Sunday, March 27, 2011

CSAAM April 2011

Through the month of April, across the blogosphere, we will be talking about Child Sexual Abuse Awareness. Over 40 blogs will be participating, survivors will tell us their stories, some of them anonymous, child counsellors and educationists will write in, NGOs working in this field will post on the subject. All aimed towards teaching us to be aware, alert, and be able to empower our children to resist child abuse. To give us the strength to tackle it if it does happen, and to create the awareness about the fact that yes, it does, with over 50 per cent of our children and very often the abuser is not a stranger but someone from within the family itself or someone who is a close family friend or relative and has unrestricted access to our children.

We are welcoming posts, stories and opinions on this topic. 
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Visit our blog here to read our posts, a new one every day through April. 
Be aware. Be informed. Empower your children to say no, to come and tell you if something is wrong. Remember, we owe it to our children to keep them safe.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wolverine, here I come!

So Hugh Jackman was in town as an attendee at the FICCI Frames. I got to know of it from a social networking site I seem to be spending half my life on, and did a prompt rolling on the floor, err, keyboard tantrum right then and there demanding why no one had informed me about his arrival and that this was a conspiracy to keep me away from his macho-ness.
At home, I informed the brat that Wolverine had landed in his city. "Why he's come here?" he asked pragmatically.
I informed him that he was here to attend a film festival.
"Who he knows jaan ke pehchaan ka in Bombay?"
Tough one, I assumed he had people doing bookings and things for him and an entire entourage which would accompany him and make his stay comfortable regardless whether he had friends or family here in Mumbai.
"Lets go meet him today. I wantu do shake hand.Bud how I'll do shake han, My han will ged cut!"
I informed him that this might be a little difficult to organise and if it had been organisable, wouldn't mamma have landed up screaming at the venue, her hair in a braid, wearing her Sunday best?
"I wantu meet Wolverine. Lesh go to his hotel. Which hotel he's staying at?"
I had no clue, I had to admit shamefacedly to the child. He tchaed me into further shame by stating practically, "See on googils. Type W O L V E R E E N and type B O M B A Y."
I auto edited the content typed to Hugh Jackman and Mumbai. Pictures of an innocous firang in regular clothes sprang up at me.
"Whuz dis?" commanded the brat. "That's Hugh Jackman, the man who acts like Wolverine in X Men," I informed the pintsize.
"Wherez his nails? His knives?"
Oh he isn't really like that all the time, that was just make up and costume for the shoot.
The brat looked a trifle disappointed. "He's like this now in Bombay. Widoud the nails?" Yes, I informed him, to see his face fall further.
"Den I don want to see him. He's lookin like any uncle. He's not looking like Wolverine."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

And so we played Holi

The brat loves Holi, That's a far cry from me who shuttered herself in behind closed doors every Holi while the hordes banged on the doors, pouring buckets of water into the house in frantci bids to get us to open the door and be converted into a scary faced creatures from the living dead. The brat, on the other hand, revels in drenching in compatriots in crime and getting bedraggled himself. Ergo, come holi and the celebrations for him begin from one week in advance where the critters chase each other round the building compound shpoting wild arcs of coloured water from their scuba tank back packed new age Made in China pichkaris which were stocked with enough water to drench a couple of adults from head to foot. And this would result in me keeping stocks of towels and spare Tshirts at the watchman's counter for him to be periodically changed and towelled off.
Ergo, on the day itself, I had to tie him down to the bed to prevent him running off down to play pichkari at daybreak. By alternating threat and guile I managed to hold him back till around 11 am, after which he was off like a rocket down, with his water tank strapped securely to his back, intent on decimating all the pintsizes who came in his path.
Holi celebrations are rather lavish in the society. For one there is a DJ belting out popular dance numbers and for another there is an inflatable tub filled with water put down for the express purpose of keeping all the knee highs concentrated in one spot so that the adults can keep an eye on them given that they would all be fair unrecognisable from the colour dousing they would get. And then there would be the mandatory raindance. Ah yes, water conservationists, please throw the stones at me another time, but we do have a few tankers worth of raindance every year.
Ergo, the brat was busy playing holi with his friends and I was busy getting drenched and dancing with mine, periodically casting an eagle eye over to where he was to check on him, and extricating him from the kiddy pool to change him into a dry set of clothes and towel him off, hang him out to dry in the sun for some time before sending him right back into the water. After a while, he emerged voluntarily from the tangle of kiddy arms and legs fighting for space in the little inflatable pool and sat down on a chair with a loud sigh. I hurried to him, "What happened, brat?" I asked, a little concerned.
"Nudding," he replied with yet another long drawn out sigh.
"Arey," I pursued with my line of questioning. I am nothing if not persevering. "Why did you come out of the pool."
He gave me his usual, scathing, "Moms Can Be So Duh" look. "I'm tired of playing. I want to take a short break now. Before playing again. I'm taking a Kit Kat break."
Errr. There was no Kitkat in sight. I looked around. "Okay. Take a break."
"I is taking a snacks break. Is the short recess. Where's my tiffin box?"
A passing waiter was hailed and the pintsized one was plied with enough starters to quell the rumbling in his stomach. And then he felt thirsty, so he meandered to the counter where the thandai, the cold beverages and the restricted access for children beverages were. "I wantu have water," he informed the person manning the counter. A sealed glass was duly produced for his consumption. He poked at it with the proferred straw and sipped thoughtfully. Finally fed and sated he marched back to his gang.
"Mamma," he warned me sternly. "Don get wet. You'll catch a cole and fall sick, then I will habtu take you to the doctor and you'll get a big injecshun."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

About Facebook for the kids

I was taking my customary evening constitional in the society premises when I was hailed by one of the brat's pint sized friends, a girl, all of seven, sharp as a button and with a penchant for coordination that had me hold my breath when I once spotted her with a bandaid in similar shades to what she was wearing.

"Aunty," she said. "Add me to your Facebook."

I gasped. No, I wasn't about to give her a grammar lesson then and there, but the thought that the child could be on facebook had me shocked. "Are you on Facebook?" I asked gently, trying hard to stem the fumes of disapproval emanating from my every pore and skunking up the air in the immediate vicinity.

"Yes," she trilled. "Add me to your Facebook." She repeated. And spelt her name out, along with her surname in the event that I needed help finding her.

I nodded vaguely and walked off, determined to accost her mother and inform her of the forays into social networking her just out of diapers child (in my head) was making. The perils of the internet flashed in my head and built up scenarios so scary that I was hyperventilating by the end of ten minutes and had to call her mother. "Do you know D is on Facebook," I barked without the preamble of a Hello, How are you when she answered the phone.

"Yes, I know, I opened her account for her," replied the mom in calm dulcet tones which made me feel like I was the harridan here.

"Don't you think it is a little too early for her to be on facebook." I ventured hesitantly. "No," she replied, "All her friends are on facebook, and I wanted farmville points."

I ended the conversation abruptly and swore on all that was holy that the brat wouldn't get within inches of Facebook while I had life left in me. And then I got on the computer and opened my facebook account to hope folks had said nice things about a photo of self I had uploaded (Yes, I'm rather vain like that. I need constant validation that I haven't morphed into one of the Ugly Sisters) when I found a friend request from another just turned seven year old who plays Beyblade matches with the brat in the lobby. He earnestly requested me to add the brat onto facebook so they could chat together and play blasted Farmville. I explained to him as patiently as I could that the brat was not getting on Facebook if I had anything to do with it, and that I thought he too was too young to be on Facebook and did his mother know. She did, he replied. So I left it at that.

The other day, the brat came up after an evening's play and asked me, "Mamma, yu are on Facebook?"

I replied in the affirmative, steeling my heart for the request which I thought would invariably follow this question. "Even A is on Facebook, and D and P. Everybody is on Facebook. Such boreding peepuls. They wantu be in a book. I tole them you sit inside a book, I will play Beyblade."

What is your take on kids being on Facebook? Do you approve of it, and would you allow your child below 14 to be on facebook? If yes, how do you control his or her online presence? Am curious. Maybe, I'm missing the bus here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The brat as a photographer

The brat has a thing about clicking photographs. And more often than not his favoured subject is me. At any given point when the mobile if left unattended, you could bet your heirloom stamp collection on him crawling all over the place looking to click random pictures of me. Having said that, I find he clicks the best pictures of me, and have tried to analyse it. Is it the fact that he clicks me from a lower angle than the spouse does? The spouse, actually, when handed a camera and asked to click when one is all dressed up and pancaked will move his elbow maybe an inch above its resting position and click from whichever angle he happens to be at which is, on a regular basis, comatose in front of the television. That doesnt make for good angles, nor for good photographs. Add to it the great reluctance with which he takes the camera from one's hand, or snaps irritably when asked politely to please click my divine self, grumble for the first few seconds about the need to preserve my image in posterity before condescending to actually getting activated to do the necessary clicking. And then refuse to do second shots if the first doesn't come out too good, which of course it doesn't and will inevitably feature me with the fan above at ceiling level looking like a lopsided halo, or be clicked at just the right angle to make me look even more pyramidical than I am, with all the multiple chins and stomachs in full view.
The brat on the flip, will fuss around, move himself here and there in a bid to get a good angle, ask me to turn to face him, exhort me to flash them pearly yellows, tell me I'm looking priddy and click and then decide it isn't good enough and click again. And again, and again till he gets something he is satisfied with. Sometimes he goes on a total rampage and clicks me looking like the Axe Murderer, or when I sleep drugged and can barely leverage the lids of my eyelids open or worse still when I am eating, making me out to be a competitor at them Guinness Record type things.

And then show his work of art to me for praise and show it all round for appreciation. It is rather flattering. And it is a sign of times changing that this reminds me of courtship days when the spouse would finish an entire roll of film (what? We were young in the days when one had to buy a roll of film, put it into a camera and click, and then unwind the damn film, trot across to a photography studio where the damn prints would be made, and die chewing our nails about how the pictures would turn out until we got them prints with the mandatory photo album after a couple of days) just clicking me at shutter speeds that weren't meant for the instamatic camera in his hand.
I guess I should enjoy being the focus of the brat's viewfinder until a girlfriend comes on the scene, right?

About Very Bad Words

The brat siddled up to me last evening.

"Mamma," he asked, in the curious tone that presages complicated questions which will undoubtedly have mamma refer to google or the complete visual thesaurus and such like.

"Yes, brat," said mamma, still calm and confident that she could handle any question of whatever category thrown at her.

"F U C K is a very bad word, no?" he asked, his eyes gleaming with the thrill of having said something that he knows is verboten.

"It is a word that children should not be using," I replied, refusing to go into the semantics of the word.

"Bud Pappa says it sometimes. Like wen we was watchin the Cricket Match with Saoud Africa and India. He said F U C K many times when peepuls were gedding oaud."

Mamma debated internally on how to tackle this. "He did, did he? Let me tell him that it is not a nice word to say and then he will stop saying it."

A lopsided grin split the brat's face. "Arey, he's nod goin to stop saying it. Today he's wearing it on his teeshird. F U C K. No no. F C U K. He changed the alphabeds bud I could still read it. Is a bad word to wear on the teeshird no?"

Mamma resolved to hide the pater's said brand Tshirts at the bottom of heap.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Of being allowed allowances

Sometime ago, totally eardrum pierced with the brat's incessant whining about various wants, including, "A new Beyblade, Lays Kurkure, Gems Surprise Ball," ad infinitum, I had decried to the brat that he would now on be endowed with a monthly allowance. Of a princely hundred rupees. I thought it was appropriate, given that his counting skills stopped at hundred and could not be forced to go any further despite my best efforts.
I also thought it was princely, given I remembered growing up in the dark ages, when exact bus fare was handed over to me every morning before I made the long journey alone from home in Goregaon to school in Bandra, and me barely a year older than what the brat is today. The brat, on the flip, had just been allowed independence enough to make the long journey from the 15th floor to the ground floor, with much trepidation, beating heart and standing outside the lifts watching to make sure it didn't get stuck at any floor, followed with a call to the lobby security to ensure he had emerged from said lift and was headed towards the park.I've got my rotors on overdrive on my helicopter parenting.
Anyway, I digress. As is the norm. The discussion was on the Rs 100 I had earmarked to be the brat's pocket money every month, which he promptly put into his blue and green Ben 10 wallet, slipped into his school bag and ended up dragging me into the supermarket to blow it all up on multiple surprise balls in the hope of getting some elusive character which inevitably would never be there, and thereby start the nagging for the next round of pocket money to be advanced immediately on the spot.
I think he didn't quite get the concept of pocket money and immediately cancelled the idea, informing him that pocket money was not something he was likely to get his mitts on for a while now given that he seemed to think he was owed Rs 100 by me for each day of the entire month. Much whining ensued and a stern deaf ear turned to said whining.
The brat, being the brat, he turned his attentions to the grandmothers and began wheedling out funds from them in order to fund his Beyblade habit despite mamma's protestations to the contrary.
A talk on the value and importance of money being in order, the brat was settled on the maternal knee for a discussion on materialistic goods and the importance of earning money to pay one's bills, and how he needed to earn his allowance in the same manner that mamma and pappa went to office to earn their money. Mamma elucidated on the potentiality of him getting cracking with his studies, making the ye olde maternal ticker burst with pride at him coming home in filmi style telling her he came "First Class First" in class, and she could crack her knuckles over his ears and do the thali with diya business around his face, taking care not to singe his overgrown hair.  He listened gravely, in the manner that a brat mind ticking has.
"Okay, I will be responsible about my money." Mamma, reached for the earbuds to clean out her earwax convinced she was having auditory hallucinations. "I will earn my money."
Mamma continued to nod sagely, thinking about arrangements where room kept neat and tidy, homework done without mamma needing to break into song and dance of threats with wildly swinging rulers as deterrents to making Ben 10 sketches on home work sheets. "I will stop going to school and come wid you to offiss. And I will sit on d computer hole day and watch Justin Bieber songs."
Mamma decided the lecture on money and financial wisdom could wait a bit longer. As for now, mamma will continue to be the brat's wallet. And a sinking feeling tells her, this state is going to continue for a long while to come.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

How do you push your child off from the 19th floor?

When I read the newspaper yesterday, this question kept haunting me through the day. How could life seem so full of despair that you would kill yourself and kill your two innocent children as well, children who trust you for every single thing and have accompanied you unquestioningly to the 19th floor. Is it an act of desperation, or an act of pure selfishness, a statement that since you have brought the child into the world, it is your prerogative to take the child away from it. Or is it a gesture of defiance against the people who have led you to take such a terrible step, defiance that states, well, you got rid of me, but I'm taking my children with me too. Or a sense of hopelessness that there was nothing in the world for either you or your children to look forward to and therefore you needed to kill yourself and your children.

What could cause a mother to kill her children?

I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I know for sure when a person gets into a depressed state of mind, irrational thoughts dominate the mind and the thought process. I will not comment on Nidhi's domestic situation, it seems to my mind, like what a majority of Indian women go through, nothing that merits jumping off a building and taking two innocent lives with her. I would see this as an act of cowardice.

She was well educated. She could have walked out and earned her living, and supported her children if the domestic situation was so intolerable. She could have stood up for herself and her rights if she did not wish to be 'dominated' as the newspaper reports go. She could have see a life with her children out of the marriage, given that she was surely capable of earning a living.

Or was it that she had been so conditioned by family pressures that she couldn't contemplate a divorce and raising her children on her own. Or was it that she was in the grip of an irrational overwhelming bout of depression that wasnt allowing her to think rationally. I'd like to think it was the latter. We do crazy things when depression grips us. We women are conditioned to keep things quiet, not talk about issues that are upsetting us, sweep things under the carpet. Our anxieties build up within us until we implode. Maybe this was what happened with Nidhi.

I can only feel my heart breaking at the thought of the two innocent children who willingly and trustingly accompanied their mother to the 19th floor only to be hurled to their death.

Kaan pakad kar uthak baithak

I've been lax in replying to the comments all you wonderful people leave. In my defence, I mainly post from my gmail account. And am on a regular day running around like a headless chicken. Which is no excuse. Please keep commenting. Will try, cross my heart, to reply promptly.

Am I forgiven? *Makes puppy dog face*

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

All about pimples...

The brat looked at his maternal face with great scrutiny last evening while mamma was laughing at something totally ridiculous, involving how the second little pig was busy hanging picture frames on the wall of his twig home while the Big Bad Wolf was all set to huff and puff and blow his house down.

"Mamma," he said, stabbing his index finger into my cheek. "You have one pimple here. And another there," stabbing the other cheek. Mamma sprang up from the bed and sprinted at Usain Bolt speed to the mirror and examined her visage under the clear flourescent light. There was no vile acne eruption to be seen.

"Where brat," she asked in pained tones. "Where are the pimples? I can't see any."

The brat lounged on the bed, reluctant to rise to his feet and point out said offensive collection of bacterial Vesuvius.

"Is on bod sides of yer face. On yer cheeks. See properly."

Mamma went closer to the mirror, and examined herself again, and reached out for the Salicylic Acid Foaming Face Wash by Neutrogena that promised to make her skin behave its age. She washed said visage and peered again. No pimples to be seen. A few scars left by pimples of yore but no fresh eruption.

"Come here brat, show me the pimples," she commanded. And added in a sharp, not to be disobeyed tone, "Now."

He hauled himself to his feet like an asparagus left out in the sun. And trundled across to the mirror. And looked at mamma looking at herself.

"Is not dere now. You habtu laff very loudly. Laff," he commanded. Mamma complied meekly and smiled wide enough to split her face in two.

"Dere," he jabbed again in mamma's cheeks. "Dere see, the pimples in yer cheeks."

Mamma breathed a deep sigh of relief and began the tutorial on how those crevices in the cheeks caused by smiling are called 'dimples' and not 'pimples'.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Dividing our sleep routine

The brat has been summarily chucked out of the parental bed, with much
handwringing joy and thanksgiving on the part of the pater, and his
designated sleep space is with daadi.
Inevitably, he emerges, like a cat burglar in the stealth of the
night, after pappa's snores have begun to shake the ground. He pokes
his head in around the door, tip toes in, or squirms on his belly on
the floor right till he reaches the other end of the bed where mamma
is and insists on sleeping down on the floor until he is sure that the
pater will not be woken up by his presence in the room. Occasionally
he camouflages himself in the laundry basket until the father begins
snoring and then emerges, and sleeps on the thinnest sliver of
bedspace ever.
If he decides to sleep with daadi, as he often does, he pokes his head
in, says his goodnights loud and clear to pater and mater and clears
off with not a moment's lingering. And occasionally he will take it
into his head to sleep in his own room, which is unfortunately,
located at the other end of the home, and ergo, is terrified of being
mauled by ghosties who might take it into their heads to pay him a
visit there if he sleeps unsupervised. Consequently, he will march
into mamma's bedroom, pick up, with proprietorial air, her pillow and
blanket and deposit them on the bed in said room. And mamma must
follow him there and spend the night falling off the sliver of a
single bed, which was meant for a single child but which now must
occupy an overgrown adult and one child.
This morning, after having spent all night being crunched into a space
which was not a centimeter more than my actual dimensions, mamma asked
the brat seriously to come to a conclusion about where he planned to
sleep every night.
"One day wid mamma and pappa. One day wid daadi and one day in my room."
Why can't you decide where you want to sleep and sleep in one fixed room brat?"
"Is boreding. You get different dreams in different rooms."