What do you do when you are not proficient in a language but are charged with the task of preparing your child for a writing competition? Google translator to rescue!
Hari is preparing for a mandatory tamil writing competition. While I don’t think it’s fair to make a child participate in something that he is not ready for, it’s a decision that is outside my control and rests with someone who belongs to a different school of thought. You tell yourself it is what it is, and roll up your sleeves to see how you can make the best out of the situation.
The topic for the tamil competition is who would you pick as your role model. And of course, the child has to pick someone who would truly stretch our non-existent tamil writing skills – none other than the legendary boxer Muhammed Ali. Turns out, with Google Translator, you can accomplish a lot more than you would expect. We have just begun but are feeling good about the progress made considering the novice we are in the language. We will have it run it by a willing soul that is good at tamil. But atleast we don’t feel as stranded, and it is turning out to be an excellent bonding experience with the child. Long live Google and its products.
We write about things that we strongly feel about. For some, it is people. For others, it is life experiences. Yet for others, it is places, books, movies or food. Want to know what evokes strong emotions for my 10-year old?! Check out the blurb he wrote in his school writing journal.
“I glared at my plate of brussel sprouts, my eyes narrowing into slits, my nose twitching at the putrid odor of the lime green nightmare. I couldn’t bear to imagine how it tasted and I could swear there was steam coming from my ears. “WHY DOES THE WORLD HAVE TO BE SO CRUEL!” I screamed.”
I laughed my heart out. And just for the record, I have made brussel sprouts a grand total of one time in all the ten years of this child’s life. It’s not the cook, it’s the vegetable!
On a related note, at the start of every school year, kids are encouraged to think about their hopes and dreams for the school year and are required to set one academic goal and one social goal. Hari’s academic goal for this year is to enjoy writing. He told me that the voice in his head moans and groans when he is asked to write something and that he wants to work on that attitude this year. It made me happy on several counts – that he is aware of his attitude, that he is willing to work on it, and that it has to do with writing. His social goal, in his words, is to hang out with kids that he has not hung out with before. Here’s to achieving those goals.
It took every ounce of willpower to not yield to the temptation to have the dentist appointment rescheduled. After years of using that tactic, I have learnt my lesson. You can reschedule once, may be twice. But sooner or later, you have to face the music. Wear a plastic smile, be polite to the receptionist, say hello to the hygienist, exaggerate the truth behind your flossing, test your ability to be zen as all the unmentionable instruments poke and prod, and finally listen to the grim report that your dentist will deliver asking you to take care of a filling within the next month. Sigh!
This time I decided to bite the bullet instead of buying more time to undo the undoable damage I may have done since my last appointment. But what do you know? A new hygienist, a new story this time around. “Fantastic, your teeth look great, we will see you in Nov.” Really? Seriously? I had to pinch myself to make sure that this was not some kind of a dream. No filling? No deep cleaning? No predictions about root canals down the line? Maybe because this time they didn’t take the x-ray. Maybe because the hygienist spent more time polishing my teeth rather than cleaning them. Oh the never ending list of maybes that was going on in a loop in my mind!
Suffice to say I sprinted my way out of the office lest the dentist changed his mind.
Very often we forget that Ram is still in the early stages of building his vocabulary and throw words at him without realizing that he may not have internalized the meaning.
Many times he would stop us, and ask for the meaning.
Me: Ram, leave a couple of cookies for anna, ok?
Ram: But what does a couple mean amma? is it two or three?
What does according to mean mama?
What does based on mean amma?
Sometimes he would use the words without knowing what they mean.
I like your drawing anna. It is terrible.
My leg is bleeding amma. But there is no blood outside.
To that add the dynamic of using tamil with english.
Amma does sorkkal in tamil mean circle in english?
Amma does nenju in tamil mean ninja in english?
Ram: What does mean mean amma?
Me: There are two meanings for mean kanna. One mean means rude. Another mean, we use it to ask the meaning of something like how you asked what does mean mean?
Ram: No mama, not that mean. I am asking about things like bird and tree
After thinking about it for few minutes, I finally figured out what he was asking: Are you asking what does the tamil word mean mean?
The child nodded away…!
My dad had sent this picture as a forward more than a year back. While I am not a big fan of forwards, this one stood out. This picture came with the following text, “Shri Shilpi A Child Being forcefully Made To Drink Castor Oil.” I cast a wide net in google, but did not uncover any additional information or pictures by this artist.
I fell in love with the myriad expressions in this drawing. There are 11 family members spanning three generations. Having seen and done this several times in their life span, the thatha and patti are very laid back. No need to get all worked up, they seem to have tricks up their sleeves. The appa and amma are tired of all this drama, bursting with impatience, this is another chore that needs to be ticked off in their list. Now gulp that spoon of castor oil, will you? While the anna seems to be empathetic, the akka sure is apathetic – what’s the big deal, if I drank it when I was your age, why can’t you? The kutti pattalam is dreading it all, knowing really well that they are next in line – ayoo! not us, not today, please, pretty please! Check out the tiniest tot of all, hiding behind her grandpa quiet as a mouse – I have a feeling that this child will get away from the ordeal…!
I was beginning to feel sad as the day progressed. But then it happened when I least expected it to happen and that totally made my day!
Ram: Amma, today is new calendar month
Me: Yes, kannama today is a new month. Today is the first day of April.
Hari: Ruthie (Ram’s teacher) had January page on the calendar, so I wished her happy new year.
Perplexed Me: Why would she have the January page in April and why would you wish her for that?
Ram: Because today is Fools’ day mommy.
And that’s the story of how I got fooled today by a child who did not even mean to fool me. On that note, Happy April Fools’ day..!
Me: Ram, today is Rama ommachi’s birthday. Do you remember the story of Rama? do you remember Rama’s brothers name? Ram: “No amma, I don’t remember their names but I know one of them rides on a peacock”
Oh no, why did I inflict this unnecessary reality check on myself? By the time Hari was Ram’s age, he knew a sloka or two. He was familiar with different characters of Ramayana. Why, he even knew the story of Bharatanatyam. As you can clearly see, we have not been as diligent with Ram. What better day than Rama Navami to get a refresher on Ramayana? And that’s how we spent Rama Navami. Reading stories of Rama, and then splashed some colors on the Rama-Sita coloring sheet.