Monday, March 29, 2010

Body building and the brat

The brat and his father have been seriously working out. As in the brat works out, his father cracks the whip. Every morning at six thirty am, the father wakes the brat up and washes his face, sticks a toothbrush in his mouth, gets him on the pot, and then washed and changed, takes him down to the park. At times with the skipping rope, at times with the cricket ball, at others with the basket ball, at still others, with the football. The idea, says the pappa, who is the authority on these matters, is that the routine has to be varied to keep the brat interested. Waking up happens to much whining, and after the first few splashes of cold water on his face, the brat is fine. In fact, he is being pointed out as an example to emulate for the other brats in the building complex who refuse to get out of bed, "Come here, look at brat, see how he is exercising and here you are, refusing to even get up," says random mom in dismissive disgusted tone, getting the brat much grief in the evening when his friends chew him up for getting up at unearthly hours and setting a bad precedent, with parents expecting them too, to rise and shine at the crack of dawn. Mamma of course, is no party to this. Mamma rises under duress. Grumbles her way into the kitchen. Barks if woken 10 minutes before her scheduled rise time. Bites if folks expect her to converse before the first hit of caffeine reaches her brain. And mamma's idea of exercise is ambling along the park walking track gossiping ferociously with friends. Yup, mamma was of the genus kachcha limboo in her childhood days, if you, gentle reader remember. This was the genus which was not a desired element in either team in a sporting situation and no points were deducted if the kachcha limboo got out, which I was adept at. In fact, the only thing I was adept at, was getting out first and spending the rest of the game sitting on the sidelines. Therefore I stay out of the training bit. My training is more solid, the kind a future daughter in law will, hopefully, thank me for. "Go keep your clothes in the laundry basket."
"Pick up your toys and clear the room"
"Hang your towel out to dry."
"Put your shoes by."
"Keep your plate in the basin."
"Drink your milk and finish your food."
and of course,
"Put the seat up!!!!"

The brat is definitely better for his exercise sessions, though mamma might feel they are too taxing. For one, mamma has noticed that his running has improved, as has his stamina, much to the dismay of those who battle him in the playground every evening. For another, he is becoming much more confident of his jumping and balancing skills. For a third, he is becoming aware of his own capacity for doing things, lifting, running, bouncing balls. It has done wonders for the child's confidence. Mamma is half tempted to bop the father on his head for not having taken this interest in the child earlier.

The brat's favourite pass time after he has divested himself of post exercise sweaty raiments is to examine his physique closely in the mirror. At nose distance. "Mamma, lookit my muskil." Mamma looks and cannot find anything of note to warrant rhapsodies and eulogising, so she smiles encouragingly. "See, it is so strong," he pats his bicep lovingly, and extends an arm to Mamma to check for herself. "Yes, beta."
"See my stomick muskils."
Mamma sees. And can discern vague muscle formation beneath the ribcage.  The brat does a vague Salman Khan imitation, Mamma looks on sanguinely. "See, see, I looking like Superman."
Mamma raises an eyebrow. "Wait I'll pud on d costum den you'll see." He scrambles to find his Superman costume to mamma's background braying about how he needs to get his scrawny butt pronto into the bathroom or risk a late mark in his diary.
"When I get full muskils, den I will become a hero. A super hero. Like Daredevil. Or Superman. Or Batman Darkknight. Or Krish man."
Errr. And just who is this Krish man? Hrithik Roshan? "No, no, no. I be Krish man. And I will eat oney chikken. And I will fight wid d bad peepuls. And I will jump from d sky. And I will wear very tight klodz. Wid a kloak. Wid a K."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The non artist in the making.

The brat had an art and craft competition at school yesterday. Given the fact that his only acquaintance with the category in question is in the realm of patiently shredding newspapers to help the pigeons line their nests in our balcony, Mamma decided that some prep was necessary. The topic given was Best of Waste. Mamma gathered together the emblems that proved her nationality, used gift wrapping paper, which she collects in the true tradition that in an emergency, she could use them to wrap up something in a pinch and be crowned Domestic Goddess, or whatever.
She sat with the brat and explained to him how he could work with the discarded paper and create a collage. She gave him scissors, glue and felt pens and packed him off with a peck on the cheek and wished him all the best.
Picked up the brat post school, and asked him, "Darling, what did you make for the competition?"
"I made a penstan." And that was it, no further explanations or description of how this useful piece of desk ornamentation was created.
Until Mamma reached home and began unpacking the school bag, to find all the connector pens missing, with only the empty case flapping useless in the bag. "Brat," she yelled, "Where are all your connector pens?"
"I tole yu na," said the brat irritably, "I made a penstan!"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shameless campaigning

Go vote for me here:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wake up Krish...

Strangely enough these days, the most interesting conversations the brat and I have are in the bathroom, while I bathe him. He is allowed to bathe himself on the weekends where the time is spent more fruitfully bathing more than the entire battalion of Marvel Comics Superhero action figures and less emphasis on scrubbing behind the neck. Monday to Friday, it is Mamma's job to ensure that he emerges with dirt layers efficiently removed with skin visible beneath. Topics discussed during the bath session are varied, and need to be interesting to allow shampoo to be poured on scalp and massaged vigorously, with the scalp owner sufficiently distracted to not squeal the building down.
Today's topic was Wake Up Sid, because Mamma woke him up by singing Wake Up (brat name) loudly.

In Wake Up Sid, wai Sid goes to Ayesha's hauz?
Mamma thought hard, and decided he could take the truth, "Because he had a fight with his parents and his pappa told him to leave the house."
Bud wai?
"Because he didn't study hard and had failed in his examinations."
If I fail in my eggjams even Pappa wil tell me to gerrout of his hauz?
(Totally hypothetical question because the critter doesnt have examinations till he reaches grade 4.)
Mamma shrugs. "I dont think he will. I think he will ask you to study harder the next time."
The brat thought for a bit while Mamma did the behind the ears and the neckline dirt exfoliation.
"Is okay. If Pappa tells me to gerrout of the hauz I will go to A's hauz. And tell her Mamma Pappa that I will stay dere oney. And I will nod go to skul and oney klick photographs. Okay."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How many languages does your child speak?

Being the kind who jabbered in three languages before I was out of my diapers, learning a language wasnt something I really thought about. We heard languages all around us, living in a metropolitan city like Mumbai and had, at various points in our life, neighbours who were Gujarati, Maharashtrians, Tamilians, UPites, and Bengalis. Naturally, I grew up picking up bits and pieces of every language, and strangely enough could understand most languages and speak a few sentences of each, but wasnt too fluent in Hindi, despite the fact that it was a language I watched news (Doordarshan era child, yup, dinosaur me!) and movies primarily in Hindi as well as the Ramayan, Mahabharat, Hum Log and Buniyaad serials in Hindi. At home, my father's native tongue was Hindi/Urdu and my mother's English, and by default we spoke English. I struggled a bit to polish my Hindi when I got married, because I needed to communicate with my mother in law on a day to day basis in Hindi, and I'm ashamed to say my Hindi was very Anglicised. I solved this by watching Doordarshan news every single day. And didnt really give much thought to language development and picking up languages until I had the brat. Who refused to speak, and had us running helter skelter getting assessments, and opinions from neurologists, and speech therapists and psychologists and infinite others I cant recall right now. The child was not speaking, and the one piece of consistent advice I got from the development psychologists and the speech therapists was that we should expose him to one language for him to pick up speech. Because I got this advice from specialists, I took it seriously. I even tried to implement it. I've already written about the Baby Einstein DVDs and the other speech development DVDs I was suggested I use to get his language skills up and going. Implementing a one language exposure was easier said than done. I also didnt agree. Wouldnt exposing him to multiple languages make language easier for him? I wasnt a trained professional but I reckoned that hearing a language constantly puts it into your head in a way that learning it formally doesnt.
So the brat grew, getting exposed to Hindi, English, Marathi, Bengali. He was in a multilingual home. I spoke with him in English, the grandmother in Hindi, the maids in Marathi, as did the neighbours. He replied back to the best of his ability, and made up his own language for a while, with a smattering of words from different languages before finally, now, at the age of six, having no language confusion at all.
Today the brat speaks fluent English and Hindi, and can think in both languages, which makes them both his native language. He understands Marathi and Bengali, thanks to my maids, and is slowly but surely picking up Kumaoni from his grandmother. He is amazingly good at Hindi which he has just begun as a subject in first grade, despite the fact that he missed out almost two months at school (July and August) due to constant hospitalisations and ill health, and that was when Hindi was being introduced to the children. He shifts between both languages easily, in conversation. And not for a second now, would you ever imagine this was a child with a speech delay, and zero language development at appropriate milestones.
Read this at utbt's blog. She has done an interesting study on language development in child, and conducted an exhaustive poll to come to her conclusions.
How many languages does your child speak, and do you ensure that you try to expose your child to multiple languages? This could be interesting.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lunch at nana's house

Mamma and brat took off to Nana's house today for lunch. As is mandatory, Nana had been duly informed that a slaughtered fowl had to be prepared in honour of the brat's visit.
We landed a little early. Mamma took the opportunity to pore through her book collection that spills over three cupboards at Nana's house and picked up an old favourite, The World According to Garp, for a re read. The brat kept parading between the kitchen and the living room.
Wen d chikken wil get cookt?
Nana hastened to assure him it would be soon.
Is kachcha kachcha now?
Nana replied in the affirmative.
We can't eat kachcha kachcha?
Nope we will get a pain in the stomach if we do.
So I have to wait for it to get pakka?
Yes love.
How long fer d chikken to get pakka?
Ten minutes, Nana reassured him.
Dats very long time. I will become a skeleton and all my bones will come out of my skin. And den I will have to lie down and become very week. Not one week. Ten weeks.

Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Of medals and rooster chests

The brat has landed himself a slew of medals strung on ribbons. Donot ask from where he procured them, lets just say that a kind soul took pity on him for not winning any during the annual sports meet and sent him some. Strung on red, yellow and blue satin ribbons.
He sat with them all spread on the bed in front of him.
"Mamma, lookat these medalz. Dis is gol. Dis is silber. An dis is brons."
I nodded, my eyes deep into the escapades of a red skirted ghost in a book I was struggling to complete.
"Dis is fusht. Dis is second. An dis id third." He followed up the classification with the putting on of all the medals in his possession, which numbered approximately 12 around his neck. Mamma wondered if he could manage to keep himself upright under the load of so much metal.
He stood up and tottered to his favourite vantage spot in front of the mirror. He flexed his muscles, he admired himself from all possible angles, including a sideways view. He stood at attention in imitation of standing on the podium. And he blared, "And in the first place, winning the golmedal iz ...."
Having satisfied himself that he had been awarded them medals he decided to take them off, and did so methodically one at a time and kept them in a drawer. Yesterday evening, it was time to go down to the park when the brat, dressed in his park ensemble, marched over to the drawer, and pulled out his treasure trove and draped them medals round his neck again. "I is a sportz champion. I will wear all my medals to d park. Den nobody can run fashter dan me. "

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Anyone read this?

So we've been had. Us parents, who were so eager to raise a generation of superachieving genius kids, that we got suckered into putting down hard earned money for these DVDs which were supposed to help our children pick up language faster.
I am particular sensitive to this because I remember being told by well meaning friends to get these and make the brat sit down and watch these for a fixed amount of time every single day. This was back then when the brat had no language. And I was rushing him to speech therapy. "Look at my child," said a friend. "Look at how much she talks. Its all because of this Baby Einstein DVD." I gritted my teeth, and stayed quiet. Every child is different, I wanted to reply. My child is different. He will speak soon, I thought to myself. And I knew that what she told me was through concern. But I didnt get me them DVDs. I just kept exposing him to people. To speech. To different languages. Let him learn the language first hand through social interaction rather than a DVD.
This report has sort of vindicated my belief. I'm just feeling rather miffed on behalf of everyone who bought these DVDs.

It is official...

I'm a Helicopter Parent. Let me go find that chullu bhar paani to doob mar....

Seriously though, I think I am being practical in this day and age when children disappear from homes and building premises and are found dead 30 kms away (my heart breaks for the parents of 3year old Gursharan), or are taken hostage by kidnappers out to make a quick buck who often dont hesitate a moment before killing their hostage.

I am also paranoid. I pick up and drop my child to school because I see the way the school bus children bully the younger ones in the bus. My son would be jailbait for them. And I see the way the children who go by van run amok on the traffic laden street outside, and often see the average of one missed accident per day, all because them van children run berserk. I accompany my son down to the park. I walk while he plays. I keep an eagle eye out for him getting into scraps and dont physically hover around, but am there. Silent. Lurking. Should wear black overcoat and dark shades, and pack my weapon unobstrusively in a holster. You know. I could do with martial arts training too, would come in handy when them kids get into tear each other's hair out fights.

I insist the brat is never left at home alone. I have friends who leave their six and three year olds alone at home and lock up all balconies and risky areas. They get their grocery shopping and other chores done quicker that way. I am lucky in that I have someone I can leave him behind with. If no one is around to watch him, I would rather drag him along with me than leave him behind. I know the mischief he can get upto when I am physically present to keep yelling as background noise in a vain attempt to deter him. I dread thinking what he would do in my absence.

I still maintain this is a different age we are growing up in. The challenges are different. Children are not as safe today as they were earlier. Sexual assaults on children are at an all time high. The newspapers are full of stories of children who went missing while they were playing, only to be found abused and dead in some remote area few days later. It is heart breaking. It is also very scary when you have a child like the brat who will happily trot off with a random stranger, with zero stranger anxiety.

And till they are able to take care of themselves in a public situation (aka become adults with appropriate self defence and martial arts training) we as parents need to be more vigilant about their safety. And yes, I really dont mind being called a Helicopter Parent. I dont mind being called paranoid. I am. The only issue I am paranoid about is my child's safety. I donot have him attending a slew of classes to gain different skills, he barely attends one dance class which is conducted in the lobby of my building itself. I donot hound him regarding his studies, in fact, he gets away with complete slacking off most of the times. I am not obsessive about his diet. My motto is, if he is hungry, he will eat. His food is placed in front of him, and if he doesnt finish it in the stipulated time, it is removed. And he stays till the next meal time, by when hopefully he builds up an appetite.
I am not hovering on my child's heels, he does his own thing. But I'm around. Watching. Ensuring he stays safe, to the best of my ability. I call it being sensible. I call it being a responsible parent.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Back to normal programming

The enthusiasm towards homework episode is a confirmed flash in the pan. Yesterday the brat was lolling on the bed watching his latest favourite cartoon series, Oggy and the Cockroaches, a series so ugly and unpleasant to look at it reminded me of my favourite when I was at cartoon watching age (a little older to be precise) The Ren and Stimpy Show, when the doorbell rang and the tuition teacher came in.
He brat rolled a bit more, and then glued himself to the bed in the way children do when they dont want to do what they are mandatorily supposed to do. Mamma begged. Mamma pleaded. Mamma yelled. Mamma administered a smack. No, the brat would not move. Any attempt to physically lift him is unsuccessful because Mamma is no longer at the fitness levels where she can lift up approx 28 kilos of unwieldy brat without putting her back out on a permanent basis. An hour passed in the process. The tuition teacher left. Mamma was very very upset, and took this bad behaviour very personal and shed some tears in the privacy of the bathroom. And then decided to take it out on the brat. No park today. He was told sternly. He sprung up like a Jack in the Box. Wai? I wil do tuitions now. Take me to d park...please please please Mamma, squeezing out a couple of tears too for effect. But mamma was firm. And did not waver. And kept him back at home while she went down for her daily constitutional. She came back to see him sitting at his desk his books spread in front of him, brow furrowed in concentration. "Mamma. I'm doing my padhai. Yu wil take me down to d park now?"

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Holi followed by Homework

The brat had a long weekend that began on Friday and ended on Monday thanks to the Holi festival. In keeping with the need to educate them children even when they are supposed to be having fun, the school had sent in a file full of homework assignments. The file was duly shoved into the cupboard as is wont with things of absolutely zero interest when more interesting and important things such as roam around the premises with water tank strapped on the back and water pistol the size of them machine guns Rambo left behind in the Vietnam forest and fire away at any random victim that happens to be unfortunate enough to cross your path. Throughout the weekend Mamma has been screaming intermittently about the need for the brat to get his homework done, but to no avail. Mamma was summarily dismissed with the need to play Holi being of foremost importance in brat's priority list. Therefore Mamma let it be. Post Saturday morning she stopped mentioning the homework. It festered like an infected wound at the back of her mind, but she refused to take a look. Even a peek. All that she could remember were around 20 plus pages of Language Arts, Social Sciences and Hindi to be done. And one comprehension to be completed. Knowing the turtle speed the brat writes at, she set aside a couple of years to get them done.
Sunday was spent in pre Holi playing. Monday was spent in Holi playing. The brat was wrung dry by around four thirty on Monday afternoon, and placed in the sun to dry out and warm up for a good thirty minutes. He had been going berserk with the water and the dunking tank (which he had morphed into his swimming pool and was crawling around like a four legged cat inside since he cant swim) since 10 am in the morning. Mamma was wrung out too and tottered back home at around five, much worse for the wear and with one too many glasses of thandai in her system.
The brat changed into his home clothes and ate a delayed lunch. And then marched to his room. Mamma put her weary feet up and prepared to collapse into snores when the brat piped up very loudly. "Mamma, can you come here? I wantu do my homevurk." Mamma fainted with shock. Pappa splashed some water on her face, and pushed her towards the brat's room. She swayed into the room, and saw, wonder of wonders, the brat, furrowed brow and earnest, sorting through his homework sheets, and ready pencil and eraser in hand. He sat still for the next two hours and completed all his homework. With a little help. But with no whining, no crawling under the table, no tantrumming, no complaints of aching hands and aching heads.
Mamma's strategy of sending in incomplete homework seems to have paid off, she thinks. And yes, allow mamma a little moment of showing off. The PTM happened on Saturday. And the brat has scored brilliantly. In that he's got 29/30 in Maths and Literature. Mamma has been preening around enough to be seriously considering framing his marksheet and putting it up on the wall. He finally got his Ben 10 Omnitrix on Saturday night after whining for it for almost an entire year. We think he deserved it.