As I tucked Hari to bed the night his picture was released in NPR site.
Me: What made you happy love?
Me: Seriously? you have to be kidding me? try harder
Hari: Getting Lightening Thief from library?
In case you didn’t notice, do you see how the question of what made HIM happy is turning out to be a question of what made ME happy? Anyways, here we go with rest of the conversation.
Hari: The picture of Angry Bird on the website?
Me: Yes sir-eee bob
Hari: So, the whole wide world can see it now?
Hari: Wow! I am super famous
Me: Actually, I wouldn’t put it that way. Having a picture on the web doesn’t make someone famous. A lot of people should see it and think it’s a great picture.
The kid was in no mood to have a brush with reality. He was still floating in air and proudly proclaimed, “So when someone invents Brown History Month, they will look me up on the internet and write about me.” I tried my best to suppress the uncontrollable urge to roll on the floor laughing and just said, “May be, why not!”
Note: To appreciate the humor, you have to know Black History Month.
In draft mode since Feb 29th.
Hip hip hurray, here we enter new foray! What’s all the excitement about? Check this link. That’s the picture that Hari took and submitted as part of the NPR’s Backseat Book Club assignment for February. I know it is one of the several pictures that were submitted, still it’s mighty thrilling to see Hari’s name, and his work printed on the NPR blog site. Do check out the pictures by other kids. Some of them are very profound and heart warming.
When I heard about NPR’s Backseat Book Club, I knew instantly that it is something that I would like Hari to be part of. It seemed like a cool way to introduce him to the concept of book club and another opportunity for us to bond over books. He is underage (in terms of content) for some of the recommended books, so the plan was (and is) to read the books to him at bed time . For instance, Shooting Kabul was a very heavy book in terms of topics covered – 9/11, Taliban, caste conflict, and oppression. Since I read the book to him, I was selective about what and how much I exposed him to.
“Mama, after swim practice today, the boys in the locker room were doing things that could get them in trouble. Everybody was doing it and I felt like doing it too. But my brain was asking me not to do it and I listened to my brain.”
Inspiration comes in different forms and shapes. Today, it came to me in the form of my seven-year old. A reminder to listen to that voice of discrimination and do the right thing even when it is not the easy thing. God bless you my child!
A huge Aha! moment for the week.
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.
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.
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?
Hari was uber exuberant when he came home after dinner at Panera Bread. It must be the mac n cheese and fruit punch, his usual at Panera, that has him soaring high in the sky, was my initial thought. But even before I could pop that question to him, he came rushing to me wearing the widest grin ever, and stuck his face inches away from mine, which left me dancing up and down in excitement.
The wiggly tooth at the bottom right that kept bothering him endlessly was now missing. No, this was not the first time he was losing a tooth. In fact, it was his fourth. But the jubilation was because this was the first time the missing tooth left a gaping hole. In the earlier three instances, the grown up tooth established its presence stubbornly before the milk tooth could make an exit. Not this time though. He was finally an otta palla. “Amma I am now equal to my friend D, who has four fallen teeth”. Of course, for the past couple of days he has been dutifully trying to expedite the falling of his top tooth, which has been sliding this side and that, in an effort to beat D’s record.
If Hari has been losing teeth, Ram has been gaining them. Every time Ram has a tooth cutting in, he goes through a miserable phase. He swims in his own drool. He gets bouts of fever and diarrhea, and has sleepless nights. Poor child. But all is well that ends well, isn’t it? You can now spot eight shiny white pearls when he giggles and he sure puts them to good use.