Monday, July 27, 2009

Is this bravery?

A government school in Tamil Nadu's Villupuram district organised an event to mark the birth centenary celebrations of the late Tamil Nadu chief minister K Kamaraj. A noble thought by itself. What they did for the celebrations was horrifying, the photograph more so. A row of school children with their hands outstretched, palms face down, lying on the side of the road with a man on a motorcycle going over the hands. My heart stopped beating when I saw the photograph this morning.
This is the accompanying article:

In name of bravery, TN govt school puts students in peril
Bosco Dominique Villupuram (TN): A government school in Tamil Nadus Villupuram district has recently organised an event that exposed schoolchildren to serious harm in the name of celebrations to mark the birth centenary of late Tamil Nadu chief minister K Kamaraj. The event was meant to be a bravery show , but it resulted in violation of child rights, virtually putting students at risk of sustaining serious injuries. The show began with a batch of students displaying their karate skills. Then came the main event a biker riding over the outstretched hands of students from Class I to V lying on the ground, and later the bike going over a plank placed over a girl. The incident has evoked strong protests from child rights activists, who want the government to sensitise the teaching fraternity, particularly those in rural areas, on the basic rights of children. Ironically, the event was organised in consultation with the parents-teachers association (village administrative committee) of the municipality elementary school at Keezhperumpakkam in Villupuram on a day when a trust managed by the family of higher education minister K Ponmudy came forward to distribute free uniforms and stationery items to the students. It was the ministers wife, present as chief guest, who stopped the school authorities from continuing their daring stunts . After witnessing a couple of events, the ministers wife directed us to stop the show. We abruptly ended the programme, said parents-teachers association treasurer M Elangovan. Headmaster Ramanujam maintained the event was organised with the consent of the parents-teachers body. We consulted all the members of the association on the show. All members agreed. None of the students received injuries as they are well-trained to engage themselves in adventurous events. A karate expert visited the school to train students, he said.

I am furious. How dare they use the children for stunts? Is this not exploitation. A martial art, a performance, a skit, yes, all are valid options for a celebratory programme but dangerous stunts like this by school children is definitely not on. And more horrifically, sanctioned by the school authorities and the PTA. What if a child had the bones in their hand crushed? What if the motorcyclist had lost his balance? Yes, I live with what ifs, but it terrifies me. And I wonder how the parents agreed to this? Were they compelled to participate in this against their better judgement, worried that they would be considered not brave enough for not allowing their children to take part. I must thank, virtually, the minister's wife who was horrified enough to insist that this ridiculous bravery show stop immediately. I do hope the folks who decided they could use children for such life endangering bravery shows are given a chance to show how brave they are when thrown into the slammer.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The brat returns to school

It has been a two week break for the brat. It started with food poisoning. Went on to a febrile seizure. And reduced him to half his size. He's been sitting at home after his hospital discharge, bored out of his skull. Thanks to the rain which does not allow for playing down. And cruel mamma who also does not allow for playing down, when it is so obvious that he barely has enough energy left in his scrawny body to walk from point A to point B. And there is only so much of unlimited television viewing that a child needs before he decides that he has really and truly had enough of watching cartoons.
Therefore, there we were last night, packing the school bag and ironing out the school uniform with great enthusiasm, the likes of which had never been witnessed hitherto (I was doing the ironing, before I get hate mail accusing me of child labour).
"Mamma, I will go tu skul tumaru?"
"Yes, child."
"I is feeling very bored in d hauz. Dere iz nuding to do."
Mamma pondered a bit over this scary statement. "Of course, there is a lot to do in the house, brat, you can read, you can make jigsaw puzzles, you can draw, you can paint, you can play with your toys."
"But dis is all playing. I want tu do studying."
You can study at school tomorrow, brat. Mamma wondered where this was leading upto. The truth then came up front. "I wantu play wid my frens at skul. I is missing my frens."
Mamma's heart twisted a wee bit, Dont worry, she told the brat. You will meet all your school friends tomorrow. "And den I wil tel dem how the doktor pud d needle in my hand and put a pipe and a bottle on top of my head. And how I dint cry ad all. An how I is a very brave boy."
Yes, my love, you are the bravest boy I know.
I hope you dont need any more such opportunities to display your bravery.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The brat as ministering angel

The brat returned home on Saturday afternoon. Bouncing. Not off the walls as is his usual style but bouncing all right.
The father, having shared one night of hospital duty with mamma, (of the entire week that mamma was in hospital), was looking drained and was not his normal ruddiness.

Pappa moaned and groaned a bit and threw himself onto the bed in abject misery. Mamma laughed sardonically about one night at hospital on sponge duty knocking the stuffing out of macho men. The brat siddled upto sprawled Pappa and put his hand on his brow and frowned thoughtfully.

Mamma, he pronounced, after deep thought and careful consideration. I think Pappa is feverish. Pud d thumomeder in his maoud.

Mamma put a hand to Pappas brow guiltily, feeling shamed about the just concluded ribbing session and almost jumped back from the scald. The thermometer was not required. The man was burning with fever.

Before Mamma could react appropriately, the brat got into the act. Ran into the bathroom. Filled the tumbler with water and dunked two napkins in them. Came out, placed them on the bedside table and took complete charge of the situation. "Pappa. Don move. I is sponging yu." And proceeded to dunk dripping wet napkins on poor Pappa's forehead and extremities. A disgusted Pappa tore them off and sat up.

Brat stood fiercely, arms akimbo. "What is you doin? You wan a injucshun in your bum? Or a beeg needle in yer han? With the bottle hanging on the pipe? No? Den lemme sponge yu!"

Mamma has trained him well.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hospital tales

The brat gets discharged on Wednesday. Is back to his usual high octane self. Wakes up Thursday morning six am and insists on going to school. He hadn't thrown up for two days. He had gotten the all clear from the doctor. Mamma dropped him off at school. At around one, Mamma gets a call from school. "Brat's Mamma?"
Mamma's limbs go numb. "Please reach K hospital asap. Brat collapsed in class. They've taken him to the ICU. "
Mamma would have collapsed had she not been in the car already. Traffic all the way, Mamma a blubbering mess. Land at hospital run like a mad woman to ICU. Brat all groggy, he had had a seizure in class. Afebrile. The fever came to the surface post seizure. We've just been discharged after three more days in the hospital. A partially treated stomach infection the first time round led to this.

For two days he was feverish and groggy and non responsive. This morning the nurse came in to sponge him and stripped him of his clothes. He squawked in embarassment and drew the bedcovers around him. She perservered. She put the warm washcloth to private regions. He yelled. Loud enough for the entire hospital to hear. "Don touch my nu nu. Mamma, shez tuchin my nu nu. Shaoud at her. "

Yup. That lesson has been well learned. And yes, mamma just returned home and washed her face at the washbasin to find new chunks of grey at her hairline.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The brat gets a bug

Call from school yesterday. Please come pick up brat, he's been throwing up. Luckily mamma had left office way early terrified of traffic snarls given it was raining cats, dogs, cows and the entire farm. She took a woozy looking brat from school. He threw on the way to the car, threw up in the car, couldn't hold his head up. Mamma rushed to the GP who wasn't available. And the brat slid down on the car seat unable to keep his eyes open. And his body went limp in a faint. Mamma stopped at a nearby nursing home and ran carrying him in the pouring rain.
He's been hospitalised. Dehydration due to stomach infection. Was on the drip all of yesterday. Much better since last night though. He's thinking he's in a hotel room and enjoying the holiday. And wondering why there's no phone to call roomsurviss.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

How do you teach a child to be ecologically sensitive?

Given that you, yourself have a long way to go before you are halfway there? This is a topic I have been struggling with since a while and what did really help me was the fact that the school had done a month's theme on 'Protect our Planet" last year, which did introduce the brat to the topic in a child friendly and easily understandable manner. Of course, it also helped that had done The Solar System and the planets, so the concept of Planet itself was a little clear in the head. And we had also watched Superman, so we were very clear that if the Planet Earth blows itself up, like Krypton did, we could be sure that Mamma Pappa would pack him off in a capsule to another planet, where the brat will be Superman. Mamma is not fussy about how he gets his concepts into his head, and is content to let him assume a bright future career as potential Superman in 'nudder Eard', as long as he understands that the Earth has its clock ticking.

While saving water, being frugal on electricity and such like is a given, with electricity bills these days being the kind of stuff one has to drag a sturdy chair under one's butt before one dares squint at the amount payable, other stuff like plastic bags, pollution, recycling stuff is what Mamma has been trying to din into the brat's head these days. Not to much success, one must admit honestly. We live next to a creek, which has a rivulet run into it, and this rivulet is black, frothing, and loaded with waste. And mamma always makes it a point to comment about how the black, polluted industrial waste is flowing into the sea and choking up all the fishes, their gills and slow poisoning them. The brat listens nonchalantly. "An dose whu don die, the fisherman catches an we eat dem."

The other thing mamma tries to do is explain to the child why we must not waste paper. Trees, rainforest cover and such like. The mamma lands in the bedroom and sees the brat gluing together his old worksheets which had been carefully filed for reference during assessment times. The end result was something that was a cross between Jim Carrey answering prayers in the form of Post Its in Bruce Almighty and a brat snowed under somewhere.

What are you doing, brat?

I is savin paper. I is sticking all ole paper tuggeder so dey don gerlost.

Mamma rushed in to try and salvage some papers. No, no, brat, she moaned, this will ruin these papers, you need to get them bound together like a book so you could reuse them.

I nod using my real buk. I don need more buks.

And then the issue of plastic bags. Mamma tries to tell the brat that plastic does not degenerate but stays put in landfills for years, where it seeps into ground water, at which point the brat zones out and says, Okay, when we is going to d supermaarrket, we bring eveything in our hands. Id will all fall down and we will keep picking it up....

Mamma shuts up. Knowing that her dependence on plastic bags is far from over yet.

How do you teach your children environmental consciousness?

The brat gets escapist

Mamma had a mad day slotted today, with two meetings, three feature deadlines and a migraine that has been hanging on grimly with all claws dug deep into her skull for the past three days. So mamma requested the dadi to pick up the brat from school today, giving mamma more time to get the things done that she needed to get done today.
We clambered into the car on the way to school. The brat with questioning frown.
Mamma, tuday Dadi will take me frum skul?
Mamma nodded in the affirmative, feeling the axe saw away at the umbilical cord.
Mamma, why yu is nod coming to take me home?
I have work, love, I need to be in the office.
Why you is doing somuch wirk?
That flummoxed Mamma, and she started and stopped an answer that didnt seem quite right.
Beta, because, everybody has to do some work in life. Children have to study, grown ups have to do work.
The brat thought hard, this is too much, he declared impetuously. Now I has to study, study, study.
When I grow up, I has to wirk, wirk, wirk. When I wil play wid my toys then? I is running away and becoming a Mowgli.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Of very bad language...

The brat is gradually becoming increasingly aware of bad language, and it's power to shock and intimidate and seem grown up. As in. Stupid. Bashturd. Idjyut. All said and then one eye slides in the general direction of mamma to check if the expletive has led to her frothing at the mouth yet. Luckily he hasnt gotten worse. But the Pappa is sparing no efforts to educate him on the soundest back to the hinterlands gallis. The MCs, BCs and such like. Tis, I assure you, is not done with due deliberation, as in, "Come here, brat, and sit at my feet, and I will teach you to swear like a Mard Ka Bachcha," but more on the likes of Pappa chatting on the phone (which is permaglued to his ear and might need surgical intervention to be separated from said hearing orifice) with pals, and therefore freeflying on the random insults. All being picked up by the brat who floats in and out of the room, with his ears pricked up doggie style at every ostensible red letter word that passes out of his pater's mouth (which mamma has sworn to get soap into, along with the commode bristle brush at some point to clean out). And then the word is carefully filed away in brat brain for future reference and to be blurted out in perfectly unacceptable immensely formal public situation. Like a lunch at home with starched collared guests in attendance.
The brat will siddle over determined to make a good impression on said starched collars who will smile politely and ask him questions about himself to keep the conversation flowing since not much conversation is happening anyway. The brat will drag out his entire toy basket full of prized possessions and insist on doing an inventory of all the contents while their eyes glaze over and their expressions beg for mercy. And then the brat will talk to them about his friends.
"A is my besht fren. He is a bashturd."
Collective gasp of horror.
The brat smirks with his sideways closed lipped smirk that mamma is sure he picked up from the Heath Ledger joker.
And realises he's got the audience by the short ones and continues. "My udder fren I is a MC."
At which point, Mamma feels her face burst into flames and physically lifts the brat and takes him into the room before he offloads the entire booklet of slang for carnal behavior and variants onto the unwitting audience, now tittering politely for lack of a better immediate response.
And then, as she softly hard talks the brat to zipping it with all the flowery language, he replies, "Bud Pappa is calling all his frens dat oney. Why you is nod shaouding ad him?"
Mamma's still thinking up an answer to that one.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Mamma is....

Reflections tagged me for this, and like the insistent, determined, purposeful, organised person I am, I sat on it till twas ready to hatch. Therefore, here, I present to you, the What is Mamma All About tag, through the eyes of the brat:
Read through carefully. Readers have to tell me how many he got wrong and which ones.

Mamma: What is something I always say to you?
Gerrup. Why you is slouching. Stop making a pasara.

Mamma: What makes me happy?
Shopping in d mall.

Mamma: What makes me sad?
All d boreding movies where peoples is ony sad.

Mamma: How do I make you laugh?
When you fall down I is laughin very hardly.

Mamma:What do you think I was like as a child?

Mamma: How old am I?
You is nod ole. Mamma don get ole. Den you will die. Den who will gimme bath and take me to skul?

Mamma: How tall am I?
You is nod tall. I is taller dan you. I is taller dan even Pappa. I is very tall. See, see... (Standing on his toes and reaching up).

Mamma: What is my favourite thing to do?
Do messaging on d blackberry. Reading fashion magazines. An eating.

Mamma: What do I do when you’re not around?
How do I know? I cant see whad yu are doin if I is nod dere.

Mama: If I become famous, what will it be for?
For eating.

Mamma: What am I really good at?
Making your plate empty very fast.

Mamma:What am I not really good at?

Mamma: What is my job?
Typing on d compooter.

Mamma: What is my favourite food?

Mamma: What makes you proud of me?
When you look very preedy with make up and nice clothes.

Mamma: What makes me proud of you?
When I get a star on my hand or my diary.

Mamma: What do you and I do together?
Sleep and snoring lauodly.

Mamma: How are we the same?
We are Manral, same same.

Mamma: How are you and I different?
You is a gurl, I is a boy.

Mama: What is one thing you wish you could change about me?
You must buy for me more toyz from inorbid mall. Then you will become really nice mamma.

And I tag whoever wishes to take this up.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I want, I want, I want

The brat is fast becoming a material kid, and no one is to blame but me. Therefore when this email bulletin came in from Parent Center, I read through it avidly. I'm so in agreement of what it says, and I've realised I do follow most of the tips it recommends.

The brat is encouraged to give. Every couple of months, I sit with him and churn out the clothes and books he has outgrown, the toys he no longer plays with or which he has broken in some way, but are still usable, or crayons, sketchpens, pencils which are half used and which he does not use for whatever reason and sort them into sections. One part goes to the maid's son, because the child needs it. Some of the clothes and books and go to the pavement school children. He accompanies mamma to mamma's pavement schools and meets the children, he knows their names and he does feel awful that they sit on the road to study, even in the rains at times. And asks me why they dont have school bags and bring their books in plastic bags, and has graciously offered to have two of his old school bags given away. And he knows that for every new thing he buys, one old thing will be given away by Cruella de Ville mamma, and he has to tell me what needs to be given away before he can expect something new.

He is also on a budget. A new impulse buy toy is only within Rs 100. And he only gets one at a time. And therefore going shopping with Mamma is so not a prospect to be looked forward to. Pappa is a better opportunity to be milked. Pappa can be guilt tripped very easily. Beneath that gruff exterior lies a spendthrift of the worst order, whose reflex to empty out his wallet is easily triggered by spawn of his sperm gathering unto himself half the toyshelves and looking weepy and mournful at the thought of abandoning any of his spoils. He does know that he gets his choice of toys and clothes only during his birthday.

He also does know that if mamma tells him something is expensive and she cannot buy it for him, it is no use pushing the issue. He can roll on the floor all he wants, he can pound his chest, throw hopping tantrums but nothing will come of it. He now walks into small toy shops and asks the salespersons "Hundred rupees mein kya hain?" And knows that this is a treat he has to earn by either doing his classwork well, polishing his plate without dwaddling on it till lifeforms start sprouting on the contents, or being well behaved, the ways of which are multifarious and the decision to award a prize for good behavious resting with the jurisdiction of the mamma. Its hard work for him to convince mamma he's deserving of a good behaviour prize. And that not swatting a friend who refuses to play Power Rangers with him is not exactly grounds for a good behaviour prize.
He knows now that he cannot have a toy just like that. And treats are rare. He has to learn to look forward to them. A Happy Meal is probably once a month now. And eating out at a place of his choice is once in a couple of weeks.

Areas mamma really needs to work on are reduction of television viewing.The commercials are what are working on the child's mind making him believe that one more game of tumbling monkeys are just what is required to make his life perfect.

Mamma needs him to get to use his Power Ranger piggy bank for purposes other than storing dinky cars. Mamma really needs to work on him saving money and collecting enough to buy himself what he wants so he can value it. And working to earn the money he can drop into the piggy bank.

And most of all, Mamma needs to rein in her own spendthrift nature and remember that she really doesnt need one more pair of shoes, or another handbag, no matter how darling it is. Unless she sets a good example herself, how can she expect the brat to follow suit.

What the brat does get from mamma and pappa is lot of time and attention. Surely, that should be worth more than all the material possessions they could ever give him.

Mamma also tries hard to point out to him the luxuries he takes for granted, the cars, the school, the food on his plate. The brat has often been generous enough to offer the veggies on his plate to the hypothetical poor and starving. That doesnt cut any ice with Cruella de Ville Mamma. He is told that he has to clean his plate or be denied whatever treat he is expecting in terms of dessert. Throwing away food is not a good idea in the house of this mamma. Never mind if some adults within the house believe in junking left overs. Mamma, when she can, doggy bags them and hands them out at traffic signals to the beggars. The brat knows that there are people who are hungry and dont have the luxury of choice, either in food or clothes, toys being a far cry. Mamma is trying hard to encourage sensitivity towards the poor and deprived in the brat, but knows she has miles to go before that happens.

How do you inculcate thrift and value for things in your children? Do let me know. I could do with some simple and effective tips.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The brat in a spat

The brat was having a rolling on the floor tantrum.
The grandmother, tired of having the unending whine in her ears gave him a shout to zip it.
He came and stood in front of her, jaws aquiver with rage.
"Koi bachchon ke saath itna rudely bat karte hain kya?"
"Phir bachche ko sad lagta hai aur woh rohta hain. Abhi main bhi cry karonga."
He clucked his tongue in appropriate disgust and walked away inside to be allowed to cry at said rudeness in peace.
He was generally ignored by the rest of the house.
After five minutes he popped his head out of the bedroom. "Arey, kya koi abhi bachche ko manane bhi nahin aayega kya. Kaise log hain?"