Posted in Experiences, Hari Katha, Little Moments

Living a dream

I could feel butterflies in my stomach. Understandably so. After all, this was my first time presenting to an audience of this size and nature. The message had to be simple, clear, and crisp for the slightest chance of holding their attention. I prepared as best as I could. I researched, took notes, and came up with a couple of ideas that would foster discussion. I wanted to do good from the bottom of my heart.

They trickled in one after the other. I said a small prayer, and distributed the materials. It was a mixed audience ranging from those that were bursting with enthusiasm to participate to those that couldn’t stop yawning. I have wanted to do this for a long time. Now that I had the opportunity, I decided to be in the moment, and give it my all. That’s exactly what I did, and before I knew it, it was time to disperse. I heaved a sigh of contentment, and thought to myself  – not bad, huh?

As I drove back home with Hari in the backseat, I asked my usual question, “How was class today Hari? how did you find it? boring? fun? what did you think?” And he replied, “Mama, you were good!” You see my audience today was Hari and his friends at culture class in his Sunday school where I have been assisting since the start of the academic year.

Posted in Hari Katha, Little Moments, Ram Leela

One spoon at a time

Drafted on Jan. 24

This evening saw our children inflicted with attitude problems. “Not dhalia upma again. I was hoping it would be something I like. I wish I were not so hungry,” sulked the  seven year old at dinner time. “I will not sit on my high chair and eat,” implied the fifteen month old as he persevered to free himself from the high chair. Given the direction in which things were headed, one would have thought the evening was a disaster waiting to happen, right? Not really! How come? Well, let’s just say that I wielded the spoon. Hari is less tolerant to his least favorite foods when I spoon feed him. I give in once in a while, after emphasising it as an exception,  to achieve the grand goal of getting him to eat what’s offered. And how about Ram? All it took was, “Do you want to sit here next to me and eat just like anna?”, and the child happily perched himself on my lap instead of sauntering around the house with a mouthful of food. So my friends that’s the story of how the evening was tackled – one spoon at a time!

The evening did remind me of my childhood days when my mom or my grandmom would be seated with a plate laden with rasam rice and us kids swarming around amma or patti for our morsel. I was never a big fan of “kaila podara” routine. The dripping of the rasam rice would irk me, and having to wait for my turn when my stomach was rumbling with ravishing hunger was not exactly something I looked forward to. But then it had its share of perks. No rinsing of plates. No need to pitch in with after meal chores. Plus, we were entertained with stories and gossip.  And if we got lucky, we had the privilege of being served in the balcony or terrace under the starlit sky with the summer breeze caressing us.

And like how Enkay wondered in one of her posts, I tried to step in to my mom’s  and grand mom’s shoes – what could have been their reasons? did they use it as an opportunity to sneak in left over food? some economies of scale being leveraged in the process? was it less work? or may be, just may be, they simply enjoyed the act of feeding tiny mouths, and seeing little bellies inflate like a balloon following a meal. A smile spreading on their face knowing that now that the kids are well fed, all is well with the world. Just like I secretly did that evening.

Posted in Experiences, Life, Little Moments, Milestones

Happy Republic Day (Little Moments Thursday)

Republic Day as such is a special day, but this year it turned out to be extra special in our household.  Interested in knowing why? The colony in which my parents reside has the tradition of choosing a senior citizen to hoist the Tricolor every Republic Day. This year my paternal patti was the chosen one. Truly, what an honor it was! Last weekend as we carried on with our routine chat session on  Skype, I pulled her legs. “Patti, what are you going to wear? six yards or nine yards. Make sure you have your speech and national anthem practiced, ok?” Little did I realize that my casual teasing gave her the jitters and set her in preparation mode. So there she was today – clad in orange and green silk nine yards sari, head slightly bent as a mark of humility, a certain shyness in her demeanor that masked the underlying pride, happiness, and gratitude.

“This is my first time participating in a public event of this nature, so I felt a little shy when they first asked me,” confessed my patti in Tamizh when I called her to congratulate on the milestone. “I felt very honored that of all the people they chose me”, she added. Just when you think that you have seen and lived it all, life has a way of throwing beautiful surprises at you as though saying not so soon, right?

Posted in Ram Leela

Toddler Tales

We haven’t talked about Ram in a while, have we? Want to know what this little mister is up to these days? Please note that this post is more for the purpose of recording his milestones than for reading pleasure.

We rejoiced the onset of toddler tantrums, stubbornness and meltdowns late last month. Very natural and age appropriate behavior. After all with every passing day he is realizing that he is not a mere extension of his mommy. And with that knowledge comes the need and desire to be independent and figure out where his boundaries lie. The first few meltdowns left me exasperated, but with time I am learning to identify the triggers and what battles NOT to pick. I am teaching myself to  be compassionate while being firm and consistent. To be firm and consistent without being rude. These days I actually find these episodes darn cute. When he is in tantrum mode, I would tell him – “Sorry kannama, amma cannot give this to you. But amma can give you a hug. Want to come?” The second he hears me utter those words, he would do the exact opposite. He would distance himself from me, face the wall and weep uncontrollably. The very next moment he would come rushing  for some cuddles and kisses. I would hold him tight wanting to freeze that split second when a smile spreads on his face even as the last drop of tear stays firmly planted on his eyelashes.

Ram is capable of carrying out any instructions. As soon as we come downstairs to get ready for the day, I would tell him, “Kannamma poi ommachi kapathu pannu” , meaning go say your prayers, and he would rush to the altar to hum a little slokam and would throw himself down as a mark of salutation. Of course, it is another thing that there are times when he would choose not to indulge us depending on his interest in the underlying request. For instance, he hates to have his diaper changed. When I call him for a change, he would swiftly nod his head from left to right, and would try all tactics up his sleeves to dodge the said activity.

Ram is learning his body parts. He likes to point to his head and say “head” when we sing the head and shoulder, knees and toes song to him. He can recognize his mouth, nose, hands, and others. The belly button is his favorite though. We call it Bee-bo (from the Belly Button book by Sandra Boyton), and he likes to call it Baa-bee. He loves to lift his dad or mom’s t-shirt and blow raspberries on their bellies early in the morning. Yes, that’s his payback time for all the raspberries we blow after his diaper change.

Shape sorter, wooden puzzles, and balls are some of Ram’s favorite toys. He builds towers with simple blocks, and with a bit of luck he manages to put the shapes in the right slots. He also loves to play with toys that have  sounds. He would turn the music on and sway this way and that. And the child loves to pretend play. He likes to wear anna’s broken goggles, his crazy hat, etc. He would bring two of his plastic sippy cups and offer a “drink” to us and wouldn’t let go unless we tell him “nalla irruke, rhombha nalla irruke” (tastes yum!). If he runs out of things to play with, he would grab his lunch bag, and declare to all of us “Bye bye” and head to the door. However, no matter how many toys he is surrounded with, his eyes are always tracking anna. Anything anna has should be more interesting and cool than what he has.

Ram loves things that are grouped together like pencils, markers and crayons in anna’s stationary box, chess and checkers coins stored in a zip lock, and the plastic containers tucked away in kitchen cabinets. It is not uncommon to hear one of us shriek his name n fury after stomping on these small coins or pieces that sure is very hurtful.

He also loves to stay perched on me and observe with his eager eyes when I am cooking. Be it making dosai or seasoning with mustard seeds, he finds them amusing and entertaining. Da and I think he will become a chef some day.

He continues to be a foodie but he is becoming more selective about what he would eat. Blueberries, bananas, and kiwis that were once his favorite food are now treated with disdain. Pasta, veggies, and curd are doing the rounds these days. He eats very well with a spoon, even semi liquids such as oatmeal.

Want to know the sweetest of all developments? He can give hugs and kisses, sort of.  After I drop him off at day care, I would ask him to come to me for a hug and kiss. He would immediately rush to me with overflowing affection. No wonder we are all head over heels in love with this little shaker, faker and trouble maker!

Posted in Hari Katha

Comfort Items

The nights that I don’t drift to dreamland while putting Ram to sleep, I would go to tuck Hari who would be more or less at the end of his reading session for the day. As soon as he sights me, he would entice me into reading books by Mark Brown (Arthur series) or Richard Scarry to him.

I am not a big fan of the Aardvark and his bratty sister, but I don’t mind reading about the life in Busytown although we have read it a million times before.  Truth be told, I like the Busytowners – the sensible Miss Honey, the ice cream lover Bruno, the unusual Wiggly Worm, the popular Mr. Fix It, the hard working HumperDink and his little mouse assistant Charlie Baker, and every other quirky character that inhabit BusyTown. I like the details in the illustrations. I like how the story and the illustrations are tied to each other. I like how Richard Scarry engages the little readers as the stories unfold. Mostly, I like it because it touches a very soft spot in my heart – it reminds me of Hari’s love for books in his pre-school days and the numerous bonding opportunities that the love paved.

Anyway, I digress. This post is not meant to profess my love for Richards Scarry’s works. It is about what his works mean to Hari. It is about why a kid who likes to show off his reading skills by grabbing books for mature readers such as the Power of Now would insist that his mommy read kiddie books to him at bed time? Last night I posed that question to him and his response was – “These stories calm me down amma. They make me have good dreams. The other day I was scared after reading about the dead cooks who came alive in Captain Underpants. I read Arthur and Richard’s Scarry so that I will not have nightmares” Although he likes to claim that his little Batty Wings (a Bat stuffed toy that he won at an event in Disney) is his comfort item, turns out that it is the books that he devoured as a preschooler that he falls back on for comfort.

I am glad I asked. I am even more glad that he was aware about what drove him to these books and he was able to articulate it to me. Now that I know what it means to him, I will hold back on my tendency to rush through the bed time ritual. The intensity of the days tends to sap my energy by that time of the day, and Hari’s bed routine is what takes a hit. Going forward, I will make the extra effort to not shortchange the most scared part of his routine. Rather our routine.

Posted in Hari Katha, Little Moments

It’s only words

Overwhelmed after a long day of catching up with routine activities,  I lay next to Hari for a super abbreviated version of his bed time ritual. “No reading kannamma today”, I muttered with a trace of apology. “How about some cricket”, he asked with hope lingering in his eyes. “Illa ma rajathi, amma has work to do and it is already past your bed time”, with this closing statement I fast forwarded to the fag end of our routine. Recited our routine slokam and asked him, “How was your day? what made you happy? what made you sad?”.  He talked a bit about soccer, recess, and snacks, and shot the questions back at me. Little did he realise that the questions would unleash a pity party. “I had a hectic day Hari. First, it was shoveling the snow, then getting reading for the day. It was busy at work. Then had to pick Ram, drop him at home and then pick you from swim class. Then I had to make dinner. I have a terrible terrible tooth ache and head ache. I wish I could sleep now. But I have to work for atleast another hour.”

It didn’t matter that he was only a first grader. All I wanted was a willing shoulder to lean on. And yesterday it happened to be his tiny shoulders. He listened patiently, and asked, “Do you want me to help you with the cleaning?” Somehow that casual offer seemed like the perfect soothing balm for my tired soul. I came downstairs to tackle my sink full of dishes and a house littered with toys with renewed energy knowing that I was heard and someone cared.

Sometimes the difference between empathy and indifference is only a few words, isn’t it?