Sunday 13 December 2009

Jingle bells and reindeers

Yesterday afternoon, we attended the holiday performance in Ads' school. Ads had not given me any dope on what he was doing in the play, other than that he was a reindeer. The school had asked us to outfit him in a white turtleneck, brown pants and black shoes so that's what he wore. As it turned out, he wasn't doing anything much at all other than looking cute with reindeer horns upon his head!! Some 15 kids, all reindeers, marched in and jingled hand-held bells and that was it. Ads was nervous, we could tell, and jingled and jangled with no particular enthusiasm. Then they were sent off-stage to sit on the floor and that was it. I was taken aback because the rest of the 45-odd kids from the Primary classroom remained on the stage the whole time i.e. for almost 45 minutes. There didn't seem to be any good reason why the other 15 weren't on stage too, and allowed to do their thing. It seemed so unfair and I really wish Ads had got a chance to be in on the chorus or something. Even if he didn't sing, I did want him to get that exposure of being up there in front of a large group of people.
I would talk to his teacher about my reservations if I didn't know that we would not be around next year, so it seems rather pointless to argue. The teachers had told me a couple of weeks back that they don't "force" the kids to do anything, and the child has to "show" interest in performing. Well I think that a 4-year old might not necessarily evince enthusiasm at first. He may however, start getting interested in the whole exercise after a few days when he sees his friends practicing. Or, he could be a shy type (all the more reason why he should be brought out of his shell!) and might not volunteer to sing and dance. I used to be a painfully shy child but when I was 6, a teacher decided that I should dance on stage, and so I did. When I was 7 or 8, another teacher in another school decided that I would be perfect to play Red Riding Hood's mother in the class play, and so I did. These small beginnings led to a zeal for dramatics which continued to college-level and increased my self-confidence no end. The point is, sometimes you can bring a child out of his shell, or get him interested in performing, by giving him a little push - just a little push, not a shove. Why not?
That apart, the kids did a fabulous job, rendering Xmas favourites such as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, Jingle Bells, the 12 days of Xmas and so on. It was a treat to watch how self-assured some of them were, and how cute all of them were!

Friday 11 December 2009

Snapshot - 30 minutes in the life of Ms Y

Climb on dining room chair, and from chair onto dining table. Methodically throw down on floor all of Anna's crayons and assorted drawing tools, also his precious artwork. Climb down to carpet, start chewing crayons, markers and bits of paper until Amma stops her.
Toddle over to bookshelf and bring back a book for Amma to read. Amma tells her it is Anna's book. Throw down that book in disgust. Toddle back to bookshelf and bring back more age-appropriate book.
Sit down on Amma's lap. Read book. Go get another. Read that one.
Amma says " Please play with your toys for a few minutes, Y, while I finish cooking". Toys = paper cups, paper plates and plastic cutlery in a cupboard right under Amma's feet. Start throwing plates and cups all over kitchen floor. Amma silently cursing Appa for not installing child locks on kitchen cupboards inspite of being reminded 10,000 times. When alumninum foil starts being chewed on, Amma picks up Y and deposits her near the toy basket.
Looks at 122 toys the basket and decides that none of them are worth playing with. A couple are worth chewing though. Mmmmm.
Horribly bored. Stands next to amma and whines until Amma picks her up.
Kiss amma. Practice saying "amma, appa, anna, bow bow, quack quack."
After 10 seconds, get bored of being held. Push pudgy knees against Amma's chest while simultaneously propelling herself backward by pressing toes against Amma's stomach. Treatment is successful (as usual) - Amma lets go.
Run to couch, leap casually onto it, then climb to the very top, near headrest. Rock back and forth on the recliner, all the while shouting and laughing gleefully.
Climb down from couch, toddle to kitchen, rummage through drawer where extra groceries are stored. Decide that maggi masala packet beongs to the trash can. Throw it in trash can. Decide that popcorn packet should ideally be in laundry basket. Hurtles to laundry basket, open it and throw popcorn packet in. Laundry basket lid falls on top of hand. Wail in distress until Amma retreives hand and soothes ouchie.
Drama queen continues to shed crocodile tears until appropriate amount of fuss has been made, and kisses bestowed.
Kicks amma in belly, demands to be let down.
Amma tries to engage her in some constructive activity, like beading. Beads are examined, licked, (almost) swallowed and finally chucked at various things around the house. Some roll under couch/bed where they will lie in oblivion for several days.
Helps amma unload dryer, carry a few clothes to the bed.
As amma folds the clothes, finger anna's socks. Walk with socks to bathroom, throw socks into the toilet.
Amma is furious, so some tears are shed (again!)
Plonked into the highchair. Lunch time. Blow raspberries at Amma and spatter food all over the high chair tray and Amma.
And so it goes on....

Friday 4 December 2009

Ad-lib #3

Conversations with Ads are becoming more interesting by the day.

Ads: Is Hanuman real?
Me: He is real if you believe that he is real. Do you think he's real?
Ads: Actually yes. He's right next to me with his gadai (mace). He protects me.
I stay mum because I don't want to have this conversation just then :(

Ads (whining when we drag him through downtown Santa Barbara): I don't want to walk. I'm tired.
Me: Just a little more okay?
Ads: Mommy I want to tell you something. I don't like such trips where you make me walk so much.
Me: Ok baby, this is the last such trip ok? (Yeah right!)
Ads: But I should keep an open mind right?
Me: What?
Ads: I should keep an open mind. The Berenstain Bears Mama bear said so. (in the episode where the bear cubs were complaining just like Ads and their mom tells them to keep an open mind and look for interesting things while travelling - I was surprised how he could correlate the two situations)
Me: Yay for the Berenstain Bears Mama Bear!

Ads: Amma, when I grow up, I want to be a Appa.
Me: You mean you want to have kids?
Ads: Yes. But I need to find a mommy too right?
Me: Yup. You can marry someone.
Ads: I will marry some aunty (Nooooo!)
Me: Yes...some girl that you like. How many kids will you have?
Ads: Two. One boy and one girl. No, actually, I will have two boys. I don't like girls.
Me: (No answer to that one :))

Ads: I don't like this soup amma.
I try to coax him into drinking it up.
Ads: I want to have a hole in my neck. Then I can pour food that I don't like, into that hole.
What a terrific idea! We could all have two mouths, and all the yummy stuff could go into one, and all the healthy and yucky-tasting stuff could be poured into the other hole so that we wouldn't have to taste it!

Thursday 3 December 2009

The buzz in our house is...

Yes he is holding his underwear in his hand! He wraps it around his face to simulate Buzz Lightyear's mask. I only stipulate that it must be clean underwear :)

Board games ahoy

One of the fondest and clearest memories of my childhood is the board games that my parents, my brother and I used to play, very frequently in the late evenings after dinner, starting from the time I was 8 or 9 to maybe around 14 years. Ludo was the universal favourite but we also played Snakes and Ladders and Parchisi. In later years, Pictionary and Scrabble ruled the roost, and I remember my brief flirtation with Chess and Carrom. Playing these games involved a lot of laughter, teasing and fun and the bonus was, that in my case atleast, it created enduring and precious memories. We had Family Game Night in my family before Hasbro decided to make it a National occasion.

So obviously I couldn't wait to introduce Ads to some of these board games. I picked up a nice Sesame-Street themed version of Chutes and Ladders very cheap at a second-hand kids' store that I frequent. My cousin bought him the Dr. Seuss ABC game and he got the I never forget a face memory game as a birthday gift. Then I researched the best board games for preschoolers and being the sort of person who goes overboard when it comes to shopping, just HAD to buy him Candyland and Hi-ho Cherry-O! So now we have 5 games, all of which he likes thankfully and I try to spend some time with him everyday playing these. The only drawback is that we can only play when S is at home to watch Y, because she grabs all the pieces, sits on the board and generally makes a perfect nuisance of herself.

I had a vague idea that board games are both fun and educational. But I didn't really appreciate how educative they could be, until I started playing with Ads. Mastery of colours, letter & number recognition, counting, grouping & pattern recognition, are some of the concepts they teach, not to mention the improvement in small motor skills that inevitably results. The social skills they teach are even more important - courtesy, waiting and taking turns, not intruding on someone else's space, and so on. An interesting observation I made was how difficult it was for Ads to lose a game. In the beginning, he would tell me that "I will be very upset if I lose". For a child, the joy of winning is as intense as the despondency of losing. Given their very limited ability to manage frustration and cope with loss, it is a tough balancing act to incorporate the teaching element into the game; i.e. it is okay to lose, there are ups and downs in life and we have to take the good with the bad. Since he (like all children) takes game-playing so seriously, it is very important to him that he win; he does not yet understand that these are games of chance and not skill. I have been told by other moms that it is okay at this age to "let" the child win most of the time since the concept of rules and fair play is not something that they easily understand.

I think Ads gets it now, somewhat. He seems to understand that he could win a game, and lose the next one. He could ascend a ladder to the top of the board, and the next moment his luck could change and he would be sliding down a chute to the bottom of the board. Learning moments aside, I am enjoying every bit of the few minutes we spend poring over a dice, some cards and a game board.