Monday, June 29, 2009
A well meaning neighbour happened to be passing by. "Oh brat," she gushed. "So are you going to be a doctor when you grow up?"
The brat cocked one sole eyebrow up and furrowed his brow simultaneously. "No. I will be pile-it. I will fly in d sky."
Mamma was delighted that he had raised his self set bar of ambition and said, "Really, that will be nice brat. You can fly an aeroplane wherever you want to."
The wheels within the brat's skull began creaking and clanking. "Where will I pahk d aeroplane. Is too beeg. I not be pile-it. I be Superman. Then I dont need plane."
Mamma digested this piece of information with the gravitas it deserved.
"Mamma, who will stich my costoom? Widoud d red chaddi and belt. I don wantu wear red chaddi oudside the pant. Everybuddy will laffatme."
Friday, June 26, 2009
Here are his proposals for those who haven't read them:
Std X optional
Marks to be replaced by grades
For these three alone, he deserves a Facebook fan club comprising harassed parents. And those reports of kids hanging themselves for the loss of a single mark might come down too.
I don't know about you, but I'm blessing this man down to his next seven generations if this comes through.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I pick him up at three, at which point, his clothes are dishevelled, his hair is unruly, his cowlick is flattened down by sweat, and his face is always with a grin when he sees me in the crowd. And he is full of stories about who he punched, who he gave tashan to, and what praises were showered on him in the course of the day, including a "you think youre too smart," by a peer which is interpreted positively to bolster self esteem.
He reaches home, eats,larks around a bit to my crowing in the background about the need to take a nap which is actually just the run up to me lying down on said bed and grabbing some shuteye. At six his tuition teacher comes by and he has to be dragged kicking, screaming and yelping like a stray dog to the dining table where said tuitions are conducted. She has the patience of a saint, the lady. I must admit. Or maybe thats why the teaching profession is not something everyone has a calling for. I would have been yelling at army sergeant decibel levels comparable to the volume achieved with the use of megaphone without said megaphone. An hour of tuitions and umpteen asking of the time, and trips to the balcony to check whether his friends are still in the park later, it is time to set the books aside and go down to the park. Which mamma does take him down to, more for the sake of her own sanity than any real altruistic interest in seeing him and his cronies enact entire episodes of Power Ranger Jungle or Power Ranger Operation Overdrive or whichever Japanese action series grabs their current fancy. An hour or so of this, and he's back to eat, change into his nightsuit and go off to sleep. By 9.30 pm.
And he is barely in first grade. 24 hours already seem too little for all he needs to fit into a day.
So, trilled the tuition teacher, if 2 and 0 is twenty, 3 and 0 is thirty, 4 and 0 is forty, tell me what is one and zero.
Brat gives her a stormy look from under half closed irate lids. And without twitching a muscle replies calmly, "One and zero is onety."
Tuition had to be interrupted on account of laughing mamma and teacher, with tissues being pressed into service to mop pouring eyes.
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Monday, June 22, 2009
Mamma returned home wearing dark glasses and frown lines, brought on by the Very Bad Headache, caused by sudden shift in vision perspective The brat lept into the car in glee.
Mamma, your eyes is cud open and stiched?
No love, Mamma was operated by light, by a Laser beam, like the Power rangers have a laser ray and Hero has a laser beam gun, Mamma struggled to give a rational coherent explanation that didnt get too gruesome and gory much to brat's disappointment.
An the dokter cut your eye and putd iit back in the eye hole?
No darling. The doctor just polished the eye and made it smooth.
Tchhah. He clicked his tongue disgustedly. Yeh bhi koi operation hua. I tole all my frens my mammas eyes is being cut open. Now dey will laffatme.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Brat, she yelled, come check which kutta pahjama you want to wear.
The brat gambolled into the room and gave mamma one of those looks which is normally associated with a quick check of the forehead temperature to ascertained whether mamma has been attacked by the heat wave currently mugging up to the trachea.
Mamma, he said, in his piping high indignant tone which had it been a little louder could have caused eardrum damage, iss nod kutta pahjama. You is sayin id rong. Itis kurrrrrrta payjamah! Now repead afhter me.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Mamma filled out the assorted forms while Pappa who had been coerced to be present on account of muscle power thought necessary while holding a struggling brat down barked instructions into the phone at hapless minion sitting in the office. The brat's name was called and he was taken into the Xray room. He followed the technician quite happily, skipping as he walked, thinking a treat was in store. Once in the room he spotted the machinery and the bed with straps at the side and distant memories of MRIs and such like came to fore. He bolted out through Mamma's legs and had to be dragged back in. "Nothing, brat, they're just going to take a photograph of you."
Phodogaff? He asked suspiciously. Suspicion turned to deep suspicion as mamma peeled his teeshirt off. Yes, love, Mamma replied. Den why you is takin my tshird out?, he asked, with great apprehension.
Because, Mamma silently thanked Hindi filmdom, uncle wants to take out a Salman Khan photograph of yours. Showing your muscles. He grinned happily and went willingly to the position marked, rested his chin where told and flexed his arms up in the air. Luckily, he didnt think of asking why the camera clicked his back.
The xray dispensed with, we were herded into a blood collection room, where the nurse, a doctor and assorted good folk had come in anticipating a brawl to get a needle into the requisite vein. The brat took his audience for granted. Didnt even flinch at the crowd in the room. Proferred his arm for the strap happily and flexed it in Power Ranger/Hero/Zoran fashion once on. It was the sight of the syringe being opened from the pack that did his bravado in, he yelped and disappeared under the chair and had to be coaxed out from there. The father spoke to him in serious man to man fashion about how his favourite Power Rangers and Hero and Batman and Spiderman would behave in similar fashion. Would they run from a needle? No, they would be men and sit there and take the needle calmly. But, squeaked the brat, Mamma says they do all jhootmoot ka fighting and oprashun. They don get hurt. Mamma kicked herself on the shin, if such a movement were possible. Then Rocky Balboa was pressed into service. Pappa informed the brat to concentrate on Rocky Balboa's match with Drago, and took him to the "No Pain, No Pain, No Pain," chant. Say it, said the father, and so the brat said it, his eyes closed. The needle was slid into the vein skilfully and blood extracted, the eyes unscrunched themselves, "Mamma, my blood is red colour????" He yelled in disgust. "I wan green colour blood. Like Hulk. How I be Hulk udderwise!"
Sample collection done, tape applied, the brat hopped off holding his arm and the tape on display for all and sundry. Displayed it to the assorted aunties he met on the way home in the lift and in the lobby, milching all the sympathy he could garner, with a shy, lopsided smile and expressions of much pain, leading to proferrings of chocolates and kichus.
In the night, he peeled the tape off. "Mamma, when dat uncle will put my blood back in my hand."
I explained that the blood had gone for testing, and his body would make new blood. "Den dat uncle wil keep my blood. Wit him?"
He sounded shocked and appalled at the prospect. "Why he dint aks me if he can keep my blood. His mamma dint teach him manners?"
The Xrays and blood tests showed bronchitis, the medicines and antibiotics have been upped.
Am overwhelmed by the love this child gets from the blogosphere. The calls I missed, the messages I didn't respond to, forgive me. I haven't been in the best of spirits. As I write this, my bedspread is being flooded by mountains of snot. And the brat is in Red Power Ranger costume, busy killing the evil sofa and carpet.
He stays at home for a few days until he is ready to decimate the galaxy.
Until then I get drowned in phlegm.
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Monday, June 15, 2009
Mom faints. Picks herself up runs over with eau de cologne tumbler and strips of thin cloth to be applied to various extremities in a bid to keep the fever from climbing any higher. The last resort fever control syrup Meftal has been pressed into service. The AC is on. The brat, in his bare undies, suddenly seems so wan and fragile, mamma panics more than she should seemingly let her face show. Brat opens one scrunched eye. "Mamma, when I finish fainting I can go down to play?"
He's been having high fever that comes and goes since Thursday. A cough that's racking mamma's ears with its rattle. Sat bravely through a blood test this morning repeating Rocky Balboa's "no pain no pain" chant with his father as the syringe pierced the vein. Puffed out his puny chest and stood in body builder pose for the chest xray.
Mamma's just on her way to collect the reports. Pray he gets well soon. It doesn't feel right seeing him so listless and lying in bed all day.
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Friday, June 12, 2009
Brat was picked up from school yesterday looking flushed and feeling warm. Mamma put it down to the 3pm heat and hit the roof of the innova when she discovered the water bottle was untouched. From 8am to 3pm. Dosages of Frisium and Crocin were administered. Meftal brought into the arena when the fever refused to budge. Day two today. Mamma can feel the hair popping into grey along the hairline.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009
To say I bristled would be an understatement. I was more like aporcupine with all its quills on ready to fire alert prickliness level. The brat, as most blog readers know, is a slow learner. He has had issues. He is also hyperdistractable. And I am a woman with limited reserves of patience. And he has an insane syllabus and needs to be prodded on with firmer resolve than a mother who can easily be manipulated into relaxing the rules with a tear or a tantrum can.
Whatever the reasons, the brat needs extra help with his studies and I know it. I work with him to the best of my ability but I know my best is not enough. And I am with him every moment he is not at school, so it isn't as if I don't have the time available to give him because of work or other unavoidable commitments. And that too is perfectly valid. But I do know my limitations. I am not a good teacher. I lose patience. I cannot explain things in a way that grasps a child's attention. I tend to rush through things. I expect him to pick things up in the first explanation and get rather puzzled when he does not. Also, I do know that trained teachers have an edge on me in the teaching department. I do sit with him and do fun things. We paint. We go through the cyclepidia. We go down to the park.We discuss earthshaking issues of importance. I bathe him, feed him, dress him. I drop him to school. I pick him up. I take him to dance class. I wait there. I take him back. He is not allowed to even enter the lift on his own. I am constantly with him. I donot not give my child time. And I dare anyone to imply anything to the contrary.
The mother who felt I was being a lazy mother is a medical professional with two young sons, who has stopped practising in order to devote all her time to her children. And she firmly states that she will never (I loved the never, considering her kids are two and five right now) put the kids in tuitions or classes. She believes that if parents take time out and put in an effort the children can cope adequately. There is nothing I would like more than that. I would like to believe that too. But I do know that children differ. Their abilities differ. Parents differ. Their temperaments differ. There is no cookie cutter mould for what works for every one. Teaching the brat myself would have worked for the brat had the brat been a student like me. I was sharp. On the ball. Could concentrate. And picked up stuff in the first reading or explanation. It also helped that my mother aka the nana was a trained teacher. She taught at some of the best boarding schools in the country before she got married. I benefited from her training. The brat is different. I am a different mother. I am very scattered. The nana also moans that he doesnt sit with her to study or pay any attention when she tries to teach him.
Is it a shirking off of my responsibilities to want someone trained and better able to explain stuff in a way the brat understands it to teach him, to give him the one on one attention he needs. He does not go for any other classes. He is not driven from one activity to another. I ensure that he gets his couple of hours of unstructured play every evening because I firmly believe that this is the best way for a child to learn social skills, motor coordination and independence.
And has anyone looked at the syllabus these days? The brat has started multiplication and division in senior kg itself, in Grade 1 he is going to be doing this without objects. He is five and a half. He begins Hindi this year. He starts Social Sciences. Computers. English Grammar. It is a big leap for him. I either make him capable of coping to the best of his ability or I withdraw him from the school and homeschool him. And in today's environment the latter is not a feasible option. Or I am not brave enough to do it. Nor trained enough to do it. I do want him to fit in, to be on par with other children his age. I do want him to have the school experience.
I do a parallel course with him at home. Unstructured ofcourse. Where I take up a topic and go over it till the cows come home. Dinosaurs. The Solar System. The Earth. The Sea. The Animal Kingdom. Countries of the world. A bit of history. Parallel to what they do in school. I try my best. But I do also know my best is not good enough for my son. He needs more. And I accept that. Her sons might not need more than her help. And I wish them well. But that is not in any way an indication of lazy parenting. Are we becoming too quick to throw judgements around about each other's parenting styles without really stopping to think that what works for one might not work for the other. I might let the brat OD on junk food, you might keep the burger as an occasional treat. I might let the brat stay up late, you might have fixed early bedtimes. But that works for me. I ensure he gets his vitamins and minerals through regular food, and I ensure he catches up on shuteye in the course of the day. Thats a part of the picture you might not know. Can you make a judgement based on the limited information you have? Should you assume that every child who goes for tuitions has lazy parents who arent willing to put in time and effort to help them with their studies and their homework? Is that fair?
I only wish I had told the mother who felt I was being a lazy mother that never is a long time. To never say never. One never knows when life makes us eat our words with relish.
Why am I sitting down outside my sons school and painstakingly typing this out on my phone? Two reasons. The first, I have half an hour to kill. A couple of appointments didn't work out and I reached here way too early. And two, my son was a victim of bullying. He was pushed down a flight of stairs last year. And had seizures. This is something that stabs my heart.
Yes, the school did take the matter very very seriously and did put systems in place to ensure such incidents didn't occur again. But I live with the what if. And I read instances of children in hostels being ragged to suicide point and my heart breaks. I think of Indu Anto whose father was determined enough to pursue his fight for justice and think of the many others who mourn their children dying from bullying and ragging.
Here's what the article says:
Research has described long term risks not just to victims-who may be more likely than their peers to experience depression and suicidal thoughts- but the bullies themselves who are less likely to finish school or hold down a job.
Next month the American Academy of Pediatrics will publish the new version of an official policy statement on the pediatricians role in preventing youth violence. For the first time it will have a section on bullying - including a recommendation that schools adopt a prevention model developed by Dan Olweus, a research professor of psychology at the University of Bergen, Norway, who first began studying the phenomenon on school bullying in the 1970s.
Now I paraphrase the rest of the article because my thumb is falling off:
The program developed by Olweus focuses on getting the bystanders to understand that the bully has a behavioural problem and that they can protect the victim. The research found that a quarter of all children have been involved in bullying either as bullies or victims.
Schools need to change their culture in tackling bullying. The emotional health of the victim needs to be taken care of through counselling and the bullies too need counselling for behaviour management. Expelling or punishing the bully is not an option as it only sows the seeds for a dysfunctional life.
If you know of a bully or a victim or if your child is being bullied, step in. Help your child stand up to the bully. Take it up with the school authorities. If your child is a bully, know that it is upto you to discourage and change such behaviour with professional couselling if required.
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009
The brat was a silent observer of it all. Then he asked his nana quietly, "Who dat photo?"
Nana explained that the image was of Jesus Christ and that he is a Jai Jai Bhagwanji.
Brat stared at it some more.
And shook his head. "No," he stated firmly and clearly. "Dat's nod a Jai Jai Bhagwanji. Wherez his jooleri?"
Mamma assured him she had.
He lay down again, temporarily at peace. Only to spring up again a moment later like a jack in the box on autopilot. "Mamma you packt my tiffin box?"
Mamma assured him she would do so the next morning.
He lay down again for a bit and turned towards Mamma. "Whul be my nu teacher?"
Mamma named said teachers. "They'll be nice teachers or strick teacherz?"
Mamma hoped they would be strict and nice teachers. The brat screwed his face up in the darkness. "I want a nice teacher. A (best friend cum foe) should get a strick teacher. And L. And P. All of dem must ged strick teacherz."
Mamma hushed him and he eventually fell asleep much after mamma's and pappa's snores began punctuating his earnest queries.
He woke up bright and sparkly in the morning. Gulped down his milk in two shakes of a duck's tail. Bounded into the bathroom to brush his teeth and have his bath under parental supervision. Emerged dripping like a dog, without his towel and rubbed himself dry while dripping onto the clean bed. Poured himself into his clothes, put his socks and shoes on and carefully combed his hair and slicked up, put on his new bag. Mamma was shuttling between kitchen and bedroom trying to get breakfasts and tiffins organised. And then needed to get herself bathed and cleaned up in time to leave and reach before the bell rang and the brat would greet the first day of school with a red mark in his diary. And so set the tone for the entire year.
We reached school well in time, despite traffic jams and last minute ensemble changing decisions, which ate up a complete 20 minutes into the schedule, while very important decisions like whether DiamondHead or Ghostfreak were appropriate ensembles to wear to school (Like most efficient uniform vendors, this vendor too has not delivered the brat's uniform despite the order being placed on May 23rd). All the Ben 10 tshirds were scrapped in favour of a red Timberland tee and biscuit bermudas closest to the existing school uniform combination. Landed at school, long lost friends hugged and exchanged notes. The moms I mean. The kids checked out each other's new stash, bags, water bottles, pencil boxes, tiffin boxes and such like. Proceeded to do some friendly sparring punctuated at regular intervals with shifts into Asian martial art moves.
I go to pick him up in a couple of hours. Hope he had a good day. Mamma's not having one. Mamma's heart is beating frenetically at the thought of her baby soldiering through such a long day.
Monday, June 08, 2009
No, we didnt have guns to our backs, but we were tense, worried parents shuffling in for the Grade 1 Orientation meet at the brat's school, and if one had to confess honestly, I was more than disoriented. Powerpoint presentations in dimmed rooms have that effect on me, I squirm in my seat, I wriggle, I have a sudden desire to have a racking bout of coughing that will drown out the speaker, I find I need to pee desperately and have blocked myself into the end of the last row where I have squeezed myself in when I came in with my inevitable urge to be able to sleep undetected. Yes, the hangover from my school days lingers. And I decide how long I can stare into the speaker's eyes before making said speaker feel discomfited and uneasy and wonder if he or she demand I be frogmarched off the premises by security personnel with mean batons and barking Alsatians for nipping at the ankles purposes.
I have finally figured out why they are hell bent on making the tykes study stuff I was sure I touched on when I was at least three years older than he is, in the dank dark ages when I went to pre school. They've brought the syllabus forward. By a year. Therefore the kids in Grade nine study the syllabus of Grade 10, and so on backwards therefore meaning kids in playschool who are best are blowing spit bubbles and waddling around are expected to come in weaned on Baby Einstein and such like so as to make their life easier. Seriously though, this is a theory I have. But the syllabus for Grade 1 had my knees shaking on their own as I sat, trying hard to stop the shakes from being apparent. I have no clue how the brat is going to cope. And God knows I'm so done with pushing him to cope. Anyway, I sighed and girded my loins, metaphorically of course, to get into the grind. And yes, the hunt for the tuition teacher continues. I didnt attend classes in my entire educational career upto postgraduate level. This was the age of the dinos when children were expected to cope on their own and coped. And those who needed tuitions were considered beyond the pale, and to avoid the stigma of being a tuition child one slogged over them books to scrape through without that dreaded red line under subject marks in the report card.
And I was an ordinary child, with an ordinary IQ, and a mom who didnt really crack the whip ever when it came to studying, and nor was I particularly motivated to hit the books for more than a couple of hours everyday. Also, I knew every trick in the trade to get out of studying earnestly, and manage to get through the exams with marks decent enough not to have my ears pulled and my pocket money stopped.
Every child goes for tuitions today. Those who are gifted enough to be double promoted, and those who are kicked up class by class by the seat of their pants like the brat. Tuitions today are the great equaliser.
The brat goes into High School now from Pre-School and it is a big jump for him and for me. For one, the hours are longer. 8.30 am to 2.50 pm. With two breaks. A ten minute break. And a 40 minute break. As a concerned mother, I wonder how much aimless wandering around the premises and wrestling duels will be initiated and refereed during the said 40 minute break. A single 30 minute break would have sufficed and got the kids home in time for lunch is what I am thinking. And that too lunch under parental supervision, which means ingestion of all relevant to health food items placed on plate. Left to the brat, his lunch tray will probably go untouched straight to the scrap heap while he gets into his own scraps at assorted corners in said canteen. I can just imagine him clothes dishevelled, hair messed up, scrapes on assorted limbs, emerging from school, unfed and hungry. Excuse me while I pick up pieces of my breaking heart, which are rolling in every direction possible. Then there is the uniform. Which, incidentally, is not yet ready but for which the order had been placed way back in May. Therefore the brat will go to school in civvies. Getting him back into uniform might take some doing, bribing, cajoling and the like. The Ben 10 bag, waterbottle, tiffin box and pencil box has not yet been found. Anyone spotting the grown up Ben 10 on any such accessories kindly do inform me of the location and store within Mumbai. Mind you, the Beeg Ben 10, nod d small boy. The beeg Ben 10 wid the green colour jacked and dakblue jeanz.
And yes, He is so dreading the return of multiplication division. With curled lip and balled fists, he has already threatened to throw the offending Maths book and make the teacher disappear with Marbels Snatchy if she persists on inflicting such torture on them poor souls.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
When he decides he can bathe on his own and yells blue murder until you back out hands raised from the bathroom, never mind the rings of dirt which will emerge untouched from said self bathing.
When he sits at the table, mixes his food up and shovels it down his own gullet making you feel guilty about the sudden spare time you have to actually eat your own meal at leisure.
When he calls his friends and gags laughing and won't share the joke with you.
When you go to a store, picks up his stuff without consulting you and marches the trolley solemnly to the check out counter and waits for you to finish your random browsing around and come pay.
Decides he can manipulate a water faucet bum washer perfectly without your assistance.
Tell you to go away when he is playing with friends. Never mind if your presence is more decorative than preventive, like them referees in WWF championship bouts.
And put himself to sleep without his head on your arm.
Mamma so needs to stock up on those tissues to mop them tears of self pity making canals down her cheeks.
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Thursday, June 04, 2009
Mamma does the nubile nymphet dance again in front of a pursed lipped glum faced brat sitting much in the stubborn manner of them sages of yore practising deep meditation to shake the Gods up. "You will have a new teacher. What fun! And new books, a new pencil box, and you can take two tiffins to class for two breaks."
Some cruel folks who have set the timings and the syllabus have decreed that these five year olds go into class at 8.30 am and emerge at 3.30 pm. Which, in my humble opinion, is torture for a five year old. Ruins the entire day. Would have been ideal had they been starting class at 8 am and emerging at 1 pm. In time to reach home for a hearty lunch under parental supervision ensuring they wipe their plates clean and then drop off to a well deserved afternoon nap, play a bit in the evenings and do their homework at night before nodding off. This leaves them with no time for anything apart from a little play. Children need to play. Schools should have an equivalent amount of time set aside for unstructured play as they do for formal classes. But then thats my humble opinion and no one is paying me good money for my humble opinions so I will keep zipped.
The whine continues. "I hate skul. I don wantugotu skul."
My heart breaks. I know it will all start again. The pressure. The studies. The concepts he grapples with. The fear of not measuring up,of not being good enough. The feeling of being left behind.
Mamma hugs him tight and uses the last weapon she has in her arsenal. "And you get to wear your new big school uniform. New red Tshirt and brown bermudas. No shorts any more. And grey track suit for SPA days. "
His eyes light up. "New uniform? And can I wear a belt? And new shoes also? Yaay. I is going to skul. I will look very hansome."
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
The brat sports a golden tan along with newfound independence. All he requires is room service and the television remote and his life is complete. Mamma and pappa were graciously informed they could now leave the premises, the brat, he declared knew the number for room service.
The brat also learnt swimming under the expert tutelage of his National level ex swimmer father whose idea of training has been honed to perfection by Rocky Series movies and the "no pain, no pain" chant. The brat's introduction to the pool consists of being hurled into it. And being hauled out after much indignant squawking brings the life guard round to investigate. Mamma sat on the side lines and watched. Next time round, mamma is going to prove that a mother can go through fire for her child and get herself into a swimsuit, with no consideration about the real possibility of being arrested for being a public nuisance and hang around the pool to prevent further such commando level training sessions.
The hotel was lovely in every aspect but one. As the brat, newly trained in selfwashing of bum post potty, squawked in disgust,"how I'll wash my bum. Therez no phiss." Hand faucet in brat speak. Needless to say, retraining has to commence back in Mumbai.
We left Goa at the crack of dawn this morning. A grouchy surly brat was dragged out of bed and poured into his clothes. The monsoons have hit Goa as we left, with a light pleasant drizzle and ominuous dark clouds trailing in our wake. The brat sat looking out of the rear window. "D black cloud is covering the sun?"
Mamma nodded in the affirmative. Pappa was driving and doesn't encourage intense conversations when he is at speeds between 120-140 kmph, especially conversations involving needless questioning.
"The sun cannot see den?" Mamma smiled non commitedly. "Dat cloud is very bad manners. Is blocking d sun widoud aksing him. "
A thoughtful pause. "Mamma go shaoud at d cloud. "
"Never mind. We shaoud at it when we go back tumaru."
Guess who isn't unpacking his bag right now.
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