Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And the brat will turn six this month.

Time, it flies. It really does. It just seems like a few days ago that I was up on the operation table, attached to the damn catheter, and having a needle stuck in my spine making me suddenly feel as if my body ended at my chest. And then the doctors talking to each other about random hospital gossip as they fiddled around with my insides, and then one hard yank, and my gynaec, as sweet and maternal as you could ever wish one should be, telling me sweetly, to hold on, "He's almost out!" and then the startled surprised and very irate bawl that the grandmother heard on the ground floor of the hospital, (the OT being on the first floor), which made her charge at top speed to the first floor, arthritic knee notwithstanding. And me yelling for someone to get me my spectacles to examine the red wriggling parcel being held out for my perusal. "Ganapati Bappa ala re," said the jovial anaesthesist. "I cant see," I protested, before I slid into a happy delirium. I slept. Till evening. I opened my eyes, feeling a sudden emptiness, a sudden disconnect within me. My baby, where's my baby. He was brought in from the nursery for me to marvel at. Perfect. From his curled up fingers to his wizened face. Red scrunched up face, eyes that looked sharply at me as if to say, so you're the one with the really bad acidity issues. Staring into my eyes like a wise old soul, almost as if he had so much to say but no language with which to say it. And then the temper. God the temper. Head shaking roaring bring the house down wails if Mamma was a minute late to shove the feeding appendage in his mouth. And once fed, contented burp and smile and off to the land of nod. He was a good baby. No trouble at all. I saw other kids give their mammas hell and thank the stars mine was so well behaved. Well, if I only knew. He sure made up for all that good behaviour as he grew.
His toddler hood was the most difficult. The delayed development. The PDD/NOS diagnosis. The seizures. The hospitalisations. The terrible behavioural issues. The therapy sessions. The constant struggle. The taking him to malls and parks every single day and struggling with himand fending off questions from well meaning folk who asked if there was something wrong with him. The wondering how this child would cope as he grew. The cruelty of other children who left him out of their play, leaving him in tears as he ran behind them yearning to be accepted. The jokes they played on him. Their teasing him "Buddhu, buddhu," when he couldnt grasp the rules of a game, or make himself understood, having no speech till he was around three. All that was validated when last week, the doctor told us that the brat was fine. He has no issues. He is like any other six year old. He is the child other children fight with to have on their team. On a holiday, the intercom is buzzing with kids wanting to either come home to play with him or to have me drop him off to play with them at their homes. Returning from the park every evening generally involves a tug of war with opposing friends wanting him to stay on and play with them. Sometimes, I remember days when he longed to play with other children and had the doors shut on his face and feel my eyes well up.
The schooling. The miracle with which he grasped information and assimilated it, his fascination for music and dance. His dandy nature, his obsession with jackets (which he has thankfully outgrown now, only to replace it with hideous superhero synthetic costumes). He has changed too. His face has changed for one. He was this chubby baby with rolls of fat spilling over from every limb and torso. Now I would be lucky if a fat caliper got a grip on any part of his body, including his bum. His eyes were lighter when he was born, an indeterminate shade of grey. They're deep dark brown now, like his fathers, but look exactly like mine. He's taken the best of both of his parents along with the worst and blended them into a completely adorable mix that is uniquely him. People struggle to come to a consensus on whom he resembles. The truth is that he is a mix. We catch glimpses of each other in him.
His teeth have started falling out now. He is at the age where he is still cute but starting to become an insufferable know it all.Where he still needs me around, but would rather I stayed on the periphery. Where he is openly defiant, but clingy and demanding the very next moment. Where he is still my baby, but slowly morphing into that very strange creature, namely, a big boy.
I hold him and cuddle him and kiss him as much as I can. I wish I could freeze him to be my baby forever. But I know that like sand through my fingers, my son's childhood is quickly passing through, and I'd better enjoy every moment I get of it, before he sneaks off and grows up on me while I wasnt looking.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do you believe in corporal punishment?

I grew up with the luck of having exactly two occasions on which I was spanked by my parents to within an inch of my life. I remember leaping around from bed to cupboard to dining table, and trying to escape my mother morphed into rabid ruler wielder, who was administering the whacks with absolute no regard for her usual thrift as evident in other areas of life. The first time was for refusing to down my medicines. I never refused to ever again. And the second time was when I did a pencil down strike and swore off studies and homework. Needless to say, the ruler triumphed and I was a good student till I graduated. A little lazy, and a lot of the last minute studier, but I got through. I dont think my IQ suffered much for these two incidents of spanking, well deserved though they were, in fact child birth has done the max to leach the brains out of me with said placenta. Anyway, I digress. The point under discussion being as to whether you spank your child. I do. Sometimes. But not a real bad spanking. Maybe one whack on the butt occasionally to keep him from running riot. I tend to avoid spanking until my hand itches so furiously, and till the boy is literally using a megaphone to beg for a good hard whack. No, make that I rarely whack. The pappa doesnt whack either. A stern call and a raised eyebrow on his part are all that is required to bring the brat meekly into the domicile of well behaved children. I use negotiation, power play and reasoning to achieve the same. Absolute outright defiance. Unjustifiable bad behaviour might get me tempted to raise my hand on the brat, but more than often I count to ten and go cold on him. That gets him more upset than any well aimed whack could ever achieve.
We have a lady in our society. Lets call her M for the purpose of discussion. Now M has a very badly behaved son. But then, M is very badly behaved herself. Forever getting into arguments with the rest of the folks around.And her son is forever at the receiving end of getting a spanking from her. And it seems to be escalating rather than decreasing, his bad behaviour. Her son is rapidly morphing into a mini monster. And being sly and cunning with it.
While I dont believe in the old maxim, Spare the rod and spoil the child, I do agree that children need to be disciplined. An occasional spank is the only way sometimes that they stop tearing a place down. And as they grow, this tapers off too. A stern tone of voice. A look. A quiet statement for them to behave should be enough from any parent. My mother never raised her voice ever, but I lived in quaking terror of going against the rules, and upsetting her. And her rules were simple, study, dont lie, dont cheat, dont waste food and dont do anything you cant talk to me about. And no, she never ever needed to spank me post age five.
What is your take on this?

This article from Parentcenter.com:
Spanking may lower kids' IQs
Fri, Sep 25, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- The bad news is that youngsters who are spanked might lose IQ points.
The good news is that it appears that children's IQs are on the rise -- and at least one expert believes that part of the reason why is that corporal punishment is falling out of favor in the United States and elsewhere.
That's the view of discipline and domestic violence expert Murray Straus, a professor of sociology and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. Straus was scheduled to present the findings from recent research on spanking on Friday at the International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in San Diego.
The results of a survey of more than 17,000 university students from 32 countries "show that the higher the percent of parents who used corporal punishment, the lower the national average IQ," Straus wrote in his presentation.
In looking at spanking just in the United States, Straus and a fellow researcher reviewed data on IQ scores from 806 children between 2 and 4 years old and another 704 kids aged 5 to 9.
When their IQs were tested again four years later, children in the younger group who were not spanked scored five points higher, on average, than did children who had been spanked. In the group of older children, spanking resulted in an average loss of 2.8 points.
"How often parents spanked made a difference," Straus said in a news release from the university. "The more spanking, the slower the development of the child's mental ability. But even small amounts of spanking made a difference."
Dr. Rahil Briggs, a child psychologist with the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, said she believes that "discipline should be an opportunity to teach your child something."
"If you spank, you teach your child that hitting is the way to deal with a situation," she said. "But if you use other methods of discipline, you can begin teaching your child higher-level cognitive skills, self-control, cause-and-effect and logical thinking."
Briggs said that previous research has clearly shown that when children are in negative stressful situations, it can actually change the architecture of their brains and impair certain neural processes.
Dr. Stephen Ajl, a child abuse pediatrician, director of pediatric ambulatory care at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and medical director of the Jane Barker Brooklyn Children's Advocacy Center in New York City, said that "spanking and other forms of corporal punishment mean that someone has lost control, and if that goes on on a chronic basis, it may affect some part of children's psychological well-being."
And though some people believe that they can use spanking as a form of punishment without losing control, Briggs said that's very difficult to do all the time.
"When you're physical with your child, you open that floodgate, and the likelihood that it could veer into where you don't have as much control increases," Briggs said. "Plus, if you're just spanking, you haven't taught your child anything."
Straus's presentation at the violence conference was also to include findings from the study of university students, done by researchers in 32 countries. It found that in nations with decreasing use of corporal punishment, the countries' average IQ scores rose.
Those findings are plausible and make some sense, Briggs said, but she added that it's difficult to tease out all the other factors that could play a role in IQ scores -- including poverty and parental education.
Ajl recommended that parents think about how they want to discipline they're children before they're faced with a situation. And, he said, a pediatrician can help parents come up with more effective ways to discipline their children.-- Serena Gordon

Monday, September 28, 2009

Did God make us or make monkeys?

Anyone grapple with this one? I sit down with an encyclopedia of the world with the brat, and come to the page which traces the evolution of man from tree jumping ape to homo sapiens. The brat looks on in wonder. I explain the process by which the monkey slowly straightened his spine, and got better stuff to do with his forearms rather than just walking around and swinging from trees and such like. I spoke about how they stopped hanging around randomly and began moving around in groups of mamma, pappa and baby and dadi and nanna in search of food and such like. "Errrr," said the brat, clearing his throat, in the way that normally signals a difficult to answer question is about to be burped out. "We all wuz munkeys?"
"Not us, but our great great great grandfathers...," said Mamma, looking frantically at said encyclopedia for further wisdom and strength to be able to tackle such questions with the conviction and elan required. "The granfaters are nod great if they wuz munkeys," came the dismissive retort. Am sure his maternal and paternal grandfathers looking on munificently from whichever part of the spiritual world they might be in, immediately put the pox on me for that ineffective reply.
Before mamma could elucidate on the concept of ancestors and move to Carl Sagan's day in the Life of Earth and the theory of evolution, and such like, the brat piped up again. "If dose munkeys dint stand up, we all wuld be walking wid r hands on d groun like the munkeys on TV." Err, that would be a yes.
"An wen dey stood up dey became peepul? Like you and me and Pappa and Nanna and Daadi."
"Yes, brat."
"Wai dey don wear klodz. Dey don feel shame shame puppy shame?"
Actually, brat, mamma perservered, as these monkey people moved to colder parts of the world, they began covering themselves with animals fur to keep warm, and then as they began growing crops like cotton they managed to make clothes. "Den the Jai Jais also wore klodz afterwuds? They were also all nangu when we were munkeys?"
Err, yes.
"But if d jai jais make us, wai dey make us frum d monkeys. And Nanna tole me that God made man and then he made lady. He dint make munkey."
Mamma gave up and moved to the more innocuous story of the dinosaurs and how a comet wiped them all out. Leaving behind only crocodiles and lizards. And sang the Chipkali ka nana hai song with a tone so firm that the brat knew that no further discussion on the evolution or creation of man was to happen in the course of the day.
Someone help me out here!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How d whale iz a mammal?

The current topic in school is that of animals, insects and birds. The brat was sitting glazed eyed through a long drawn out explanation of mammals by his tuition teacher. Mamma cringed as she overheard bits and pieces of the discourse floating into the bedroom where she tried to arrange the chaos in brat's cupboard into levels that didnot guarantee immediate annihilation by alien life forms growing beneath the piles of disarrayed clothes.
The teacher: Brat, listen carefully, what is a mammal?
Brat, with surly disinterested tone: Wot iz a mamul?
The Teacher in tones so droning, they could be patented for a cure for insomnia: A mammal is warm blooded, has fur on its body, gives birth to its young and feeds its young milk.
Brat: (Repeats the litany, without any seeming registration or interest): Iz wom bluded, wid fur on d body, gives burth tu its babies and feeds dem milk.
Mamma scrambled in his bookshelf for his encyclopedia on animals to hand over to the teacher to spice up thing, when she hears an alert brat voice pipe up.
"But den, how d whale iz a mammal? Is nod got fur and how id can feed his babies milk in d water?"
Any answers? This is what Mamma googled up, and plans to answer the brat with today. Though, unless he physically checks out the hair on a whale, and sees any baby whales drinking milk from their mammas, I doubt he would be very convinced...he's not a trusting soul, this child.

Happy Navratri to you...

With his gun and new study table which was used for anything but studying at age 3, on his third birthday infact.
Clicked at age four. All set to go thwack the dandiyas on the heads of any unfortunate fren.

At age 2, his first kathiawadi outfit ever. Current new dandiya outfit is a royal blue and will be worn on Saturday. Many trial rounds have happened. And practice sessions in front of the mirror have ensured that moves and poses have been perfected.
Hope you're rocking your Navratri too!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Of a little liar...

The brat has become an earnest fibber. And to mamma, to whom lying is anathema even on pain of death and dismemberment, the feeling is terrible. That a child born of her womb and her DNA could resort so such deviousness is something that she cant come to terms with. She could do the easy thing and blame it on the pappa's DNA but the Pappa is beyond reproach himself, so obviously a rogue gene has floated into his genetic cocktail from somewhere in the family tree and is now making its presence felt. So far, the fibs are pretty harmless.About how he outran everyone at the school race and came first. Even though he was miles behind the finish line and had to made to clear the field so the next race could begin. About how he defeated all his band of tykes singlehandedly in a karate championship. How he battled a bhoot with his barehands.
About how he wrote his entire diary apne aap without any help, when the handwriting in said diary is clearly alien and adult. About how random folk told him he's looking very handsome. Which might be true too, according to this indulgent mamma.
And more scarily, how his head is paining and how he fainted at school and how blood came from his nose. Which has mamma hyperventilating until she takes deep breaths and realises that had anything of the sort happened, the school would have informed her, the brat being a high alert case. Or how he's finished his milk, when I can see clear evidence of it being splashed into the washbasin where it has been hastily discarded. About how the teacher says its okay if you dont complete your homework. Ad infinitum. Lies that are said so casually that they scare me with the ease at which they roll off his tongue.
The bits where the lies are primarily feel good boost his ego trip ones I overlook, and even indulge him in a bit. The ones where he has goofed up, broken something or done something that merits a scolding are the ones that generally gets him off with a stern warning not to lie, and not to repeat the offence. The ones that are saving face and getting out of work or eating/drinking undesirable foods are ones I catch him out on and explain to him as sternly as I can that mamma knows when he is lying and when he is telling me the truth. And it is easier to tell mamma the truth because mamma gets more angry if he covers up things with a lie. And Mamma will huff and puff and tear him apart like the little pig he is. And more on those lines guaranteed to get him quaking in his hooves.
And mamma worried. And worried. And worried. Because we do have a chronic liar and wastrel and genuine article bad apple in the immediate genetic pool. And wondered how she can nip this in the bud before it escalates to chronic levels. Before the brat took to lying as second nature. This article from Parentcenter.com gave me hope. Apparently, this is normal.
Lying is normal. It says. But of course, mamma knows that letting the brat think that he can get away from sitting down for his homework by faking a tummy ache is just not going to get him a reprieve. At the most it might get him some foul tasting syrup chucked down his throat to ensure he doesnt try the same stunt again.
How do you tackle your child lying?

From Babycenter.com
Is it normal that my big kid lies to me about everything -- even if I was there to see what really happened?
Yes, and it's quite common at this age. Most gradeschoolers aren't "good" liars — their fibs can be laughably transparent — but they can make up for poor quality with quantity.According to Jan Faull, a syndicated parenting columnist and author of Unplugging Power Struggles: Resolving Emotional Battles With Your Kids, Ages 2 to 10, your child may lie because she's trying to figure out what you know. When she was younger, you were omnipotent — at least in her eyes. Now she realizes your knowledge ends somewhere, but she's not sure where. This is what she's testing out.Another possible reason for lying is fear of punishment, says Faull. If your child thinks a fib can help her avoid a negative consequence, she'll quite logically want to try it.What can parents do about this frustrating behavior? First, says Faull, "don't set your child up to lie." For example, if you see her break a vase, you already know what happened. Rather than asking, "Did you break the vase?" simply say, "I see that you broke the vase. Let's clean it up."Of course, there will be times when you didn't see what happened (although you may have a pretty good idea). In these instances, share your feelings and tell your child what you want to know, rather than accusing her. For example, instead of saying, "You broke the vase, didn't you?" try, "I'm disappointed that the vase is broken, and I hope that if you know what happened, you'll tell me."If she balks, you can share any "evidence" you have — for example, "I heard you bouncing your ball in the house, and I see it lying right next to the broken vase, so it looks to me like the ball bounced into it." As Faull explains, "This will help your child learn how people piece together information."When your child does tell you the truth, don't forget to tell her that you appreciate her courage. But this doesn't mean she gets a free pass. Give her a natural consequence — for example, she has to clean up the vase and stop playing basketball in the house — and at the same time, let her know that telling you the truth is the most important thing.When your child lies, it's natural to feel angry. But try not to fly off the handle or threaten severe punishment. Saying things like "I'm going to find out if you're lying, and you'll be sorry" can harm your relationship and make her feel unsafe with telling you the truth, says Faull. And demanding an explanation for "why" she lied probably won't get you anywhere either. Most children under age 8 don't have "metacognition" — that is, they don't know why they do what they do.Instead, explain to your child that when she lies, it makes you feel angry and upset. Remind her that you expect her to tell you the truth, just as you do with her. Of course, you know what this means — you can't lie, either. Your child will model her behavior on yours, so let honesty rule the day.And finally, take a deep breath and gather your patience, because your child's lying won't change overnight. "It takes a long time for children to learn and understand the concept of the truth and a lie," says Faull.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Of doctors visits and such like...

The brat had a big appointment yesterday. With an eminent pediatric neurologist at a big hospital. Suffice to say that this was an appointment Mamma had booked when brat was fresh out from his stint in the ICU following his seizure. Needless to say, mamma was on pins and needles through the previous day and awoke in the morning with the kind of uneasiness that precedes really big terrifying life changing examinations, which for mamma was Std X Algebra, after which, she had prayed to the Gods in the pantheon, that she would never ever ask them for anything else ever again in her life should they help her scrape through. Of course, she reneged on that promise but thats another story and another post. It was the day of the big appointment, she realised as she awoke. And coupled with it being Eid and the maids all on bunk, it was a day made in hell. And she pulled on her long suffering face and got on with the day's tasks before pulling herself to the hospital, brat in tow. Pappa accompanied us for this visit for the first time ever to this particular pediatric neurologist. The previous two appointments had mamma take the grandmothers for moral support. The wait is humunguous. The first time we visited, the brat was 18 months. He'd just had his first febrile seizures a few months ago. Well meaning relatives had told mamma to get him checked up, he didnt seem 'normal'. Mamma had hated them all, and cried buckets and buckets for weeks before talking with her pediatrician who had then reassured her that, no, the brat did not seem autistic. There was delayed development, yes, but if mamma needed reassurance, he recommended the big gun in pediatric neurology. So mamma went. It was a four pm appointment. The brat was hyperactive, skidding all over the waiting area, running into lifts and consulting rooms, getting hungry and irritable. We were called in at 8.45pm. That hell of a wait. The brat and mamma and nana were all wrung out. The doctor was patient and took his time consulting. Which was reassuring, he played with the brat, got him to warm up to him and respond. The diagnosis then was PDD/NOS. A detailed investigation was recommended through their inhouse team. Which was done. Speech and occupational therapy recommended. The brat did two years of thrice weekly sessions of each. After school. It was tough for a not yet three year old, given Mumbai distances, but the brat and mamma survived. He had a couple of more seizures, both febrile in 2006. And this one, in July was one after a long gap. Mamma wasnt present in class, so she doesnt know what happened. Whether it was a seizure or simply a fainting spell. Or whether he had been feverish in class, and the fever spiked up.
The hospital he was rushed to had a pediatrician put him on continual night and day medication. Mamma had not read nice things about the side effects of this medication, and it was freaking her out everytime she administered the dose to him. The brat's regular pediatrician was not in town at the time, and mamma had no option but to continue with the medication as prescribed by the pediatrician at the hospital the brat was rushed to by the school nurse.
Therefore, this appointment with pediatric neurologist again. To determine whether this medication, to be administered day and night needed to be continued. Whether the brat was at any risk of non febrile seizures. Whether there were any further 'issues' with the brat. The good news is that the brat goes off the continual medication. He is at the borderline age for febrile seizures, though mamma has been warned that these might continue in some cases till the child is ten. And, yes, the brat has no developmental issues now. He is fine. As stated firmly by said eminent pediatric neurologist who put the brat through hoops in a brilliant, friendly and fun way to check him up. Pappa had a soft smile of pride on his face that even terrible bumper to bumper traffic couldnt wipe off. Mamma was sobbing for joy all through the two hour drive back home. And the brat got his good behavior incentive on said drive back, namely, "Happy meel wid an akshun figuh and a chickenburgawidcheez."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Of Chicken and eggs

The brat sitting with tuition teacher in all earnestness after a viewing session of Ishaan Awasthi's scary boarding school. And paying attention. And concentrating very hard.
This after a couple of days of appallingly bad behaviour which included backanswering said tuition teacher, and being put out of the house and informed that boarding schools were being considered very very seriously.
The teacher, amazed at the paragon of virtue and concentration in front of her, began explaining social science topic du jour, namely the animal kingdom with full gusto.
So brat, she said, having just concluded a mini lecture on reproduction amongst the animal kingdom, a lecture which had as much rousing effect on the brat as a sermon on honesty would have had on a mangle of petty thieves, where do eggs come from.
The brat didn't bat an eyelid. From the eggwallah.
No no no, she fluttered, where does the chicken come from?
Above mentioned eyelid remained unbatted and the reply piped up, From the chicken shop.

Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Of milk teeth

The brat's milk teeth have been going the way milk teeth are supposed to be going, namely to the big milk vat in the sky.

One was yanked out a couple of weeks ago by the brat himself and the one next to the gap is in earnest preparation to join it soon.

Therefore the brat asks me if teeth die this morning. No I reply sagely, they fall out to make room for new teeth. He looks unconvinced. Like ole people die to make room for new people? Mamma is a little stunned by that matter of fact observation but lets it pass.

"Why this teeth iz callt milk teeth?"

"Because they grew when you were drinking only milk. "

"Bud yu sed drinking milk makes yer teeth an bones strawng? Den why d milk teeth fallt out?"

Mamma so needs a ready answer implant in her cranium right now to come up with answers to ever random query.

"Your new teeth will be very strong," she reassures brat.

"Bud they won't be milk teeth. Dey wil be chicken teeth. Becos now I eating only chicken."



Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Leaf's Lament

The brat had an elocution competition in school today. The topic given to him was nature. Mamma turned to trusty google baba to give her some poems on nature, requested kind friends and family to come up with some poems based on nature, simple enough for the brat to pick up quick and recite. Mamma tore her hair out trying to pen something simple enough for the brat to a)understand and b) recite clearly. And do some interesting actions while reciting the lines, to ensure that the actions act as prompters for the lines to follow. Therefore Mamma picked on one poem, sent in by this blogger. At first reading it seemed rather existential. The conquering of fear, the urge to shed one's inhibitions and live in the moment and to take the leap of faith. It appealed to the literature postgrad in mamma. Plus the imagery of the poem, though bleak and concluding with the onset of winter, shot straight to mamma's bleak romantic heart.
Therefore, the drill began. Mamma learning the poem and reciting it to the brat every given moment she could. In the car, while feeding him his lunch, while bathing him. And then finally, at night before sleeping, Mamma asked him to recite the poem on his own. He stood up. Stood with his hands behind his back. Bowed Low. Said the title. Began reciting. Crisp and clear. Hands gesturing appropriately. A brilliantly self incorporated jump at the appropriate spot, a movement mamma hadnt even considered putting in. Concluding with a Thank you and a deep bow. And turned and strode off...the bed.
Do I have a performer on my hands?

Here's what he finally recited:
The Leaf's Lament
By Andrew Fusek Peters
Said the leaf to the sky
I would learn how to fly
But I'm shaking like a leaf, would I dare?
Said the sky to the leaf
It's a matter of belief
Just jump into my blanket of air!
Then the sky sang
And the leaf sprang
And the trees were empty and bare.

Thank you Maggie. Hope he didnt get struck by a bout of stage fright.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Long overdue pics


This is from the performance the brat gave for the society Independence Day function. He sang Nanha Munha Rahi Hoon, with his friends. Lookit them in their spanking white kurtas, all looking absolutely good to eat.
(Picture credit: Vinay Sharma)




The brat and father

There's a new game the brat plays these days. Generally played when the night is quiet, the room is dark, and all inmates of the home have settled down to quietude and rest. As sleep drifts over the eyelids, the calm will be shattered by a voice piping up like a drill into the brain, "Pappa, pappa, who yu like d best? Mamma or Kichi?"

Pappa, after having gotten his bearings from the deep REM sleep he has drifted into, and having calmed down from the Wha...Wha...Wha...start he leaps up in caveman survival mode, has to reply Kichi, if he wants to ensure he is allowed to sleep undisturbed for the rest of the night. Then, and only then, assured that he has primary spot in his Pappa's list of affections, will the brat snuggle upto his father and go off to sleep. Mamma is a rank outsider now to the Pappa and Kichi love story. It wasnt always like that. Pappa took time becoming a Pappa.

When the brat was born, Pappa took time to realise that this mewling ball of flesh was actually a person. I think, at that point, the brat was nothing more than a parcel, he could move from point A to point B on the bed if he wanted to occupy said spot on the bed. And Pappa's involvement with the brat was zilch. Perhaps he was scared of handling the tiny parcel, and Pappa does have the quintessential "What big hands you have gramma!" kind of paws that make for the perfect big small contrast pictures on royalty free photography websites that have a newborn's hand placed in the palm of a full grown adult hand. He barely held the brat, barely played with him, threw temper tantrums when mamma switched the AC off or raised the temperature because he couldnt figure out that the child's needs were different from ours as adults. And maybe, he resented the time mamma spent with the brat. The brat grew, began crawling, walking, talking, had issues, went into therapy. Pappa was there but distant. Never expressive, never demonstrative. He would be there like a rock, supporting mamma in the hospital stints, the therapy, but never physically do anything for the brat. Nor play with him boy things, never take him down to the park or the playground.

Things changed recently. The brat became a boy. And Pappa became a Pappa. It started slowly. With getting Pappa make the brat down his milk. And help Mamma get the brat dressed and ready in time for school. It happened once, then the brat demanded Pappa dress him everyday. Its a routine now. Pappa wakes the brat up, gets him to drink his milk, Mamma bathes the brat, Pappa dresses him up and even combs his hair to the spanking side part. Pappa takes him into school and waves him off. Pappa occasionally takes him down to the park and makes him exercise his guts out, and he pulls together all his band of tykes, "Look, look, dere's my Pappa, he iz so strawng na?" Hero worship. His father is his hero. His ultimate ambition is to become strawng like his Pappa. His Pappa can do anything. Anything. He can move mountains, smite charging buffalo with a single blow, jump oceans. And beat up bhoots. And more which Mamma dares not ask him. Mamma quite agrees because Pappa has saved her from eveteasers, riots and floods and been quite her hero too in days of yore.

Today, the brat must go to sleep with Pappa around. Pappa must help him change his clothes, Pappa gives him all his medication, it is Pappa's lap he sits in in the car. He seeks his father's approval in everything he does. If his father gets upset with him, he sobs bitter tears, whereas if mamma did the same, he would just laugh it off. It does make mamma just that wee bit jealous. But it doesnt matter, what does it that both the men in mamma's life adore each other, and mamma is relishing this male bonding, and praying it lasts through teenage rebellion and longer.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Of brat taking on mamma's role.

Tuitions over yesterday, the brat layered on his hoodie and his multipocketed jeans over his tshirt and his shorts. Strapped on his sandals and clutched my hand. "Cmon mamma, we go down to d pahk."
Mamma was shuttling manically between kitchen and various parts of the home, the natural consequences of regular maid and cook being absconding, and the substitutes being anything but efficient as the former. "Wait," she muttered distractedly, as she cleaned up messy floors, put scrubbed utensils in their place, and organised a kitchen left like a disaster zone by the cook, who believed that her job is solely limited to cooking, and the cleaning up is the responsibility of the home owner.
The brat sat quietly on a little stool in front of the kitchen holding something in his hand. Mamma had her face dripping with sweat, and her mind flustered. "Mamma, you finised? Led us go?"
"Five minutes more."
Mamma took the clothes off the clothesline, folded and sorted them. Filled the empty bottles with water. Tidied up the living room. Swept and swabbed the kitchen floor, littered as it was with remnants of the debris occasioned by the cooking.
"Mamma, I is waiting. You finished."
"Wait," snapped Mamma angrily. Irritated by the tasks she had to complete before she could even look up. Or maybe mamma was just PMSing.
The brat sank further into his seat.
Mamma finally emerged from the kitchen and the brat's face lit up. He handed her, a Tshirt, a pair of track pants he's obviously dug out from her cupboard and her sandals. "Come mamma, I change you and get you ready to go. Stand straight and don move."
Mamma felt two feet tall. It feels good to be mothered by your six year old.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Of beauty treatments...

Mamma had called her beautician over and was getting herself prettified. The waxing done, the face was the next in line to be tackled. Facial foliage had reached shearing levels. The brat played around aimlessly, killing Power Rangers and banging Transformers together.
Mamma lay down on the bed, and held her eyebrow and her lid, while the girl bent over her, threading the unibrow into some semblance of a shape. The brat shrieked in horror. And ran to the girl, pushed her off her perch on a little stool, from where she landed in a surprised thud on the ground. Thankfully on a rug, which cushioned the impact. "Whachchyu doin to my mamma's eyez?" And stood like a rock of protection between me and evil intentioned beautician, hands on his scrawny hips. "Don do bad things to my mammaz eyez! You don know, she god oprated? She wil nod be able to see. You wan my mamma tu become blin?" (This, is in reaction to the hands off policy mamma had employed for three to four weeks post her recent LASIK surgery, given brat's penchant for poking fingers and toys into mamma's face at the oddest of moments to get her attention.)
While mamma and said beautician rolled on the ground in helpless laughter, the brat planted a tender kiss on mamma's forehead. "I tole her. Now she will nod trouble you."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Of horror shows, and the brat.

The brat is fast following the illustrious footsteps of his mater who can recant every horror flick worth its scares by the scene. It started with the brat sitting with his grandmother, watching with her, some of those infernal serials which have much high drama, sequinned sarees and full on emotion. The grandmother dozed off gently. The brat sat on wide eyed. Mamma was reading her book in the next room, when sudden dramatic music and screams emanating from the television alerted her to the fact that all was not well re the content on screen and so she dashed in, antenna on full alert, to find the brat all goggle-eyed, watching the dratted horror show, "Koi Aane Ko Hai," on Colors. Mamma snatched the remote and switched off the offending show. But the damage had been done.
"Dat boy, dey kilt him, and he became a bhoot, and walks like dis," he demonstrated to mamma and pappa when he was dragged away from the television in dadi's room. Walking with his neck tilted to one side, eyes manically wide, and hands outstretched in manner of random roadside groper out for a quick cop of whichever unfortunate might have the misfortune of passing. Both parents ignore and threaten him into sleeping. He lies down. And the room is darkened. And he springs up. Looking wide eyed outside the french windows into the balcony. 'Mamma, Pappa, luk, luk, dere's a bhoot in d balcony." For all Mamma's bravado, mamma is a total wuss, when it comes to supernatural stuff, having had enough encounters to last her many lifetimes. Mamma bolted up with a shock, "Where, where, where???" Vague shadows from the neon light of a sign on the office building opposite cast wierd shadows, but nothing of supernatural variety. Mamma and Pappa gave the brat a stern talking to about how there are no bhoots in the world and how he is not to sit and watch scary serials in the elderly relative's room. Brat snuggled up to Mamma comfortably, looking not the least perturbed for the supposed supernatural encounter. And whispered in Mamma's ears. "Don be frightinned. I is dere na, I wil kill all d bhoots. I is very strawng."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The perils of leaving kids unsupervised at birthday parties

The brat was invited to a birthday party the day before yesterday and to another one yesterday. Maybe I should thank my lucky stars that the brat is such a popular kid (or is it his mother?) that he got invited to over 19 birthday parties last month, some of which were home parties. Which I'm okay with, if I can be around to supervise. I am a paranoid mother. I cannot drop my child off and do a couple of hours worth of window shopping before picking him up again. I am the kind who sits outside in the McDonald's regular seating area, while he parties with his friends in the partyzone, with an eye on him.
And yes, I do get sneered at a lot by other moms for my paranoia. But I know my son. And he has scared me enough and more. And I'm not willing to take any chances as far as leaving him unsupervised is concerned. Which is why I left him with much reluctance at bash number one the day before yesterday. These birthday parties held at home have no parents, only the children. Which is on an average approximately 30 children of ages ranging from 3 to 13 going wild. And we live in towers with french windows and balconies in every room. I paced the passage outside the flat and kept peeking in periodically to check on the brat. After a while I saw him sitting with a small face in one of the small chairs. I went in and realised his stomach was hurting, another meaner, older kid had punched him in the stomach and he was sitting in a corner totally unnoticed. I got him out of the party, and tried to convince him to come home, but he wouldnt, petrified that he would lose out on the returngift if he did.
I did warn off the older boy that I was around and wouldnt stand for a repeat of that behavior.
Yesterday, the kids went for another birthday party in the adjoining building. I paced the corridor again. The brat, embarassed at his mom's presence, tried to shoo me away. I made myself as unobstrusive as possible and kept an eye on him. When I decided it was time to collect him, I went to the door, and asked for him, and for a friend's son, also brat's age, who lived in our tower so I could drop him home. The other fellow was nowhere to be seen. A frantic hunt was launched in the house. They found him in one of the bedrooms, choking and gasping for breath unable to speak. We rushed him down, called his parents, who rushed him to the hospital. A wafer had gone down the wrong way, into the windpipe. Had I decided to wait a five minutes extra to collect the brat, I shudder to think of what might have happened. And the hostess, naturally snowed under with the children in her house had no clue what was happening, nor the courtesy to come along and help me take the child down, along with my own. Of course, the brat is not going to a party in that house again. But he is now on, definitely not being sent into a party where Mamma is not allowed in, even if it is just to sit in a corner and be a wallflower.
I've written about this earlier. At the birthday parties I host, I've been dumped with three year olds while their mothers' use the two hours for quick window shopping or errand running, and the responsibility is scary. Young children get up to anything. I am almost always firefighting rather than enjoying my son's party. And the crowd is inevitably huge, how do I keep track of all the children. Isnt it common sense to wait back and supervise your own child? Or send out an invitation to a mother and the child if the child is below eight? What is your opinion?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Why is it so very painful...

...when your six year old decides that it is time to now change behind
closed doors, with Mamma on the other side of said closed door?

...when a child who needed your arm to go to sleep is now perfectly
happy with the pillow under his head?

...when your child would rather be at school with his friends or down
in the park, with other friends, rather than be home with you?

...when your child refuses to be hugged or cuddled anymore, saying
determinedly that he isnt a baby anymore.

...when the child seems perfectly happy and content to wave you off
and not call you one million times to check on how many centimeters
away from home you are.

...when the child actually tells you that he's changing you for a new,
improved model of mamma. One who stocks Cheetos with Beyblade Tazos by
the truckload in the kitchen shelves, and one who doesnt have a fat
bum. (Well, he's learnt that only the fat bum epithet actually ruffles
me any).

...when the child sleeping next to you is a curious mix between
babyfacedness and boyhood and you feel a sudden surge of pride and
fear and want to do all you can to freeze the moment and keep him your
baby, and not see the innocence and the childishness of his face
disappear to cynicism and oversmartness, a plague you see around with
every boy post age 10.

...when you realise that no matter how much you do, it will never ever
match up to how much his best friend's mom does for him, so its best
to quit the race while you are ahead.

...when you realise your baby suddenly grew up on you and became a little boy.