Tuesday, December 29, 2009

If you become ole, den yu die?

Death has become a big big big topic of discussion in the Manral home these days. It started with good old Batman Begins wherein, the young Bruce Ween (as pronounced by the brat) drags his parents out of an opera which has bats on stage and thereby resulting in them getting mugged and killed. "They is killt and then they is died?" the brat asked mamma. Yes, replied mamma, hoping against hope that this would be the end of that discussion but this was not to be. "How dey diedt?" Mamma decided that biology was the way to go. "Their heart stopped beating and blood stopped flowing through their arteries and veins." The brat digested it for a moment. "Den wot happenz when dey diedt?"
Mamma looked heavenwards for an answer, and ran towards her handy bible, Dr Spock. "They stop breathing." Unfortunately the brat has seen enough movies with folks on the ventilator to debate this. "Den wai dey nod pud the tube in the throat to help dem breed?"
Mamma sighed and said something to the tune of all the body parts shut down and then the body dies. And then folks have to be burnt or buried. The brat took his own sweet time digesting this information. "Den wat happenz to dem? After dey die? Wat happenz to their mind?"
To be honest, mamma was totally stumped. She spoke vaguely about their soul going to God up in the sky. Yes, yes, in space from where Superman came, from far beyond earth. "Which God dey go to? Jezuz or Jai Jai Bhagwanji?" Mamma explained that all Gods were the same God with different names. "No, no dey is lookin diffrent. All Jai Jai Bhagwanjis are wearing lods of jullery."
That discussion got diverted to jullery. And sitting on a snake in the middle of the ocean which was infinitely more fascinating than people dying and going up into the sky. The next time death was discussed was during a movie where folks died and people threw themselves on the corpse and sobbed their hearts out. "Why dey is crying on dat uncle who is sleeping?" Mamma explained that the uncle in question had died. "An he is gone to God? In heaven?" Yes, mamma replied. "Den why everyone is crying?" Mamma explained that they were grieving because the person in question would not return from the realm of the divine. "Den dey's getting a new uncle?" Ermmm. Not really. Once someone dies, they die forever. "Dey don come back even after 20 days? Even after 100 and 100 days?" No. Maybe they might get born again. As new babies. "To udder mamma pappa or same mamma pappa?"
Mamma then rolled up her sleeves and got down to explaining the concept of an eternal soul, and rebirth and such like. That death was not the final call for a soul, but for one life. Rather like the brat passing through various grades in school, he finished with nursery and kindergarten and now was in Grade 1, similarly the soul passes through many classes and each time the soul dies, its like passing from one grade to another. "An whu takes the assessment? And wot marks yu have to get? And what if you fail the assessment?"
No one fails an assessment in life, mamma said. If you really dont do anything nice in this life, then you go back to a lower grade. To come back to the topic, last night, the brat lay next to mamma his head on mamma's chest, listening to mamma's heartbeat. "Mamma, you wil nod die na. Yer heart is beating very loaudly. Den who will be my mamma if you die?"

How do you answer these questions on death and the afterlife with your children, without getting into religion?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why the brat is a lucky boy!

Because he gets to meet people from across the country and from around the world who want to meet him. Not mamma, you understand. He is the star of the show.
He gets infinite Ben 10 stuff couriered to him by Aunty Deej and Aunty MM. He gets Aunty Dottie to hunt out I Can Read books based on the Superheroes, Batman, Spiderman, Superman, not to mention Santa stocking full of candy and a solar system grid map. He has Aunty Cee go shopping to find him a transformer truck-o-bot and matching Tshirt which she then rushes to courier to Aunty Dottie so that Aunty Dottie can hand it over to him when she is here in Mumbai. He has Aunty Rads scour the toy shops within an inch of her flight taking off to lay her hands on the elusive growed up Ben 10 costum (which, by the way, is now symbiotically attached to skin, being permanent outfit of choice day in day out), he has Aunty Parul pick up a Ganesha 2 cd for him, Aunty Ro get him a Ben 10 bus which is now permanently parked on his pillow, Aunty Aneela's blowpens which have been put to good use on the walls of his newly acquired room, not to mention the gifts of the past which have been too numerous for mamma to list out. All courtesy the lovely blogging mammas who think hard about what he might enjoy and go hunt down the perfect gift for him.
Mamma does get a little teary eyed when she thinks of all the love the brat gets from folks around the world who take time out from their hectic days to go hunt down the perfect gift for him, and wishes she could make him understand that he really is a very very lucky boy that he gets so much love and that getting gifts is not, contrary to his perception, his birthright. Here's a big big and long overdue thank you to all ye wonderful aunties who made the brat's day. The past couple of months have been an extended Birthday cum Christmas party for him, and mamma has to deflate his swollen head down to size now.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Of sore throats and runny noses

The brat and his mamma have been unwell these past days. Terribly unwell. The kind of unwell that has mamma not wash her face and cream it before bedtime because she is too unwell to remember she has an OCD about these things. The kind of unwell that has poor Pappa playing ministering angel (well minus the toga and the wings) to mamma and brat sleeping in different bedrooms for fear of cross infecting each other. The kind of unwell with 104 degree fevers, mouths racked with blisters, throats swollen to levels that make the entire body feel like one giant painful throat.
Therefore we will be back when mamma can lift her head without it going whoozy on her. And when the brat is fever free for 24 hours. Yes, given his propensity to febrile seizures he is under room arrest and constant moment to moment surveillance much to his disgust.
Last heard he was complaining bitterly to pappa about how he was so sick and mamma was sleeping aaram se in d udder room an is nod boddered abaoud me. And is oney coming here to give all d ganda dawai. Yup. Another of mammas OCDs. Can't trust another to get the dosages exact.
Be back when we recover. We've already missed two Christmas parties. The third is tomorrow evening. The dress code is red and black. Brat has picked out his outfit. Red wing collared satin shirt. Black leatherite flared disco pants. As worn to annual day stage performance. Travolta step aside.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A room with a loo

The brat has finally got a room of his own. And he has shifted in, bag, baggage and ackshun figures. The writing desk has been moved in and placed next to the bed. The lack of a television doesnt deter him from spending all his time in the room. It shocks mamma. The fact that a child who needed the television on as background noise to whatever activity he was doing, could be perfectly happy without a television.
As far as rooms go, this room was done up in a non kiddy way. It has a basic neutral wardrobe, a single bed, and a dressing table and a mirror. Which mamma thought was not required but didnt count on it being the most popular item of furniture in the room given the odds that at any moment one could now find the brat posted in front of said mirror busy arranging his hair and his outfit to his satisfaction. The curtains are basic cotton. The pictures on the wall are a collograph by a Baroda based artist, one mamma had acquired when she was in her art collecting phase, which proved to be a pretty expensive hobby, and which was soon discarded given that the rest of the inmates of the home stood around said work of art, scratching heads and coming up with gems like my dog could paint better than that if you tied a brush onto his tail. Or statements to that effect; and an ugly backlit animated waterfall which makes soothing waterfall noises which is supposed to lull you to sleep but in reality infuriates you with the need to get up and switch off the damn thing when you are just about to slide off the pier into dreamland. Mamma so needs to 'do' up his room to his specifications. Which probably means every square inch of the walls, the bed and the curtains be covered with Ben 10 in varied alien avataars each more horrific than the other.
He spent the entire weekend shifting out his clothes and his toys from the room he shared with mamma and pappa to 'his' room. He stuck up his Ben 10 and Spiderman posters. He even took his multiplication table charts and stuck them up on the cupboard in the new room. Yup, mamma's jaw hit the ground at that one.
He moved out his doggy, which is huge ugly orange floppy earred creature who occupies more bed space than the brat does, to the foot of his bed. Which is a single bed, with no side bars to prevent him rolling over and falling on the ground. Which resulted in his rolling over and falling to the ground for much of the first afternoon he decided to nap there alone. Which in turn meant that mamma squeezed herself next to him for the next round of sleep to hold onto him and ensure he didnt roll off and fall to the ground. Which also ended up in mamma rolling off and falling to the ground. Mamma so needs to get those attachable side guards now. This very minute.
This room is also at the other extreme of the home. Think of it as the pantry car with mamma's and pappa's bedroom the engine. The other coaches in between being a passage, the kitchen, the drawing room and daadi's room. Mamma is a paranoid creature. She imagines the child alone. Having nightmares. Waking up and finding himself all alone in the dark. Baby monitors, you say? She cannot imagine deserting the child like that and the happy compromise being arrived these days is that mamma and brat snooze off in the brat's room, and mamma takes herself and brat back to the beeg bed in the master bedroom in the dead of the night. Mamma is a wuss that way. Yes, the brat is six years old. He is a big boy. He is ready to make the shift to his room. Or maybe, the brat is ready to grow up but mamma isnt. Hats off to all ye who have managed to get your children to sleep in a seperate room without having your hearts take up permanent residence in your mouth.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The brat's first heartbreak

The brat's engagement to A is quite over. It is, as they say, finito, kaput, finis. The vows have been taken back.
The end to the love story came about in the park yesterday. While playing. Mamma is not clear what exactly transpired, since mamma was walking frenetically in a bid to dislodge some fat deposits on her thighs.
When mamma called out to brat that it was time to leave and go back home, he came promptly, at the first call, without mamma needing to lose her voice, or give the kind of yell that would have had the Empress of Blandings put her nose to the feeding trough in a jiffy. Mamma should have sniffed a rat. A big stinky rat.
He picked up his waterbottle and shuffled along sullenly. He was quiet all the way up home. Finally mamma asked him if anything was the matter.
"A is telling V to trouble me. They are making plans together to nod play wid me. She is become V's fren now. She iz nod playing wid me....."
His face crumpled into tears.
"I tole her, if you do like dis, I is nod marrying you when you grow up."
Mamma gathered him and wiped his eyes. "Its okay beta, She will be your friend tomorrow again."
"No," he gasped, between sobs, "I don wantu be frens wid her. She is nod my fren. I is katti wid her. I will nod become buchi wid her. I will nod marry her. "
Mamma patted his head. "Its okay, beta, you can marry someone else."
He burst into a fresh round of wailing. "Bud I don like anyone else." And moped around in a corner all evening. And ran to the intercom everytime it rang in the hope that it was A, calling to apologise for her supposed bad behavior. When the call didnt come, he changed into his pyjamas and went to the bedroom. And sat on the bed for a heart to heart with pappa. "Pappa, I is nod marrying wid A."
Pappa digested this news with the calm and seriousness it deserved. "Very good son." The brat stared at him quizzically. "Have a lot of girlfriends and then get married." The brat nodded sagely. "Okay. I will marry lod of gurlfrens."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Is there a Santa Claus?

The brat asked me this last night. In all earnestness. Wondering where on earth he would hang his stocking. Given he has no stockings to start with and then wondered if simple socks would do. And how would gifts fit into a sock, only a small Hotwheels car or a small action figure could fit in. That too if Santa opened the giftwrapping. And the box. And how would Santa know what he already had and what he really really wanted. And would Santa get the orders confused with that of T who lived in the next wing, and really really wanted a Power Ranger Operation Overdrive Megazord vehicle. Which the brat doesnt want, because he wants the original Omnitrix from Ben 10 Battle of the Omnitrix, which will now make his life complete because he already has the growed up Ben 10 costuum thanks to Aunty Rads and all he needs is the original Omnitrix to be Ben 10. And some aliens. Maybe the help of some hair gel to get the exact look.
He's already been told by the cynics in his class, all of 6, that there is no Santa Claus. That the parents get the gifts. And are you stoopid, how can reindeers fly in the sky widoaud rockets under them? And how so many gifts for so many children can fit in one small sleigh. When did my little baby turn so sceptical. Mamma hung onto the concept of a Santa Claus till she hit adolescence, despite 'knowing' there was no jolly man in red, distributing largesse across the world on one single night, squeezing down chimneys without Harry Potteresque Floo powder. Mamma took heart from this, and is going to tell brat her version of it:

(Excerpt from The Sun, editorial, Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.)

"Dear Editor--I am eight years old."Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus."Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun, it's so.'"Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon115 W. 95th Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

How do you explain Santa Claus to your children?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Musings from a birthday party

One of brat's best friend forever celebrated his birthday yesterday. At Papa Johns. Naturally, the guest list comprised a majority of six year old boys, with a token girl joining the fray. (What is this about the skewed sex ratio I dont know, but the five to six year old gang of kids in the building has only two girls amongst 15 boys). The venue which was calm and festive when we walked in, was quickly converted into a war zone. The boys peeled off the balloons which were put up for decoration and converted them into weapons of handcombat. The tables and chairs neatly ranged against the sides of the banquet hall, became warzones, with cover and shoot potential. In the midst of all this chaos, was the brat who had decked self up in his Ferrari racing jacket, and shiny gold and black jeans, and red tshirt. "Aunty, I is lookin hansome?" he asked mamma's friend, and also a mamma of his friend, of whom he is particularly fond. "Yes, brat, you are looking the most handsome of all." He smiled contentedly. At the party, he was his usual ultra confident self, safe in the knowledge that he was the most 'hansome' of the lot.
Through the party, one particular mom, lets call her M, for practical purposes, was constantly on pins to protect her little son, lets call him V for practical purposes. V is not so little and not so angelic as M would like to believe. He is the same age as the brat and slyly aggressive, as all of us moms have noted. He is the kind of child who will not hesitate to punch a friend playing peacefully when an adult doesnt seem to be in the immediate vicinity, but howl at top volume if the roles are reversed, and said friend returns the favour with interest.
While the rest of us moms chilled around knowing that horseplay is just that, horseplay, and the boys will fight it out and be best friends forever the very next minute, she strode into the arena time and again yelling at the other children who dared trouble her son. Her son too, played to the gallery, wailing at sonic boom levels if another child dared so much as bump into him. V, of course, was not lagging behind in administering his own share of kicks and hits on the sly when his mother was not watching him with an eagle eye. So it came to pass that the brat and the V had a skirmish. V's mother, with a look of menace on her face, stormed in and grabbed the brat's arm. Mamma watched on from afar. "Hey, hey, hey, what are you doing?" she yelled at volumes loud enough to make the party go suddenly silent. All eyes were on her. Mamma was poked by her friends to rise and go tell her to take her hands off the brat. "Why were you pulling his hair?" she yelled at the brat, who stared at her uncowed. Mamma stayed put and continued watching, wondering if she should step in, but decided to let the brat handle it on his own. The brat piped up, clear and loud enough for the entire room to hear, "He pullt my hair fusht. He kickt me in d stomach. Why you is nod shauding at him? You shaud at him fusht." The rest of the moms looked at mamma and grinned in solidarity. It seemed to Mamma that the room burst into silent applause. Mamma was glad she kept her peace, and didnt get down to catfighting levels over kids brawls. The brat, he doesnt need mamma to look out for him anymore. He can do it himself, thank you very much.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Superbrat is here

The brat has an entire shelf in his cupboard devoted to his superhero costumes. Batman, Spiderman, Ben 10 (both Alien Force: Ben 10 age 10 and Battle of the Omnitrix: Ben 10 circa age 15), Power Ranger SPD (all the colours except Pink and Yellow for obvious reasons) and last but not the least, Superman. Cloak et al. Which is the costume that does get the most wear and tear. This comes from the brat having watched all the Superman movies on an average of one million times, of which mamma has been happy to watch the Christopher Reeves ones with him, for totally Xrated selfish interests.
The current craze is wearing the Superman costume down to the park. Every evening. The costume must be worn in a specific way that allows the brat to be standing on a hillock of grass in said park surveying the scene for cars falling off bridges or mountains collapsing, or random friends needing help in battling anorexic black jumpsuit clad aliens, to run swiftly pulling open shirt and then tripping over self as he tries to remove pant while running. I knew there was a reason why they dont show Superman getting his pants off in running to change mode. Sadly the park has no telephone booths to allow for convenient stepping out of pants changing. And mamma has warned the brat that she is not duty bound to keep stitching on ripped buttons from shirts. She's putting velcro on now for shirst earmarked for tearing off while running to save the world purposes.
The brat is still trying to come to terms with the fact that despite his best jumps into the sky, flying is not happening. He has blamed this wholly and squarely on the cloak. "Dis is nod a good cloak. Is nod making me fly." I've promised to find him the real McCoy soon. Its easier than dealing with the tantrum that will ensue if I try explaining to him that Superman is not real and only birds, aeroplanes and Harry Potter can fly. Oh well.
Yesterday he did the strip down to Superman costume act and tore across the park, cloak flying ferociously behind him to find that no one needed to be saved from evil. He contented himself by putting the see saw up and and down with tremendous show of strength including macho grunting, and gritting of teeth. Yes, of course, said see saw was empty. He punched in the air with a great show of bravado, demonstrated his strength by uprooting an innocent plant for which he received a stern talking to, and the gardener summoned tout de suite to replant said croton. He returned to the see saw precipice from which imaginary buses were about to fall into an ocean. The rest of the children stood by watching, mouths agape at this herculean feat of strength, much to brat's crooked smiled delight.
After a while, having saved imaginary folks hanging from the see saw precipice he ran again at top speed to the other end of the garden, cloak aflutter behind , a straggle of his pals running behind him. Finding nothing to be saved at the other end, he sat down on a grassy mound contemplating the scene. I walked upto him, asking him what the matter was."I want to save the wurld. Bud I don know who to save it from."