Thursday, November 26, 2009

Go vote for Parul

And that is an order.

Of hansome-ness

The brat returned home from school with a forlorn expression. He checked himself from all angles in the car rear view mirror.
"Mamma, I is hansome?" asked plaintively.
To mamma, the answer was obvious enough to be written in Hollywood size letters on the side of a mountain. "Of course, beta, you are the most handsome boy in the world."
The brat didnt look convinced.
"Bud H tole me whu said you iz hansome. Dey is lying. Yu iz nod hansome." His face crumpled up into near tear rolling down face point.
Mamma suppressed a mean grin. The world had already started bringing the brat down to size. Metaphorically speaking.
"I is nod hansome?" he asked again, in plaintive plea.
"Of course, you are handsome, brat," said mamma. "But you can be more handsome if you have your milk and your food properly, and eat more fruits. Then you will become tall and strong and handsome like Clark Kent/Superman."
Guess who has been asking mamma for milk thrice a day recently?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are we over parenting...

This article from TIME is what led to this post. And very valid points it does raise too. Some that I have mused aloud about on this very blog. And some points I am guilty about myself.
My son is dropped to school and picked up by me. He could go in the bus. He could go by van. He is definitely old enough to do so. But am I secure enough? No, I dont think so. Not yet. Keeping his health issues aside, I am a wuss mom. All my eggs have gone into this one basket, so I need to keep it as safe as I can. He has not travelled by public transport ever. I have not let him go down to the park on his own yet. And he has not yet crossed a road on his own. At his age, I was running riot in the neighbourhood, showing my face home only when night fell and the mater yelled for me from the window. I was walking all over the suburb, going to libraries and shops and generally exploring. I was travelling to school, a couple of years later by the age of nine, on my own. And this was no mean journey. In Mumbai terms, I travelled from Goregaon to Bandra and back, in a BEST bus, alone, at the age of nine. My father was dead. My mother had to go to work. I dealt with the perverts the best I could under the circumstances, by shivering in fear, and jumping up and changing seats in the bus, or asking the conductor to help me. I stayed safe. Are my experiences the reason for my paranoia? I wonder. I know of friends who have had their children being kidnapped for ransom. (Not that I could afford to pay any ransom). By trusted employees. I have heard stories of relatives molesting the children while the parents looked away. I have been molested while my parents werent around. Does all this make me paranoid? Of course it does. Am I infantilising my child? Yes, I am. I know it. Yet I am helpless to change myself. I watch over him like a hawk. He is not allowed alone time with anyone except his parents and his grandmothers and aunts.
In the building I live in, a mother of a 12 year old drops him to school, picks him up, drops him to tuitions, waits outside, picks him up, drops him to his various classes and waits outside and picks him up. I can so see me in her six years down the line. I know I need to let go of my paranoia and let my child free. And I do. I am getting better. I swear. I no longer hover around him his every sleeping and waking minute. I let him play peacably without needing to be supervising his every moment. He goes for playdates and I am not lurking in the shrubbery to keep a watch. He goes for field trips without me following the school bus in my car. Yes, yes, I exaggerate, but you get my drift. He plays with his friends, I gossip with mine. I no longer hang around on the fringes supervising their fighting and being the fight police. He has been warned to call me for help only if blood is drawn in said fights. But I need to make him autonomous and let him take on certain tasks. Going to the playground by himself. Negotiating small non heavy traffic streets on his own. Going to the counters at food courts and buying stuff he needs. I need to be watchful, and yet learn to let him grow up.
Having said that, my paranoia is only for his safety and his health, I am not the mother who has enrolled her child in too many classes. No mental maths, no vedic maths, no multiple languages, no general knowledge classes, nothing. Compared with the rest of the children his age, and from his class who have their days packed with karate/martial arts, art and craft, general knowledge, languages, swimming, cricket, football, etc, he really is growing like a weed. He has a drawing class and a Bollywood dance class, which happens only because both happen within the complex. And because he enjoys both. The rest is only school. I am not paranoid about what he eats as long as it is edible and hygienic. He's eaten burgers for weeks on end, until he has outgrown that food jag, he's eaten Kurkure, pasta, Lays for weeks until he sickens of it and doesnt touch it anymore. Right now he is on a Hakka Noodles trip. We are in week two. I give it a week more. I grumble about the amount of studies and homework he has. I allow him to slack off sometimes. He does no writing practice, which makes his handwritten the stuff that undecipherable heiroglyphs are made of. And no, complete or incomplete, right or wrong, he does his own homework and projects to the best of his ability, perhaps with me supervising, but it is always all his own. He has time to play, to take things apart (which he does with unerring accuracy) to play war games with action figures, to run amok in the park for two hours of no 'structured' play interaction. And, I have no maid who spoons food into his mouth or waits on him hand and foot. No wait, I'm the maid.
I do want to give my child the luxury of growing up at his own pace, and I try to do so. I would only hope that I manage to lose my paranoia about his safety in the process. And am able to teach him how to keep himself safe.
Are you guilty of overparenting too?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Post stargazing

The brat emerged from his star gazing escapade a little happy and with a skip in his step, and a grin he couldn't wipe off his face.
Mamma, he said, I seed the starz frum inside d telesoap.
What did you see, darling? asked mamma.
Markuri, venus, mars, jupeeder, saturn and earth.
Eh? How did you see earth?
I seed d earth. I turned the telesoap ulta.
Oh really? And how did the earth look? Like the floor.
While I digested this, came the bouncer. An I seed Superman flying in d sky. Very fas. He wuz going tu another planid. On very important vurk.
Oh really. Yes. He nodded his head with the kind of assured satisfaction that storytelling which can't be disputed brings.
Mamma, when I grow up I wantu be Superman. But I get chakkar when I fly. I will nod look down.

Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What are my non negotiables?

This one is for you, Itchy.
A random chat on disciplining kids and the given penchant for children at this age to start defying us, back talk and negotiate their way out of undesirable situations (ie, doing homework) to more desirable situations (ie, watching Cartoon Network, while drinking Frooti), is what led to this. Now, at the best of times, I am an easy going mom, but I dont let the brat catch on. To the brat, mamma probably has a whip in hand and a couple of horns on her head for good measure. Its not an image I'm giving up too soon. My book of disciplining keeps getting rewritten according to the lessons the brat teaches me, and according to his current level of understanding when it comes to explaining why certain things are non negotiables. I have that list. The brat, by now, knows that that list of non negotiables cannot be tampered with. Right now. I might relook at certain things on it depending on circumstance, but for the most part the non negotiable list remains etched in blood and framed at the doorway. Metaphorically speaking of course.
Here is my list:
Studying: No matter how the day has gone, an hour of studying is a must.

Tidying up: Play all you want with your toys, your paints, your dress up clothes, but when you're done, you put them back where you took them from.

Cleaning your plate up: You will be given choices before your meal is served to you. Once it is, you are expected to clean it up. You will be given more if you desire, but you cannot waste food. Unless, of course, you have been ill, and have no appetite. That mamma will allow. Food is not to be thrown into dustbins. And you will get half an hour to finish your meal. If it isnt over by then, you will get five ten minutes of grace if you are close to finishing. But if you are dwaddling, your plate will be removed until the next meal time.

Saying Please Thank you Sorry: And Goodmorning, Good evening. And Goodbye. Mamma is a manners Nazi. No Hi and Bye to people who have crossed into adulthood. And no first names for said legal adults to be addressed by as well.

Drinking milk: Twice a day at the minimum, thrice a day on a good day.

Eating a fruit: A minimum of one in a day. Eat all the popcorn, Kurkure and Lays you want, but one fruit has to get in.

Sleeping at 10pm/ Waking at 7am (except holidays): This has always been a struggle to get the child to sleep at a decent hour, Mamma has now figured out that tiring him out is the best solution to get him to hit the bed before the witching hour.

Reaching school on time: This is a non negotiable from the father who is a punctuality Nazi.

Homework done and submitted on time: No excuses. No doing it another day. No slacking off. Even if his eyes are falling shut, he needs to complete his work.

No holiday from school for any reason except illness: Its part of mamma's and pappa's work ethic. Unless mamma is laid out on a bier she wont skip office and work.

Saying goodnight to Daadi every night: This comes from Mamma's insistence on manners. And has now become a ritual. And something the brat knows he is to do before he tucks himself into bed.

One hour of unstructured play everyday: Except if it is a rainy day, the brat will go down to play with his friends for an hour at the minimum. Mamma will not cut the time short, not interfere, not slack off and try to convince him to stay home, unless she is really really unwell. In that one hour, he is to run, slide, climb the jungle gym and generally tire himself out in every way. If mamma catches him sitting peaceably in a corner, he's likely to be booted back into the ground.

And finally, no lies: Whatever he has done, or whatever has happened, he has to tell mamma the truth, because mamma can look right into his eyes and know he is lying, and then will not be a nice mamma to deal with at all.

What mamma relaxes on:
Television viewing: An hour or so everyday is okay. Movies too are okay. I think of it as educative. Even seemingly mindless cartoon serials are educative in some way. Spongebob Squarepants worked wonderfully when Mamma needed to teach him about underwater life, Superman worked for Space, Ninja Hattori worked for the culture of Japan during the countries of the world.

Eating junk food: As long as it doesnt interfere with the appetite for regular cooked food, the occasional burger, Lays, Kurkure, etc is allowed in the Manral household. The more I keep him away from these forbidden foods, the more he will long for them and OD on them when he finally gets his mitts on them.

Choosing his own clothes: If he wants to wear an eclectic combination of racing jacket with floral shirt and nightsuit pyjamas down to the park, he is allowed. Everyone could do with a good laugh. The other children are cruel enough in their teasing to get him on the coordinated clothes tack back again the next day.

Spend time doing nothing: He doesnt need to be 'doing' anything. He could just be sitting calmly. Or having a conversation with his Superman action figure. Or contemplating his navel. Mamma is not going to rush in with things for him to do. He has to learn to amuse himself.

What's your list of non negotiables?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The brat will go star gazing

Of the many topics being covered in school this term, one is the weather. And the children have already done the solar system and the planets in earlier terms. Therefore, when the brat came home with a small note asking us parents to drop the children off at 6 pm on Friday for a couple of hours of star gazing, Mamma was quite amused. The brat, being the brat, was bounding in the car seat like a spring had been perma glued to the seat of his pants. "I gotta see d starz," he explained to mamma. "Wid a telosoap."
"Telescope," mamma, corrected absentmindedly.
"Fer three hourz!" He got animated on the subject of stargazing. "I have to put my eye on the small hole of the telesoap and den I can see d planitz. Jupiter. Venus. Mercury. Marz," the litany was interupted by a momentary flash of deep meaningful thought. "I don wantu see all dese planitz. I will tell teacher I wantu see Krypton frum Superman Returnz."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The brat and nana in conversation

Mamma and the brat went across to nana's house over the weekend. As is the norm during these visits, mamma locked herself into the bedroom for a couple of hours of sleep, undisturbed by yells, screams, infernal gadget sounds, and jumping on stomach kind of recreational activities, which are guaranteed to split stitches, healed and unhealed.
The brat and nana, kept themselves in the drawing room, and settled down to an extended lunch in front of the telly, wherein the brat subjected nana to Chinese torture, ie, watching back to back children's cartoon serials for the better part of those couple of hours. Post Ninja Hattori, Power Ranger RPM, Perman, Doraemon and the clan, nana rose wearily and much shaken, from the table, asking weakly, why the brat didnt opt for channels of communal viewing interest like National Geographic, Discovery, Fox History and Animal Planet, which would expand his brain and help him become a clever boy, and such like. The brat looked at nana with an expression that suggested patience and tolerance for suffering fools not too gladly. "Mamma already makes me watch all those boreding channels at home, das why."
The brat disclosed his marriage plans to nana, and details of his intended bride, including the fact that she is very preedy, and she helps him climb the jungle gym in the sandpit back home. The kind reader might recall that the brat had announced to mamma and pappa his honourable intentions towards A, and his careful planning for the future which included both bride and groom sleeping between mamma and pappa, and both going off to school together. Nana pondered over the announcement with the due respect an announcement of this magnitude deserved. She asked him gently, if he had asked his intended for her hand in marriage. "Wots dere to ask. She already tole me I is her bes fren. And she likes my Spiderman costum." In true macho man fashion. Mamma thinks too much Bollywood is already influencing the brat's courtship style.
The brat had been taken along with a group of frens to watch a Children's Day show of Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. Thankfully, the theatre audience comprised three fourth children and one fourth adults, therefore, really really bad behaviour was the norm, and the accompanying adults were not compelled to disown their offspring by signing on bond paper. When the brat returned he was asked by the father to narrate the story of the movie. He thought long, and he thought hard. "Dere was a boy. An dere was a preedy gurl. And dere wuz a song. And dere wuz a fighting and chasing." Pressed to divulge more detail, his expression grew pained and weary. "I was fighting wid my frens. I dint have time to see the movie."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Of how a little boy got his hearts wish...

See above Ben 10 costume? As familiar as you, gentle reader, might be with the brat's obsession with all things Ben 10, you might know that Mamma and Pappa had, in a reckless moment, promised the child a Ben 10 birthday party. With a Ben 10 cake, and a Ben 10 costume, and a Ben 10 omnitrix (d real one wich wil make me an alien!!!). Mamma, in her overconfident certainty that all serials with an above average following among the 5 to 7 age group would have the costumes of said characters available at every store, did not think it essential to actually go to a costume store and checking out availability. So the day for the budday pahty drew nearer. And nearer. And the rounds of the stores began. Inorbit was the first to be tackled. All the stores. Nope. No Ben 10 costume. The brat would roll around on the ground and thrash in a fury, while mamma pretended he wasnt with her and moved off to check more interesting things on display in other stores. Linking road was scoured from top to bottom. No Ben 10 costume. Lokhandwala market saw mamma braving faint and die October afternoon heat to go through all the children's wear stores with their stash of Bangkok returned costumes to find a Ben 10 costume, but that of the young Ben 10. Nope sir. What the brat wanted was the 'Growed up" Ben 10 costume. Wid d sportzjakket in green colour. And 10 written on a patch. Both the brats grandmothers wandered around various markets in the city trying to source down Ben 10 green sportzjakket, with mamma figuring out a black tshirt and blue jeans could complete the rest of the ensemble. But no go. Ultimately, a very very reluctant brat was shoved into a brand new leatherite racing jacket and jeans for his budday. It wasnt the look he wanted, and he was so very upset. Upset enough to scold mamma with the kind of expression that makes mamma feel approximately two inches high. "You promist me you will ged me Ben10 costum. You dint keep yer promise. Yer a big peepul. Big peepul are suppost to keep their promise."
Mamma turned in agony to her friends around the world. And voila. A fellow blogger and dear friend came down to India bearing the Holy Grail itself, aka, the Ben 10 costume with the 10 in a circle and the green colour jakket, and the blue pantz and even an omnitix. Suffice to say, the brat hasnt removed it from his person since it came into his hands two days ago. Mamma divested him of it last night before he became a biological hazard thanks to continual wearing. This morning on the way to school, mamma was asked continually whether the costume would be dry by the time he returned from school to be wearable and helpfully, mamma was given the solicitious advice to get the maid to use the hair dryer to dry it up real quick in case it took time to dry.
Thank you Rads. You made the brat's day, week, month...and more importantly, you helped me keep my promise like a beeg peepul. I'm back again to 5ft 3" from the two feet tall I was all these days.

The cyclone that wasnt

On Wednesday, the sky was overcast and rainy. The newschannels kept bleating about Cyclone Phyan about to hit the city and cause unprecedented mayhem and damage. Mamma and Pappa, being the mamma and pappa who have got up, got ready and gone to work on days when riots raged the streets of the city, got themselves and the brat ready and dressed and dropped him off to school. "Why it is dark morning tuday?" asked the brat, refusing to believe it was time to show face at school. "Is still night. I wantu sleep." No sympathy was shown and he was bathed, dressed and chucked into the school gates, squirming about the sweater being forced down over his torso. It was a chilly day yesterday. Mamma wore a hoodie over a tshirt. For November, it was perfect weather, minus the rain of course.
At around one pm, while mamma had just sat down to tuck her spoon into a sumptuous lunch of dal fry, surmai fry and rice, flashed the news on the television channels that the government had ordered all schools, colleges and offices to shut down by 2 pm. Mamma looked at the semi clear skies outside and went , "Eh?" The newsreader, getting into a bit of a lather, blustered on about Cyclone Phyan hitting Mumbai by 5 pm, and being upgraded to Orange Code level which was supposed to be one level below Red, which was the highest danger category. Storm winds to the speeds of 90 kmph were to blow. Mamma called home and asked for all the lightweight pots hanging around aimlessly in all the balconies to be brought into safe zones and the metal clothes horses in the balconies to be folded in and kept in no wind areas before they became projectiles of the sort only seen in slasher flicks. And mamma was scared. Even though all the wind that was in current evidence was the gentle cooling breeze that Mumbai welcomes with sweaty arms. After all, on the 15th floor, with ceiling to floor windows, we shudder through gusty winds during the monsoons, with the glass in the window frames shaking threateningly enough to keep us awake through stormy nights. Mamma left her lunch untouched, picked up her bag and ran off to pick the brat up. If school had decided to release the children, which it would have, she surmised, this being a government edict. As is usual, the usually efficient school telephone system was having a major meltdown with all the lines jammed up, and therefore any update was not possible. Mamma reached school to realise she was not in school but in a jungle. Parents pushing, shoving, yelling and clawing for their children with the kind of urgency that mamma thought was reserved for doomsday movies, or the ones with the ghouls just beyond a closed door and much screaming. Mamma was puzzled. The sky was clear, not a drop was falling on her head to merit any levels of panic, the calm was far from the sort that precedes a storm. "There wont be any cyclone," Mamma told another mother, also being jostled around in the wave of panicky parents, "Just look at the sky."
The brat was carefully extricated from the unruly mob, and taken home much to his delight. The skies cleared up. The cyclone bypassed Mumbai. I guess we should count our blessings. Had it hit Mumbai at the time it was supposed to, the kids would be on their way home from school, folks would be stuck in the office, and chaos would have reigned supreme. For this once, I'm glad the state government decided to issue the warning and ask folks to shut shop at two. As for my cyclone at home, he woke up this morning completely convinced about it being a holiday. "It wuz cykloan yersterday. Tuday iza holiday. They will havtu clean d skul."

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The good little student.

The brat's school had its PTM for the first term on Saturday. As is the case with PTMs, mamma starts hyperventilating a week in advance to the event, and has to be carried into the meeting on a stretcher with an oxygen mask strapped on, all in hope of some sympathy marks being granted to the spawn of her womb. Anyway, I digress. The day of the PTM, mamma awoke with the kind of uneasiness that comes from waking up with early morning disorientation and thinking what is it about today. "Is it my algebra board exam, nope, I think I sat for that over 25 years ago. Is it the day of my C-Sec? Nope. I think I have the brat sleeping next to me, arm blocking my nostrils and leg on my stomach....what is it about today...." when wham, like a psychedelic movie, the words Parent Teacher Meeting float in slow drifting neon clouds into foggy brain. And mamma springs up with a shock. The entire morning goes off grumpily, with mamma functioning in the way one does when has discovered the meaning of life, and that chocolates are not really the way to nirvana. Bathed and dressed, mamma makes her way to school. The brat refuses to accompany her, given he is at best times, all too keen to avoid the subsequent ear pulling that will inevitably follow said PTM.

Mamma in her anxiety realises she is the first to enter the classroom. The teacher and the co-teacher are still getting themselves organised. Mamma is handed a thick file of the brat's books, worksheets and assessment sheets which she struggles to go through. His handwriting is like insects on riot.But what grabbed my eyeballs were the marks. I stared hard... I pointed at them wordlessly to the teacher...with the kind of speechlessness that hits one when one is handed over a cheque for a million bucks out of the blue. She nodded with a slight smile. I almost took out my lenses to scrub them when I realised I have no contact lenses anymore. I put in my clear vision eye drops and looked back at the papers in front of me. Of a total mark count of 30, the brat has managed to score over 20 in all the subjects, excepting Maths. In Social Science, he has broken all expectations and scored 29/30. My eyes began glistening in the kind of manner that should have warned me to get a tissue out and mop the spills, but I was beyond control. The tears spilled down and rolled down my cheeks. I got a "There, there..." kind of smile and nod from the teacher.

Of course, he has concessions made for him. Spelling errors have been ed. He has had questions read out to him. He has got extra time on the tests. But they have graded him on his understanding of the topic and his responses, even if the responses were verbal. This child has caught up after missing almost two months from July through August. Am I proud of him? Is mamma's heart bursting with joy? Yes, but dont you tell him that. I'm just being Cruella de Ville mamma and buying him cursive writing and maths practice workbooks now.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Restaurant manners

(Brat at McDonalds, which used to be his favouritest place in the whole wide world until last year.)

This Babycenter bulletin article came at a time when the spouse and I have been discussing a restaurant trip, with the brat. These things are rare in the Manral household. Takeaway is generally our best friend. And has been so for a while. The brat does get taken out to restaurants, but the treat is occasional, and that too after dire warnings of expected good behavior, and withdrawal of future such outings if expected levels of good behaviour are not achieved. To be honest though, these days the thought of visiting a restaurant does not fill my heart with fear and dread and make me wish I could opt for a tooth extraction without anaesthesia instead. The brat has grown up. He feeds himself. He entertains himself. He can be counted on not to make a nuisance of himself. He can be counted on to sit for a major part of the meal on his seat, without wandering off into unknown corners of the restaurant. I can almost always guarantee that no crockery will be sacrificed at the altar of table manners and I can be assured of eating myself a relaxed meal as well.

It wasnt always this way. I have spent more time out of a restaurant walking the brat, amusing the brat, and pointing things out to the brat, waiting for the spouse to finish his meal and take over the role of entertainer while I fed myself. In the early days, the spouse and I would fortify ourselves with vodka shots before and during the experience, so that the buzz of angry comments from fellow diners would pass in an alcohol induced haze which felt like they were all pumping our hands enthusiastically and telling us what a delightful little chappie we had produced to spread sunshine and joy through the world, and no, they didnt mind him picking food off their plate, or shifting in to the banquette and engaging them in long and detailed conversation. Seriously though, the brat was a Jekyll and Hyde as far as it came to behaving himself. Just when you thought he'd learnt what was expected of him, he'd set the golden star standard for bad behaviour the next time round, and have our table ringed with waiters and the maitre D who would keep asking us nervously if that would be all, and should they bring the check. Admittedly, I did make a number of mistakes in the early days. I took him to restaurants without him having anything to amuse himself with. I learnt through bitter bitter experience, and meals left half way through, and irate spouse fuming all the way home.
No way is a brat going to sit, napkin tucked in, and wait patiently for his food to arrive. No sirree. He is going to investigate the premises and his fellow diners and the aquatic life on display (if a sea food restaurant), and make sure everyone in the near vicinity knows he is not afraid of the big fish, and he is going to cut it up into leedle pieces and eat it wid his rice. If there is a water feature on the premises, he will insist on checking the temperature of the water by manual methods which could include dunking his head under said water feature and drying himself much in manner patented by the canine species. I would order an appetiser which he would not care for, being more fascinated with the officious looking waiters and follow them like a dog, resulting in god knows how many just missed trippings and under the breath mumbled expletives.
Also , do remember, this was also the time when he was at the zenith of behavioural issues. And temper tantrums and meltdowns happened at an average rate of one every hour.
(Brat and Pappa and Daadi at Mainland China, Pune, Circa 2005)
A nice experience we did have was when the brat was around three, and we were at the Sunday Brunch at Mainland China in Pune. The maitre D actually dug out an aeroplane from god knows where, probably the stock they keep to distract combustible kids from tearing down the place. Another smiling waiter, took him round the place and kept him entertained for a bit. He got extra attention all around, and generally stayed well behaved.
Occasional trips to family places like Pizza Huts and KFCs and Bikajis and McDonalds, see him very very well behaved. He reserves his best behaviour here, and apart from some random steam letting off running around, stays put until he is fed till burping levels and waits patiently for mamma to ingest her meal in peace without bringing the house down.
Over the years Mamma has put together some tips that help her stay sane during a restaurant outing. They might help you, if you have a child of brat levels of hyperactivity.
  • Feed the child a bit before you reach. On an empty stomach, extreme bad behaviour surfaces.
  • Let the child carry along one toy, or one activity he can do while he waits, or be prepared to hand over your mobile phone for its games to keep him seated and busy.
  • Do not influence his order. Let him order what he wants. Even if it is just plain daal chawal.
  • Have the waiters ask him what he wants and interact with him directly. Gives him a feeling of being adult.
  • Choose a family restaurant that is bound to have some children around. Only adults can be a bit intimidating for a child, and a child in a bad mood can set everyone off.
  • Do speak to the child about the fact that certain levels of decorum have to be maintained in a restaurant before you reach there.
  • Be prepared to have one parent take him out in search of entertainment if he becomes unmanageable. (That is if you belong to the rare species like me, who doesnt have a full time maid managing her child).
  • Let the child dress up in his or her favourite clothes. They're less likely to want to mess up their clothes if they like what theyre wearing.
  • Do order something for the kid to snack on, the moment a waiter shows up at your table. And ask for it to be brought immediately. It could be something as simple as the bread basket or french fries.
  • Do not shout at your child in a public situation, it humiliates them and makes them even more stubborn.
  • Build up a restaurant visit as a long awaited treat. They are more likely to look forward to it, and not act up.
  • Do choose your restaurant well. It should ideally be a warm, friendly comfortable place, with comfort foods on the menu if needed. A rarefied air fine dining place, or a speciality cuisine place is not where you need to go dining with kids under six.
The brat is six now, and is pretty well behaved most of the times in a public situation. He is also old enough to be well behaved if he puts his mind to it. And now knows what behaviour is expected of him in a restaurant situation. And all ye fellow diners who put up with him and us, in his unbearable early years, my abject apologies for ruining your evening out. I would now be the first to advocate for child free restaurants. Or maybe, restaurants that provide a playpen and a supervising nanny to let harried parents have a leisurely romantic meal. I would be the first to patronise such a restaurant, I dont think the spouse and I have had a meal at a restaurant alone since the brat was born.

Monday, November 02, 2009

And yet another superhero joins the fray

The brat decides to have a bath apne aap. Mamma meekly complies, and hands him his towel and settles down to read the Sunday newspapers, giving herself at least an hour of indulgent, uninterrupted reading. The brat carted half of all his action figures into the bathroom, after much negotiating to save the battery operated ones happened with mamma, and were reluctantly kept behind in the toy basket and the lesser all plastic and no special effects figures were deemed disposable enough to be dunked relentlessly into buckets of hot, warm, lukewarm and eventually cold water. And even safe and disposable enough to warrant getting a soaping and a scrubbing with a toothbrush to get them cleaned up if the thought should strike the brat.
Mamma settled down with the weekend supplement. And read through it. She picked up the main edition and read through it. She picked up another newspaper and a frown furrowed her perfect brow. It was not like the brat to be silent for so long, given that action figures were part of the bathroom entourage. So she lumbered upto the bathroom and peeked in. The brat was standing in front of the mirror, every inch of his body covered in shaving foam (God help him when Pappa found out) and making threatening faces at said mirror.
He noticed mamma peeking in and turned his scariest soap covered expression towards her. "Mammmmmaaaaaaa.....I am SoapMan. I is slippery. No one can ketch me. Heeehhhaaaahhhaaaaaaa," he stalked away to the far corner of the bathroom in most terrifying KingKong fashion, if King Kong had been covered with foam.
Then a thought struck him. "Mamma you be the badpeepul. Who will SoapMan fight wid?"