Monday, August 29, 2011

The dreaded PTM happened

Last Saturday to be precise. Forgive me, I have been lax in posting but life has been incredibly hectic all of a sudden. Put it down to my running around in circles, shifting homes and generally being on a short fuse all these days. So where was I? Yes, the brat had his PTM on Saturday last, and as always I went in with bated breath, churning stomach and sense of nervous nausea that once had been the precursor to examinations of the algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry variety.
The assessments this time round were conducted without his customary concessions which he had been enjoying all these years. Extra time. Spelling mistakes overlooked. Taken to the Resource Room where the special educator would read out and explain what needed to be done in the answer sheet to him. I expected to see answer sheets marked with big Os and was steeling myself for the same. "Brat," I told him, preparing him for what I was sure we would be confronted by. "Whatever marks you do get, it is okay. Don't feel sad. Be proud you did it all by yourself and it was your own efforts."
He nodded his head wanly, feeling my anxiety seep into him through osmosis of sorts. "My madds paper wuz very good. I will ged eggcellent. Donch worry."
"No I'm not worried, brat, I'm just a little stressed out."
We reached class, brat sat beside me, I lowered myself gently into the little chairs that are meant for pintsizes, and tested for balance and sturdiness. It didn't seem like it would give way beneath me.
I picked up the first answer sheet off the little pile under the placard marked Krish. Sure, the name was scribbled on in the brat's most illegible scrawl. 3 and a half read the figure on the top in the teachers handwriting, my heart sank to the vicinity of my feet. I plucked up further courage and read on. Computer assessment. 3 and a half out of five. Surely, this couldn't be true. I scanned through the rest of the sheets with my mouth open enough for some stray insects to fly in and take up permanent residency.
The brat had scored well. And how. An average of above 20 of 30 marks in all subjects. Except Hindi. Where he scored miserably. And I completely blame myself because my Hindi, am ashamed to admit on a public platform, is lousy. And I kept avoiding taking it up or making him do writing practice.
My eyes teared up. Can't help it, I'm the proverbial bleeding heart. Grabbed the surprised child and smothered him with hugs and kisses much to his horror, this public demonstration of affection happening  In Class. In Front Of His Teacher. He extricated himself from my clutches in great disgust and squawked, "Whachyure doing! Eveybuddy is looking at us."
"I'm so very, very proud of you," I told him. "You've done very well in your assessments."
He smirked. In manner of cat who has licked the proverbial cream. " I tole you I did very well. Yu dint believe me."
I nodded apologetically. "Now enough studying," he announced grandly, having proven himself. "I know everything."
Ah. For the confidence of childhood.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The brat moves home and makes new friends

We moved homes last week. In case you are one of the few who have not been subject to my incessant whining on twitter and facebook on the trying shifting process, you must know that childbirth was easier. Cross my heart. One of my biggest apprehensions about moving home was not, god, what am I going to do with all the built in wardrobes and false ceiling, etc that we got done when we moved here (I am cheapiyan like that, I can't bear to leave behind anything), but what will the brat do?
In the sense, our previous complex had a group of kids who were his bumchums and who ran through the compound like a pack of dogs, playing out to their heart's content. All the mothers were friends, and if I ever needed him to be babysat in an emergency or someone to keep an eye on him down in the compound if I couldn't be there, I could rely on them to help out. Moving to a  new home is more than the physical shifting of the self and possessions, it is the uprooting of all the relationships and bonds one has made over the years, and the brat had built a healthy gang of best friends he could play with all day there.
When we moved, the first two days, he whined and whined and whined. The television was not yet connected. And still isn't by the way, and the peace is incredible. He was stuck at home because I was busy putting things away and going berserk trying to sort out cartons, parcels and stuff just tied into bedsheets.
"Mamma, I want to go to Inderface."
Not today brat, I would reply, I have so much to do.
He would look around at the bombing zone the new home resembled and take himself off to the clear space in his room quietly. And play with his action figures.
In the night, when I finally finished a bit of clearing up, I cuddled up with him and asked him if he liked the new house. "I like it, bud I'm missing my frens."
I could completely empathise, I was missing mine too. We shed a tear or two together and the next day, we went off to Inderface and I let him play with his friends for a while, while I had a coffee with a friend.
The next day, again, he wanted to go to Interface. Okay, I said, let's just go down and see if there are any children from your school here.
He came along reluctantly, kicking and whining away, extracting promises of being allowed to play for longer than normally allowed since I was taking time going around the new complex premises.
We landed down and bumped into an ex classmate and a friend. He and his elder brother took the brat under their wing, other kids came up and began chatting with him, they began playing, and I was told by the elder brother that he would drop the brat home, not to worry.
And so he did. The brat came home with a song on his lips and a smile on his face.
Now if only it were that easy for Mamma to make new friends.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yes. Go ahead. Blame bad parenting.

Unless you've been on a desert island or hiding under a rock somewhere, you might definitely know of the London riots which rocked the UK and had stores looted, vandalised and over a thousand arrests made, and which actually took days before the rioting and the looting was brought under control. Even as I write this, a friend tells me that things are calm but on the razor's edge because of three Asian youth being run over by looters.
The youngest person arrested is eleven years old, and the oldest, I don't know. I do know that 40 somethings have also been arrested. I read an article by Zoe Williams which said that when she called a neighbour to alert her that her 14 year son was out, rioting and looting, she got a miffed response about being woken up from her sleep.
I am appalled.

As a parent, no amount of sleep is dearer to me, than knowing where my child will be at any point of day and night. Is this why David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, places the onus of the rioting and looting solely at the doors of bad parenting.
He says that politicians need to act on parenting. The lack of parenting is what has caused these kids to run amok, no one to smack them and send them to bed. I do agree. In bits and pieces. The trouble with parenting is that anyone with a womb and semen can become a parent. And in the UK, as in the USA, teenage pregnancies, single parent families, tough economies and lack of education and income are leading to dysfunctional family situations where parents are too busy to be parents. Or parents have grown up not knowing what it means to be a parent and therefore are incapable of parenting.
There are so many factors at play here, and a social fabric that is completely ripped apart with the very concept of family being completely changed from what it used to be. Parenting has slipped from being authoritarian to democratic to being completely permissive. Parents have no concept of reprimanding or controlling their children. Most of the children in these areas, I am told, (I have no concept of it, being here in good old Mumbai) hang out more with their gangs than with their family, and being gang members begins early. From the age of seven and eight. That's how old the brat is. Ruffian though he may be, the thought that he would be a gang member is downright scary. But one guesses, that is how things are there.
The complete breakdown of the family, and the lack of authority figures, and the inability of parents to be authority figures is leading these kids into a mindset where anarchy, looting and violence is acceptable. This is Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange come to life. Teens living a life of nightly orgies of violence, looting, rape, arson. Gangs, youth culture, mindless violence. A mindset where Ultra-violence is the norm. This was written back in the 1960s and Anthony Burgess could surely have been considered a visionary. Barely half a decade later, the culture he wrote about is alive and kicking.
What does parenting have to do with all this? Parents create a home where a child comes to, where a child seeks validation, where a child retreats to, where a child feels secure and safe. When children don't feel safe or wanted in their homes, because of dysfunctionality, lack of affection, sexual abuse they look to the outside. And if parents don't care enough to find out who their child has been hanging out with, why they spend more time outdoors than indoors, how they've spent their day, as long as they're out of their hair, what would you expect.
How can the concept of family be brought back into place? Maybe Cameron does have a point there, getting families integrated would solve half the problem, the other half being to get these youth and education and jobs to keep them occupied. The situation is complicated, and this is a wake up call for the UK, hope they heed it.  And no, it is not just poor parenting that caused this. Poor parenting is part of this, but it does take a village to raise a child after all.
It would be definitely interesting to see if the treatment in the novella does come to get adopted in reality.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Carrying his own bags

I must be one of the few moms who still continues to go collect the brat from school. A few other mothers still do. For a major part though, the brat's classmates and friends either go home by bus or van or have the drivers collect them.
The scene during dispersal time is quite chaotic what with the van drivers and the drivers of individual students elbowing the few moms around to get to the kids they have to collect. But that's not what this post is about.
Yesterday, the brat emerged from his ground floor class and shrugged his bag off his shoulders and handed it to me nonchalantly.
"What?" I sputtered. "Why are you giving me your bag?"
"Everybody's mamma and driver carries dere bag. Oney you make me carry my bag."
I put said bag right on his back and prodded him along the few steps to the car and informed him in no uncertain terms that he is meant to carry his own school bag, given that he barely does have any distance to carry it anyway, and it isn't really heavy with any school books.
Not so pleasant flashback to my days as a student when I had to tote bleddy stuffed to the gills, back bending bag weighing some obscene amount which one never weighed back in those days, but just lumped around without complaining, me specifically, from age nine toting it meself from Goregaon to Bandra, through crowded BEST buses, a long walk to the bus stops either way. It would never even have occurred to me to hand my bag over to my mother to carry it for me the few occasions she accompanied me.
I looked around. Kids were walking around with their parents holding their school bags and tiffin bags, or their drivers holding the bags for them. The brat settled into the car seat, his bag on his shoulders. I think he needs to learn to carry his stuff around himself. I would dread to think he grew up into the Ugly Creature who expects folk around him to carry stuff he is perfectly capable of carrying himself.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Posting has become erratic

The brat is becoming more aware about what is being written about him. And I am seriously considering shutting down karmickids. I find myself weighing and writing what I do about him. I censor things, I edit things mentally, I wonder whether I would be fair to post certain things about the child and yes, I get into the debate that I so carefully skirted in his earlier years about his right to privacy.
It is rather unfair to him that I do present a side of him without him getting the opportunity to deny or contradict or present his take on the events narrated. I believe in all his versions, mamma would be villian de facto. Ergo, Karmickids will shut down. Or I am mulling with the possibility of making it a general parenting blog, without being too focused on brat stories. Help me decide.