Category Archives: children

Imagine

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a conversation between 5 yr olds 15 years from now,

5 yr old 1:  Birds also tweet… apparently!

5 yr old 2: I didn’t know they were that social..

5 yr old 1: This is the spookiest part… they started tweeting long before humans came into being!

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The Battle of Water-Loo

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Two years back, I met a mom who moved her son to a different school only because the previous school did not have decent toilet facilities. While there were enough toilets and in good condition, they ran out of water quite frequently. Now, we are not talking about some corporation school here. This is a fairly well known middle class+ school. The boy (who was only 5 yrs at that point of time) stopped drinking water so that he doesn’t have to go to the toilet.
I want him to be healthy first – studies can come later” was her opinion.

Recently I was talking to a bunch of older kids (10 yrs+) and they said something similar. They avoided drinking water so that they don’t have to go to a dirty toilet.

“Thank god PT is the last period. After playing we’ll feel so thirsty and we have to drink lots of water, since it is the last period, we can come back home..”
“It really stinks and during intervals it is so crowded”
 and apparently the teacher would, “say something in front of the whole class if we want to go during class, it will be embarrassing”

This again is a fairly sought after school. I can’t believe that schools that take so much money in the name of fees should have such poor facilities. Wonder why most parents don’t think this important enough to take up during PTA meets.

I’ve always wondered why women in particular consumed very little water during the day. Most women I know drink less than a litre per day which is abysmally low. Some of them atleast push themselves consciously to drink more but it takes a lot of effort.
I can’t help but attribute this to poor public toilet facilities in our country. I’ve noticed that even some shops do not have such facilities – when I asked the female staff what they do when they have to use the loo, she simply said that they ‘finish the business before leaving home’! Imagine the plight of these women when they have their periods! Or for that matter even a stomach upset.
And another shop which was in a shopping complex had the loo on the terrace and again the women never ventured up there since men were always hanging out there. Men obviously pee where they like so they are hardly affected.

I’m remeinded of a social research project that I did many years back. This was among the tea leaf pickers in rural Ooty. I was shocked to learn that it is a taboo for women to go too many times during the day. It apparently means, ‘lack of control/ discipline‘ on the woman’s part – they have to ‘finish the job before sunrise’. An older woman then told me that if they have to go while at work, they have to go into the forest (the thickets nearby) since there are no toilets and it is not safe for women to stray away from the group and wander off alone. I guess it was the women’s way of conditioning to save themselves from bigger dangers. This was almost 10 years back and I hope things have changed for good now… though I wonder…

On a lighter note, recently when I visited a public loo, I was really surprised to find it very clean only to realise later that the door doesn’t lock!

‘Fear’ and ‘Hope’

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Utbt had tagged me (long long ago) to list down my 5 fears. So, here I go.

1. Am I making the right choices for Pattu? I worry about the choices that I am making for Pattu. Am I doing the right things? There are so many theories, opinions, conventional wisdom and then there’s ones own instinct that is sometimes conflicting. I hope it turns out ok.
2. Children’s safety. I don’t have to say more. This planet seems to be getting more dangerous by the day, especially for the children. It is just so depressing.
3. Snakes – they visit our neighbourhood once in a while. Really!
4. The maid won’t turn up tomorrow! The maid, the nanny and the driver will ditch on the day I have an unavoidable meeting and hubby is not in town!!!! *SHIVERS AT THE THOUGHT*
5. That my smile won’t be returned and I’ll look silly. 

Having said that, I never lose hope. I hope for a better life, better place, better world. I hope for the best, no matter what news I read/ see.

I think I am supposed to tag a few…so here you are: (the usual suspects) – Jayashree, Hema, Lavanya, Chotu’s Mom…

I just saw IHM’s post I really hope her daughter gets well soon. Somehow, when children suffer, no matter who they are, the pain is just the same. Prayers.

Safe…Are we?

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Another borewell accident! Just how many lives do we have to sacrifice before enforcing some stringent safety norms?!
I realise that we take so many things for granted and what is shocking is that safety seems to be one of those things! We just get so ‘used to’ things – recently someone from US was appalled at the way infants and toddlers were carried on the two wheelers, forget not having car seats and seat belts. I see them all around and each time I send a prayer for the children – that’s all that I can do. For those who don’t understand this, see this picture and this and this.

1. The lady is mostly wearing saree so she can only sit with both legs on one side – bad for balance since weight is not evenly distributed
2. She (most of them) holds the man’s shoulder/ waist with one hand – *throwing up my hands*  just what sense does it make to hold the man for support! There’s a handle on every bike!
3.She holds an infant with the other hand with no form of protection whatsoever and it almost always looks like the infant/ toddler is slipping off what with the slippery saree and all that! Of course we use towels to protect against the sun so that the child doesn’t become dark – now, that is important! See our priorities?
4. And they drive in thick traffic.

I’ve heard arguments such as, ‘Oh they can’t afford the ricks and cabs and public transport is terrible, so they are left with no option’. I considered it but don’t quite agree. Most of these kids I see are clad in thick gold/ silver jewelry. Now, if you can afford that, and if you can afford a two wheeler, you can definitely afford a bit of safety for your child. The point is, most often we don’t even reach this stage of the argument – we simply believe that it is quite safe to travel like that with a child!

When will we have better safety standards? Where are the rules where they are really required?

How ‘responsible’ are our brands?

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The TV, for me has become some sort of a meaningless drone in the background for a long time now. Recently though, I was irked by couple of ads caught my attention.

1. Relaxo footwear brand for kids: Shows couple of school kids (8 yrs or so) fighting a villain – an adult, in a crowded marketplace and looking smug at their victory and the admiration of passers by. This is serious fight mind you, like the ones you see in B’wood movies. What crap! It is a footwear brand for god’s sake, can’t the agency think of a better story? Where is the censor board when we need them?

2. Complan: A mom tells the story of her son who was short and hence had to endure some teasing from other taller kids (calling him ‘chottu’). Heart broken, she vows to work on his height. Enter Complan and now her son is tall and she can walk with pride. So moms of short boys, what a shame, go hide your face! And yes, teach your kids to yield to the teasing – if you are teased about being short, go find a way to get taller or go hide! How wonderful!

We talk about Barbie, fairness cream ads and the likes being a bad influence, making girls take a certain biased view of beauty and so on. I see this ad as doing pretty much the same thing to boys. It ridicules boys who are short putting a lot of undue pressure on growing boys (and probably on the moms as well), poking a hole in their self esteem, making them under confident.

We all know that there’s only so much a health food drink can do. There are the genes – the biggest determinants and a lot of other things that influence height and we all know that a good percetage of our population is below average height. So what are these ads seeding in the innocent, vulnerable minds? Don’t these brands have any responsibility towards their audience and the society? Is selling (by whatever means) the only agenda?

When will we go beyond physical limtations and start focusing on more important things like being socially responsible, sensible, etc.? When will we start appreciating people for what they have made of themselves than what mere chance has endowed them with? Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate beauty, but not at the expense of making the rest of the kids feel inferior.

What’s your take?

4 Yr Old ‘Pride’

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At the Park…

A bunch of 4 to 6 yr olds playing. Pattu and two others busy doing acrobatics on the monkey bar. Pattu tries one of the new tricks but needs my help to reach up.

Pattu: Amma, Please help me amma…

S (Remember S of the Gang War fame?) : Eh, why are you calling amma for that, you are big…come I’ll show you how…

The Amma wonders if it is time to retire….

PS: Yes, Pattu and S are friends… no trace of any memory of Gang War episode 🙂

Gang War

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Pattu faced her first gang war a few weeks back. I witnessed some interesting group dynamics and thought I should share it here. I’ve tried my best to stick to just ‘reporting’ the incident. I want your thoughts on it…

Gang Profile: 12 or so 4 – 8 yr olds
Venue: kids’ playground
Situation: Both swings were occupied and Pattu wanted to have the swing. She asked H (Girl) if she can play on the swing and when H didn’t budge she insisted. H left (a bit cross) and joined S (Boy) on the other swing but Pattu wanted H to share the swing with her. H was miffed with Pattu and hence refused.
H prods S and both shout, ‘Pattu bad girl…Pattu bad girl’ – Pattu is upset but controls tears.
Some random 6 kids (all boys) big and small gather around Pattu and join the chorus. One boy (8 yr old) looks on, not approving what the other boys are doing (he gives them an angry look) but doesn’t say anything. Pattu breaks down. Teasing grows louder accompanied by some sniggers in between.
Pattu HOWLS! Comes and hugs me. I just hold her.

Suddenly we hear, ‘Pattu Good Girl’ chorus from a bunch of girls in another corner of the playground.
Boy band disperse quietly. Some from that group take Pattu to play with them. Pattu still crying and angry allows herself to be led away and becomes interested in their game (which involved getting her hands dirty in the sand and the likes). Couple of older girls continue to appreciate and thank Pattu (and quite spontaneously, not making much ado about it) for helping them with various tasks (they were building something..like a mountain, temple, etc). Pattu Happy.

S comes to Pattu after sometime and says, ‘You are a good girl only ok…’
Pattu looks at him with a blank expression – just for a second and carries on. S stares after her and moves on.

What’s your take?

Slam by Adam Stower

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SLAM by Adam Stower. Pattu Rating 5

We read this book We viewed this picture story book – Pattu’s first and boy, did we have fun!

The book tells a story of consequences through just the illustrations and some sounds (through onomatopoetic expressions). It all starts when this boy goes out with his walkman on, oblivious to the complete mess that results from SLAM-ming the door! The ball that is caught on the roof falls on a resting cat which springs in fright, causing further fright and a row of disasters. All this while the boy walks on with just the music in his ears, completely insulated from his surroundings.

We discovered a variety of sounds… sound of a soft fall, hard fall, bounce, bump, clash, splash, screech, scrunnnch, huff puff…oh so many more…

Another very insteresting aspect is that there are multiple threads of consequences that come together in the final mess and there are lots of little details that you’ll discover (like a little jet that crashes into a little girl’s kite, a cat that goes after a fish and so on) in the second, third, and subsequent readings. Pattu pointed to a couple of them that I hadn’t noticed myself! So you can even weave many stories by just shifting your perspective. Last night was riot with Pattu laughing till her jaws ached and me acting the disaster till all my joints and my throat ached – but it was all worth it to see Pattu laugh like that 🙂

Now, I have to hide this book before my joints give in! I’m looking to buy a copy (the one I have is from the library).

There’s one more like this by Quentin Blake… will review shortly.

Keep them Buzy…

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Has anyone checked out the workshop on Chrysalis Busy Bee Fun Factory at Landmark, Apex Plaza? It is on till 25th May. Looks like it is only for kids 5 yrs and above.
Dakshinachitra seems to have lots in offer for children – residential camps, activity camps, Glove Puppetry and Leather Puppet making on 5th and 28th May respectively. There are some workshops for adults as well – more details here
I would like attend the Art Exhibition between 1st and 10th May by Rohini Thotta Tharani.
Let’s do something has a Mocktail workshop tomorrow – just what we want to beat the Chennai heat! The Robotics Workshop is back on popular demand and there’s the summer camp for kids 5+ yrs.

Also noticed that Velachery now has Born Babies on Bye Pass road. With Half Ticket, Niel & Nikki and Cotton City (inside Srishti on Bye Pass Road), Velachery definitely seems to be improving!

Tried the Citrus body wash and Papaya Ginger jam from Fab India and loved them! Highly recommend Papaya Ginger …

Have just got some organic groceries delivered from a new vendor – will check them out and give more details later….

Anxious…

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Lately, I’ve been a bit worried about Pattu. It has always been a bit difficult to get her to do one thing at a time, get her to complete her tasks, hold her interest for more than 15 mins and so on – any parenting guide would sound out an alarm at these signs (and every other parent would tell you that her kid is exactly the same). Add to it the occasional temper tantrums, hyper activity, talking to invisible friends or sometimes inanimate objects, not answering/ responding etc. Well!

As though these weren’t enough, Pattu has been writing mirror images. She still hasn’t chosen one hand over the other – she uses both hands equally. I’m not sure if I should be worried yet. Her school reports are normal though – apparently, she is obedient and well behaved, grasps reasonably well, etc.

But still…is it ok for a 3 yr old to smile at and have conversations with the street light that she can see through our bedroom window? My bro says that says a lot about how interesting she finds our company!

Guess I’ll just wait … though I can’t entirely quit worrying…