Saturday, February 27, 2010

If you wait...

The brat is doing professions in school. Therefore curious inquisitive questions designed with express intent of making mamma tear out the few remaining strands of hair she has left are being flung with alacrity at mamma at the average speed of one per second.
Mamma, if you drive you're a driver?
Yes beta.
If you garden, you're a gardener?
Yes beta.
If you cook, you're a cooker?
Errr, no, you're a cook or a chef.
If you wait, you're a waiter?
At which point mamma reaches for the last three strands on her scalp and yanks hard.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The class photograph

The brat had his class photograph clicked in school yesterday. We parents were informed that all the children had to be compulsorily present for said photograph and the children had to be spit polished in their regular uniform and not, on the pain of being not included in class photograph, be in their sports uniform. Which is way infinitely cool according to the brat, but of course, mamma didnt see it quite that way. To mamma's jaundiced eye, the sports uniform despite its cool stripes down the side just looks like a grey jersey tee and pyjamas, spattered with the remnants of many indiscreet lunch boxes eaten under duress.
The previous night, like a true rockstar, the look for the photograph was discussed in great detail as mamma and brat fell asleep in the darkened room. "I hab to wear red tshird and brown bummudas?" (This is regular uniform for him). Yes, love, mamma replied. "I can pud red jakket on topof d tshird?" No love. "I can pud spidermanz mask?" No love. "I can wear Batman costuum?" No love. "Den wot I'll do? I'll luk so boreding." He thought hard in the dark for some means to stand out in the crowd. "I can pud my hair in gel and make it poky?" Mamma thought hard and said a maybe. The purpose was selfish. Purely to end the conversation and drift off into sleep.
The next morning, the brat bounded up at a single call. Had his milk, biscuits and bathed with an alacrity that had mamma rubbing her eyes in disbelief. And then, towel wrapped around his scrawny waist (someone explain to me why I insist on buying him bathrobes, when all he wants to do is imitate the pappa with the towel around the waist post shower!) he stood before the mirror, squeezing out what looked like an entire tube of hair gel onto his hand and splotching it on his hair and the basin. And then, taking a small comb, he carefully and precisely proceeding to lift the strands of hair on the crown of his head to gravity defying levels, they being held up by a force that was stronger than the force which holds them protons and neutrons and such like together in atoms. Mamma gasped in shock. Pappa gasped louder. Mamma stared. Pappa, like the take charge of the situation man he is, sprung into action. He grabbed the comb from the brat's hand and carefully made a side parting, and combed his hair into an impeccable good boy side parted look to much pouting and quivering lips and eyes brimming over with tears. And thanks to the gel the look held till the brat was picked up from school, at complete dissonance with the tshirt askew, the pants crooked, the look surly.
Guess who is going to look like the most wellbehaved kid in the class when the pic comes out?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Of why we should walk to skul

The brat had his culminating day performance today. This is an event held at the end of every term wherein the children of the school do a short skit on the topics they have learnt through the term, and put up an art and craft display on the said topics. This time the topic in question was that of transport, vehicular pollution and our neighbourhood. The brat had been given a line to mug up three weeks in advance. A very unappealing line it was too!
"How do we come to school: We come to school using different means of transport like cars, school bus, auto rickshaw or even walking. This chart represents different means of transport."
At "this chart," his cue was to point at said chart which would be behind his head. He practised long and hard. At home. In the car. Mamma added her two bits by muttering it to him as he drifted into deep REM sleep hoping it to register in his subsconscious to ensure he didnt suddenly look at the throng of parents looking on in anticipation and go blank. Mamma has bitter memories of such incidents peppering her school days where she went blanker than a just wiped slate everytime she was confronted by an expectant audience. Most famous amongst them being a welcome speech she was to give during an annual day when she looked at venerable chief guest and blanked out, and salvaged the situation by saying "I forgot your name." while pointing out to puzzled and very important chief guest, who probably ran home and sobbed into his pillow from the embarassment of it all. The bad memory persists to date as does the stage fright. As folks who know mamma will vouch, without being plied by alcohol, that confronted with a stage and a speech to be made, mamma will prefer crawling under said stage and discuss carapace designs with the roaches rather than speak in public. And when she is finally discovered and pulled out shrieking and bawling from her hiding place, she will say her bit like she has a gun stuck to the small of her back and run off stage every limb a tremble in a manner no Mills and Boon heroine has ever felt no matter how intense and passionate a look the tall dark and handsome stranger could ever muster up. Mamma has been known to ask folks to go collect her awards during college days rather than go up on stage and collect them herself. Given that the brat takes after his mother in most things, mamma naturally assumed that she had legitimately handed down stage fright along with the eyelashes and the dimples and the complete lack of athletic skills.
The children said their parts. Some muffed their lines. Some stared at the audience and forgot what they were supposed to say. Some waved at their parents. Some whispered so we had to strain to catch what they were saying. Some others mumbled into the microphones so indistinctly, they could have been dead ringers for Brando in Godfather. Not the brat. He stood straight. A twinkle in the eye. Looked at mamma for a millisecond for approval before he launched off into his number. Rattled it off, crisp, clear and loud. And perfect. Mamma was the only one applauding. And applauding hard and loud. Because mamma remembered all those years of speech therapy and the sweat and tears, and the agonising about whether this child would ever be able to make himself understood had been vindicated.
And his eyes sparkled. The rest of the parents clapped. And someone said well done. And mamma's heart swelled up like a balloon and choked her, and squeezed a tear or two down her eyes. Mamma hugged the brat and came away. Someone is so getting a double pack of Chicken Lollipoks today.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Of stolen kisses

Mamma and brat were watching a movie on HBO. As is the case with most movies these days, even an innocous U rated one as the one we were watching, the lead pair suddenly liplocked. The brat darted a sideways glance at me to check if I was registering the avid tonsil hockey unfolding on screen. I kept my best poker face and waited for the scene to progress. The brat giggled a bit and darted another sideways glance at me.
"Mamma," he said hesitantly. "I wontu tell yu something. Is secred."
Mamma assured him her lips were sealed and she would take his secret to the grave. He giggled at bit more.
"A kisst me in d garden."
He looked at me warily, guaging my reaction. I burst out laughing. The brat looked at me in a manner that indicated I needed a frontal lobotomy. "Wai yu is laffing? I is telling d truth. "
Mamma laughed delightedly. "Where did she kiss you?" Mamma asked. He indicated his cheek. "Why did she kiss you?" He thought hard. He thought long. He creased his forehead with a thoughtful frown. "Becos she iz my bes fren. And when we grows up we will marry and do kissing on d lipz."

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And den we can't breed...

Bathing the brat this morning, and the brat points to two circles on his puny chest.
Mamma yu know wot happenz if we don have these...
Mamma is all ears.
What happens if we dont have them?
Den we cannod breed. Because dey are our lungs oudside our chest.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I signed this...

I dont normally like petitions and the online signing of. But this touched a chord. Somewhere. My son is the victim of bullying. And anything that attempts to make a start, to create an awareness about the problem is commendable.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is My Name Khan?

I watched Taare Zameen Par with the involvement of a parent who struggled daily with her child's homework and his inability to write legibly, or retain language skills or to whom numbers are just heiroglyphs. Just this Saturday, the brat sat down with his entire sheaf of homework worksheets and completed them all on his own. The handwriting might not have been perfect, he might have spelt 'Park' as 'Prak' but he wanted to try it on his own. And he managed to do so on his own. I am not ashamed to say I sat reading through his work with tears pouring down my cheeks much to his consternation and worry. "Mamma wai you are crying? Next time I'll wraid very neadly. Don cry."

This is the child who was diagnosed PDD/NOS when he was 19months. I had a doctor suggest he had Aspergers when he was around two years and some months. He's been through two years of intensive therapy. Speech and occupational. His last check up with the pediatric neurologist had all disorders ruled out. He is still slow for his class. Or is the syllabus too fast for him. I like to think it is the latter. He will find his own pace. Far be it for me to push him.

Taare Zameen Par was well researched. And depicted sensitively. I wonder how My Name Is Khan is researched. I havent watched it yet. I have though, interacted for almost two years (the time that the brat went for therapy) with a child who was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. He was a whiz with numbers. Spoke stiltedly. Rarely made eye contact. Was unable to communicate or follow rules of interaction with other children. His mother had the kind of worried look on her face which must have mirrored my own at the time.

This is what one parent has to write about Khan's performance in the movie. The shifting of eyeballs which I noticed in the promo, the reaction to Kajol's smile, does not strike me as something an Asperger's Syndrome person would do. I have also seen Rainman and Dustin Hoffman was one tough act to follow. Dustin Hoffman also studied a savant to prepare for his role as Raymond in the movie. I do think a fair amount of research would have gone into preparing Khan for this role. And it is not fair to nitpick. Even if MNIK generates one percent awareness about this syndrome and generates empathy amongst the layperson for the people diagnosed with Aspergers and other Autism Spectrum Disorders I would consider the movie a hit. And hope that reviewers like this would take the trouble to spend a moment or so researching the syndrome before they dash off their reviews. I do realise that from playing a demi god on the big screen to playing an individual afflicted with Aspergers is a huge leap of faith for Shah Rukh Khan, and it is only through mainstream cinema that awareness about this and other autism spectrum disorders can be maximised. And I hope that the layman develops empathy and consideration towards individuals who donot have the wiring to be empathetic and considerate, and social. For no fault of theirs.

Letter to My Son's Teacher, By Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In which the brat decides his life calling is a detective

At school, the brat has as his Language Arts textbook a Nate the Great story. Now, the brat and Nate the Great do have a lot in common, the primary parallel being in the insatiable curiousity, and the second point of convergence being in the desire to take oneself out of the house at any odd hour. The primary point of divergence between the brat's life and that of Nate the Great's would be that the brat's mother is constantly hovering around to rein him back in from his escapades, whereas all Nate the Great needs to do is to write a note to his mother, in cursive writing mind you, a point the brat is much in awe of, given that he's just about learnt to stay somewhat on the line while painfully print writing what he must write and cannot wriggle out of writing. Let's just say, for the brat, the sword is mightier than the pen, especially if it is a Power Ranger sword.
In fact, apart from the lovely Superman, Batman and Spiderman adventure books he has (Thanks, Dottie Mawshi!), the only book he will sit down to read without being held in shackles and whipped is a Nate the Great book. A point Mamma is taking great advantage of by buying as many of the series as she can and leave them lying around randomly, and pretending to be too tired and sleepy to be of any reading assistance. Thereby pressing the poor chile to struggle to read on his own and figure out the words himself as well as the story. Nate the Great has the kind of droll humour that Mamma can thrash around on the floor laughing helplessly at, so it goes without saying that Mamma is also in line to read them books. In fact, in Nate the Great Goes Undercover, mamma had to get her dictionary out to check the names of night birds, Strigiforme and another complicated name which mamma has forgotten right now, and which Nate the Great concluded would not condescend to steal garbage. In that sense, the series has been educative for mamma too.

Therefore it came as no surprise when one fine afternoon, Mamma's tan jacket fresh from the dry cleaners was pressed into detective overcoat service, along with a checked hat that Mamma had picked up in a beach emergency at Baga in Goa, and a magnifying glass that Mamma uses to read ingredients off food jars and other edibles in a supermarket before plonking them into the trolley (dont ask, Mamma is that kind of paranoid and vain about spectacles). The brat emerged from his toilette with the kind of half grin that reeked self consciousness and began his investigations. He looked at the trail of ants to the crumbs from an unfinished sandwich still lying on a plate which he had been toying around with fifteen minutes ago. "Mamma, I is a didecktib. Give me a case to solve." Mamma, whose eyes were blurring over from post lunch somnolence, instructed him to go find his packet of new crayons which had miraculously disappeared after the first use. He put his magnifying glass to use and crept all along the perimeter of the house investigating every nook and cranny. "Is nod dere Mom. Gimme anuder case."
Mamma sat up, brows furrowed, "Is this how easily you give up, brat? Think again, where all could the crayons have gone too?"
The brat furrowed his brow in turn and thought hard. "I did d colouring of the homework sheet. Den I pud the crayons and the homework sheet in d school bag an I tuk it to skul."
Mamma told him he should look in the school bag for said crayons. Which he did to find the packet snug amongst his school books. The glee on his face was worth a photograph. Clutching his checked hat, he came storming into the bedroom. "Mamma, mamma, I is a real didectib now. I solbd my case."
Mamma smiled indulgently, little knowing what was to follow. "I is now going to aks my frens for cases to solb. I will become the wurl's gradest didectib." Mamma smiled some more. "I wont go to skul now. Didectib's don hab to gotuskul."

Monday, February 08, 2010

What do you do if your child steals?

True incident coming up.

The brat and a not so friendly friend playing at home. The mother had asked me to watch him for some time while she attended a religious function in the building. So I did. The brat had a jar of funky fruit shaped erasers and the little boy asked me if he could take one. Yes, of course, I replied, and went on with what I was doing in the kitchen. The next moment the child had scooted out of the front door and was struggling to put on his shoes without opening his clenched fists. Where are you going, I asked him. Home, he replied. I refused to let him go without me accompanying him. And noticed he wouldnt open his fists. Curious, I told him, he would not be able to put his shoes on without opening his fist. And insisted he open it. Both his hands were clutching a fistful of erasers. I told him gently that this was not right. If he wanted more than one he could have asked me. And told him he could take it, but I would need to tell his mother about it. Which is when he threw the erasers at me, yelled that he didnt want the 'stupid' erasers and ran off in the lift.

The brat was watching the entire episode curiously. "What he did?" he asked me. The other boy is just a few months older than the brat, but miles ahead in sharpness. "He took something which was not his without permission," I replied. I do know children get tempted. Hell, I've been a child and an adult who has been tempted often enough. I'm still known to sneak into the refrigerator and chomp through chocolates that arent mine to chomp much to the brat's dismay. What did get me was the throwing of the erasers on my face when he was caught out. And the absolute disregard for the authority of an adult. Speaking to other mothers in the building, I did find out that this is a habitual offender. And that this child is known to filch things. This was heartbreaking. A seven year old with a reputation for pinching things so widespread, and a reputation for back talk and misbehaviour so bad that mothers donot want him to come play with their children. I wonder how the mother does not realise that her child comes home with things that are not his. Is she not careful and checking, or does she not care that things have been purloined?

I do know that when the brat goes on playdates I would check him carefully to see if he has something on his person that he isnt supposed to have. And if I find him holding onto something I check with the hostess whether it was given to him or whether he decided to help himself to it. If it is a toy, it is returned gracefully on the spot. I donot know if it is my place to tell the mother about this incident, and donot think anyone would take kindly to being told that her child is lifting things. I know I wouldnt, but I would listen to the accusation and try and counsel my child. The lifting is not what bothered me as much as the rudeness and insolence. I dread to think what this child would be 20 years down the line.

This is the generation of I want it all, and I want it now. I see it with my son. He is only just realising that a trip out with the family doesnt necessarily mean that he is entitled to a new toy. He is being made to understand that just because a friend has a toy or a PSP or an iPod doesnt necessarily make it mandatory for us as parents to get him the same thing. He has his school bag and pencil box checked everyday to see if there is anything that doesnt belong to him in it. If anything, he is the one who is gifting away funky sharpeners and new pencils and sketch pens and such like. He is not quite okay with the idea of a toy earned by tasks completed but knows there is no way he can get around it. New clothes are not his birthright, he gets them only when he outgrows his old clothes. And new toys are bought only when he earns them by consistent good behaviour, homework done without whining for a week, food eaten within half an hour for a week, room tidied up consistently. It scares me to think that he might just be tempted, thanks to his Cruella de Ville mom, to pick up something that is not his when he visit anyone. Yes, I do know that a child doesnt understand the social and ethical implications of their act, it just signifies the lack of impulse control. But it does scare me. The thought that it is a kid like this who gets away with the little misdeeds which are overlooked out of indulgence and grows up to become something I've had first hand experience within the family. Grow up to become a delinquent of the first order, moving on into psychopathy, making their own and everyone else around them miserable with their lies, frauds, belligerence and pure evil.

How would you tackle it if your child was caught stealing? How would you react if someone told you this? Would you listen calmly and try to figure out how to deal with the issue, or would you get offended by the person who informed you about it?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Of muskills and macho men

As mentioned before on this blog, the brat is on a fitness bootcamp with the pappa playing drill sargeant. Every morning, the brat is dragged out of bed, water splashed on his face, and frogmarched down to the park where he is made to do his rounds, laps or whatever. Given that the brat has immunity levels where he needs to be probably encased in bubble wrap, mamma makes him don a warm hoodie to keep the early morning chill out of his ears.

This morning though, he scoffed at my proferred warm hoodie and pulled out a sleeveless vest and poured himself into it.

Dont tell me you're going down just in that, brat, I muttered. He gave me the royal ignore and marched purposefully towards the door.

Brat, brat, brat, I yelled, running behind him, warm hoodie in hand. Put this on right now.

The pappa waited at the door for the dressing up to be completed.

The brat looked at me in disdain.

I is nod wearing so many klodz. How I will show my muskills?

Monday, February 01, 2010

My mom coolest...

Overheard a telephonic conversation between brat and friend. Since the friend's responses cannot be heard, the conversation mamma hears is totally onesided and is reproduced as such.

Brat: I got a mamma.
Friend: Probably laying claim to similar job profiled person at his end.
Brat: My mamma can type very fast on d compuder.
Friend: Indeterminate claim being made.
Brat: No, no, really. Her fingers are moving on dey own and she is nod looking at the keybored.
Friend: Possibly surmising that brat's mamma is a typist.
Brat: No, no, she is a writer. She writes ardikuls for the magazines.
Friend: Demanding proof of claim, one presumes.
Brat: I dunno. I canna read dem. I dunno wad she is wriding.
Friend: Possibly mocking brat's reading skills.
Brat: Is nod fer chilluns. Is fer beeg peepuls oney to read. Dats why.
Friend: (no idea what he says)
Brat: Hmmm. Hmmm.
Friend: (Further no idea what he says)
Brat, bristling with anger: And my mamma can make jam samwich also. And Maggi noodles. And popcorn.
Friend: One supposes is expounding on the culinary skills of his mater.
Brat: An you know wad my mamma can do? She can eat one pizza apne aap. Widoud sharing. Yer mamma can do dat?

End of discussion. Nothing could beat that.