20 Feb 2014
And that is where I must have left the mirror. On the wall.
So this is the background.
The children fight as all siblings usually do. Nothing new there, but I am growing increasingly impatient. I sit pondering why can’t one let go and let the fight die a natural death. As I often do, I decided to take matters in my own hands, find a solution instead of silently bearing it, being the master of own destiny, tackle problems as solutions waiting to happen and all that useless jazz.
And I introduced this wonderful concept I learnt in my childhood, namely the mirror. When some one says something nasty to you, you just say mirror and the nasty stuff gets reflected back to them. ‘Stupid’ – ‘mirror’ – the person who said stupid sees his/her reflection and is stumped – you walk away with a smug expression. Simple stuff.
The children were thoroughly kicked with the concept! (Gasp! Really amma?)
They drank from the fountain of knowledge. (Do you have to hold an actual mirror? Should I hold my hand, palm facing out or just say mirror? Can I do both? Can I hold both palms and say mirror? What angle should I hold my hand? )
They checked testimonials. (Did you do it when you were young? Did it work for you? Whom did you use it on?)
Then they executed it.
‘Youuu caaan’t (read it sing-song), because I was already holding mirror when I said stupid. So my stupid goes to you, reflects on your mirror, then bounces on my mirror and goes back to you.’
‘How? How? How can that even happen? It will again bounce on my mirror right?!’
‘But I was holding mirror even before I said stupid. You said mirror only after you heard stupid. By that time my stupid already reached you. Haaaa haaaa (insert sing-song again for complete experience)’
‘Fine, my mirror is bigger than your mirror, so even if it came out late, it completely reflects. Since your mirror is small, the stupid goes around your small mirror and reaches you.’
‘You can’t even see my mirror, how will you know it is small? My mirror is bigger than your mirror.’
‘No mine is the biggest on earth.’
‘No, mine is bigger. I am holding god’s mirror.’
‘Too bad I am holding god’s super mirror, which is the bigger than god’s usual mirror.’
In fact they are walking around the house with one palm, if not both palms, on forehead like a head light, because that is their mirror and they are ready to reflect any insult that may or may not be showered on them.
I am again pondering what I can do about this. Or rather what I must NOT do about this! The biggest joke is how all this was some how mirrored right in to my face.
2 Jul 2013
We came back from the park yesterday evening and the girls decided that they will make dinner for the family. I was asked to get bread, cream cheese and green capsicum, which I did. There was a melt down on the way home and I was wondering how the rest of the evening is going to go.
But they shut me out of the kitchen, yes, I was sent out and the door was promptly locked behind me. I lounged with a book in hand. 30 min later we were treated to cream cheese and shredded carrot sandwiches, lemonade and mushroom sandwich for R.
A very proud moment for all of us. I promptly clicked very many pictures. At the end of the meal, me being, will, me, I tired sneaking in a life lesson and I started, ‘See how hard you worked and I ate it with a smile on my face. Not just because it was tasty, but because I respect the food and your time. How would you feel if I had complained about the food and if I threw a tantrum?’ *Me looking all smug* Pat came the reply, ‘Actually the cooking did not take much time amma. It took us some time to put all our love in to it though!’
Fine… my nose went missing, but still a proud and retired mom!!!
27 Jan 2012
Mieja lurves diamonds. Now, according to her, diamond is anything that is smooth, shiny and the size of a lemon. At this point of time I would like to clarify that I am not feeding her with unrealistic expectations. Many a pebbles were picked up from the park, washed, spat on and shined till hands ached and disappointment levels soared. But the child being the tireless kind, decided to change the process. As a result of which multiple diamond experiments were carried on at home.
I nodded approvingly and decided to keep a photographic record of the experiments, because (a)once her heart is set, no matter I reason, she will refuse to listen and (b)if at all by blind luck she did manage to make a diamond?! I mean, the child was talking about rocks the size of lemons. It surely wouldn’t hurt to have a few, wouldn’t it?!
So here it goes, the process, pictures and the product.
Ingredients: Leaves from your garden, a bucket, water, scissors, plenty of sunlight.
Process: Watch out for the time sunlight falls on your kitchen faucet. Now open the faucet and check if the water sparkles in sunlight. Only sparkling water results in sparkling diamonds. Now fill half your bucket with sparkling water. Cut the leaves in to strips about an inch thick. Fashion these leaves in to little cups. Pour about half a teaspoon of sparkling water in to each leaf cup. Place the leaf cups in to the bucket. Leave the bucket in direct sunlight for a week. Check for readiness and leave them for an additional week if required.
was formulated after said child’s mother complained to every one under the Sun about the stink emanating from the bucket and scientists needing to clean up their own mess(“Marie Curie’s mother did not run behind her with a mop and scrubber” my exact words). The goal of this experiment was to (a)keep the initial experiment to small scale and if successful scale up as required (b)compress the process to a couple of days, so that said diamonds are ready before the leaves start decaying (c)avoid contamination from air borne pollutants.
Ingredients: One tbsp of chopped onions, leaves from your garden, one tbsp sparkling water, fridge in working condition.
Process: Clean a big broad leaf. Mix chopped onions with sparkling water. Fashion the mixture in to a diamond shape. Place the mixture on the leaf and place the whole thing in the fridge. You can place it in the freezer, will cut down the process time in to 1/3, the trade off being the three footer’s dependency on her parents(read mother) to check the diamond formation every millisecond.
Product: This time the mother raised hell that the fridge stinks of onions and the child gave up after a week.
Ingredients: Grape seeds, white acrylic paint.
Process: First eat the grapes, one needs the strength from the grapes to convince one’s mother about yet another diamond experiment, then collect the seeds. Wash the seeds in sparkling water. Pat dry. Paint every seed with white acrylic paint. Place in cup. Place the cup in fridge.
Amma had nothing to complain about. No decay, no stink. This experiment stayed for the longest in the fridge and was discarded after the unsuspecting spouse, looking for a late night snack, consumed about half of it.
Ingredients: Glass, preferably in a sphere shape. One tbsp sparkling water. Hard surface. Pointy, sharp tools.
Process: Take the glass sphere and drill a small hole. Pour the tbsp water through this hole. Place right side up and place in the fridge to set. When set, tap the water filled sphere on a hard surface to chip the sides to make a shiny diamond.
Product: Promptly nipped in the bud by Amma. So no pictures or products to complain about.
She is taking a break right now and I am shuddering that she will come back invigorated after the break.
28 Oct 2011
On Diwali day, I did something I thought I would NEVER do! As a result of which child1 declared before she went to sleep, ‘Amma this is truly the worst diwali ever. I hope I make enough happy memories to forget this sad, sad day. It is the saddest and baddest day in my life. What is the use of celebrating if I can’t read amma?’
Yes! I told her she cannot touch or even look at a book for one more week. She needs to show and act like a six year old otherwise she will lose her reading privileges.
The reading, as much as I am proud of it, is reaching an extreme. Three volumes of Chronicles of Narnia in one day, forgetting the time entity and then whining that I didn’t take her to the park, I am not letting her meet her friends, not showing even 10% interest in making friends, always living in a dream world….. This is not just one or two days, has been going on for three months now and I have had enough of this.
Now that she has no fall back, she is making an effort to make friends. Otherwise the first sign of something that does not go her way, she would turn and walk to her book.
As for child2 she hopes she can irritate me as much, so that her reading privileges will also be revoked!
Two very different peas in a pod!
26 Feb 2011
Fun. Jungle. Fun in the Jungle. Monkeying around.
The Fungle is all this and a little more. It is a complete story telling environment designed for 5 – 10 year old children. Our family has been having fun with the demo version of The Fungle for the past two weeks and we have found a groove that interests us all. Chula – strictly the stories, Mieja – the changing room and popping bubbles, moi(even though I do not fall in the 5-10 years category) – the concept, how the whole environment is presented and how the different components are weaved together.
I could go on and on and tell you how each story is tied together with activities and hence the child gets to re-experience the story in another form……but that will take the fun of exploration away from you and your children right?
When I heard about The Fungle, as a parent I had a few questions. Narayanan Vaidyanathan, the CEO of Gamaya Inc, was nice to answer these questions for me.
How did The Fungle come about?
We created The Fungle to be a safe, fun & interactive world where kids can learn about the various cultures in the World.
My grandmother is a great storyteller – an endless stream of stories and an amazing amount of patience! Now, as a parent, I appreciate that more than ever! We are too busy & far away from extended family and our kids are stuck to the couch with their game consoles and TV but I wanted my kid to hear all those stories. So we needed a tireless storyteller who can keep todays kids engaged! That’s how The Fungle came about.
Explain more about online safety in The Fungle.
The safety of kids in The Fungle has been very important to us from the start. We ensure the following –
1. We strictly adhere to the COPPA guidelines. (http://www.coppa.org/)
2. We do not ask for any personally identifiable information about the kids.
3. There is no way for kids to share personal information or pictures with others in The Fungle.
4. Our chat system will be based on pre-made phrases and sentences, so kids (or adults) in the site cannot say anything inappropriate to other users.
5. We understand kids will want to communicate freely with their friends within The Fungle through our internal mailing system (BeeMail) – for this we plan to make parents responsible for picking and approving friends they know in real life, to also be friends in The Fungle. This way, the child has no way to befriend someone their parents don’t know or approve.
6. We don’t have any external links to pages outside The Fungle or advertisements that can lead a child out of our website.
The Fungle does not support advertisements. How does it work?
We felt having advertisements (banners with links to the advertisers website), while a decent source of revenue, is not safe for the age group we are targeting – a kid could click on an ad, be taken out of our site and then they are out in the open web. As a parent, that is a very scary thought! The world you can see and play in now will be our free trial area. Anyone can register for free and play in it with no time restrictions. We will offer expansion packs for parents to buy for their kids. Each expansion pack will contain 5 or so storybooks and access to a new location in the world & some games. We will also offer seasonal expansion packs with stories relevant to the season like Diwali or Christmas or Chinese New Year that parents can buy. Once a parent buys an expansion pack, the child will be able to access it the next time they log in. Pricing of these expansion packs is still being worked out and will vary based on content, but it is likely to be around $7 each. Kids like getting surprise gifts! So we will offer parents special virtual items to purchase and send to their kids in The Fungle. These gifts will be costumes and items for their avatar and will be priced at $1 or less. We believe most parents will prefer to pay something reasonable for safe high quality content and cultural enrichment, rather than a free portal with ads.
There is a fine line between being very interested in something and being obsessed. Does The Fungle have any check points to make sure that the child does not spend too much time playing?
Yes, we have plans to allow a parent to limit the time they can spend in The Fungle. We also have a way for parents to know when their child played last and how much time they spent in The Fungle. We will also remind kids after an hour or so of continuous play to stop playing and take a break.
How much parental support is required to play the game?
A child who can read & comprehend simple english, likely 5 or 6 years and older, will not require any parental support. We have designed the product to be intuitive to young children and have been doing periodic focus tests with kids to ensure new features stay intuitive. Kids younger than 5 will have more fun playing with their parent. We have got feedback from some of our parents that they enjoyed our stories too and reading along with their kids was a nice way to spend some time together!
Please feel free to email/contact me for further clarifications. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
5 Oct 2010
Gandhiji’s birthday is a big deal in our school. We start with International Peace Day on Sept 21, then we do Pennies For Peace, then we talk about Gandhiji – the peaceful warrior and end the peace/non-violence theme by celebrating United Nations Day. Our school is closed for Gandhiji’s birthday every year.
This has been our routine for the three years we have been with this school. But the girls are growing and this Oct 1st and Oct 2nd we had a lot of talk about Gandhiji at home.
Did a english man shooted Gandhiji?
An Indian man did? But, why Amma? Gandhiji is the father of India. Why would the ‘goat person’ kill his own dad?
Did Gandhiji die in the darkness or something? What time of the day was it?
When he was shooted, how did he fall?
Why is he dressed like that? He has no shirts? Was Gandhi poor? He had no money to buy shirts? Is that why he is naked?
Why do you say Gandhi Jayanthi Amma?
Is it like Krishna Jayanthi? Does Jayanthi mean birthday? Chadurthi is Ganesha’s birthday too. So why are we not saying Gandhi Chadurthi?
Chula had her shower almost by herself and dressed up in a pattu pavadai. Then she came running to me and said that she was ready. When I asked her ready for what, she replied that she is ready to celebrate the jayanthi or chadurthi or whatever it is, demanded why I haven’t set up Gandhiji’s picture, decked it with flowers and wanted to know what special Gandhi food I had cooked.
I promised her we will do something special in an hour and quickly planned some art work, books, songs and special food.
The food part was the easiest – peanut sundal and milk. One more thing to love about Gandhi, it is so easy-peasy to prepare his favorite food. Chula wanted to sing Ragupathi Raghava, so we did that. We read Marching To Freedom By Pratham, (special thanks to Chox aunty for sending special books to the girls) and Dandi March is making quite an effect in Mieja’s mind. I can sense questions brewing. We also have Picture Gandhi by Tulika, The Story Of Dandi March by Tulika and Gandhi: His Life In Pictures. We thumbed through all the books.
I have to admit that I was a little lost for the art part. Then I decided to talk about how simple lines can form a drawing, profile vs front view. I showed then the famous question mark profile drawing of Gandhi, how such simple lines can be representative of Gandhi. Mieja wanted to draw and Chula wanted to write an essay. So this is what we ended up doing.
I had been wanting to introduce the liquid water colors that I had purchased a few weeks back. So I did white on white crayon resist and told them that if they paint the canvas they will discover a surprise. They were kicked when they saw Gandhi on their canvas.
They wanted to experiment on crayon resist and this is what they came up with. They can draw themselves with long hair and long curly eye lashes even when they cannot see what they were drawing. LOL!
9 Aug 2010
More summer fun 2010 posts.
So what does one do with two little girls for 10 weeks?
That is 70 days. Time up and awake comes to 840 hours.
TV/PBS kids games/Wii, not that big at home. It is mainly to give myself a break. We have only one reader and one that pretends to be a reader
We did the usual playdates, block building, drawing, coloring, free play, gardening, bubble blowing, side walk chalk, easel painting, rangoli, trampoline, bubble bath, wading pool, parks, hikes, bicycle ride around the neighborhood, libraries, museums, exploratarium, cross words, puzzles, I spy, planetarium, doctor office trips(Yep, double bronchitis for the whole family including the adults in the middle of summer! Who would’ve thunked?!) botanical garden, camping trips. Still did not add up to 840 hours! No siree Bob, it did not.
And that is when I read about the ‘Simon Says’ game and thought that it would be interesting to do at home. I wanted to do shapes – one shape a day. My main goal is to talk to the girls about the different shapes and for them to look around them and see what shapes they can identify in our environment.
The first day we did circles. Red circle, blue circle, multicolored circle, red circle inside a blue circle, how many circles can you fit inside the biggest circle, draw three circles all three touching, color the smallest blue circle, color outside the green circle….the girls just went with the flow and had a ball.
The next day we did hearts. The girls quickly took over. Heart = love. I love my family. ‘Mieja look I drew you in my heart, that means I love you’, ‘I am making a flower for you’, ‘I am drawing a family in love’….. I stepped back, picked up a book and answered only when I was specifically called for.
What did we do on the third day? Duh! Triangles, of course. Mieja had difficulty making the third line straight so that it intersected the first two, while Chula was already doing the triangle things she knows – pizza, triangle maze, ice cream cone, ice cream sundae, flower with triangle petals (okay that was a far one, but whatever) etc. So I had to branch off, giving different instructions for them. Chula wanted to warli. She did one warli image, then our family in warli holding hands and dancing. When she said that she wanted to do spiral warli, I made o-o-o-o-o-o- in a spiral and she figured out how to do the triangles and how to make them hold hands. She walked around the paper, rolled around the paper, looked at angles that would put a cinematographer to shame, but she did it. Mieja wanted to do warli family and was getting upset that she couldn’t do it like her sister. After much talking that it has to be ‘her’ work and must be something ‘she’ enjoys doing, she did do a family with square and rectangle bodies. But she was happy that she made her own family.
Fourth day we must have done squares. But we took a break
11 Jun 2010
“Involve the kids in everyday activities.”
Whoever said this did not have kids, that I can be sure of.
It works well in a school setting. I have scrubbed chairs, watered plants, gardened, done nature walks – all with kids. But a home is not as structured as a school. There are certain things that are a routine like loading/unloading the dishwasher, line drying the clothes, folding laundry and putting it away. We do these jobs together. At times when I am making dishes like soup, sandwich, cookie, cake etc, I involve kids. There have been days on which I have made them sit at the kitchen table with a slice of bread to butter or a tomato to be chopped or a cube of cheese to be grated, even if I am not using any of the above in my dish, just to get them out of my hair.
The thing about involving kids is that it needs some degree of planning. One must know the steps in order to delegate. Even better, the delegator must have done the chore at least once(with the delegatee in mind) in order to comprehend the exact skills essential to complete the chore.
Do you want to know what is even more difficult than delegating to kids? It is a mother delegating to siblings who are close in age. Imagine child1 and child2 sitting in their respective carseats all strapped up. After reaching the destination, child1 wants to take child2’s seatbelt off and the mother agrees. Child2 is deeply insulted. She wants to take child1’s seat belt off. So the mother comes up with the solution where child1 takes her seatbelt off, then takes child2’s seatbelt off and gets on to her carseat and straps herself. Child2 now proceeds to take child1’s seat belt off, every one is happy, calamity avoided. But hell no, the children being highly skilled torture specialists come up with the supreme question of who goes first. Now the mother has two choices, to bang her head on the steering wheel hard enough to do some damage to her brain or to calmly tell her children that this is an egg and chicken problem in which she does NOT want to be involved and walk away. Trust me, they do come up with some creative solutions, because they are clear that the enemy is not the sister but the parent and when the parent is not involved, they do tend to save their energy.
PS: This is not an isolated incident. All chores are now viewed by the children as ‘Why can’t I do that?’, ‘Why can’t I do it ALL BY MYSELF?’, ‘How else can I show off to my sibling?’, ‘Are there any other ways to establish MY territory?’.
PPS: The mother is secretly anguishing over the fact that she was stupid enough to read to the children that the free tiger trial issue of GloAdventurers where it describes in detail how tigers establish their territory by peeing. She is hoping that they do not connect two and two, end up with twenty two and pee all over the house.
PPPS: Double thumbs up to GloAdventurers. Do try them.
17 May 2010
I have never written public blog letters to you and your sister. I had my reasons. Now, Mieja, this is my letter to you. My first public, blog letter to you. I have my reasons.
If I ever write your biography, the chapter that covers 3.5 years – 4 years of your life will certainly be titled HEART ACHE. To call the past six months as turbulent will be an understatement.
Your motto has always been Vini Vidi Vici – you came, you saw us all and you conquered us all with your laugh, love, expression and attitude. You make me laugh like there is no tomorrow. When I hug you, I feel this sense of contentment swell inside of me. You have multiple facets, all of which I enjoy. Heck, I enjoy even your ‘padagamani'( adamant and aggressive ) side. You have always gone by ‘naan oru mudivu pannital, appuram nane yen pechai ketka maten’ (Translates to: If I decide something, then I will not listen to me convincing myself to change my decision.) and in the past I have found it awfully cute. The thought that this child is my last child softens parents in many ways. It is an abstract feeling that can only be experienced and cannot be explained.
Any thing goes is definitely not what flies in our house. Your appa and I believe that discipline is not a dirty word. We view it more as setting safe limits within which you and your akka can explore. It will be false to say that we do not have any expectations on you and your akka. Though the two of you are young, we do have expectations, age appropriate expectations on you both. We are not new, inexperienced parents any more. Tantrums neither scare us nor embarrass us. We are level headed to view it as mismatched expectations and are willing to work through it.
Now, something happened. Or may be many things happened….. I am not sure, but I can only make educated guesses. May be you moved from what Dr.Montessori would call ‘just existing’ to ‘conscious existence’. May be you are trying to learn your limits by pushing our limits. May be you delicate digestive system is still in the process of maturing and you are suffering from the same lactose intolerance and acid reflux that made you scream in pain 24X7 the first two weeks after you were born. May be you are trying to define your niche in house and in school. May be you are trying to run with the top dogs too soon. May be you are competing with your sister. May be you are competing with your self. May be you found that by screaming you get my attention sooner that anything else and decided to take that short cut. May be you are feeling insecure…..
As a result of this, the past six months have been non stop crying and plain unhappiness – mostly for you. What shocked me was the rage, the anger that emanated from you and that you blamed me for your unhappiness. It was not just me, but your teachers also noticed it. What started as hugging my legs and refusing to say goodbye to me when I drop you off in your classroom, only worsened over the past three months. You regressed in certain areas I thought you had already mastered. Your teachers were surprised that you were having separation anxiety after being in same classroom, with the same teachers for the past two years.
We had a conference and discussed certain things that have been sending red flags right, left and center in my mind. Most of the red flags, your teachers said, were ‘preferences’. Strong, rigid and to some extent eccentric, but they did put my mind to ease by saying that there is no cognitive dissonance.
The real slap in the face came to me, when the head teacher of your classroom, the director of your school, a very patient, kind and nurturing soul called me aside and gave me ‘the note’. After an unhappy good bye in the morning, you were sitting with your teacher and she made conversation with you. After long probing you told her that you were MAD at me. Your teacher suggested that you write a letter to me. You dictated. She wrote. And I am holding the note that says, “To mommy, Mommy, I am having fights with you. That makes me sad.” Slap. End of story.
Since then, I have been trying to get a break. One thing I strongly believe is that, when you are desperate for something, the universe conspires to give you exactly what you ask for. It may not be packaged in the way we want it. But you get it. The challenge is to recognize it and make the most of it.
The break I have been asking for came as a real break…. in my tail bone. I fell on the stairs and broke my tail bone. The positive aspect of it is that I get to stay at home and spend some time with you. Real, quality time that is not measure in minutes but in love. I am able to slow down and give you the focus you need without cutting down on the time I spend with your sister.
You will be four in a week. Hoping that the chapter about your fourth year will be titled CONTENTMENT.
More love than you can ever imagine
20 Aug 2009
You mention one word to ‘The Very Particular Girl’ and she constructs such vivid mental images that if put in words would fill a book.
The mother says ‘ice cream’ and ‘The Very Particular Girl’ imagines one scoop chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and M&Ms with a cherry on top, in a kids sized waffle cone. This to be had in the Cold Stone Creamery close to her house, sitting at the square table against the wall with three chairs around the table. She visualizes that her mother would be sitting next to her with a white plastic spoon on her hand. She visualizes that she is allowing her mother to swipe her ice cream from time to time and swatting her hands away at other times. She visualizes her younger sister sitting across from her eating vanilla ice cream with sprinkles and M&Ms in a kid sized sugar cone. She had already visualized what clothes the trio would be wearing.
If the mother had said ‘ice cream’ during an outing in which the little sister had not accompanied them…. no problem, she automatically assumes that they would go home, pick up the little one, change clothes and then go to the ice cream shop.
See the way the four-year-old mind works? She constructs an image, actually a movie clip, by gathering snippets from her past experiences. If the reality changes, the movie projection in her mind does not change. Her four-year-old brain is not that agile cognitively, so she changes reality in order to achieve her mental representation.
Of course reality being pretty real, there usually is a mismatch in the end result and the mental projection. Thus resulting in hands-flailing-legs-kicking-rolling-on-the-floor-tantrums. At times the mother has been afraid of ‘The Very Particular Girl’. There is no telling what ‘The Very Particular Girl’ is thinking and after the hoops the mother had jumped to do something that she thought would make ‘The Very Particular Girl’ happy, she had to face-ear-splitting-brain-melting-tantrums. Most disheartening of all, ‘The Very Particular Girl’ would come back home and pronounce the verdict that would descend on the mother like thunder “You made me very unhappy amma.”
After going through painfully small improvisations, one at a time, finally the mother and the ‘The Very Particular Girl’ have settled in to a routine. For anything activity they do, no matter how small it is, they draw up ‘A Plan’. A plan is nothing but a set of expectations, both the mother’s and ‘The Very Particular Girl’s’. Then they analyze what they can do if something unexpected happens and the plan goes haywire. The mother tells/warns at least 1000 times that one can only plan and life can throw surprises. The ‘The Very Particular Girl’ nods her head understandingly. Thanks to the plan, if something upsets ‘The Very Particular Girl’, she says, “But amma, that is not my plan.” The concept of ‘A Plan’ helps put things in perspective not only for the ‘The Very Particular Girl’, but at times also for her mother, because when you are a mother, you tend to just do things. In your heart, you are doing whatever you are doing in the best interest of your family. At times like that the little voice, filled with reproach helps the mother find her balance.
CAST AND CREDITS(Like you guys didn’t know all along!)
‘The Very Particular Girl’ – Chula
Mother – Yours Truly
[tags]Toddler tantrum, preschooler tantrums, how a child thinks, why do children throw tantrums[/tags]