Thursday, January 29, 2009

Its play time, folks!

The brat waits with bated breath for the sun to lower itself squat onto the foggy distant horizon as visible from the glass windows, and then begins bounding himself like a rubber ball off the walls. "Lesh godaun. Lesh go daun." Given the scary intensity of heat outside in what is currently masquerading as winter time here in Mumbai, this would be approximately 5.30 pm. And the straggly lot of mites have started making their appearance in the park below. The brat will clamber onto the sole window with total grills that he is allowed to clamber onto and look down. "Therez A. And therez I. And therez J." Mamma will squint with her eyes gone bad and only be able to see black heads attached to toothpicks bobbing around in green grass. "Leshgo. Leshgo."
This will be followed by a super duper double quick ingestion of the milk that has been languishing from hot to warm to tepid and now flat cold on the dining table since the better part of an hour, and the throwing of the wardrobe wide open.
"What'll I wear? Shuldi wear Jacketwithjeans? Shuldi wear Spidermancostum? Shuldiwear bumudas?"
The deciding eats up another ten to fifteen minutes until he has admired himself in various permutation combinations and set his hair to perfection, to ensure the cowlick at the back stays glued to his head and combed it to slick side parted precision. We land down in the garden at around 6 pm. After which, the brat and his four cronies run around having a blast, for an hour or two. They play chor police, pakda pakdi, and assorted games made up on the spot. They cycle their legs off till they are ready to drop, and play dodge em with cycles with assorted mammas screeching in the background "Slowly, slowly, sloooooowleeeeeeee....now there, see what you did."
They pick themselves up, grazed knees and hurt egos notwithstanding, and go right back to dashing each other. They race from end to end of the compound. Mammas play sentinels with cars entering the gates a little too fast and sound alarms for a slowing down to happen right now, unless you want to be pushing your car to the garage after ferocious Mommy army attack.
And then mommy was asked the other day, by well meaning, well groomed and perfectly poised yummy mummy outside the school gates. "What classes does your son go to?"
"None," replied mommy. Frown splitting her forehead in half. "None," replied yummy mommy, deeper frown splitting her forehead in half too. Arched eyebrow, implying cruel, wilful neglect.
Mamma crawled back under her stone, feeling like a pathetic, lazy, slob mom. "But I am planning to put him into swimming and dance classes," says Mamma, as a last ditch effort to save her standing.
And then chews her nails endlessly about whether that was the right answer. And wonders if it wasnt too apologetic and concludes, it was. What she should have said, and what like always comes to her a day too late after the retort is needed, is "My son learns bonding, sharing, negotiation skills, turn taking, imagination development, works on his motor skills, and sense of balance. He also has a good work out and full body exercise every single day. And yup. Its called unstructured play, and sadly, it has totally gone out of fashion, but it is the best thing I think for a young child to do every day. Best of all? He totally enjoys it and looks forward to it and doesnt need to be coerced into going for it."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Of man to man conversations

The brat and the father were having a man to man discussion, post mortem of the sports meet. (a backgrounder: I am the nerd, the father is the sportsman. The brat naturally has opted for his father's love for books and my athletic skills.) Where the brat ran with terrific style and poise, and moments of gentle waving to the crowds like athletes do when they run around the stadium to acknowlege the applause. The whole shebang takes up precious moments in which another sprite bounds forth and breasts the tape. And many more after him do so. And the brat trots in at a slow canter still acknowledging the applause and cheering, and then throwing major tantrum meltdown like situation when denied a prize.
Therefore the father decided to sit him down and have a serious chat on the issue.
"Brat, you need to look ahead and run straight in a race."
"Budwhy. I is waving to my frens."
"Brat, listen, you have to run very fast and straight, for that you need to look ahead and run only to the finishing line. You must not waste time looking here and there."
"Is boreding to look in fron. Only uncle standing there wid whissle in hiz maood."
"Brat, if you run fast, you can come first." And then days of forgotten glory come fresh in the Pappa's greying mind and he gets on the motivational track. "When you go down for a race, you must say loudly, I will come first, I will come first."
Pappa looks at the spawn of his loins with paternal pride. And pats his head. "And you must keep repeating it. And then you will come first."
The brat looks up at Pappa, checking for lose nut bolts. "Pappa, if I keep saying I will come fusht, I will come fusht, when will I run?"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Public Day...

The building complex we live in celebrated its first Republic Day yesterday. Which is quite a shame if you consider that we have spent a year as residents. Well, granted that it has taken its time for the two towers to fill up, with the third slowing getting populated (seven towers under construction, by the end of which, I and mine will be stone deaf from construction noise and with our insides caked with layers of dust which will have to be excavated to fill in sea and reclaim land to make more such towers), we residents didnt have much of a quorum the first year. The second year promised to be different. For one, mamma was bristling furiously about the lack of effort to do anything about national days. Therefore Mamma went off and bought us a flag. With another equally concerned mom. And three four other mammas got into the act. A rough programme charted out.
And a notice was put up. And a sponsorship begged for. And got. The National Anthem and patriotic songs, downloaded. Chairs ordered for. Games organised. Props organised. Many squabbles dealt with admirably. Timings shifted infinitely to accommodate every wannabe attendee. And then mega tantrum thrown and declaration of Attend Or Else, issued to all members of complex via polite security personnel on intercom. And more stridently by us moms via intercom and collar holding terror tactics when residents bumped into in lobbies and lifts.
Mamma is nothing if not gently persuasive. The flag was hoisted. A drawing competition organised for the children to draw on the India of my dreams. The brat drew flowers in a random grassless field and a triangular tricolour stuck in the centre. I thought it needed to be giltframed and hung at the MOMA but the judges were of a differing opinion and could not appreciate the deep thought that went into sticking a flag in a flower field which mamma interpreted as symbolic of children of differing communities and religions and cultures flourishing in the same soil, which is India and such like, dont tell the brat though, that mamma said so. I think he just found it more fun to keep making colourful concentric circles in continuous hand movements and fob them off as flowers.
Races were organised. The brat participated in two races. One, a tower race, where the kids in his age group had to build a tower of the blocks kept in their lane and race to the finish line. The second was a clean sprint. Of course, the brat excelled and managed by the skin of his teeth not to come last in both and then spent the entire prize distribution ceremony at the elbow of the hapless soul who was pulling out the prizes from the huge plastic bags, staring hungrily at each as they were handed over, until a kind soul took pity on him and handed him a couple of movie DVDs. Xena the Warrior Princess and Spy Kids. We reached home to have father and son fight over what was to be watched immediately. Yup. Pappa had polished his eyeballs in anticipation of Xena. The brat was keener on Spy Kids.
This was also the day that both maids had decided to be patriotic and take a break so there was no lunch cooked at home. Which pappa and mamma were fine with having ODed on the snacks being served at the function. The brat however hadnt ingested anything of value apart from wafers since the morning, so busy was he in getting into scraps with all and sundry and running every race to perfection except his own, the daddi needed real food, sandwiches and wafers and samosas didnt cut ice, and therefore, the family trotted off to Bikajis for lunch. The brat hobbled painfully and then squatted on the pavement refusing to walk a step more and pleaded with the Pappa to carry him. Mamma was tempted to do the same, but had mercy on Pappa's back and thought the next she would ever be carried would be when a crane and a hoist were deployed for the purpose.
The brat devoured food like one who has not seen edible stuff for close on few days. And ate without pause, or thought or censor of elements getting into his gullet. Mamma happily made the most of tired hunger and mixed in all the forbidden veggies into the rice. After a contented little burp, the brat sat back like a python with a goat undigested in his digestive tract, unable to move. "Mamma," he spake. "Why we sing Jana Gana Mana at Public day?"
Mamma spewed forth the gyaan about 26th January being the day India became an Independent Republic nation. "And before, we wuz not indeependen?"
"No, the Britishers ruled over India."
"Whuiz d Bridishers?"
A tired mamma looked to Pappa for help, and mumbled something about them being folks from England who came over in ships and took over India and ruled it for many many years.
"Why we let dem rule us?"
This was a question Mamma had no answer to. "I know," said the brat, dim wattage bulb lighting up in the recesses of his mind. "Is boring to be a ruler thas why. Leddem be rulers. We be public. Public has fun. Rulers ony sit in big chairs. So Happy Public Day."
To you too!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Are you a teacher or an educator?

If yes, please read this. I got this from Tharini and there was no way I could not put it up. Anyone of you who has been reading this blog for a modicum of time would know that this is an issue close to my heart. Well, not dyslexia specifically, but Learning Disabilities, since that is something I have been grappling with, with the brat. It has been a long and hard battle. And I am gaining ground every day, and its been a tear stung battle. Like the nights he holds me and sobs, asking me to come and sit with him in class and help him. And refuses to go to school. And the mornings when he is sultry and defiant and obviously hurting so badly inside that I have to send him to school with a stone on my heart.
If you are an educator, please read this, and please do sensitise yourself to a child with learning disabilities or a child who is simply a slow learner, like my son is. Their fragile egos and sense of self are in your hands, and that in itself is a major responsibility.


What it is:- A multi-disciplinary conference on dyslexia- Samyukth on Jan 30 and Jan 31 at IIT Madras.

Why you should attend:- The programme aims at discussing solutions in an Indian context and includes language acquisition processing and disorders in children with learning disability, behavior modification and social issues, efficacy of Math games, kinesiology, indigenous remedial techniques that work, the Irlen syndrome (a learning disorder associated with dyslexia), adaptations and innovations in helping children from 5-15 and the Multiple Intelligence Approach.

Who are the speakers:-The event hosts speakers from across the world- Mala Nataraj, (Department of Mathematics Selwyn College, NZ), Mindy Eichorn (Special Educator from Tennesssee), Shobha Madhavan (Lecturer- Deeside College, UK) , experts on learning disability, multiple intelligence, orthography and literacy acquisition, Irlen research, and leading faculty from NIMHANS

Who should attend:-This conference is open to remedial teachers, therapists, mainstream teachers, Principals, counselors and parents, students and researchers who are interested in the field. The event involves psychiatrists, special educators and mainstream teachers presenting their experience and work in the field of dyslexia

Contact:- MDA at 044-65622462 or Subha Vaidyanathan at 98844-18327

Last word:- "Early identification of children "at risk" and early intervention makes main-streaming easier", says Lakshmi Radhakrishnan, senior consultant from Madras Dyslexia Association (MDA)," and who can be better equipped to help, than a child's teacher?"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I D Omnitrix

Any of you with them five year olds at home? Any of them Boys? Read on ye, fellow sufferers of Ben 10 ism. This being the current rage, shaking off Power Rangers and Pokemon, and Digimon and other such mons and Japanese cartoons and action series, the Ben 10 phenomenon has taken over the Manral household with a rapidity that reminds me of the film, the Sleepers. Remember. Yup, the brat is morphing rapidly into multiple aliens. Ten of them to start with. With names like Heatblast, Stinkfly, Upgrade, WildMutt, Diamond Head, Grey Matter, Ghost Freak, Four Arms and a couple of others which one has forgotten. If collecting that entire jamboree, and having to sell one's fillings to buy more werent bad enough, the makers have connived with the devil and introduced even more aliens with names like Humungosaurus. And a grown up Ben 10 in a horrendous green sports jacket, saved in hideousness only by Michele Obama's lime green number at the inauguration. At this point mamma's brain did a shut down outage and refused to take in an file any more such names unless she was paid for exerting precious little remnant mind space over such tripe. The brat on the other hand rattles them off at a speed that Mamma wished he reserved for the Months of the Year. Or even days of the Week. Or even Ordinal numbers. A deep sigh would be appropriate if inserted here.
Anyway, having gathered unto his scrawny ribcased dotted bosom the entire menagerie of Ben 10 aliens (which incidentally are the ugliest creatures plastic was ever put to use for, excluding Michael Jackson), the brat had set his sights on an Omnitrix watch. Pray, you ask, gentle reader, what be that? Mamma will promptly enlighten you. With a brief synopses of the show, to put the gadget's importance in context.
Ben 10 features the character Benjamin Tennyson, a ten year old who is abducted by aliens who then morph his dna with some twerpy gadgetry to enable him to change his self to appropriate ugly alien by slamming on the Omnitrix watch. Or so I gather from the interrupted watching I do of the serial while flitting before unblinking five year old eyes of brat watching it, open mouthed in wonder. Therefore, the brat had recently decided that the entire shebang of alien action figures isnt worth for much, given that he remained a scrawny twerp and forget fighting hostile aliens, couldnt even hold his own in school scraps. (Yup, the brat initiates the scraps and then limps away yeowling). Therefore, the brainwave. "Mamma," he squeaked excitedly, at the next trip to the toy section, "I wanna Omnitrix wachch. If I wearit I becum WileMutt? Or Heedblass?"
Mamma calmly picked up said Omnitrix watch on display and squinted to read the printed price, which is now, in some conspiracy to get her to admit she's hitting middle age, being printed in bacteria height fonts, and needs her to put said reading area at varying distances before she can make sense of the heiroglyphs. And then of course, she fainted in a dead thud on the ground as a nimble salesman lept out of the way to avoid being pulverised by the impact.
"2000 bucks!!!!!" she sputtered, frothing at the mouth, when she came to. "You got to be kidding, brat. No way are you getting that from me." Brat wandered off hopefully in search of Pappa who was in the adjoining Crossword, looking through Jesse Livermore tomes with the hope of finding the Holy Grail to stock market success instantly. "Pappa, I wan d Omnitrix wachch. Mamma's making natak."
Pappa reluctantly put his book down and wandered over. "Its just a toy," said Pappa benevolently, when he saw the miserly looking thing. "Let him take it." Mamma gave Pappa a look that has killed lesser mortals but is now lost on him, being inured to it, through overexposure. Like those folks who live with snakes and become inured to the venom.
"Its 2000 bucks." Pappa promptly chucked it back on the shelves. And walked back to the charms of Jesse Livermore and the 1929 crash on Wall Street.
Brat looked around like a child who has his last candy taken away from him. And decides to pick up an alternative. An action figure. Comes home and whines every night about whaddameanmammauare. Then he goes to a budday pahty yesterday. His BFF's sister's budday. And returns home with, hold your breath, the Omnitrix watch. A more value for money version off course, but the same thing. He strapped it on lovingly and stroked it in the manner grown men pat their first cars. Made infernal noises with it and flashed the lights on the darkened ceiling of the bedroom till past midnight. And slept with it.
Woke up in the morning and looked at himself. "Mamma, I became Wilemutt?"
Mamma nodded in the negative. "Den I became Heedblasss?" No, said Mamma. "I give dis Omnitrix back to aunty. I tell her is not wurking. To esschange it in d shop. I is not becoming any alien."

Friday, January 16, 2009

The annual day looms large...

Battling runny nose and sneezing violently, mamma made her way to the classroom packed with the strange sight of mammas in different shapes and sizes perched delicately on the small chairs meant for the exclusive use of brattie and classmates. In the weight range of 20 odd kilos. Mamma had probably cubed that weight range by now. Therefore mamma sank slowly, reminescent of the riverhorse slowly lowering hippo weight into river bed, hoping that the mud wont give way and swallow him whole. Mamma was late, the brat, seated up front with his cronies, gave her an accusatory look. And piped up loud enough for mamma to turn a mottled shade of purple with embarassment at being pulled up so in public situation. "Mamma, whyucumlate? Is bad manners!"
Mamma sank into said tiny chair meant for brat or Lilliputians, and shrank further into self hoping she had disappeared enough. But she had not reckoned with a virulent brat who lifted himself from his spot up front and come forward to hand hold mamma through the difficult process of figuring out costumes, something kind fellow mamma and india helps team member Priyanka had already done for her. "Mamma, you write everything poperly?" Mamma sent him packing back to join his classmates up front. He looked back again, and hissed, "I see you aferwords." Mamma shivered in fear. The brat resumed his bashing of fellow classmate hand exercise he had been engrossed in until she entered.
Turns out the brat is in a welcome dance, in which he has to wear a black jacket, a shiny shirt and black trousers and a top hat. And a Goan dance in which he needs a floral hawaiian shirt, a pair of bermudas and floaters, topped with a straw hat. Mamma's heart sank at the thought of the infinite straw hats left behind in hotel rooms on every Goa trip, them being thought of as cumbersome to transport back to Mumbai, given that luggage was already overflowing with cashews and feni and bebinca and such contraband.
This morning, the brat wakes up and rubs his eyes. "Mamma, you made my costume." Mamma demurred, she still has to hunt down bits and pieces of shirt and floaters and hat. Brat frowns. "Mamma, if I donhave costume how will I dance on dstage? You are a very badly behaved child. Gerrit fast. Or I will put you in the naughty corner."
Suitably chastised, Mamma spent the better part of the morning hunting for hideous hit the eye with a hammer floral shirt. And found one in bright red too. The brat took one look at it and sneered derisively. "I not wearing dat. I wanna gold shirt and gold pant and gold shoes. And gold hairband."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Budday pahty time...

The brat had a budday pahty to attend the other day. And yesterday again. And the charm of attending budday pahties, it seems, has worn off. I shook the brat awake from his afternoon nap yesterday. "Brat, rise and shine. And lets put a wet towel to your face and get into our party wear. We have to go for a birthday party."
The brat thrashed around a bit and moaned and groaned and grumbled in the general demenour of ancient ancestors disturbed from the graves. Doomsday portents were not far off. Mamma, not to be deterred, pursued the matter further bringing to the fore her excellent tickling skills, much practised on rock solid unticklable Pappa in pre-brat era, which got never a twitch in reaction, but now unfailingly gets the brat up and alert in a spank. This time round though, the desired reaction didnt occur. Instead, the brat did a Linda Blair on me, and screeched out vile things to the tune of me being an evil mamma who does not 'lemmesleepinonepiece."
Mamma tried yet again and waxed eloquent about the redurngeef which, did he think, could be a Batman action figure. No, he mumbled, irritably, will be some boreding game thing.
This, the veteran of many buddaypahty boreding return geefs, is now cynical about the whole shindig. Mamma then appealed to his sense of morality. If you dont go to your friends birthday parties, no one will come to yours, and you wont get any birthday presents. Issokay. He says darkly. Everyone geeves boreding geefs.
Finally a mug of water on the head brought alertness along with sullenness. The brat muttered darkly as he pulled on his new hoodie Jasper Conran zip up which is the current uniform du jour to be worn over everything and on every occasion from trips to the mall to trips to the dentist, to trips to the park to trips to the building compound. Over his pyjamas. I wearing dis only, he muttered threateningly, as mamma pulled out new jeans with skull embroidery and such like, or new distressed Guess denims, with appropriate threads hanging out in mock frayed style.
Is boreding. He declaims. I donlike budday pahties. I wanna go to the park and play. Budday pahties is boreding.
Too much of a good thing, I guess, can get trying after a while. This is probably what make manic Page threeites escape to religion and spirituality.
As for mamma, she attended the budday pahty, dragging a reluctant brat along at the point of no more action figures for many many new ears. The music started and the brat danced his heart out again. And wasnt bored. Or didnt be boreding.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Homework blues..

The brat has never really taken to his studies. I dont blame him. There are more exciting things to be done through the day anyway, dismember action figures, jump endlessly on precious sofa and cause tearing from sides in most obvious places, watch all the superhero movies possible on fast forward and change costumes in keeping with the movie watched, therefore by the end of the day mamma has to wade through a pile of Spiderman, Superman and Batman costumes just to make it from the bedroom to the kitchen. And then of course, tune out to mamma's screeching about how he must keep all discarded items of clothing in the laundry basket or risk having them confiscated forever and handed over to the delightful golden retriever in the flat opposite to be chewed into a mangled mess.
At which point he might mournfully condescend to lift each cape and mask and then proceed to throw them back into the cupboard in random shelf, which then leads to more shrieking from mamma, ah well...you get what mamma's trying to say.
Therefore homework and gu gu are last on his list of priorities. Which means that homework gets pushed to when Pappa Bear is back home and can growl threateningly at the brat to get his skinny ass pronto on his chair and take the pencil in hand and start on his assigned task. So he does. And drives a hard bargain while at it. "I only do one page. Handispainin. I feel kantala. I is sleeping. I is so tie-eared." Then he throws his head back and mock snores. Opening one eye to check how much sympathy or melting in stern expression on part of both parents this has occasioned.
A short sharp bark from the pater ensures he digs his head in, only lifting his eyes occasionally to check if his diligence is being duly noted for the express purpose of golden stars being tacked onto his calendar of good behaviour which will be tallied at the end of the week to note whether a new toy is called for. Of course, the charmer that he is, he manages to con the rest of the household into supplying the funding for requisite toys when Cruella de Mamma decrees that he hasnt met the target for the week.
So he sits and does what he needs to do. Writes out his words. Does his additions and subtractions with no clue of when to stop the counting on his fingers, and continues until prodded to stop. Mamma laughed it off. And sat with him. Like she does everyday. Or floats around while he does his counting and returns to check. And the homework was done, packed and nightsuits worn.
The family settled in for the night, lights were off. And the brat pipes up. Mamma, donwanna go skul tomaru. And begins sobbing softly. And clutches onto Mamma with his scrawny arms. Mamma you come to my class. You help me. Teacher get angry with me. Says you dont even know counting. Please help me. Please come to class with me. Please please please.
Mamma's heart fell like a stone to the pit of her stomach. A giant hand squeezed her heart and wrung out all the blood from it. She held him tight. Pappa put out a hand and stroked his sobbing head. "Dont worry, beta. Mamma is coming right to school tomorrow. And mamma will tell teacher that Krish knows his counting."
And so mamma did. And Mamma and Pappa have been teaching Krish to count everything he sees. From birds on a wire to people in a car. And going into rhapsodies when he gets it right. He's back to cocky confident again. "Mamma," he tells moi yesterday, "Is not important to do counting. Is bleddy waste of time."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy New Year

From the brat and his mamma and pappa.
And where the ole ear goes?
And what happnz in d new ear?
Janurry comz agin?
And then ferrurry?
Why we have new ear?
Mamma explains the earth and its rotation and revolution around the sun and one round of the sun making up one year and the brat got a bit of it.
Why d sun so lazy? Only standing in one place whole time? Is not going round and round?
Is not get chakkar?
Mamma tried to explain the sun rotating with its little entourage of nine planets around the centrifuge of the milky way galaxy. At which point the brat gave up.
I become six ears ole in new ear.
Thas why we have new ear.