Monday, July 30, 2012

Of Good Behaviour and God will reward you...

The brat yesterday, returned home a strange light glowing in his eyes. He took the bag I was carrying from me, without me having to first request and then insist firmly that he do so. He reached home and emptied his bag of his infinite tiffin boxes without being told to do so. Put away his clothes. Came into the kitchen put his food into the oven, heated it, served himself and took himself and plate into the room to eat. I had to prop my jaw back into place with a ladle.
"Brat..." I went into the room, all red in the arm from having pinched myself umpteen times to check if I wasn't in some dream.
"Yes, Mamma," he replied.
"What's with all the good behaviour?" I can't help it, part of me knew I shouldn't mention it, I might jinx it, but being The LoudMouth of The Decade is not a title that I won by keeping silent.
"I'm being a Good Boy," he replied, without further elaboration and got back to shovelling in the nutrition into his gullet and chewing determinedly without making a sound as had been instructed one million times in the past but never quite acted upon.
"And pray, why is it that you are going to be a good boy?" I asked in reply.
"Because if you are a Good Child and you help people then God will give you what you wish for," he answered. I opened my mouth and shut it quickly. I have my issues with this quid pro quo bargain concept we have with God but I thought this was not the time to shoot a gift horse in the leg and have him return to whining and tantrumming on a loop.
"And what is it that you have wished for?" I asked gently, hoping that it was something reasonable and within debit card levels of procurement and not a sibling or a pony or any pet of any sorts.
"I want a Randy Orton action figure," he replied matter of factly. "Will God give it to me tomorrow if I behave well today."
"Ermm. No, I think you need many more days of being good before God answers prayers, at least a couple of weeks."
His face crumpled into a frown. "This is very boreding then. I don want Randy Orton action figure. Two weeks is too long to be a Good Child."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

All hail the new swimming champ...

The brat emerged from class stony faced. He came to me and hugged me, his face crestfallen and terrified. It was the day he had had his interhouse swimmign competition for which his father had been training him for the past few days.

"Whatever happened, brat?" I said, hugging him back.

His face was woebegone. "Pappa will be very angry wid me, he will shaoud at me."

"Tell me what happened..." I replied. His classmates came tumbling out and one pulled his hair. "Manral, you lost, I won." The brat took a wild swing at him with his swimming bag and missed.

"So what, next time I'll come first," he replied defiantly.

I asked the boy who had come first, "Congratulations, you won the swimming competition, did you?"

"Yes," he said happily. "I came first. L came second and the brat came third."

"What?" I exclaimed, "Can you repeat that?" He did so happily. I asked the brat if that were, he nodded his head much like Prometheus on schedule for his daily date with the eagle.

I hopped and skipped and jumped around in glee, but not too much glee, you know.

And then I played it cool. "Fantastic that you came third with such little practice."

"Yus, and wid som more praktiss I will come fusht next time."


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Of swimming practice and surly brats

The brat has a swimming competition in school tomorrow. For one who has just about learnt not to dog paddle in the water, it was with great enthusiasm and confidence that he entered himself in the competition. Now in the competition are children who have been swimming professionally since they were ex-utero, never mind in utero, all kids are brilliant swimmers in utero. And so, the maternal heart beat a little quicker in fear for the child not being able to match up to the standards expected of him.
The pater though, national swimming champ, etc, was not one to take this casually. Every morning before school at 6 am, the brat is woken and taken to the pool. Where he is put through a punishing routine that has him wrung out before he even has his morning milk. He does it uncomplainingly. He wakes up at a single call, bounds out of bed, changes into his swimming costume and goes off with his father for his 'praktiss.' The father is a tough coach. The one time I went down to the pool with them during their practice session had me shed a few maternal tears for the wring the child was being put through. He did them all without a moue of complaint, stoically. He doesn't get that from me, I am the Mother of All Whiners. Especially where sport was concerned. That is the Y chromosome effect.
Yesterday being a Sunday, the pater and brat went off to the pool a little later, circa 7 am and returned at around 9 am. The brat was exhausted. He marched into the shower and had his bath changed, had his breakfast and sat down at his study table to finish his homework. Saying I was taken aback would be tantamount to saying the universe was big. He put his nose to grindstone and got down to it.
Finished it all under 30 minutes, when in normal course, the same homework would take the better part of three hours, much grumbling, tantrum throwing, yelling from me and such like on rinse repeat before we got it done.
"Pappa said you must finish all the boring things first, and then you have the rest of the day to enjoy yerself."
I'm so getting the Pappa to take him for swimming training even post the competition, I could do with more of this kind of a brat. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Of multiplication tables and forgetting them

The other day while randomly sitting with the brat on his homework, Mamma was confronted by a stunning realisation that gobsmacked her speechless. The brat had clean forgotten all his multiplication tables. Ah, for sure he remembered his one times, two times, five times and ten times. But the rest were prolonged gaps, and errs and errms and hasty counting on the fingers behind the back and such like. The pater ambled in while this exercise was going on and had a little gasket explosion. This of course, reflecting poorly on him being the Maths and Stats whizkid in the family and in charge of the brat's mathematical learning.
"No going down to play," the Y chromosome donor thundered, "No playing on the PS2, the PSP, the iPad or the Laptop..." the brat's face fell to the floor and crashed in disappointment. The pater continued, "...unless you say all your tables from one to twelve without a mistake."
And so started the recitation of the tables. This had been stopped for a while. And of course, the result of this laxness was showing. Everytime the brat wanted to go down to play, or play on his gadgets, he had to first rattle off his tables. And he did so with resignation and the urgency to get it done so he could move on to better and more interesting things. It has been three days since that rule was imposed and he is 80 per cent perfect with his tables. Maybe the pater had something there. Reciting the tables is really the quickest way to get it into the cranium. That is why perhaps the entire oral tradition of rote learning existed.
Am just going to make the brat read out his textbooks loud and clear repeatedly now.

Monday, July 09, 2012

So the brat slept in our bed last night...

It has been a couple of years since the brat has been despatched out of our bed. The immediate provocation for doing so was a well aimed kick, when he was in deep REM sleep, to a very, err, delicate spot on the pater's corpus. The man jumped up howling and sputtering in rage and the next night the brat was shunted, pillow and blankie included, to daadi's room. Yes, he does have his own room, but the unfortunate unthinking architectural faux pas of having full length windows and a little ledge balcony outside it will not allow mamma a peaceful night's sleep in the unlikely event that he decides to do a bit of Tarzan training in the middle of the night.
Last night, he rapped at our door circa 11 pm. "Mamma," he said grimly. "I'm nod gedding sleep, can I sleep wid you?"
We made space in the bed, between the two of us and he snuggled in. The original intention was to smuggle him back to daadi's room when he dropped into deep REM sleep but me and the spouse also dropped into deep REM, with me only waking up when my arm, the one the brat had put his head on, had gone off to sleep completely and felt like dead wood. I woke up, extricated the arm, the brat recognised the shift in my position and threw another arm and leg around me. It had been a while since I had nodded off holding the brat. He was grown up now. As grown up as an eight year old can be. But then, at that moment last night, he was still my little baby.
We co-slept with the brat for a long long time, and yes, no one was happier than the spouse who did the bhangra when he was finally moved out, but I do believe in co-sleeping. I don't know what modern psychology says, and I do know that the current trend is to move the kids out to their own beds from the time they're little. But there is nothing to beat the feeling of cuddling up to your child, watching them fall asleep, seeing them breathing in their sleep, smiling at happy dreams, laughing in their sleep, fighting sleep monsters and thrashing about in a bad dream, reaching out to hold you when they feel frightened. I miss that. Just physically holding the child while he sleeps is such a sense of bonding.
This morning, the brat got up with us. He stretched and purred like a cat, having hogged most of the bed space through the night given he sleeps in starfish pattern while we huddled at either corner of the bed, an inch away from toppling off, me and the spouse.
"Mamma," he said. "Today night I wantu sleep again in yer bed."
Ermm, no, I dissuaded him gently, there's not enough place in the bed for three of us, it gets rather cramped and uncomfortable.
"Okay. We will pull my bed from my room and put it next to your bed, so dere's lods of place."
I stated there was no space in the room for a third bed, albeit a single one, to be brought in.
"Never mind. We'll tell Pappa to sleep alone in my room. He's such a big boy and he's still frightened to sleep alone."

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The brat goes on a school trip

This morning, the brat left for Lonavla for a school trip. Mamma had to be physically restrained from running behind the bus yelling out last instructions, including the one about ensuring he brushed his teeth before sleeping like one night of not scrubbing the dentition with toothpaste would result in major root canal level of cavities the very next day.
As is with every field trip, the maternal heart is all aflutter. His medicines have been labelled and handed across to the class teacher. Instructions have been given in writing and orally. Home phone numbers and mobile numbers written out in multiple places.
The brat has been all excited about his trip. He has been on an overnight trip last year, but that felt a little more distant and not immediate because I was in Delhi and his father dropped him off and picked him up. Also I was, thankfully, caught up with events and readings and had no time to really agonise about what he could be getting up to away from the eagle eye of his class teachers.
This time round I was right here, and am panic on steroids. Yesterday we packed his bag for his trip. He brought out his toothbrush, a small toothpaste tube and demanded a soapdish and a new soap. He pulled out a pouch and packed his tissues and hand sanitiser. And his towel and his nightsuit and one set of casual tee and trackpants and another set of jeans and more formal tshirt. And two undies.
My jaw clanked to the floor and had to be reset surgically. When did the brat grow up on me? "Mamma can you gimme a rubberband?"
Sure darling, I replied, for what though. "For my CricketAttax". He bundled up his entire collection of Cricket Attax and packed that in his bag, and followed that by most of his WWE action figures.
Then came the time to pack the edibles.
"Mamma we hafftu pack only dry snacks."
The kitchen was ransacked, the father called and instructed to bring home Lays and Bubbaloo chewing gum of strawberry flavour. Frooti packets were kept in the bag, I was instructed to make "jemsemwiches" and to fry some "nuggeds" which I did.
This morning he had set his mobile alarm for 5.30 am, woke up without a moue, bathed, dressed and picked his bag and we were off, and even reached before time. For a child who dwaddles every single day in getting ready for school and screeches into the premises by the skin of his teeth as the second bell rings, this was a revelation. We were amongst the first few to be there, the teachers hadn't arrived yet. He put his bag down and surveyed the drop off area. "No one from my gang is here yet." I rolled my eyes at the use of gang until they spun in their sockets. When did my baby, just out of diapers, become part of a 'gang'.
The teacher eventually arrived and I handed the piece of the heart to her care, said heart beating nervously and instructing last minute. The brat ran off with his friends without saying bye. I called him back, he came reluctantly. I smothered him with kisses, which he promptly wiped off in embarassed manner and squirmed in horror to check if any of his friends would have noticed. "Bye, brat," I said. "Bye," he replied and trotted off without a backward glance.
The brat is become a big boy. Mamma needs to do some growing up herself now.

Monday, July 02, 2012

The brat gets grounded

The brat came home way past his deadline for two days consecutively. Consequently, the pater yelled his head off for an entire five minutes (considering the pater rarely speaks beyond the mandatory, this was UN speech level of declamation) and stated the brat was now grounded for a week. The brat was also not to touch the television remote, watch any television, play with either the PSP, the Playstation or the iPad. The conditions were stringent enough to send the brat weeping copiously into the pillow in his room.
The next day was a Saturday. We had a lunch to attend and that occupied the first half of the day. Twas when we reached home that ennui struck and how.
"Mamma, what can I do? I'm getting bored!" came the agonised squawk, barely a few minutes into touching base at home.
"Draw something, paint something, play with your action figures, read a book," I listed out all that he could do.
He valiantly went towards his action figures and his WWE stadium and enacted a complete gruesome ambulance match, with much kicking, punching and hitting to my wincing at the bloodthirsty creature my sweet angel child had morphed into.
After around 15 minutes of a duel unto what seemed like death, he emerged and wandered into the kitchen, looking for stuff to fuel his digestive system.
"Now wot I'll do?"
"Read a book," I suggested. He looked at me as if I'd suggested he colour his nails pink and dress in a tutu. "Reading is boreding," he said exasperatedly. I pulled out an atlas and began showing him the physical features of India and pulled out the encyclopedia and showed him stars, galaxies and hoped against hope that the wonders of the universe would make him marvel but his eyes glazed over and he moved to the intercom and called a couple of his friends over. That was that day. Sunday went in a maze of lunch and dinner and hanging around in the room while the pater was watching his television so he could get a dose of his own watching quota. Monday evening, boredom struck again, post school. "Now wot I'll do?"
I despaired at the child's inability to keep himself entertained without an electronic gadget in his hand or without a television set switched on and much self flagellation for bad parenting happened. I am also of the French school of benign neglect parenting, so I told him clearly to find something to occupy himself given that he had no PSP, Playstation, iPad, TV options nor could he go home. I went back to my book and left him to his devices. After around ten minutes of no sound emerging from the room, I got very very worried and snuck in to take a peep at what he was upto. The child was seated on the bed, the day's newspapers spread in front of him, reading earnestly. The maternal heart spilled over in joy, after all, somewhere the reader genes would manifest themselves, I thought to myself.
"What are you reading, brat?" I asked, taking myself to the child's side.
"Wot is rape?"
Ermm. I gathered the newspaper and folded it firmly. "Since you're in the mood to read, let me get you something to read," and got him a book, from the Geronimo Stilton series. The Karate Mouse if you must know. I'll have him read newspapers uncensored in a couple of years.
In the evening he called his father. "Pappa, can I go down tu play. I'm feeling very bored. I promiss I'll come back on time." Said in his most earnest puppy dog voice. Anxiety writ large on his face in the event that his father refused. The father agreed. He bounded off downstairs, whopping gleefully, strapping on his watch to ensure he didn't get late.
Mamma has learnt a lesson though, the brat needs to be weaned off all the gizmos and learn how to have fun doing non gizmo stuff. That will be Mission Priority this day on. And yes, for that mamma and pappa need to wean themselves off their gizmos to start with.