was not screeching at ear piercing banshee levels. Eventually some sound came out of her suddenly dry and parched throat. "When?"
Brat looks up with the "I know I did something wrong look, but I need to tell you." look that she recognises from umpteen toys thrown out of the window, milk poured down the commode and food trashed into the can. "When we wuz playing in his house."
"And where was his mamma?"
"In d hall, wachchin TV."
Mamma's rusty brains clanked into action. This is the age for a bit of exploration she knows, having been there and done that quite a bit herself. But show and tell is different from show and pull, and she's a bit glad that her constant stern warnings that no one should touch nu nu or you scream has actually resulted in a confession of sorts.
So she decides to make light of it. Sternly. "Tell him not to do it again," she answers matter of factly. While deciding whether quarantine would be suitable for the offender in her mind. "And if you want to play with C, you bring him home here. When mamma is around. No more playing at his home. And if he does touch your nu nu again, tell aunty or mamma, right then and there. Not afterwards."
End of topic.
How do you, older and wiser moms, handle this?

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I've had to turn on comment moderation. Regular readers please forgive me. Trolls. I'm not even bothering with replies, I'm just deleting.

How well does your child sleep?

The brat has always been a light sleeper, plus he has always had an adenoid issue. In fact during some really bad attacks, the combined snoring of the brat and the husband is enough to rattle window panes. Of course I am being modest and not included mine own decibels into this equation but then I'm not the one who hears me snore.
Plus there is always so much more to do with oneself that lie down and go to sleep, so we have had instances when the lights are switched off, Pappa Bear and Mamma Bear haul their lard into the bed, the blankets pulled over them and gentle snores emanating from both while Baby Bear continues to dash his cars in mock races in the vicinity of their feet. Sadly, the commercial call centre building just opposite ours ensures that even with the curtains closed and the lights off, there is enough light to have a mock F1 championship on the bedspread with Mamma and Pappa being the uphill terrain.
Finally, Pappa will start up with a fright as one errant driver skids and crash lands into his nostril and bark the brat into sleeping. And the brat will lie down reluctantly, toss and turn, mutter dark things, insist on hand under head, dispose of hand under head, want to be held, decide he doesnt want to be held, toss and turn and finally, Mamma drops of to sleep muttering dark things and has no clue as to when the brat if ever, drops off.
And yes, he is the acknowledged runt of his class. Which is why this article scared the night pants off me. Yes he does sleep less than he requires. On a very good day he sleeps at 10.30 pm and needs to be up by 7.30 am to leave for school by 8 am. It helps that school is a minute away. We're normally the ones scampering in as the bell rings every single day.
On some days he will sleep in the afternoon for a good three to four hours. I let him sleep in, despite the fact that he will oversleep playing time, because he does get such little of good deep sleep that any sleep is good for him.
His sleeping habits are a bit better now. He sleeps. There were phases when I have sat up all night with my eyes like saucers following the brat bouncing off the walls on hyperoverdrive, with him just refusing to go to sleep.
And he does have a wind down routine. Come up from play, do his homework and leedle padhai. Eat his food. Play rough tumble with the pater. Drink his milk and lights off. Sometimes, if mamma's eyes are open, she will read him a story which he will punctuate with inane questions which all lead back inexonerably to Batman, Superman, Spiderman and Krishman. Yup. The latest is Krishman. At which point Mamma will give up and combine Grimms Fairy Tales and Marvel comic characters into a mish mash of plots that holds the attention till the small yawns start. From Mamma. The brat is still google eyed. And for all ye thinking sugar overdose, no, he has no chocolates and no sweet and no colas and no Lays or junk food. Only two spoons of sugar day in his two cups of milk.
Any words of wisdom to get this child to sleep better? Mamma's tired of being Mrs Raccoon. And she would so like to see the brat not being the current 'Chottu' of the bunch.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What do you do when...

Your five year old is a big boy now and doesnt want to give his mamma a kichu.
When he wipes a kichu planted by mamma on his cheek off with a ferocity mamma normally reserves for dirt rings around his neck.
When he refuses to cuddle up while sleeping and doesnt want mamma's hand under his head.
When he wants to do everything 'apne aap'. And shoos mamma out of the bathroom when he is bathing.
When he wants mamma to be around only when he needs the DVD player connected to the television.
When he tells you, mamma, you go to office. Why you staying at home? with all the indignation his little body can summon up.
When he wants to do his homework apne aap, and ends up making a mess of it, and refusing to correct it.
When he asks you, Mamma you will die? In all seriousness. And mamma wonders where that came from. And hastens to reassure him that he's stuck with her for a long long time.
And when he sleeps at night, ensuring he's sleeping apne aap, mamma feels her heart welling up and spilling over at this forced big boyness.
And smiles when he reaches out in his sleep and nestles in closer.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wanna go to daplanet

And so it happens that the current month's theme for the brat in his school is space. Yup, that stuff that is dark and where no man has gone before, except for a brief trip to the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and infinite others who have just about done a floating around the earth kind of vacation. And where the very enterprising Mr Branson, who is, incidentally one of the icons Pappa has photo in his office cubicle of, plans offering shuttle trips into soon.

Naturally Mamma had to run around like a headless chicken for a bit pulling out various reference books and reading up stuff, and deciding on how to approach the topic and how to simplify it for the brat to be able to grasp the enormity of it all. With visions of explaining the cosmos to the brat, I dragged out the mildewed and dogeared copies of National Geographics and Science Encyclopedia I had been saving for this moment. Patted the safe next to me and got the brat to settle down. And asked, "Brat, do you know what space is?"
He looked at me with his wizened monkey Zen master expression.
"Is so easy. Is where Supaman flies. On top of d'earth."
Mamma wouldnt be fobbed off so easily.
"What can you see in space, brat?"
"All black, with mirchi lightings. Like Diwali."
Mamma opens bookmarked pages in said National Geographics. The first being one of the solar system with the sun blazing in gigantic glory and the planets like measly crumbs in front.
"Look brat, this is the sun. And these are planets that go around the sun. "
And Mamma runs down the list naming the planets. Thinking that repeating the names will engrave them on the slitthery surface of the brat mind.
"Shhhahh. Sun is not so big. Sun is small. In d Sky. D'earth is big."
Mamma tried again.
She described the vast emptiness of space. The shunyata from which the Big Bang happened. And all the cosmic particles went hurtling into space and growing further apart and cooling down forming galaxies and stars and constellations and universes. And of that we lived in one galaxy, around one star, called our Sun. And we were one planet among nine, like he was one kid in the class among 24 around the class teacher. And like they sat on the benches at different distances from the teacher, the planets were at different distances from the sun, so the ones closest could hear the teacher loudest and the planets closest were the hottest and the ones furthest were really cold.
"How cold? Like freezer? With cold smoke come out?"
No, no, much much colder.
"How people stay there?"
Mamma drifts into explanations of how Earth is the only habitable planet as far as we know and there are no living creatures on other planets. And about how we are only speculating about alien life forms. Life as we know is only carbon based as we have on this earth. Much dumbed down of course.
"Noooo," he pleads earnestly. "Dey are. See in Ben 10."
Mamma packs aways her encyclopedias and puts on the Superman DVD. And begins her explanations all over again. Rapt attention ensues. Superman freefloating in space helps Mamma explain the concept of gravity and why those astronauts keep floating all about their space capsules and bumping their head. Superman being found as a baby helps explain meteorites. Krypton as another planet in another galaxy helps explain the concept of multiple solar systems and universes. To the level that his little brain can take in.
Then she slips in Jimmy Neutron. And Star Wars.
And checks the listings for Ben 10 timings.
The brat probably knows a lot about space right now and is planning a career as an astronaut. The Batman, Spiderman and Superman costumes are under threat of being displaced as current favourite all time wear.
"I donlike dwhitesuit with TV face. I want red colour astronaut costume."

Childhood Food Allergies: Symptoms and treatments

Disclaimer: I have no experience of allergies and no medical background. So if you do spot any information that isnt accurate here, please feel free to point it out to me and I will put up the correct version.

This started a while ago when Tharini of WinkiesWays sent out an email asking if some of we mommy bloggers would be interested in writing about childhood food allergies. Frankly I had had no experience of the same, though I could write a thesis on problem children and how to manage monsters under three feet in mall and restaurant situations. With much agony and heart felt emotion at that.
My first instinct was to cry off. After all, it was Ganapati time, I was already stressed out. But Tharini was gently persuasive. And it struck me that if one parent and one child could be helped by what I wrote about allergies on the blog, it would be worth it. After all, it was just a matter of an hour's dedicated put my butt to the seat kind of work which would be good for me to do, rather than the regular five minute and done kind of post I tend to do.
I chose to write on symptoms of allergies and how to recognise them. Plus treatment. Broad outlines of course. Why? Primarily because I had no firsthand experience of dealing with allergies. I have, touchwood, not faced this thus far with the brat. And I would like to be informed in case I ever had to come across such a situation, so I would be able to recognise the symptoms for what they were and deal with them in the best way I could. Yes, selfish interest at the heart of everything.
It is scary with children. They are so very vulnerable. You never know what could set off an allergy attack. And while some allergies are mere minor annoyances, some can be lifethreatening. Which is why, I think it is essential for anyone to be able to recognise the symptoms of an allergy attack immediately.
What is an allergy? It is basically the body's reaction or defence to something it considers hostile. These hostile things, called allergens, are more often than not, something that most people can live with very comfortably. Food allergies in young children are more common than in adults, but most children outgrow them by the time they get into school. But, it is also possible to develop a food allergy as an adult, even if you never had any when you were a child.
Allergies are a miscommunication between the body's auto immune system which generally works fantastically to protect us from the irritants, toxins and potentially infectious agents with it misreading the threat levels from a certain anything one is exposed to. This creates an inflammatory response within the body. The bone marrow releases eosinophilis and other cell types from the immune system get on overdrive creating an inflammatory response overload to fight with these perceived hostile allergens.
In a person with allergies, the immune response is oversensitive. When it recognizes an allergen, it releases chemicals, such as histamines. This causes itching, swelling, mucus production, muscle spasms, hives, rashes, and other symptoms, which vary from person to person.
The specific symptoms of the allergy is what can help pinpoint the allergen that causes it. Allergens that are breathed in often cause a stuffy nose, itchy nose and throat, mucus production, cough, or wheezing. A food allergen can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, or a severe, life-threatening reaction. Allergies to plants or any thing that touches the skin surface like a chemical or a metal often cause a skin rash. Drug allergies usually involve the whole body and can lead to a variety of symptoms. Some medical conditions, such as eczema and asthma, are linked to allergies.
If the body develops a sensitivity to an allergen once, you are likely to develop the response everytime you get exposed to it.
Allergens comprise air borne allergens like pollen, mould, dust and pet dander which could trigger asthma attacks. Poison ivy or certain chemicals in detergents, or creams, soaps, etc can result in skin allergies, and the scariest of all, especially for kids, food allergies which can create such a dangerous reaction - anaphylactic shock - a true medical emergency. Insect stings are another potentially life threatening allergy.
According to research, breast-feeding children for at least 4 months or more may help prevent atopic dermatitis cow milk allergy, and wheezing in early childhood. If there is a family history of eczema and allergies in a parent, brother, or sister, you need to discuss this with the child's pediatrician. The timing of introduction of solid foods and the use of several specific foods, can help prevent some allergies.
There is also evidence that infants exposed to certain airborne allergens (such as dust mites and cat dander) may be less likely to develop related allergies. This is called the "hygiene hypothesis" and sprang from observations that infants on farms tend to have fewer allergies than those who grow up in environments that are more sterile.
As far as food allergies are concerned, problem foods include peanuts, tree nuts (including macadamia and Brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts), fish and shellfish, cows' milk, eggs, soya and wheat. Interestingly, a child having one food allergy may also react to other foods (cross-reactivity). For instance, a child allergic to prawns may also react to other shellfish. People with hay fever or an allergy to latex may also have a cross-reaction to certain foods.
If you have a food allergy, your body mistakes certain foods as harmful, and produces antibodies. This is known as sensitisation and may not cause symptoms. However, the next time you eat the food, the antibodies are ready to react with it. This causes the body to release chemicals, which lead to a range of physical symptoms known as an allergic reaction.
Some food allergies result in immediate, severe and even life-threatening symptoms, such as severe peanut allergy
Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.
Mild Allergic Reactions
Mild allergic reactions can include:
Itchy, watery eyes
Mild reactions do not spread to other parts of the body.
Moderate Allergic Reactions
Moderate reactions can include symptoms that spread to other parts of the body, including:
Difficulty breathing
Food and the immune system
Anaphylactic shock is caused by certain insect venoms; drugs such as penicillin; and foods like fish, peanuts, nuts, eggs and seeds.
WARNING: If a person is experiencing more severe symptoms than what is listed above, they may be in anaphylactic shock.
Anaphylactic shock is a medical emergency which is an acute systemic (affecting the whole body) allergic reaction. It occurs after exposure to an antigen (allergen) to which a person was previously sensitized. It can progress in minutes to serious levels.
Symptoms usually appear rapidly - within seconds or minutes - after exposure to an allergen, but in some rare cases, reactions have been delayed by as much as 12 hours.
In anaphylaxis, cells in the immune system release large amounts of chemicals - including histamine. As a result, blood vessels open up and begin to leak fluid into surrounding tissues, producing swelling.
The signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock include the general symptoms of a common allergic reaction, PLUS:
Rapidly worsening symptoms (or previously severe reactions to this allergen)
Swelling of tissues such as lips or joints
Wheezing, noisy breathing or shortness of breath
Rash or redness of the skin
Loss of consciousness
Itching of the skin
Nausea and vomiting
Abdominal cramps
Low blood pressure
Itching of the mouth and throat
Hoarseness, change of voice
Chest pain and tightness
A feeling of warmth and flushing
The feeling of having to urinate

Call emergency ambulances or 911 if any of these symptoms occur with an allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis can result in death if not treated in time.
Doctors will treat anaphylactic shock by injecting adrenaline (epinephrine) to constrict the small blood vessels, raise the blood pressure and dilate the airway. This may be followed by injection of antihistamines and/or steroids, plus the use of life-support systems.

Do note
Eating contaminated food can cause a reaction similar to that caused by a food allergy. Some medicines can also trigger allergic reactions like skin rashes.

Diagnosing an allergy

Before an allergy is diagnosed, you need to go through a battery of tests and a detailed history to correlate symptoms and history.
Allergen testing will reveal the specific allergens you are reacting to, the most common is skin testing, including scratch and path testing depending on the doctor's recommendation for individual cases.
Some sensitive individuals will go through RAST testing. This is a blood test (RAST : radioallergosorbent) which measures the levels of specific allergy-related substances.
Other blood tests that may help reveal allergies include:
Antibody/immunoglobulin (particularly IgE) levels
Complement levels
A simple method employed by some doctors is to avoid certain items, or use the suspected allergens in a controlled setting to monitor the reaction.
While the ideal treatment would be to avoid all the factors that are known to bring on an allergic response, this is not always practically possible. The most appropriate medication depends on the type and severity of symptoms.
Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are occasionally recommended if the allergen cannot be avoided and if symptoms are hard to control. This includes regular injections of the allergen, given in increasing doses (each dose is slightly larger than the previous dose) that may help the body adjust to the antigen.
Some children generally outgrow an allergy as the system becomes less sensitive to the allergen, but normally once a substance is proved as provoking an allergy attack, it will continue to do so lifelong.

Finally, as research has proved there might be some credence in the old wives tale that children who play in the mud grow up strong. The lack of exposure to allergens and the extremely sanitised environment we are bringing our kids up in could be one of the reasons for the increasingly levels of allergic diagnosis amongst our children.

Nonetheless, do not take allergies lightly. Be aware of the symptoms, and know your line of treatment if you have a child suffering from any. Forewarned is forearmed.
Finally, here are what some more moms from the blogosphere have to write about childhood food allergies.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Back and baked

This is what two tired beach bums look like.
And this is where they had been beach bumming for near on a week. Morning to night. And Mamma has become so blackened out that she's going to put those pictures up as warning posters for those who forget to pack the sunscreen.

So it came to pass that Mamma, oops, now as decided by brat himself, from henceforth to be called Maa, in true Hindi film style, and brat would be standing outside a hotel bathroom at 7 am embroiled in the worst standoff ever in the history of the brat and his Maa.

"I not comin to Bombay. I stayin here. In dhotel. Apne aap." So declared a suddenly grown up and independent brat. "You n pappa go back. I got room service."

At this precise second Mamma knows that being incubator for nine months, on the chopping board for a day and milk booth for some more months boils down to being replaced by room service.

Nonetheless, it was not time to dissolve into a bluthering mess of hormones on freeflow. No, it was time to be a mom of steel.

After around 15 minutes of impasse, while brat refused to get his scrawny self into the bathroom for a bath, and as the hotel staff tapped feet urgently outside the door waiting for that last bag to be zipped up, yup, the one which was to contain his used nightsuit, Mamma did a very un Hindi film Maa like thing. She clicked her heels, turned, took the room key out of the slot and closed the door behind her. And waited for signs of little hands banging the door, begging to be let out, promises of better behavior. All she could hear was the sound of commercials. After ten minutes of further suspense she opened the door to see brat snug as a bug in the bed, clicking away with the remote, already dialling room service.

Pappa was pressed into service and the boy was bathed and dressed and silent as he got into the car for the long drive back home.

He looked at Maa from under sulky lids. "I coming back. And I not bring you."

We had just spent close on a week in Goa. Of which we had spent entire days doing nothing but lazing from morning to night on a shack at Baga. A lot of ingestion of fish in every avatar possible happened. The brat had a fixed meal menu regardless of wherever we went. Fried fish, dal and roti or rice. Eyewitnesses will confirm that dal and rice are staples of his every meal. And fried fish made the addendum this time round. "Ony roti n daaal and fiedfiss."

Between all this frantic fiedfiss eating, the brat was busy ingesting copious amounts of sea water and sand. If anyone wants to try it out, baked sand as a dried hair masque is a great option for those with hair fall issues. Guaranteed to get the remainder of your hair out, and therefore by extension, cause you to have no hair fall issues at all.

A lot of wimmin in d sea happened, a real live rescue of drowning swimmer happened right in front of eyes widened to hairline levels in amazement, boating and eating of cashewnuts to obscene levels of digestive issues happened.
And the drive back home was complete peace and quiet and just the sounds of two little boys snoring their adenoids out. And despite us eating copious amounts of everything, ribs are back on display.