Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who are you the boss of?

The Pappa, the mamma and the brat were on their way to the office after their weekly trip to Siddhivinayak and Mahim novena to ask for absolution of their sins.
Pappa was barking orders into the phone to his minions. Mamma was talking on the phone to folks regarding India Helps. The brat sat in between, quietly absorbing both conversations.
Then he looked at mamma and asked, "Pappa iz d boss of d offis?"
Yes, dear, replied Mamma.
"An yu are d boss of India Helpz?"
Er well, not exactly boss, but well....mamma gave up trying to explain the heirarchy at India Helpz.
The brat knitted his brow into a frown and stared out up front. Lips pursed.
The turned around. "I'm also a boss. I'm d boss of d park."
And gave us a Beat that if you can look, and turned back towards the road.

When is June 10th?

After waiting and longing and praying and generally feasting on mamma's brain as to when April 19th would come and his summer vacation would begin, the brat has now got himself a new target date to count down towards, namely June 10th. That is the day school begins. And he goes to second grade. Excuse me for a moment, while I fling myself onto a solid sofa and weep for a moment. Where did my small little baby disappear, this is a big boy I have now. A big boy who actually corrects me when I speak to him in his baby speak.

Now the countdown actually begins to get into Grade 2. When I was a child, I would have bribed any authority to ensure that school reopening was interminably delayed. I have, I am ashamed to say, even attempted to bribe God occasionally with pocket money offerings to have reopening delayed by a few weeks post the summer vacations. I have been known to develop inexplicable stomach aches and pains to keep myself at home, rather than make the trip to school (which was also understandable in retrospect because Goregaon to Bandra was a long and boring trip to make for a nine year old on her own). The child is actually marking days on the calendar. He has, thanks to misplaced generosity on the part of folks, got a new school bag already for the coming scholastic year. Not the kind of bag that he wanted, but he's charmed enough with the newness of this one to use it till he sees a better one on the back of a fren and will then nibble indelicately on my brain until he convinces me or his pappa to get him the very same bag on the pain of not going to skul.On his shopping list is a new pencil box, wid magnets, and wid a sharpener place, and thermometer (might come in handy given his febrile seizure scares), a place for an eraser (in more innocent times, mamma would call it a rubber with absolutely no shame, not knowing the implications of yelling across a crowded classroom for what could be construed as a loud demand for a male prophylactic), all sort of pointed instruments like a compass, and such like which could be employed more suitably in the fist fights that undoubtedly erupt during lunch break, and of course, pencils. Which must be discarded when they reach half their size. Mamma remembers struggling with pencils which were barely an inch high, until they were too tiny to hold and sharpen anymore. And of course, new uniforms, and new shoes (wid laces, and nod with velcro, because he is now a big boy and velcro shoes are for the small chilrin). The actual nitty gritty of getting his nose into them study books is not under consideration at all. Mamma's not complaining. At least she doesnt have to haul the brat into school in those first days like some children she sees who actually attempt to flee the premises or cling leechlike to their parents, howling piteously enough to make any sane, right thinking, rational parent do what's the most obvious solution, aka, homeschool the child.

And as for June 10th, I'm trying to convince the child it will come soon enough. Given that I'm not getting any work done at the office for the past two weeks, it cant come soon enough for me.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The brat in the office

For the past three days, due to circumstances of mamma not having a babysitter, the brat has been accompanying mamma to office. The brat in the office is a surefire chick magnet, and all the women from adjoining offices have been dropping in to initiate conversation with him, given that he is loud enough to announce his presence to the entire floor.
He stomps into the premises with his Spiderman skating shoes which have a sole high enough for Salman Khan to want to pinch the pair, with skates tucked inside the sole which can be whisked out for skating down the aisles at the press of a button. Have skates, will skate is the motto, and so the rather dour office block we are in reverberates with the squeals of the brat rolling down the long polished passageways with the driver or a peon in hot pursuit to avoid him careening into stairs and railings or glass doors. All the while, Mamma taps away furiously at her computer in a bid to finish off her work quickly enough to avoid any major mishap on the premises. Around half an hour of skating later, he will skip into the office and ursurp the first available computer and insist someone puts on 'googils search with Badman gamez" for him. All the while hollering for Mamma to order One Happy Meel wid Chickenbuggawidcheez an a Doraemon toy, nod d rocket one becauz I aledy have two of dat. The Happy Meal will arrive, and the toy accompanying the meal (euphemistically called a meal because all it has edible is a burger, and a carbonated beverage which the brat is not allowed to sniff at thanks to the rotting state of his teeth which has already had mamma shell out half her life's earning in the milk stage itself) will be first opened up, and then some rolling on the floor will happen because this is not the toy that was wanted, it was another toy, one that his best fren had and had brought down to the park yestuday. The chickabuggawidcheez will be ingested and mamma will hope for an hour or so of peace, and send him off to take a round of the mall (our office is in a mall/shopping arcade) to keep him entertained with the princely sum of Rs 50 to buy whatever his heart desires. Now that amount would probably get flung back at you by any self respecting beggar these days, so the brat has to labour long and hard to find something that fits into it. Sometimes the father will take mercy on the spawn of the womb when he makes periodic appearances in the midst of his window shopping, and yell out to mamma from the main entrance below (we have a two level office, and mamma sits on the upper level), "Wad I'll buy. I canna find anything for fifty rupees!" and hike down to the shops to buy him a chocolate and return back bearing overflowing bags with Tshirts and shorts, and chocolates and totally unnecessary Ben 10 toys. At which point Mamma will smite her forehead and decide that the brat will stay at home the next day. It is becoming too expensive for him to start learning the ropes of the business right away. And the next day, Mamma still doesnt have a babysitter, and so the brat is hauled back to the office. Rinse, repeat.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Of eclairs in cupcakes

The brat had his farewell party on Monday. The brief, as written in the diary by the class teacher, was to send in Eggless cupcakes and juice. The brat would have been told verbally by the teacher that the cupcakes needed to be eggless. He read it too, spelling out the word and asking me for the meaning, "Wid less eggz?"
Mamma explained that cakes are made with egg and some cakes are made without eggs and for vegetarian folks, cakes without eggs, aka eggless cakes are preferred items of ingestion.
He nodded his head wisely.
Then we reached the bakery. Mamma asked for eggless cupcakes. The store person handed over said packet with eggless cupcakes, the brat took one look at the pack and began an on the spot, megazord rolling on the floor, rather, the pavement tantrum.
What? What? What? asked mamma wondering what had set this off.
"Wherez d eclairs in d cupcakes?" he yelled, between stomping on the ground in rage.
What eclairs? asked mamma, puzzled.
"Teacher tole me to get eclairs cupcakes!" He spat out in a rage. "Dere's no eclairs in dis cupcakez!"
Mamma tried pointing out the eggless written on the label, and taking his mind back to what was written in the diary about no egg needing be included in the cake mix. Nope. He wasnt buying any of mamma's smooth talking. "Wherez d eclairs in d cupcakes? Teacher wil shaoud ad me!"
Mamma, finally, in a desperate bid to avoid the crowd collecting around and throwing coins at us, bought a packet of Cadburys Eclairs and handed it to the brat. Here, she said, take these eclairs.
The last she saw, the brat was sticking an eclair into each cupcake with an expression of utmost concentration.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Of auto accidents and reckless Santro drivers

The brat and Mamma were in an accident the other day. And for once, it was not the fault of the driver of the autorickshaw they were seated in. There they were, ambling away happily at a speed of close on 20 kmph, which is the average speed one can go on any Mumbai road if one wants to avoid moving down pedestrians and cyclists, and the assorted stray cattle that floats onto the street like so much floatsam jetsam. Suddenly, as we passed a T Junction, a Santro careened into us at top speed misjudging the turn and his own speed, banging the side of the auto the brat was seated at. In an instant reflex, Mamma grabbed onto brat's Tshirt to prevent him from being hurled out onto the busy road, he being on the side of the impact. The entire auto shook violently but stood its guard, being balanced, one thinks, by the weight of the mamma at the other end. Luckily we escaped with no injuries, not even a scratch, except for mamma's knees which were knocked violently against the front of the auto and pained her a bit for a day or so.
The Santro suffered a huge dent in the bonnet and the bumper and a headlight smashed. The kid driving it took off without even a bye your leave or a sorry. He would have barely begin legitimate driving age. we didnt get a chance to take down the number. But if your kid has reported home with bumper, bonnet and headlight damage on a black Santro, and you live around Malad and Kandivili in Mumbai, do please take the keys away from your child. And teach him how to stop and say sorry. It would help him become a man in a way no speed driving will.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

When is my holidayz?

This is a question the child has been flinging at me incessantly, ever since he wrapped his head around the concept that come a few days more and he will not have to get up at the crack of dawn and drag himself to school. What makes things worse is the fact that all his fellow six year olds in the building complex have started on their summer vacations, and are seen running riot in the park at any odd time, including times when the sun is at its blazing worst, with their mothers calling out for them in desperation from balconies, peppering their calls with threats of no food, no dessert and pappas being called to enforce home returns.
To make life easy for the brat, I began ticking off the days on the calendar. Kill many birds with one stone I thought. Get the days of the week down pat, get the concept of counting days off pat, and get the brat (born to the Generation I Want It Now) used to the concept of waiting. Therefore when the brat asked me again, on a sunless morning, when his holidays would start, I sighed deeply and pulled out the desk calendar, to show him physically that he had four working days left in which he had to drag himself to school. Only to find that the entire month had been struck off as neatly as the brat could manage.
"What is this, brat? Why have you marked off the entire month?"
The brat's expression was the precise one I think I had at the ripe old age of 16 when I decided that my mother was totally uncool, when she didnt know who Limahl was. You don't either. Well, it doesnt matter now, no one really does anyway.
"I finished the month. Wai tu cancel one day one day. I did it all together. Fasht. Its over. My holidays can start now."
There is a reason why this generation is also called the shortcut generation and it has nothing to do with shorts and hair cuts.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Am a Cole Drink

The brat has his final culminating performance today. For those of you who've come in late, at the end of each quarter, the brat's school has the students put in a small performance on all that they've learnt in the quarter which is compiled into some kind of narrative and a skit. This time round, the topics being elaborated on are Kinds of Food, and Clothes. Therefore the brat is a Cold Drink Bottle. And his dialogue, with appropriate slurping which still sounds adorable when the boy in question yet has to sprout a beard and moustache, is "He drinks me nice and cold."
And he has a second dialogue related to the clothes part of the topic which is something I think we did in Class X biology or chemistry or something, "Rayon is obtained by treating cellulose with chemicals." Eh, Mamma went when she saw the neatly printed slip stapled to his school diary with the command, "Please make the brat learn his dialogues."
What is obtained, brat? She asked said spawn of womb. "I dunno." Obtained means got, she said. What is Rayon, she asked. "Is sumpting to wear." Close. Rayon is a form of fabric. Mamma dug into wardrobe and got out a long discarded top made of the offending fibre and demonstrated its shininess, flexibility and the fact that mamma sweated like a fire hydrant whenever she got herself into it. Mamma showed him clothes made of cotton, along with some cotton wool from the cotton wipe pads stocked in the bathroom cabinet meant to divest her face of direct and grime. Cotton is a natural fibre, she said, it grows on trees. It helps the skin to breathe. It lets your sweat evaporate. Rayon and other synthetic fabrics are made with chemicals. These are sometimes not good for the skin, it doesnt let your sweat evaporate and makes you get rashes. Luckily for mamma, a spate of superhero costume wearing had resulted in a little outcrop of heat rash on the brat's chest, which she promptly pointed out. The brat looked sceptical. "Den all d Superheros get d rash on der body then how dey'll fight. Dey'll only do khujli?" Valid point.

For the next part of the dialogue/acting skit, the brat was given the role that would test his histrionic skills to the limite. That of a soft drink bottle. Which meant mamma had to create a soft drink cutout from cardpaper, and then paint it over in the likes of the brat's favourite softdrink. Frooti was the drink of the day (well it has been the brat's favourite for more years than mamma cares to remember), and the brat promptly dug out a fresh bottle of said drink, helpfully emptied it in a few gulps and handed it across for mamma to copy the label graphics (In case I get slapped with copyright infringement, my copying was far far far removed from the original). Then the task of painting the said cut out. Mamma drew back on her long forgotten artistic skills, and did some shading, a slight sliver of white along the side to denote the reflected sheen of the plastic, the indentations and undulations of the bottle achieved by a little brown grey shading over the orange juice implicit inside the bottle. The brat contended himself working on the white of the cap. When mamma finished, the brat shrieked in horror. "Wad is all this brown brown lines in my Frooti? Whu wil drink dis dirdy Frooti? Make it all orange." He spent the better part of the next hour painting over all the shadows with a matt orange, and emerged triumphant, taking his cutout to his father for approval. "See pappa, I made it so nice Frooti. Mamma had pud dirty water inside, all brown colour with cholera and typhoid. Now it is a healthy drink."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Budday pahty at Pizza Hut

The brat, as is evident, loves nothing more than a good birthday party, which has its requisite quota of fun and games, dancing to the latest Bollywood numbers, balloon fights violent enough to make everyone's ears pop and return gifts he can show off to the rest of his tribe either at school or at home. Given that the Pizza places these days seem to be offering the best deals on birthday parties for harrowed moms, we are permanent fixtures at the Pizza joints in our vicinity every weekend. So it came to pass that this past weekend, we were back at Pizza Hut, waiting for the party to begin. The hostess had not yet arrived. Mamma, being mamma had reached at the dot of five, the time mentioned on the invite and found no one around except for the waiters and the restaurant managers. So mamma found an unobstrusive spot in a corner and waited. And waited. And waited. And some more. And some others came in and looked around puzzled. And waited, gifts in hand. The watch showed me it was 5.25pm when the hostess entered. Till then we had been served nothing by the waiters at Pizza Hut (Mindspace branch, if anyone from the company is reading this). The crowds started pouring in. The games began. A friend brought in her little daughter, who was ODing on water, and as is obvious when little children OD on liquids, they also urgently need to pee, so the mother rushed her to what we thought was the loo. Only to emerge confused and irate, "Where's the ladies loo?" she asked the staff. There was no ladies loo, we were told. The toilet there had a urinal in which it was not possible for a little 3 year old girl to use, it being at the same approximate height as her. Much agony happened. A restaurant with no ladies facilities? Unthinkable. We moms, waiting on the sidelines, were outraged and kept off the water and the liquid refreshments being forewarned.
The cake was duly cut and the pizzas being served. The kids clamoured for cheese pizza. The pizzas being served were the tiny ones. The regular ones which disappeared in two adult bites, and one bite when you talk about mamma specifically who is known to be awe inspiring in her ability to finish one large pizza without external assistance in a single sitting. Imagine Joey, in a tunic top and high heels and you've got mamma down pat. Therefore, mamma was all but sitting with her tongue hanging to the floor waiting for some pizza to reach her. The children were raising hell for the want of cheese pizza and garlic bread, and all that was being passed around was some complicated stuff with baby corn and olives, as any mother with six year olds would know, is meant to be carefully picked off the pizza and consigned to the trash. The cake was served, and mamma asked the harried waiters for some spoons, to which she got a snappish "one minute" and the spoons never arrived, finally mamma went investigating sideboards and drawers and dug out some spoons and distributed them. The hostess distributed napkins, since the waiters didnt think it fit to do the honours, or perhaps they didnt have enough to go around, and didnt want to waste what little they had. And finally, came the piece de resistance. Mamma and friend both of whom were waiting for some pizza or something edible to land on their plates apart from the cake, asked the waiter to get some their way, only to be told, that the order was over, and they couldnt give us anymore. Anymore being a figurative term, since we hadnt had any to start with. The waiter could have had the courtesy to tell the hostess they were running short of food instead of making guests feel like they were begging. Mamma got up and took the child home. He had had a slice of pizza and a piece of cake, which meant mamma had to go home and cook a full meal or order in, because a slice of pizza and a piece of cake donot make a meal in the brat's dictionary. Sure enough Mamma was feeding the brat regular food well into the night, starting with the first round at 9 pm, and the second round at 11 pm.
There is nothing mamma hates more than being deprived of her pizza.And the brat is so not having a Pizza Hut party ever.

Friday, April 02, 2010

World Autism Day

Today is World Autism Day. I have had a close run in with autism. The brat displayed all the classic symptoms when he was a year and some months. No pointing. No response to name. No pretend play. Intense unmanageable tantrums. Fixations on swinging doors, car wheels, cycle wheels. He would spend hours with his toy car upside down and spin the wheels. And hours in his swing. Or need to be in a moving car. Mild autism spectrum syndrome is what I was told.
Its been some journey since. And he's changed. Touchwood. He's indistinguishable from regular children in the park now. His tantrums are few, far between and manageable. His language skills are impeccable. He understands reciprocal play. He is totally independent. Eats on his own. Gets dressed on his own. Bathes on his own. Except Mamma, with her OCDs has not yet outsourced bumwashing to him. Mamma still handles that. The gods have been kind to us.
The awareness about autism is much stronger today than it was five years ago when Mamma started taking the brat for therapy. Then folk equated autism with retardation. Today things are much better. Mamma knows it when she tells the mother of a little boy sitting vacantly in the park, not interacting with the other kids, that maybe she should take him in for an assessment. (This after observing the child for three months, mind you). And the mother takes it in the spirit the suggestion was made in and agrees. Without getting upset with Mamma. And keeps mamma posted about the diagnosis, the therapy and the childs progress.
As long as there is awareness and acceptance, a child can be helped to lead a better quality of life. If you feel your child or a child you know has symptoms which are red flags don't hesitate to get a diagnosis from a pediatric neurologist. The earlier the better.
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