What I Learnt From My Kid’s School

Image courtesy- www.financialeducatorscouncil.org

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.

36

Image courtesy wisegeek.com

Ask a woman if she’s easier in her mind about being 36 years old versus being 36 in the waist and you can bet you’ll be on the receiving end of the MOST disdainful look which roughly translates to, ” Yeah right! AS IF! What kind of question is that anyhow? How DUH ARE you?!” and it goes on and on and on.

For someone who *is* 36 and enjoying it (so far), the fear of turning 36 in the waist wasn’t too far in the horizon. The girth has been expanding and innate laziness and a bad case of unstickittoiveness led me to think that henceforth denim (the wonder material and no, it’s not Lycra) might be something I could find and fit into with great difficulty.

And I’ll tell you why this is. The craze for skinny, low riding jeans for women seems to have taken over the world where the words comfort-fit are possibly the worst things you can say to a salesperson apparently. Each stack of denim, whether in the time-tested brands of Levis, Lee or Pepe, seems to have variations of skinny over and over again.

When a person like me, who hasn’t been remotely skinny EVER, heads over to shop for denim the sales people seem to gulp and summon their courage to tell me nothing is available in my size and probably won’t be unless I start to shop in stores which cater specifically to those of us who are more than reasonably well-fed.

I told Red I wanted a pair of new jeans on my birthday, the old one long having given up the ghost with all the thigh chaffing and splitting at the seams from my ever-expanding ways. He took it well although I suspect he had some scenes playing out in his head of me storming out of the trial rooms ranting about how only skinny people could shop off the rack these days for basic clothing yada yada yada.

And contrary to his usual manner of tasting his feet while he talks, he did not ask the sales girl to get me the largest size they had available. He merely gave me the floor and told me to pick what I liked and try it on. Phew…birthdays sure good days for husbands to learn tact. Sadly the next day they go back to square one.

Anyhoo, I picked a pair to try out and entertained scary thoughts of my own about all the huffing, puffing and jiggling up and down, hopping on one foot just to get the jeans on and then shimmying like you know who (the ladies who like to dance around poles with minimal to no clothes on) just to get the pants up to my waist when a miracle happened………….wait for it………………………………………………………………………………..The pants rose like magic (but not like extra-large clown pants) to meet me on their own. I was able to button the waist without doing the Lamaze huff-puffs and when I squatted to see how tightly the seams were being tested, they didn’t even whimper! Ask women how often they moon the trial room mirrors when test driving new jeans and you’ll have a bunch of women fit to cry their eyes out!

Manna from the heavens on the first pair of jeans?! Someone up there (or down there) wanted me to have a happy birthday for sure!

And what is the point of this rambling and avoidable description of me fitting into jeans? It’s not about the weight entirely. The older you get you do mellow but you also realize there might not be going back to certain things. A 28-inch waist for one. Not only because your kid would miss head butting your extra bouncy tummy and your husband would end up needing pillows to lean on instead of you but also because somewhere you made your peace with the flab. You certainly don’t want to nurture it but it’s there so what’re gonna do? You love to hate it!

Finding something that goes right, the way it’s supposed to, the first time around is a nice change from everything that you need to and have to work at. A pair of jeans that slid up the on the first try without any grunts out of you and were soft enough to sleep in as well, sometimes makes all the difference.

Now if it had turned out that my waist was 36 instead of my age, that would be a descent to a whole new level of madness and a totally different blog post altogether! We are talking a new level in the Inferno for God’s sake!

Salut!

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.

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!

The Blessing Of Being A Daughter’s Mother

Now let me start off by saying that having a son isn’t a curse or a non-blessing either. Even if mine does make me long for Valium on most days, he is truly the light, noise…err..sound of my life.

But back to why a daughter specially, is a blessing. A friend and ex-colleague of mine whom I have unfortunately not been in touch with for too many years has a birthday coming up. A landmark birthday in fact but the number will not be revealed…a woman has to have her secrets after all 🙂

Her daughter got my number from her and called me up a few minutes ago to tell me that she’s making a memory jar for her mom with the same number of friends that the age her mom’s turning.

It’s a total surprise and all her mother knows is that her daughter has access to her phone book and is probably calling some friends over for a surprise party…NOT!

With my friend’s birthday falling on a school night for her and her daughter and a Ph.D looming up in the horizon, a party is totally out of the question on her big day. But she’ll be spending it reading all the stuff her friends have penned down for her.

Who else but a girl would have thought of something like this? And the child is probably all of 15 going on 16.

Jeez…people have got to have more girls! And this girl has one helluva mother!

Reblogged:Playing With The Hand You’re Dealt…

Isn’t that what it all boils down to in life?
It isn’t always celebrating the things that go well or in accordance with our plans or even making our peace with the things that don’t. It’s finally just existing with what IS.
Sometimes we are able to do it gracefully and other times it takes a lot of plodding and prodding to get through each day.

There’s a saying by Oscar Wilde that people often smugly quote- ” There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

I’ve found that while tragedy might be too strong a word for it, it does seem difficult to comprehend and accept ,what you sought out, opted for even isn’t all that it’s cut out to be or even worse…it’s not what you want. Is inadequate.

So you shuffle the deck a few times and hope the next hand is better than the one that has you staring in bafflement.

Or you chuck the cards up in the air and don’t care if they scatter all over; since it’s mimicking life in doing so.

And some of us painstakingly make a house of cards. Trying to balance each card over the other and anxiously watching whether they stay up or come tumbling down.
In the end you either end up with a steady house you used up all your cards in making and are proud of or you decide to call it quits after you reach a plateau and are still left holding a few cards for later.

It’s all about playing with the hand you were dealt.