Monday, April 30, 2012

Birthday parties and ridiculous timings

The brat has a best friend in school, who is as cute a critter as any and the brat and he get along like the metaphorical house on fire and they have spent many happy playdates together. Now the friend had his birthday yesterday. So I get a call asking me to drop the brat at 7.30 pm and pick him up by 9.30 pm. The catch being that this friend lives in the eastern part of my suburb, which is accessed through heavy and infuriating traffic jams which make the spouse grind his remaining teeth and swear in a manner no child should hear.
The drive to drop the child off would take an hour on an average day, in the evening time if the traffic gods would be kind. And then we would drive back home. And need to set off again the moment we reached our pearly gates in order to make it to pick him up back at 9.30pm. Naturally then, given the sheer inconvenience of the timing and the travel, the brat didn't make it to the birthday. He was, thank the lord, quite reluctant to be dragged away from his evening play which began at 6 pm, in order to go to a birthday party.
This set me thinking. And since I rarely do much activity that disturbs the cranial processes from regular mastication of the newspaper reads, I thought some more. And wondered what would make a parent keep a birthday party at a such an odd timing. Given that the child needs to be dropped and picked up. What does the parent who drops and picks up do for two odd hours, given that mall ratting is not a preferred option of whiling away time, and the location of the residence is so inconvenient that no grocery shopping or rasta shopping exists in the immediate vicinity, nor does one have any friends staying around to drop in at or call across for a cup of coffee to kill the hours.
And add to it, the odd fact that the parent would be in transit both ways and unable to have their dinner at a decent hour. I have definitely cut down on the birthday parties the brat attends these days, being very clear that I will now first keep my convenience in mind, and how close I am to the parent of the child invited. And if there is space around for me to hang out while the child birthday parties. Or whether I can attend the party and be wallflower while the child has his partying. For all the brat's birthday parties, I have always asked the parents to attend. For selfish reasons of course, I have no courage when it comes to managing so many pintsizes on my own. What has been your experience of these odd timed birthday parties? How do you kill your time? And do you resent being forced to find something to occupy yourself just to eat up those hours between drop and pick up?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Treasure House Summer Programme

If you are part of the mommy blogging circuit, you would know UTBT. She's a wonderful person, an educationist and has now begun this wonderful children's library and activity centre in Hyderabad called Treasure House. She mailed me a couple of weeks ago regarding a Summer reading programme she has started at her library at Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad and with every good intention of posting about it, the mail got buried in the backlog of what must be done right now, yesterday and day before yesterday deadlines.
Forgive me, UTBT, but here it is, about her programme from her blog.

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Treasure House can be called a children’s library, but the thing is, it is much more than just a library. When you are there you feel the 7000+ books being carefully cataloged and cared for, the bright and spacious rooms inviting you, the amazing art studio inspiring you. You will feel like bringing you child and just being there, reading and participating in the programs they offer. If you live in Hyderabad, check it out, you will love it.
This is where I am to be found this summer, if you are looking me that is :)
I am designing a Summer Reading Program for TreasureHouse.
The program is called Reading Bugs.
It is for children age infant – 15.
For parents of children age 0 – 5, I am offering a parent information work shop that talks about why reading is important, what are the early literacy skills that are targeted by reading to young children, what to read, when to read, how to read, why we are reading what we are reading.
For children age 6 – 9, THE BUTTERFLIES BOOK CLUB. The underlying goal of this book club is to make children aware of other genres. The world of books is not just magic, fantasy and what-ever-my-older-sibling/friend-is-reading. There is fiction, non-fiction, drama, picture books, chapter books, environmental issues, humor, classics, mythology, history, exploration/discovery/voyages…. and many more. Catch them young, when they have started reading independently and introduce them to the different choices so that they pause at their age level and explore choices at level instead of jumping to what is popular and run out of choices soon. I call this, my ‘prevent children from getting lost in the adventure/magic/mystery Bermuda triangle’ mission. Children will interact with Sridala Swami, author of Cheenu’s Gift and Sandhya Rao, editor of Tulika Publishers.
For children age 6 – 9, I am offering a workshop. MAKE YOUR READING BLOOM. The idea is to work with beginner and reluctant readers on certain skills that will improve comprehension and fluency. This will be a 5 session workshop.
For 10+ children, in keeping with my Bermuda triangle theory, I am doing THE MYTHOLOGY BOOK CLUB. This club will analyze mythology as a genre, compare elements from various mythologies, talk about mythological characters and beasts and has two author interaction sessions. Devdutt Pattanaik and Anu Kumar.
Excited. Terribly :)"

I so wish I was in Hyderabad. I could take the brat to this and hopefully have him get interested in the wonderful world of books, without him snarling like a caged beast everytime I insist he gets his mandatory half an hour of reading.
And I wish I could be there for the Devdutt Patnaik interaction. I am, in true awestruck fangirl mode, totally in reverence of the skill with which he contemporarises mythology and makes it accessible and relatable for all ages. 

If you are in Hyderabad, here's where you can contact UTBT and Treasure House. 
Phone#: (040)23550118


plot#1254/A Rd#63,
Adjacent to ICICI Bank rd#36,
Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad - 5000033

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mamma, go to sleep in my room

Mamma has been travelling. A lot. And in the past week, she was out for more than she has ever been in the brat's entire life. Almost an entire week. The brat has been well taken care of by the grandmothers and the pater, but mamma would have liked to believe that she was missed. It didn't seem so. Everytime she called, the brat was too busy to speak with her. He was either playing. Or eating his food. Or watching television. Or playing Playstation. Mamma mopped up her tears and consoled herself that he was growing up and didn't need her around as much as she would have flattered herself.
She came back from her first trip and the pater was there to receive her at the airport, the brat, she was told, had informed his father that he was Very Busy Playing. The second trip she returned from, the brat was in the car, wearing a faded home tshirt and a pair of pjs that ended somewhere near his calves and which he had long outgrown. He gave her the mandatory hug and looked at her bag wondering what she could have got for him. Having learnt that the bag contained no goodies (it being a Sunday in Chandigarh and therefore, she had been informed that the markets would be closed) he quickly lost all interest and continued gabbing with his father.
They reached home and he happily ingested his dinner and trotted off to his grandmother's bedroom, currently being shared by nanna, who was babysitting him in mamma's absence. Mamma picked up pieces of her broken heart at the less than enthusiastic reception and cellotaped it back together and shut her door. After five minutes, there was a knock at the door. The brat voice piped up. "Mamma, open the door."
Mamma reluctantly heaved her carcass out of the bed. "Yes, love, what is it?"
The brat pulls her by the hand. "I wantu talk something personal with you."
Mamma, furrowed brow, follows him. "What is it?"
"Mamma, can you sleep wid me in my room?"
"Why, love?" Mamma asked. "You are sleeping with nana, aren't you?"
"No, tuday sleep wid me in my room. Let pappa sleep alone. He's a big boy now."

Monday, April 09, 2012

The summer vacations begin...

...yes, that's me cowering and whimpering in fear in the bathroom while hellions of assorted sizes romp through my house decimating all the decor and jumping on the sofas and creating the kind of wall art that makes a home look so warm and welcoming and lived in enough to make you want to live out of it. Anyway, I digress. The moot point being that the summer vacation has begun and this mandates that at any given point the brat and friends are doing the pack dog run thing through the premises both within and without the home.
He does have karate camp in the mornings and tuitions at some point in the day, but the rest of the has him as free as a kite and doing the utmost to ensure I pull out each strand of my hair in the singular to channel the Sinead O'Connor look.
The other day, he brought in around 8 pintsizes with him back from the part to play on the Playstation. Naturally bloodied wars broke out for the control panel. They were reined back by timely intervention on my part which involved a fair bit of yelling and some whistle blowing, and the threat of stern and immediate action which involved a ban on carbonated beverage. Ah well, I'm not the perfect mom. I serve carbonated beverage and no juices.
Order was restored grudgingly and carbonated beverage served, and Playstation turned off and Green Lantern Blu Ray inserted in home theatre system and I settled back with an old Wodehouse to restore the nerves to calm and coolth. Shot out of my skin the next second with the eyeballs springing out of the sockets with sound waves causing mini vibrations down to the basement of the 20 storey apartment block we lived in. Ran in, grabbed possession of the remote and got the sound to acceptable levels but surely not before the undead were roused from neighbouring cemetries.
They watched the movie in relative peace and calm until calls on the intercom demanded their immediate returns this very second to their respective homes at which point, the brat was left alone, watching the movie. He demanded I come sit next to him, which I did. After around five minutes he began whining. "I'm feeling boredt. Can I go to N's house." I refused sternly. I insisted he find things to occupy himself with. Drawing, colouring, reading and such like being part of such activities designed to alleviate boredom.
"No," he shook his head firmly. "Dat's boreding. I wantu play superhero gamez. Wid my frens. I wantu be Green Landturn."
I tried gently to persuade him to draw and colour the Green Lantern, but that was boreding too.Finally I was forced to acknowledge that unlike me, who was quite content being a loner, and disappearing into the world of books, the child was of the opposite variety, the social animal. Ergo, to rein him in and to expect him to sketch and paint was tantamount to cruelty on my part. And I was not definitely going up the garden path that involved either a sibling or an animal, ergo, all I could do was to ensure he got enough play time with his friends. Reluctantly, I insisted he feed himself and remove himself to a friend's home. I could also do with the peace and quiet that would ensue, I convinced myself. But then, I found myself missing the noise and called him right back with all the trail of pintsizes. Yes, somewhere I have a gene that says Masochist on its coding.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Of the brat becoming a speedy mathematician

The brat, at his own insistence, has been enrolled in Speed Math classes for the past year. While mamma, being the math retard in the family, has kept herself out of all conversations or updates regarding said classes, the progress of the child has been occasionally monitored by the pater in sessions which have resulted in a fair amount of yelling and hence abandoned completely in recent times.
Ergo, the other day, the brat informed me calmly that he had his speed math assesssment the very next day. I asked him if he knew what was expected of him. He nodded and scooted off to play. And that was that.
Yesterday, the last day of school, he emerged bearing certificate with his name calligraphed on it stating he had achieved an A in his certification.
"I came sekkund. P came fusht and S came thurd."
Mamma's jaw thudded to the ground and a crane had to be despatched in order to crank it back into position again. And mamma is ashamed to say her first immediate reaction to the revelation was pure disbelief. "No," she said, "Show me. Where is it written. Where? Where? Where?" I scanned the certificate from top to bottom with ferocious squint trying to locate the 2nd plastered somewhere on its surface but failed. Undeterred the brat pulled out his answer sheet from his bag, much in the manner of a conjuror and brandished it bravely in front of me. There, scrawled across the surface, in refined adult hand, was the proof. Mamma did the little jig of joy that included loud squealing, some dancing and complete embarassment on the part of the tyke who marched on ahead ignoring me pointedly, and pretending he was not connected to me given the spectacle I was making of myself.
Finally, when I huffed and puffed and caught up with him, he cast a mercenary eye at me. "So now. Wot you'll getferme?"

Sunday, April 01, 2012

CSA in the family

If you think a child molester is some stranger in a black overcoat, hovering on a deserted street, you couldn't be more wrong. According to research over 80 percent of molestations and child sexual abuse happens with friends, acquaintances and even relatives being part of the perpetrators. "In fact, 75 to 93 percent of child predators know their victims, according to research by the Crimes Against Children Resource Center. Sexual predators are often relatives (fathers, stepfathers or uncles), neighbors, or family friends."
Given that CSA is a crime of opportunity, it is most commonly seen with people who have unlimited access to the child and have gained the trust of the child and the parent, and within families, this is already a given.
Last year, when we did the CSA month, the maximum number of survivor stories came in from victims who had been victimised by a family member. A cousin, an uncle, an older brother, a father. And sometimes even female relatives. Girls and boys are victims. Not just, as is commonly perceived, girls only. Shockingly, most of the episodes were hushed up, never made public, the confrontation and the closure never got for the victims.

Why does sexual abuse happen the most in the family? To start with there is already a relationship of trust between the victim and the perpetrator. There is also ample opportunity for the victim to be alone with the perpetrator. There maybe a sense of affection and loyalty towards the abuser in the victim and the victim might conversely not want to get the abuser into trouble. There may be threats to harm other members of the family if the victim discloses the deed to the family. There may be a playing on the victim's sense of self esteem, isolating the victim from other members of the family and convincing the victim that only the abuser understands and appreciates him or her. The child might also start believing that she/he and the perpetrator have a special relationship and that this must not be shared with the rest of the family. Also, the child might be worried that any revelations about this relationship will split the family apart. If the abuser is the father, the child might not reveal the abuse for fear of hurting the mother emotionally by the revelation.

Taken from

"Definition of Incest

"Incest, as both sexual abuse and abuse of power, is violence that does not require force...It is abuse because it does not take into consideration the needs or wishes of the child, rather meeting the needs of the `caretaker' at the child's expense...incest can be seen as the imposition of sexually inappropriate acts, or acts with sexual overtones, by - or any use of a minor child to meet the sexual or sexual/emotional needs of one or more persons who derive authority through ongoing emotional bonding with that child." (Blume, 1990, p. 4)
This definition expands the traditional definition of incest to include sexual abuse by anyone who has authority or power over the child. This definition of incest includes as perpetrators: immediate/extended family members, babysitters, school teachers, scout masters, priests/ministers, etc. "Incest between an adult and a related child or adolescent is now recognized as the most prevalent form of child sexual abuse and as one with great potential for damage to the child." (Courtois, 1988, p.12) For the purpose of this paper, only incest in the family will be discussed. What is paramount is the imbalance of power."

Read more here.

According to Wikipedia
"Incest between a child or adolescent and a related adult has been identified as the most widespread form of child sexual abuse with a huge capacity for damage to a child.[10] One researcher stated that more than 70% of abusers are immediate family members or someone very close to the family.[75] Another researcher stated that about 30% of all perpetrators of sexual abuse are related to their victim, 60% of the perpetrators are family acquaintances, like a neighbor, babysitter or friend and 10% of the perpetrators in child sexual abuse cases are strangers.[12] A child sexual abuse offense where the perpetrator is related to the child, either by blood or marriage, is a form of incest described as intrafamilial child sexual abuse.[76]
The most-often reported form of incest is father-daughter and stepfather-daughter incest, with most of the remaining reports consisting of mother/stepmother-daughter/son incest.[77] Father-son incest is reported less often, however it is not known if the prevalence is less, because it is under-reported by a greater margin.[78][79] Similarly, some argue that sibling incest may be as common, or more common, than other types of incest: Goldman and Goldman[80] reported that 57% of incest involved siblings; Finkelhor reported that over 90% of nuclear family incest involved siblings;[81] while Cawson et al. show that sibling incest was reported twice as often as incest perpetrated by fathers/stepfathers.[82]
Prevalence of parental child sexual abuse is difficult to assess due to secrecy and privacy; some estimates show 20 million Americans have been victimized by parental incest as children.[77]"

Know that the majority of child sexual abusers are people who the child and the parents trust. Strangers account for only 10 to 30 percent of the abusers.
Be a strong parental figure in your child's life. Keep your eyes and ears open. If your child is spending too much time with a certain adult and the adult seems to be giving too much attention and gifts to the child, and seeking opportunity to take the child out for one on one picnics or trips or outings be careful and watchful.
This process is called grooming and most child abusers do this to ensure that there is a debt of gratitude and trust built up so that the child finds it difficult to refuse and that no one would believe they would do such things with the child. 
Do not leave your child alone with an adult, even if someone from within the family you think you can trust.
Drop in unannounced to check is you have left your child alone with an adult. Make sure your kid is part of a group rather than alone with an adult.
Older siblings, cousins, uncles and even sometimes fathers can be molesters. 
Family vacations, functions, social events are often filled with bad memories of children being molested. It is the job of parents to be alert and always watch out for their children and avoid the child spending too much time with an adult or an older adolescent.
Try not to leave your child alone as much as possible.
Teach your child that it is okay to say no to an adult if they are not comfortable with something even if it is an authority figure within the family. 

And most importantly, trust your instincts. If you sense something is wrong, it most certainly is. Keep an eye out for signs of incest and abuse. Note any physical, behavioural symptoms and immediately be on the alert.