Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Da da da, ta ta ta, bla bla bla

The chirpy little Jiya added a few consonants today to her tiny repertoire of oohs and aahs :)

Food battles!

Ahh!! The food battle!! I picked it and I lost it BAD!! From not eating a morsel till the idiot box was turned on and no-one else but Mary Poppins sung to him "A spoonful of sugar lets the medicine go down" (he even chose the right song for mealtimes, huh?!) to even screaming on top of his lungs and actually throwing a fit and the plate off the table (!!!) if I tried to put as much as one bite in his mouth.
Well I have written about it ample number of times, but this is not another sob story because finally something seems to be working. At a friend's suggestion, I have started saving his food for later. If he says he's had enough, say at lunch, I tell him its okay if he wants to get up but then "No dudu (milk), no cracker cheese, no kaju mimish (cashews and raisins)" till he finishes this meal when he gets up from his nap.
It took him a couple of days to realise what was going on. He's in a habit of devouring a glass of milk as soon as he gets up from a nap and given the crabby mood that he is in at that time, I think twice before picking up a battle at that time. The first day when I told him that he had to finish his saved lunch first, it was met by a full blown tantrum, screaming, lying on the floor, crying, running like a zombie. I distracted him by showing him his recent pictures as the computer was on and reminded him what I had told him in the afternoon. Some more crying and blowing fists in the air followed. I went to the kitchen and busied myself. After 5 minutes of thoughtfully contemplating his odds and mine, he silently sat down to eat. After a bite or so, he meekly said "Mummy, help karaoon", finished the food and then drank his milk.
Ever since, I remind him when he tries to get up in the middle of a meal. If he can take some more, he usually asks me to help him finish it right then. If he is genuinely full, he then eats it whenever he feels hungry (he starts by asking for cracker cheese or goldfish, though and has to be reminded that the meal is not finished yet) But he normally does finish it with some fuss within reasonable limits. A couple of times, his dinner time gets pushed to later than usual because he has finished his lunch in the evening. But still this is working better than anything else has in the past.

Bal Hanuman

Last night we were watching the movie 'Bal Hanuman' with Vansh. The Hindi was too tough for him to understand. So when Lord Brahma asked Indra Dev "इस बालक की यह दुर्दशा kisne की?", he asked me "Mummy, kaun hain? Kya bol rahe hain?" (Who are they? What are they saying?) I explained to him "Yeh bhagwan ji hain aur yeh bol rahe hain ki Hanuman ji ko owie kisne ki?" (This is God and he's asking who hurt Hanuman ji?). What resulted was a sudden spate of questions :

"Mummy, blue waale bhagwan ji kya bol rahe hain? Yellow waale police uncle kya bol rahe hain? Bal numan ji owie aa raha hai? Numan ji fly kar rahe hain? Police uncle pakad ke le jayenge yellow waale bhagwan ji ko?"

(What is the blue colored God saying? Yellow colored uncle is police uncle, is it? Is Hanuman hurt? Is he flying? Is police going to catch the yellow colored God?)

Boy oh boy!! Talk of generalizing personal everyday experiences to others around. When he gets over excited around Jiya and starts pressing her tummy too hard or pulling her arm a tad bit vehemntly, even after being reminded to be gentle, we warn him by saying that Police uncle does not spare those who harm their little sisters and takes them away. On several occasions, as a result, when he hears a crying child in the building corridor, he makes up a story "Police uncle girl ko leke ja rahe hain. Chhoti sister ko owie kiya." (The police uncle is taking away the girl because she hit her little sister.) Taking it one step further to apply the story to Gods in heaven sure was hilarious for us.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pretending to be a parent!

Lightning McQueen, Winnie, Teddy and Doggy are assigned a few toys by Vansh and are told "Toys share karna, no shouting, no pushing, OK!"

Getting to be someone's parent is so much fun, hanh!! :)

"Baby Dot and Stop"

We did this simple craft last night. Vansh enjoys using the scissors to cut. He's not yet perfect at it but he's surely getting the hang of it. He puts his thumb and fingers in there right but has to be reminded to keep his wrist straight and not tilt it sideways. And I pre-cut about 2" wide strips of colored construction paper which he then cuts into small pieces. We then took a tree template and started to put glue on the branches and the tree trunk and in order to avoid its over use, we kept repeating the phrase 'Baby dot and stop', Vansh's version being "Baby says Stop!" :) and then we stuck the leaves - green, yellow, orange and red and the brown pieces on the trunk. In the end, we had a lovely colorful tree and a beaming jubilant Vansh.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Figuring out the intricacies of speech

Its funny and fascinating at the same time when you see a child learning to speak. First they start with the major words, overlooking the finer details. And now a days Vansh is trying hard out to figure out those intricacies right - the का, की, को, ने, et al.

So these are a few samples of how his sentences sound these days

"Vansh ko laptop close kiya ko" - the correct version being "Vansh ne laptop ko close kiya"

"Cherry O khel raha hai Vansh saath papa saath"

"Pani piya Vansh ko"

"Owie (a word commonly used when it hurts somewhere) aa raha hai finger ki"

Funny yet intriguing nonetheless!!

The good old days...

Received this one as a forwarded e-mail and it indeed put a smile on my face amidst all the stress involved in raising children today. Read on ...


How did one survive growing up in the 80's, 70's and before?

We had no seatbelts, no airbags and sitting in the back of a ute was a treat...
Our baby prams had the most gorgeous lead based colors...

No such thing as tamper proof bottle tops...
Opening kitchen cupboards was a breeze as safety locks were unheard of...

Cycling was a breath of fresh air - no saftey helmets, knee pads or elbow pads, with plenty of cardboards between spokes to make it sound like a motorbike...
and we were fearless on our bikes even when the brakes failed going downhill...

When thirsty we only drank tap water, bottled water was still a mystery...
We kept busy collecting bits and pieces so we could build all sort of things...

We were showing off how tough we are by how high we could climb trees and then jumping down..It was great fun...
We could stay to play for hours as long as we got back before dark, in time for dinner...

We walked to school or sometimes we even rode our bikes...
We had no mobile phones, but we always managed to find each other...
How? No one knows...

We lost teeth, broke arms and legs, we got cuts and bruises and bloody noses...
Nobody complained as we had so much fun, it wasn't anybody's fault, only ours...

We ate everything in sight, cakes, bread, chocolate, ice cream, sweet sugary drinks, yet, we stayed skinny by fooling around.
And if one of us was lucky to find a 1 litre Coca Cola bottle we all had a swag from it and guess what ..nobody picked up any germs...

We did not have Play Stations, MP3, Nintendo's, Video games, 99 cable TV channels, DVD's, Home Cinema, Mobile phones, Home Computers, Laptops, Chat rooms, Internet, etc ...BUT we didn't get BORED because we had REAL FRIENDS!!!!

We called on friends to come out to play, never rang the doorbell, just went around the back...
We loved being let loose in the big bad world ...without bodyguards...
We played with sticks and stones, played cowboys and Indians, doctors and nurses, hide and seek, soccer games, over and over again...

When we failed our exams we were given a second chance by simply repeating the same grade, without visiting psychiatrists, psychologists or counselors...such were the days...
We had freedom, success, disappointments and responsibilities...
Most of all, we learned to respect others...

Are YOU from that generation?? If that's the case, pass it on to all your friends from the same era...

May be this message will help them forget the stress that surrounds us these days...and just for a few moments put a smile on their face as they remember what life was really like in the good old days...

Friday, December 14, 2007

acting BIG and loving it :)

Talking about acting grown up, here's a few things Vansh has been saying to Jiya these days.

-Jiya often grabs her feet and puts them in her mouth. Many a times, her socks remain there and out comes the foot. To this, depending on his mood at that time, this is what Vansh has to say

*good mood* - Jiya kya karti hai? (in a sing song voice) Muhn mein nahin daalo socks, chhee chhee hai. (JIya, what are you doing? Don't put your socks in your mouth. They are dirty.) and tries to put them back on.

*grumpy mood* - Jiya!!! mat dalo muhn mein! Gussa karoon!! (Jiya, don't put in your mouth! Should I scold you?) and snatches them from her hand.

- At times, she does the same with her clothes thus revealing her tummy. To which, Vansh would go "Pssst! Jiya aise nahin karte!" and pull her dress to cover her belly again. Look who's being a protective big brother, eh!

- Often times, Jiya is not able to hold on to the toys we give her for very long and drops them on the ground from her bouncy, to which Vansh says "Jiya, mat fenko toys" (Jiya don't throw the toys) and hands it back to her.

He so loves being able to boss someone around :)

Acting all grown up :)

Now a days whenever I call Ashwini in office, Vansh too wants to talk to him. For that matter, Vansh wants to talk to anyone we call. At times if Ashwini happens to be in a meeting or just generally busy or may be driving, I tell Vansh "Papa abhi busy hain/ drive kar rahe hain, baad mein call karke baat karenge/ghar aane waale hain, phir baat karna". One such day, Ashwini called back after some time. When I handed the phone to Vansh, he scrunched up his eyes and sounding like a grown up, said
Vansh -Papa busy ho, meeting mein ho, hanh?
Ashwini -Nahi beta meeting mein nahin hoon.
Vansh - Nahin? Drive kar rahe ho?

At this I couldn't control my laughter any more and burst out laughing which made him all conscious to which he stuck out his tongue and started laughing himself.

Code Language :)

This happened a couple of months earlier. A very common way of parents of kids aged two and three to communicate with each other on touchy topics like candies and juices is to spell out the word. For instance, if I want to ask Ashwini if he would like to have a chocolate I would say "C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E. khaana hai?" This is to avoid getting into a tiff with Vansh on giving him one too. Now one day we had a playdate at our apartment and there was one mom with a daughter Divya who is Vansh's age and another one with a daughter Riya who is slightly older than Jiya. So I asked Divya's mom "Would Divya like to have J.U.I.C.E.?" because I was not sure about her stance on the same and the other mom goes "Woh kya hota hai?" and it had both of us in splits. It also so happened that just a few minutes back she had been asking us about snacks and finger foods she could start offering to Riya and she thought we were talking about another one of those. Still laughing, we told her about our code language till the kids get the hang of spellings :))

Main busy hoon ...

There are many a times Vansh wants to be played with, especially ever since we introduced him to board games. He would lay down 'Cherry O' and pronounce "Vansh orange khelta hai, Mummy red khelti hai". And on several such occasions I have to tell him "Beta, mamma abhi busy hai. Abhi aape aape khelo, main thodi der mein aapke saath khelti hoon." (Mom is busy. Play by yourself for some time and I'll join you in a bit.) Last night he was sitting on Ashwini's lap while he was working on his laptop when I asked him to come and brush his teeth. "Main busy hoon" pat came the reply. Huh!! Kids sure know how to give parents a taste of their own medicine, right!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday afternoon feedings

Wednesday afternoons, usually become a little challenging when we return from ECFE at about 1:30 and it is already Vansh's naptime and he still needs to be fed (yeah FED, which boy doesn't feed himself at close to 3 years) and so does Jiya. So I have a hungry and sleepy 2 year old (now thats a DEADLY combination) and a hungry infant (she is smart enough to take her nap during the parents' class - oh yeah she's had enough of complaining moms and dads!!). Well today was different in a very pleasant way because I decided to take-out Chalupas - a current favorite with Vansh, from the Taco Bell drive thru. This ensured one happy kid out of two. Now to take care of the second who flails her arms to be picked up to be at the table and then goes chomp chomp chomp, I handed her a Parle G biscuit instead. Let me post pictures to let you see what happened next.
and 5 minutes later, I have a triumphant and happy second kid as well!!
Icing on the cake, they both napped simultaneously for two hours straight!! Wow! It couldn't have gotten any better than that! God please don't let such scenarios be jinxed just because I am writing about them.


That was the topic in the parents class at ECFE. And I had been waiting quite eagerly for it. Which Indian mother wouldn't ?! As much as I hate it, but the competition out there beginning right from getting a 4 year old into a 'reputed' school and a never ending process from then on, gets to me at times. The almost inhuman pressures of 'studies' when a kid should actually be chasing cats or hiding behind bushes call for an entire independent post on them, so let me not digress and share some useful pointers from the discussion we had today. I do strive for making it lots of fun and that being the focus rather than the learning at this point of time.

- Nothing new in this one, the beginning of getting children to read is to talk, talk, talk to them. A child who is interacted with for about an hour every day enters Kindergarten with a vocabulary of 8000-10,000 words, which is the approximate vocab a child has to have before he can start reading. We, very fortunately have a former reading specialist among us (someone who helps children who have difficulty reading due to a disorder or other reasons, get over their difficulties and start reading) and she pitched in with very meaningful comments from time to time. Its always better to talk to the kids in context, which means even though its good to show flash cards and books with pictures of animals but real learning takes place when we are out there on the road or the grocery store or any lace for that matter and talking about things that we are looking at or may be recalling them from those flash cards.

- Books - There were several aspects of this one.

  • Get them interested from a young age. Make visits to the library or book store frequent.
  • Let them choose their own books and have them own some books.
  • Its okay and common for children to have favorites and wanting to read them over and over again and it actually builds and strengthens brain connections. (There was a time when I felt that Vansh only wanted to read books with cars or trucks in them and I wanted him to read about other things as well. So for a few days, I removed all cars and trucks books and only had books about animals or other things. And Vansh showed zero interest in those and didn't want to read at all. So for us, I had to let him have his own likes and dislikes and read about whatever he chose to because right now its more important to get him interest in reading.)
  • While reading, encourage them to think and talk about what they think is going on in the picture. Connect stories to what's happening in the real world.
  • Have exaggerated expressions; add sound effects for getting them more interested. (Cars vrrroooming and things falling with a boom bam tadaan and a heavy looking man talking in a heavy tone of voice are some of Vansh's favorites)
  • Read yourself and let your child watch and pay attention to the value your family places on reading.
- Just as exaggerated expressions and sounds get them interested in books, exaggerated movements of hands and feet are precursors of writing skills. So making big imaginary circles, jumping ropes with those big hand movements, drawing large O's on an easel or the ground are actually things which help develop that part of the brain which ultimately helps a child write. This was pretty insightful. In fact do drop in more suggestions, if you happen to read this, on getting a child more interested to write.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jiya oh Jiya...

... How I wish time would stop right here, with you being just the perfect size for our hugs, the perfect sight and a stunningly lovely one at that for our eyes, the perfect sing song voice which is music for our ears, the perfect baby smell which pleases the olfactory nerves like nothing else does. To top it all you are so generous with your hugs and kisses for us, Wow! we can't believe you already know how to take out that 'puchhh' sound too when you open your mouth the widest you can and scoop in our cheeks. Not to forget the "You are the best mom/dad/bhaiya in the whole world" looks you give us when you think we are coming near you to play with you. Of course we have to stop right there to do just that. Everything else can wait. We are head over heals in love with you, our gorgeous little darling. We love it when you roll over and over till you find yourself stuck in a corner and then cry for help as also when you scream to be picked up and sit with us at the table for the meals and actually force us to feed you bites of chapati, aloo, dahi, chicken even. Yes my dear, 5 months and you have had it all. Another favorite is bouncing on mommy's knee on 'The Grand Old duke of York' or watching her perform 'Tick tock I am the little cuckoo clock' for your pleasure or better still bhaiya dancing just for you on 'Lets get on the bus'. And we love to do it all for you our sweety pie. Cuddling you and squeezing you close and rocking you are our favorite activities these days. We are enjoying you so very much.
Well darling, just felt like penning down all that you are upto these days, hoping I'll be able to relive these moments by reading about them.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Do you know who I like to pretend I am ...

...PAPA. My Superstar!!

Meeting other parents

Every time I meet parents of children, like aged or older than our own, I think about how important it is to keep meeting them. Each parent has so much to offer in terms of experience in dealing with particular situations, a different perspective to look at things, putting anxieties at rest which I might have, providing creative ideas for little problems we face everyday which make such a huge impact on the temperament of the child and ultimately are the difference between a good smooth day or a tough bumpy one.
A few days ago, we went for a MOMS club activity at a friend's house and another boy whom Vansh doesn't meet very often was playing with a big car. Naturally Vansh wanted to play with the car immediately. He does that many a times and what I tell him is that he has to either wait for his turn or play with another toy depending upon the toy and the situation at that time. What that other boy's mom told both of them was that they had a choice of playing together with the car, demonstrating how they could roll it forwards and backwards to each other OR take turns if they wanted to play alone with it. Showing them what to do together appealed to both of them and they played away happily rolling it to each other. A simple solution, yet so insightful. At times, our own reactions become so mechanical that such incidents help us to get new ideas of tackling everyday situations.
Another platform where I meet parents on a regular basis is ECFE. I am lucky to be in a particularly smart group this year and also to have a great parent educator who facilitates very fruitful discussions. A couple of moms with grown up children (10, 8, and 6 years old) is an added bonus! (Did I tell you I am in awe of moms who have older kids - I believe raising children through the years brings you more wisdom like nothing else can) So yesterday I voiced my concern about how I limit TV time for Vansh as also the content that he watches. And yet many a times when I tell him no more TV, he just sits there and does absolutely nothing, making me wonder won't it make sense if I let him watch that phonics Leap Frog video by way of which, even though not the most appropriate way of learning, he'll learn something and won't really be 'wasting time'. I was glad to get a new dimension, to learn that in those quiet times he was actually figuring out how the world around him works. It was then that I realised that it was indeed true. Every now and then in these quiet moments that he spends, he comes and talk s to me about random things, his friends, how he shared with someone and shouted at someone else, his visit to the doctor for the flu shot, things like "Papa शाम को आते हैं।", "Candy Satday (Saturday) खाते हें।" and the likes. In fact other parents told me I was lucky that he didn't demand to be played with at all times and spent some time quietly thinking. Ahem!! (collar up :) Sure did some good to my spirits.
Hmm ..Indian friends here are going through 'seasonal depression' in the -15 degrees and 2 feet of snow outside. It has been a while since we got together for a playdate and enlightened talks about kids' tantrums and activities and eating battles et al. Am looking forward to that again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Lots of snow and not much to do!!

We had over a foot of snow over the weekend and its snowing some more today. Huh!! It can only get more cold than this at the North Pole, we are absolutely convinced about that. Its hard to while away time, especially in the evenings. It gets dark at 4:00, its obviously impossible to go out and you keep wondering what to do till bedtime apart from half an hour of dinner, say. We play boardgames, read books, play with building blocks, take Vansh for cycling in the corridors and even rides in the elevator and there's still time left. Huh!! One of Vansh's ways to idle away time is to switch on the lights which we put up on Diwali umpteen times a day, and
pronounce Happy Diwali!