How To Talk So Kids Will Listen

This is going into the category of a bloglet viz it’ll be brief.

There’s a book my husband bought me once the brat started pre-primary…it’s called How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk. Since the book did not mention anything about how to talk so husbands will listen and stop leaving wet towels all over the place; I decided not to do much about this book reco.

I already knew then and still know how to talk so my kid would listen- dress like a giant lollipop, have Play-Doh in one hand, the t.v. remote in the other and preferably enter riding on a dinosaur!

Maybe then….and maybe Utopia is just around the corner! Pshaw!!

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What I Learnt From My Kid’s School

Courtesy Facebook’s memories I get to know about how and what I was thinking not only on a time a specific time in the past but also how I was feeling. And when I wrote this post I was a bit more of an anxious mother, fretting about my kid’s school, academic “career” as it were and basically uncomfortable about not knowing what lay ahead. Fast Forward two years I’m still sipping at the font of wisdom that is Life and learning loads while my kid goes to school. Here’s how it is…

  • A child will learn at their own pace no matter what!
  • A teacher who loves kids (genuinely) will probably be able to teach more through affection and warmth rather than another more knowledgeable individual who is distant or doesn’t form relationships with the kids.
  • Digital media, chalkboard, flashcards are all props…native intellect needs to be stirred and awake for learning to occur.
  • Making things interesting is all fine and good but it helps that the biological age increases and life experiences help kids understand why they need to learn.
  • Getting a good night’s sleep and cutting off from anything academic goes a long way in learning taking place.
  • Physical activity- silly and unstructured or properly regimented aids in learning as well.
  • Learning can come from various sources provided it’s pitched at the right time and the right way.
  • Parents need the teachers’ presence more than the kids…just to be assured that all’s going as it should.
  • Taking a small step back from policing the child (even with all the best intents in the world) is a fantastic thing to do while they’re below the tweens.
  • Reflecting on what were turn-offs and stumbling blocks while we were students helps empathize and give the child space to assimilate their learning material.
  • Accepting that there’s a Bell Curve and your child will grow into a more permanent place in it, helps be good parents as well.
  • Trusting the people you entrust your kid’s physical, emotional and overall well-being to and yet realizing our role is constant in the whole scope of things.
  • Acknowledging that improvements- slight, steady or sporadic; are still a step in the right direction give you a good night’s sleep.

Long story short? The AC bus and the pool helps because trappings are important. But a teacher who makes sure your kid has a balanced meal daily and who can come back and share positive and negative feedback with indemnity goes a long, long way in knowing how to be supportive while your child learns about life. Be it from a tablet, a workbook or just from a walk in the park. Because a big part of being a parent is taking a backseat while your kid gets the controls of life just right. You have to deal with not always being able to call ‘shotgun’.

Here endeth the lesson.

The Mine Field That Is My House

Many moons ago I had spewed a bit via this post but last night I realized that my modest home is quite fraught with stuff that’s likely to blow up (figuratively) or cause me to blow up (literally).

Case in point- My kid and his quest for building a dino army keeps showing up (read under) all foreseeable and some not so foreseeable places. Last night’s trip to the bedroom was an obstacle course par excellence!

This is how it went down- focus on the word down. Now the charming child I’ve brought into this world, had locked Red and I out of our bedroom? Did I mention we’ve been co-sleeping, exclusively? It’s not fun. But since his room and ours has a connecting window that opens up from his room, I thought I’d sorted things out quite alright. Erm…not quite.

So just on the other side of MLM’s window is a futon and ahead of the futon is a few open feet of room followed by the bed. I always keep a bit of a gap between the window and the futon for these reasons and also to make it easier to sweep and mop but that was to be my downfall in every sense of the word.

So the space behind the futon was littered with dinos. The pointy kinds. I think the beak of a Quetzalcoatlus (pronounced as  /ˌkwɛts(ə)lkəʊˈatləs/ for those who give a damn) or a Pteranodon (drop the P while saying it and you’re gravy) poked me in my foot leading me to leapfrog over the entire width of the futon and step on a Hotwheels car that effectively got me half airborne till I broke my fall on the futon. And being the superb athelete that I am, I was suprised that nothing was broken…bones and futon included.

So up I get, seething in anger and ready to grab the kid by the scruff of his neck and dump him in his room and his quite comfortable bed when I stepped on a marble and hopped on one foot to go and sit on the air conditioner’s remote which was parked right where I would normally sleep!

A lopsided, ballet through the air to land in a graceless manner in a bed where a rapidly growing child was sleeping diagonally across. Naturally.

Oh by the way, did I mention it was rather dark in the room just the LED glow from the AC spread a dim light over a negligible part of the room? Nevermind…that’s usually a given.

 

The Laundry Bugbear

I can totally understand why certain people cross over to the dark side and embrace OCD. Well, given that we’re talking of OCD am guessing the embracing is a compelling act, ‘cuse the pun, por favor.

So laundry…yeah. It’s a necessary evil if you want to wear clean clothes and in case you don’t have a Centurion card to back up the expense of new clothes every day. The second biggest reason of laundry being a must-do is kids. You can always tell the significant other to turn the undies inside out and make do if he can’t find a clean pair (not that it *ever* happens in this household..ahem ahem) but you can’t tell your kid that they don’t have their favorite monster face undies or that their dragon tshirt that they wear as a uniform each time you go out to eat Chinese is still languishing at the bottom of their hamper.

But the act of doing laundry is something that has become a god-awful elaborate ritual. Earlier it was maybe putting the washing machine on a different mode for delicate clothes or a heavy load but now it’s a 3-4 step process in actually washing the clothes.

Take a gander at this-

  1. Pre-treat whites and colors with separate bleaches for whites and colors respectively and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. But first test on an inner seam to make sure the bleach doesn’t bleach anything else except the damn stain and your son’s favorite tshirt isn’t missing a stegosaurus head or triceratops tail at the end of laundry cycle.
  2. Use a special cuffs and collars liquid for the rings around the neck and well..wrists. These rings give me a slack-jawed look each time I see them. They rate right up there with the rings of the crop circles that has the world goggled. I just don’t understand how people who bathe regularly and one of whom I personally scrub till spanking red, gets rings around the collars. EVERY TIME.
  3. Check on the pre-treated clothes and give a scrub if needed to get the stubborner stains out. It’s always needed.
  4. Scrub seams, near the buttons a bit more delicately of the rest of the clothes.
  5. Choose appropriate load in the machine.
  6. Add appropriate detergent- powder on the days we’re washing jeans and everyday tees and the special liquid one for the Lord and Master’s clothes and school uniforms. Damn private schools!
  7. Add fabric softener or yet more bleach depending upon how well each member of the family has fed themselves.
  8. Finally, close the lid and send a prayer up to the Gods of Laundry and Washed Clothes that the clothes at least appear washed even if they don’t look sparkling clean.

And that, ladies and gents, is how I do laundry at home.

One the last few occasions I’ve asked Red to do the laundry (the last time was in mid-2015) his shirts still had the sleeved rolled up, I found 50 rupees in the pocket of his cargos and the drum of the washing machine was clinking like a Vegas slot machine when someone hits the jackpot all because the loose change hadn’t been kept aside.

Nuff said about why he will never do laundry unless I’m there to micromanage it entirely!

How do I get out this vicious cycle of cursing a blue streak while I look at the dirty clothes and wish there wasn’t any dirt, pencils in the world or that Indians didn’t need turmeric in their food?! I’ve actually thought about switching to all-white foods but I don’t see these two eating cauliflower and white sauce with rice forevermore.

In the meanwhile, Clorox will be my best friend for ever and ever and ever!

Amen.

P.S: If this post reads slightly in the Cinderella vein, it is. Although instead of a buff Prince Charming, my version has a charwoman with a washboard.

 

 

Co-Sleeping…A Parent Reflects

One of the first things I bought when I got pregnant, was a cot for my baby. It was nice, smooth with rounded edges and had teething shields on both the rails. It worked well when the brat was a teeny-tiny infant and it also worked as a mini-prison of sorts during time outs when he started getting his bad-monkey groove on.

And one day he and I both slept off on my bed and after that there was no looking back. He wanted that big bed! He wanted that big bed to turn cartwheels in, to go up and down and round and round in and somewhere along the way he also slept there.

We’ve got him his own big boy bed in his own room and he has slept there on and off but it just took one bout of cold, cough or fever for him to end up in my bed and NEVER LEAVE!

But last night while we were having our usual story-time tussle (another blog post for later) before he slept off, I realized that each night when I reach out I can usually connect with one or the other of his limbs and unless it’s his butt which ending up near my face; it’s comforting to have him close by and I actually like it.

Right from the time he was born, he smelled ‘nice’. That smell that’s particular to babies which is a mixture of sweet, soft, baby powder, drool and cuteness. Add to that whatever lotion or powder you now smother your child in and you have a unique aroma that you associate with your child forever.

And while my night-time sleep is often punctuated by a bop on the head, sheets being tugged away entirely, hot breath right on my face and a knee to my sternum in the first hour of hitting the sack; it’s also quite lovely to have a soft, squishy bundle to well…softly squish.

Plenty of parenting manuals, how-to books advise against co-sleeping, I for one am beginning to think that our kids grow up too quickly as it is. One day they fit in your lap and then they don’t. They have the rest of their lives to sleep in different beds, holding onto different people. A few more nights of cuddles and elbows to ribs won’t hurt anyone.

And while I write this I know fully well I’ll be grumbling while I get the offspring into a “normal” sleeping posture from his usual one of the Vitruvian Man so I can make some space for myself at the near-edge of the bed.

Here’s wishing you all adequate space to sleep.

Good night.

After School Huffiness

The brat got off the school bus with two holes in the school uniform that hadn’t been there when he’d got on the bus in the morning.

When I asked him (with a slight frost in my voice) he told me that a “Screaming Death” had made the holes.

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For the uninitiated, a Screaming Death is one from the stable of Dreamworks Dragons. It’s an ultimate badass dragon ergo also the love of MLM’s life ever since he laid his dragon-loving eyes on it.

Anyhoo he flat out refused to tell me how his school uniform happened to get ruined in that holey fashion and kept saying it was the dragon who did it. I told him that because of his behavior the tv was off-limits and I wasn’t going to talk to him till he told me the truth. And he threw a tantrum. A typical one with the screeching and minor feet stomping.

And then it got atypical. He sat and watched me ignore him for a bit and got out his trolley bag. Then this is the conversation that took place between us:

MLM-“Ok Ayu. I’m leaving.”

Me- Bye.

MLM- I’m going to count to 3 and you are going to put the tv for me.

Me- snorts in derision. “Yeah…not going to happen kid.”

MLM- ONE. TWO. THREEEEEE! Ok. FINE! I leaving now.

Me- B-Y-E.

MLM- while making a show of pulling his suitcase along and grumbling the entire time, “I’m not going to be your friend,grumble grumble. I’ll go and live in Kolkata (where my parents live) and never come home again!grumble grumble. I’ll watch tv there every day because (mentioning his grandmother’s name) loves me and you are MEAN!!”

Me- So go already. Bye.

MLM- Going till the main door and struggling to open the lock. “Open the door! I can’t leave, it’s locked.”

Me- opening the door for him…”Don’t forget your shoes. Bye”.

MLM- Struggling to get his trolley over the doorway…Ayu help me. I can’t leave…”

Me- Helps him put the bag outside the door and leaves.

MLM- Comes back in a bit and says, “I’m hungry”. I want to be your friend again. Please give me peanut butter and jam sammich?”

Me- So when do you want to leave the house and go stay in Kolkata?

MLM- I’ll go tomorrow. After the birthday party (mentions a friend’s birthday party he’s supposed to attend tomorrow).

Me- rolls eyes heavenward and goes to make PB&J sandwich.

Two minutes later I get a hug and someone plants a kiss in the vicinity of my hip and says you’re my best friend. These sammiches are DE-LI-SHUS!

And life goes on.

Bloglet: Repartee

I am currently in what I imagine is a near-Cinderella stage. Drippy nose, swollen face and mopping up the red blood (poster color) that MLM generously painted on his T-Rex’s teeth and pretty much all over on an off-white tiled floor.

I fall back on the worst threat in my arsenal aka am going away and never coming back and the brat pipes up saying I’ll hide in your suitcase when you aren’t looking and go with you.

And grins. Widely.

Crapola.

PS: While I type this out, I can see a blur running around with toothbrushes in one hand and the handle of a trolley bag in another. Bested again.

Yet Another Epiphany

I had another Ah-HA! experience this morning while “attempting” to explain to MLM why something is desirable and why something isn’t. People (parenting experts, those whose kids are no longer a pain-in-the-ass and those who are blissfully childless) usually say that it sets a bad example to communicate with a growing child using largely negatives viz “NO”, “NOT”. “DONT” et al. However, given that the vocabulary of most children who aren’t prodigies or savants of some kind are largely rudimentary till the middle school years, it becomes a tough job navigating the world of communicating what you want with what your child can comprehend.

But I have finally realized the biggest challenge I face day in and day out while trying to bring this boy up- I have to be an adult in the face of his childishness. And therein lies the rub. I no longer know how to be a child and he’s not reached that stage where he knows anything else but how to be a child.

Just a few minutes back, I had another locking-horns session with my offspring. Reason? He’s been using a turtle stencil to draw outlines on an otherwise pristine ivory colored wall. Again.

The first time this was noticed and commented upon, he apologized. In a flash. And went off to do whatever it is he does when one road to mischief has been shut down. Today when I noticed the second drawing I called him to ask why he had drawn on the walls again when he knew it wasn’t appreciated at all. He simply replied that he wanted to. No defiance. No attitude. Just a simple statement of fact.

And that in nutshell is how children usually are. While some are more compliant, for reasons known only to them, others are more willful in the sense that they are guided largely by their whims. A state that many older people fall back into in their advanced years.

But try as I might, I couldn’t explain to MLM why I was upset. He finally came up with a solution of wiping it off with water. But the crux of the problem escaped him and it entirely escaped me how to clue him in.

As adults we live with and in cliches. We stay in the lines. It starts by learning to color in them, writing within in, standing in them and also driving in them. We don’t always turn into lab rats or hamsters in their wheels but we become regulated. And can also see the benefits of such a life for its opposite is chaos in some form or the other.

But a child, especially one right out of early childhood is all about seeing his or her environment as a giant canvas, playground or anything without boundaries. They want to color furiously all over the paper. Never mind that the dam fruit they were to color got buried under the strokes. They want to scribble on walls because that’s the largest unending surface that surrounds them everyday. They want to climb higher, use the bed as a trampoline because everything that gives them a sense of freedom, even briefly, is exhilarating. Never mind that you’ll be replacing the mattress or the bed springs will poke through before long. It’s just so much more fun than just calmly lying down somewhere and sleeping.

And this is why I blogged this. Right here and now. So when I’m about to have an aneurysm tomorrow or day after from whatever my son wasn’t supposed to have done but did so anyhow; I can take a quick peek at this post before my head blows up. Hell! I’ll have to clean up that mess too so I might as well read these pearls of wisdom and count to a 1000 and keep telling myself there’s always school and the next summer holidays are a year away.

Amen!

After A Long Break…From Writing

Been visiting my folks back in my hometown. It’s kind of become an annual trip during the brat’s summer holidays. It’s part torture and part relaxation but the fun comes and goes. I say that because the concept of fun not only changes from person to person but sometimes even from day-to-day.

One day locking yourself up in a room and just reading Asterix comics can be bliss where another day going for a trip on a river despite the icky-sticky humidity can be pretty damn good too!

But be as that may I have some blog posts bursting to get out. Haven’t blogged at in the past month. Barring my renewed love for Instagram, I wasn’t doing anything else at all. A break of sorts.

Anyhow one of the things that did catch my eye and then my head was the essay written by Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, after her husband passed away.

Apart from the utterly heartfelt words that Sandberg wrote, what really caught my attention were her updates on Facebook throughout the entire  time she was in mourning.

She didn’t do any of the silly and utterly without value kind of updates like check-ins into malls or fashionable places or used emojis to describe how she was feeling but she her work updates, things which probably kept her grounded during that indescribably difficult time.

But I have to wonder if uneasy does rest the head wearing the crown. Do you have time to actually grieve, go where your life is taking you or are you beholden to a greater power- your work?

My father, although not in Sandberg’s league, is a pretty well-established person in his own field. And he seldom switches off. While it isn’t as hectic as it was before he retired (for the first time) he hasn’t entirely cut the cord either. And it must be hard to do…if you have done something for most of your adult life, especially when you distinguish yourself at it.

But while there is something to be said for going up the ladder, there are times when being a foot soldier or a cog in the system might be a blessed thing as well.

Here endeth the first one of the pent-up blog posts. More posts to follow. Some on my photo blog. Check it out here.

There’s A Dinosaur In My Bra!

No. I’m not high. Yes, I wish I was. And yes, I have a child. Ergo the weird things ending up where they ideally ought not to.

Sitting down and finding a clothes pin jammed up in your butt crack is passe. Stepping on Batman and theoretically emasculating him when you get up to pee at 4 in the morning is also so-been-there-done-that.

Now, having a wee serpent stare at you balefully while you rub the sleep out of your eyes and cope with an imminent heart attack is the new definition of normal. And while your nervous system gets even more nervouser and tells you to flee, the mother part of your brain tries to calm it down by saying, “There’s a 5-year old on the loose. That’s all.”

Having kids is honestly an adventure. And for quite a while, you’re going in blind. It’s a war on some days but for the most part it IS fun. They can wake up one morning and tell you they want to see stingrays and whale sharks (making you think you have a mini-Animal Planeteer on your hands and feeling good that the boy is growing up) and by evening on the same day they are watching the television upside down because apparently Pink Panther looks better that way.

And that’s what I’m going to tell myself while I fish out the mini-extinct lizard from my cups and set it down carefully next to the Triceratops, the hotwheels car and the Batman who has his head on backwards.

Never a dull moment!