30 May, 2007

The Saga of The Eight Facts and The One Fib continues ....

I've been tagged by The Mad Momma and SM and in keeping with the tradition :-) here are 9 things about me people don't know - eight of which are true and one of which is not.

1. I hate being in the limelight – in any given situation.

2. I have vertigo. Precisely for that very reason, I went parasailing in Pattaya. And loved every minute of it. Bungee jumping and skydiving are still on my “to-do” list. And I do plan to get around to these someday.

3. The currency notes in my wallet are always arranged by denomination. Not once will you find a 10 Dollar note between a 50 Dollar and a 20 Dollar note.

4. While eating a slice of bread or toast, I still eat up all four sides of the bread first. Same goes for a slice of pizza. The outer rim of the crust gets eaten first.

5. I was born into a musical family. Just for that very reason, a very reluctant me was forced into learning Carnatic music. I’ve gone well past the Keertanam stage, hating every minute of it.

6. I play tag with the kids in the park. Go ahead and roll your eyes. Yes, at this age I still do. And the kids love it. Cos they don’t need to go Eeeni Meeni Myni Mo for a catcher. They have one readily available.

7. I’ve addressed a live audience and a huge posse of the press at the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club) in HK. And my photo eventually found its way into the SCMP (South China Morning Post).

8. After the above speech at the FCC, I’d been approached by a couple of TV news channels for an interview. Needless to say, I turned them down.

9. I’ve fired a live firearm. And sorry to disappoint you – I did not end up killing anyone or anything with it.

And I now tag

Kodi's Mom
Sahithi's Mom

28 May, 2007

My birthday evening ........ visually speaking

As most of you know, I got to do a guest post on Mom's blog on my birthday.

Here I am again, this time with an extremely visually pleasing (I'm to be seen in almost all the pictures :-0) post - to take you through the evening of my birthday.

I gave these cute goodies bags filled with all sorts of goodies to all 24 of my friends at school.

Look at the lovely birthday card Aparna made for me.

This was how the card looked on the inside. I don't know what she'd written on it but it sure cracked everyone up.

Yummy !!!!!! Chocolate Cake !!!!! Hey - that's my birthday cake !! :-)))))

We sure look pleased, don't we ?

Me n all the ladyfolk of the house. Oh !! I just can't take my eyes off the cake.

Oh !! Blowing the candles and cutting the cake sure is tiring. Look at all the help I needed !

Mmmmmmmm ........ Yummy !!! I finally get to eat the cake.

And so does My Big Sis !!

The ladies want one more pic with me. But I'm way too busy doing something far more important.

Annnndddd lookie here. Look what I got on my birthday. Yippeeeee !!!

Am taking my bike for a spin ...

Wow !! That sure was one fun evening I had ...... and a very yummy one too :-)))

Pssstt !!!!!!

Can someone please answer one question

"Why is it that birthdays come only once a year ?"

Wouldn't really hurt, you know, if birthdays did come around 3-4 times every year :-))))

26 May, 2007

A poem about "Space" by Aparna

Aparna's Primary Three Picture taken at school.

This picture was taken at school at the beginning of her Primary Three year. Notice that all the teeth are intact and the addition to her wardrobe in the form of a pair of glasses had not taken place then.

The ongoing topic at for the Primary Three's at Kowloon Junior School is "Space".

Each child had been assigned three projects on "Space".

The first one was making a model of something related to Space and we did make a model rocket for her to take to school.

The second project was to make a Powerpoint presentation about any one of the planets. She chose to do a Powerpoint presentation on Planet Jupiter. Am still trying to figure out a way to upload a .pps file onto the blog.

The third project was to write a story or a poem related to "Space" and Aparna chose to write a poem. When she handed me the poem which she had written, I was dumbstruck.

Even if my life depended on it, I would not be able to come up with a poem. My poetic sense is absolutely zilch. Hers, quite apparently, is awesome !!

And it would not be fair on my part not to add this :

This poem has been written by Aparna and Aparna alone. There has been no parental help involved in the composition of the poem. Absolutely none !!

Take a look at the poem which she has submitted as her Third Project on "Space".

"Beautiful Space"

Space is bright as you can see;
If you see it, what a sight it would be.

Some think it is really-really small;
But the fact is, that it is huge after all.

Mercury and Venus are very-very hot;
You need lot’s of water, how much have you got?!

Mars is the Red Planet and it is the only one;
I don’t know, if it is redder than the Sun.

Here comes Jupiter on the way;
It has giant Red Spots that’s what I say.

Next there is Saturn with it’s enormous Rings;
The Rings are so long, longer than Strings.

Uranus is Seventh, that is really true;
It is full of gases, it’s colour is Blue.

Last is Neptune, it is such a Freeze;
If you had lived there, you will not stop to Sneeze!

Now that you have seen them all, I can see;
One day you will love to take a trip to space with me.

~ by Aparna Venkitaraman

25 May, 2007

Yippeeeee !!!! It's my Birthday !!!!!

All of FOUR years old !!!!!

Yea !! That’s what I am today. Four years old !!!

Else you really think Mommy would have let me do a guest post on her blog.

No way !!!!!

Mom and Dad tell me that I was born on 25th May 2003 at 05.52 a.m. They keep telling me over and over again that I was born at 05.52 in the morning. Yet, I wonder, why it is that they complain when I wake up around the same time on Saturdays and Sundays now.

It’s my birthday today, but guess what !! No break for this little me. I still had to go to school today. It’s not fair. Really !!!

Sometimes, I wonder if my Dad and Mom have forgotten my name. For that very reason, I always spell my name before saying it to them. A.B.H.A.Y Abhay – that what I tell them. Haaannn Haaannhhh !! They just don’t get it. They still call me all kinds of weird names like exasperation. Psssttt - can any of you tell me what that means. Don’t kid me on my birthday OK ?

Hey – today morning I had a very nice surprise waiting for me. Wait wait !! I am not talking about my birthday gift. Dad and Mom had these nice loot bags packed with all sorts of goodies for me to give all my friends at school.

Today morning Dad, Mom, Grandma – everyone actually just dropped whatever it is they were doing and were cooing and gaaing “Happy Birthday Darling” around me. Hey – it felt really good you know – to be the center of all that attention early in the morning. But Gee – it sure gets tiring too. Everytime someone says “Happy Birthday Abhay” you’ve got to shake their hand and say Thank You. It really is very laborious. That’s such an awful lot of work for a four year old. Dontcha think ??

And Aparna – she first sneezed around me 10 times in the morning before she even wished me a bleary eyed “Good Morning”. And halfway through brushing her teeth I guess it dawned on her that she had not wished me “Happy Birthday” and she came rushing out with her toothbrush. And wished me a very toothpastey Happy Birthday. And then, for a while after that, she was hopping all around the living room like a Bunny Rabbit. What’s the deal ??

But wait up – Hey ! I did not see my gift in the morning. Nor did I hear Dad and Mom even mention the word “birthday gift”. I mean, something tells me it is right under my nose. I can see it, I can actually see it but it has not officially been gifted to me as yet. I can wait …….. I’m the eternal optimist.

Ahem …… is anyone listening ? Daaaaaaaaddddd !!! Moooooommmmmmmm !!!!
Ok – now I’m desperate. Apppaaarrrrnnnnnaaaaa !!!!
Where’s my gift ????? And where’s my cake ??????

And they call themselves adults !!!

I’m just about keeping my fingers and toes crossed here. Hopefully wiser counsel will prevail by the end of the day.

So what exactly have I been doing over the past four years ?

Well, I’d rather say it through pictures. That way, you’d get to see my handsome face and how it got handsomer over the past four years ;-)

That's me when I was a week old. Don't I look cute :-) Don't tell Mom I said that else she'd say "Abhay. Don't toot your own horn".

I started to look at the world from a whole new angle - once I learnt to flip over onto my tummy.

One look at this picture and people say "That's Mr.Naughty". I wonder why !!

The "Monk" Look.

My "Vehicle Mania" begins in right earnest.

I began developing hobbies too. Among my favourite was finding new places to hide in, inside the house.

Me with my alltime favourite God. He's said to be equally naughty, if not more.

The day I started school.

In my first Chinese outfit, with my favourite co-conspirator.

Me with my Ducati. Hmmm.... sure sign of having grown up, don't u think ??

I'm even planning on reading Edgar Allen Poe one of these days.

Yaaaayyyy !!! Bye !!! So long. And it has been very nice meeting you all.

So here I am. All of four years old. Yaaayy !!
And I have just this to say

Everything's been different
All the day long,
Lovely things have happened,
Nothing has gone wrong.

Nobody has scolded me,
Everyone has smiled.
Isn't it delicious
To be a birthday child?

All the same, I do sincerely hope I get my birthday gift and cake :-))

Lopsum love, lopsum hugs and lopsum Mmmmuuuaaaaaa

Abhay a.k.a Mr.Exasperation

23 May, 2007

Mr.Exasperation - Percy, Annie and Clarabelle

The Mr.Exasperation series which started with this post, now moves to Part 2.
Children are a great comfort in your old age. And they help you reach it faster, too.
~Lionel Kauffman

For the past few days, Abhay is seen announcing “I am Percy” “Abhay is Percy”.

"Abhay, please come here". And the reply would be

"I'm not Abhay. I'm Percy".

"Abhay, time for lunch" And the reply would be

"I'm not Abhay. I'm Percy."

And the adults in the household, already at their wit's end and exasperated beyond description, are making either no attempts or at the very best, feeble attempts, to correct the "Percy" situation.

Now, for those of you who have not been forced into a situation that demands familiarity with names like Percy, Scarlowie, Rheneas etc.., please start counting your lucky stars. And something does tell me that there are not going to be many parents counting their lucky stars on this topic.

Anyways, not to digress ......

The other day, in the evening, he walked into the living room and just kept saying “I’m Percy” over and over and over again.

Appu decided to take the “bull by its horns” and went on to tell Abhay

“Abhay – you cannot be Percy. Percy is a engine.”

“I’m Percy” came the defiant reply.

“Abhay, you cannot be Percy. Cos Percy has two coaches behind it. Annie and Clarabelle. So you see, you cannot be Percy.”

“I’m Percy” came the rebellious reply.

“Percy runs on a track. You run with your legs. So you see, you cannot be Percy” came Appu’s witticism.

“I’m Percy” came the reply with an equally mutinous look.

“Ok. If you are Percy then where is Annie and where is Clarabelle” quipped Appu, not willing to budge a millimeter on this one.

“This Annie This Clarabelle” came the reply with that famous index finger of his pointing towards his bottom.

Now, had not The Big Sister told him that Percy has two coaches “behind it”. Knowing his penchant for specifics, I’m not surprised that he picked up on the “behind it” detail.

The adults in the house were way to cracked up by now to notice which side of the bottom was Annie and which one was Clarabelle.

Even after the initial laughter had died down, another hypothetical scenario had me laughing quite relentlessly.

Picture a situation at school wherein Abhay falls and lands on his tushy. And when asked by his teachers, he comes up with an answer that goes something like

“Annie get hurt” OR “Clarabelle get hurt” :-)))))))))

Now, I know for a fact that there is no Annie or Clarabelle in his class. And his teachers are going to be tied up in knots trying to figure out who Annie and Clarabelle are.

Also, if he continues with the above theory, then, essentially, each body part is going to be assigned the name of an engine or a coach. And that spells trouble in Big Black Block letters.

If Abhay says “James get hurt”.

“Oh Dear !! Just wait, will you ? Let me just check on my list and find out whether James is the right leg or the right hand” !!!!!

Oh !!!! For Crying Out Loud !!!!!

And before this question comes up, I might as well say that he has not assigned any more engine names to any body parts.

Atleast not yet !!!!!!!!!

21 May, 2007

Mr. Exasperation - The Antonym Mode

Abhay is into the “Antonym Mode” of late.

By of late, I mean over the past couple of months or so. And by “Antonym Mode” what I’m trying to say, very politely, of course, is that he is being absolutely, utterly, totally and completely exasperating.

When we first saw him changing gears and slipping into the Antonym Mode, we thought it was just another phase. But this “phase” is nowhere near over. It is still on in full swing and keeps getting stronger by the day. The “end of this phase” is nowhere in sight.

A normal conversation with him would go something like this

“Abhay can you come here please ?”
“No, I want to come there”.
You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.
~ Franklin P. Jones.

“Abhay please sit down”
“No, I want to sit up”

"Abhay please stand up”
“No, I want to stand down”

“Abhay, let’s go there”
“No, I want to go here”

“Abhay, put the pillows down on the bed”
“No, I want to put the pillow up on the bed”

And then again, ...........

there are those inevitable mealtimes. They are such god-given opportunities for him to unleash his potential to the fullest. Because that is when he is totally primed for action, that is when he is at his exasperating best.

First salvo – a whole barrage of “I don’t want to eat” repeated continuously every other second.

Second salvo – the food storage facility – I mean on the sides of the mouth. The way he stores food on the insides of his mouth (instead of just chewing and swallowing it) would put a “about to hibernate” bear to shame.

Third and most lethal salvo – “Chlap Chlap Chlap” – that’s the sound he makes with food in his mouth. And he knows only too well that this brings about some kind of a metamorphosis in his mother. She rather begins to look, to put things mildly, as though she’s swallowed a bee.

Mission Accomplished !!!!!! Yaaaaayyyy !!!!!!!

A few more of his parents’ Crowning Glories have turned grey !!!!!!!

And then again, ...........

there is the stonewalling method.

To any given question, however innocuous it may be, the answer that flies back is

“I don’t want to tell you”.

And then again ..........

There is the most lethal of all his weapons.

In any given situation, if he senses that the other person is getting tough with him and succeeding, out flies the statement

“I don’t want to talk to you”.

We can’t wait to see the day when he grows out of this particular phase. It is so hair splittingly maddening, so infuriatingly vexing, so irritatingly provoking and so incredibly exhausting.

And the thought that is utmost sobering is when we ask ourselves

“If his current phase is so aggravating, what’s the next phase going to be like ?”

that is assuming, of course, that he outgrows the current one !!!!!

19 May, 2007

The making of a miniature Rocket

The ongoing topic for the Primary Threes in Kowloon Junior School is “Space”.

The first project on the above topic involved making a miniature model of anything associated with Space.

Appu chose to make a model of a rocket.

And this is what the finished product looked like.

For the main body of the rocket, we took the easy way out by using a Watson’s Distilled Water bottle which happens to be quite ideally shaped for a rocket.

The next step posed a bit of a dilemma. Since the bottle had way too many curves, it was not going to be possible to stick coloured crepe or craft paper on it. It would leave way too many creases. So then, the only logical choice left was to use Poster Colours. But then again, Poster colours do not take well to plastic surfaces.

What did we do ??

We coated the plastic bottle with ordinary paper glue and rolled on one layer of white medical gauze all over the bottle. Once the glue dried up, we were left with a plastic bottle that vaguely resembled an Egyptian Mummy. The only difference being that this Egyptian Mummy was going to take to Poster Colours very well :-)

Then came the unenviable task of creating fins for the rocket. Cardboard too had to be cut in a slightly unique shape to accommodate the extra curves on the bottle. And since the texture had to be the same as the bottle, we followed the same procedure. Paper glue and gauze came into play once more and the four fins, once dry, were ready to be painted.

We decided to turn this into a “jazzy” fun rocket – quite unlike the ones that actually make the trip into outer space. Once the bottle was covered with a thick coating of poster colours, we got working on the fins. To give the whole thing a very national “Mera Bharat Mahaan” touch, the fins were painted like the Indian Tricolour.

Once the painted bottle (I mean body of the rocket) was dry and ready, the rocket thrusters were attached. For the thrusters, the cardboard tube of a kitchen paper towel roll came into play. The cardboard tube was cut into three pieces and painted again with poster colours.

The main body of the rocket was glued on to the three thrusters.

Then the wings were glued and taped on to the sides of the rocket.

It still looked a bit plain. So then, a few tubes of glitter glue worked pretty well in jazzing up the rocket.

Finally, some thick craft paper. We used the blue craft paper that had been leftover from Abhay’s eggshield craftwork. To further strengthen the craft paper, a cardboard was slipped between the two sheets of craft paper.

A few golden stickers sealed the sides pretty effectively.

Some little stickers shaped like stars, crescents, ovals and circles gave the blue base (craft paper) a sky like appearance.

And onto this went our very own homemade rocket !!!

Right now, it is proudly resting on a display ledge at Kowloon Junior School with its inspiration in the forefront.

18 May, 2007

Want to buy a birthday gift ???

Buying a birthday gift for a child, quite often, turns into a predicament or a dilemma, does it not ?

I mean, what to buy, will it be of use to the child, will the child learn or derive anything from it, will it be a little too complex for the child in question, will it be too easy as to bore the child very easily, does it have small parts which could probably be used as aural or nasal stuffings ..... the list is seemingly endless.

People have fairly long “child gift lists” – as in a list from which one could debate, discuss, deliberate and decide as to which gift to buy for a child.

Well, to all those prospective gifts that are already on the list – how about adding guns, shotguns, handguns, pistols and for the extremely audacious – a rifle even ??
No No - I am not talking of toy pistols or toy guns. I'm talking of the real stuff.

I am beginning to sound delirious, rather crazed and raving mad, am I not ?

Try reading this for good measure.

When I first heard this on the Late News yesterday, I was stunned into silence.

A baby, who probably toddles around and babbles in baby language is the owner of a shot gun. What is beyond the wildest of beliefs is the fact that the shotgun has been gifted to the baby by the grandfather. To carry this insanity one step further, the father of the child applied for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card and to complete this picture of lunacy, the State of Illinois has actually issued the Firearm Owner’s ID card to a 10 month old baby.

Sounds pretty dire and dismal, does it not ?

I remember reading in an article that there are an estimated 200 million privately held guns in the US, where the number of gun-related deaths each year runs into the tens of thousands of human lives.

But to gift a shotgun, to apply for a licence and most importantly, for the government to sanction one to a 10 month old seems totally beyond realms of reality.

The number of children who die in senseless gun accidents is becoming all too frequent a newsitem in the newspapers and other forms of media. Accidental firearm discharges, school shootings, shootings in colleges – these are standing examples of the dangers could be associated with having firearms around the house. What is even more pertinent is the fact that children and youngsters come into contact with firearms without actually realizing the potential danger, the hazard, the risk that it poses to themselves and to the others around them

The recent shooting spree in Virginia Tech which left more than 30 students dead is only too fresh in everybody’s mind. In fact, it is very difficult for the human psyche to erase such images. Such mindless violence.

Children die or are badly injured because their parents or other gun owners don't store their firearms properly, and children find loaded guns and use them unintentionally on themselves or other children. Older children would like to imagine themselves with a Stetson and cowboy boots with a gun on their hips. Just about everyone is vulnerable to getting caught in the crossfire from guns – irrespective of whether they are used in domestic violence or in crime. There are many known instances wherein teenagers have been seen using guns towards impulse suicides or even crime. And studies point to the fact that suicide attempts with a gun definitely prove more successful than suicides attempted by other means.

Many children/youngsters are shot by peers/friends, family members, or strangers, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Also spare a thought for the many children, teens, young people who, though not injured or killed themselves, are survivors of gun violence. Their minds and psyches are and remain scarred by the effects of such violence in their homes, schools or communities.

Though children and youngsters often fall victims to gun violence, such incidents could also lead them to a brink so much so that they could well become perpetrators themselves, using guns to kill or maim others.

In this kind of a scenario of an increasingly mad mad world, what good is it going to do if people start to buy shotguns as gifts for their children and grandchildren ? Is this kind of behaviour ethical ?

Is this some kind of a sordid joke ?

What exactly is the message that is being sent across here ?

Start ‘em young ????

And last but not the least, I cannot help but ask

"Is this kind of behaviour ethical ?"

Ethics too, are nothing but reverence for life. This is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting and enhancing life and that destroying, injuring and limiting life are evil.
~ Albert Schweitzer, Civilization and Ethics, 1949

15 May, 2007

The little star shone yesterday .........

....... in more ways than one.

Vic and me had been to KJS yesterday afternoon, for the Celebration Assembly, during which Aparna was to get a Award from the Principal Mr.Steve Francis.

The Assembly Hall was packed. In attendance were all the proud parents of the children who were to get their Awards today afternoon. Also in the audience were all the Primary Two and Primary Three children of Kowloon Junior School. And last but definitely not the least, the teaching community of Kowloon Junior School.

The Assembly began with a piano recital by two of the Primary Two students followed by a two songs sung in chorus by all 300 students of Primary Two and Primary Three.

This was followed by a short speech by the Principal Mr. Steve Francis who had also prepared a slideshow on “Achievements” – which was the underlying theme of yesterday’s assembly.

The presentation of the awards began with the Primary Two students. Then came the turn of the elder and more experienced Primary Threes. All the children were to climb up on the dais and receive their certificate from the Principal, after which some gingerly climbed down while some hopped off the dais.

And then came the moment we were waiting for – I remember Aparna’s name being called out, I remember seeing her name flashing on the white screen behind the dais and there she was – on the dais – receiving her certificate from Mr.Francis.

And then she stood there and told the Principal something. He had to lean towards her to catch what she was saying and she had to repeat it. He then told the Deputy Principal something and Aparna was still standing on the dais.

There was a small buzz starting in the Assembly Hall, much like a buzz in a beehive.

Then the Deputy Principal turned towards the audience and said

“Aparna would like to say something”.

And Aparna said

“I would like to thank Ms.Leedale and all my friends here at KJS. I would also like to thank my parents, my family and my brother for this award”.

She was remarkably calm and composed through her little speech, her sentiments strong in that she knew with absolute certainty as to what she was doing and her voice was unwavering, steady and resolute.

Her teacher’s jaw dropped open in surprise and stayed that way. She was plainly delighted.

There was a collective sigh from all the parents there that went something like

Aaaawwwwwwwww – that’s so sweet !!!

And then the Assembly Hall exploded with applause.

Later on too, a few parents walked up to Aparna and told her that it was really sweet of her to have “said a few words” after receiving her award.

What she did in the Assembly Hall yesterday took courage and lots of it.

I also mentioned to her later on in the afternoon “Had I been in your place, at your age, I would never ever had had the guts to do what you did on stage. I probably would have managed to stumble on the dais but that’s about it”.

I remember reading a quote once which goes ...

“While we try and teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about”.

Humility was a very strong sentiment that she sent out yesterday and it was extremely well received.

Aparna also taught me another important thing yesterday.

That mommies should never ever go to a school assembly wearing an eyeliner that is not waterproof !!!!

11 May, 2007

'Tis been a very eventful academic year ......

............ for both Aparna and Abhay.

Eventful in terms of what they have achieved during the year and eventful in terms of the trials and tribulations that they’ve faced during the year.

It has also been a very eclectic year for us, as parents. This year has brought us face to face with the multitudinous diversities that parenting entails, that parenting demands, that parenting required. Some facets that we came across were pretty well known ones that most parents are familiar with – the joy, the contentment, the pride, the sense of accomplishment. And there were also aspects of parenting which we had not faced so far. The past year has made us reach into depths of our hearts that we did not know existed and in more ways than one, forced us to face realities and deal with them as we knew best. All in all, the past year brought us to an edge where steeping, infusing and imbuing all that we had in us, as parents, became imperative.

This post is a sum total, the essence of what the year has been like for the children and for us, as their parents.

Abhay, ever since he started kindergarten in September of 2006, has had trouble settling in at school. During the first couple of months at school, there used to be tears in the morning and he used to be totally uncommunicative about what was happening or not happening at school and we were totally in the dark.

One particular incident, however, totally raised my hackles and I was beside myself with rage and pain at what he had gone through at school.

An indication of things being awry came when his teacher asked me “Does he speak ?”. That was a premonition of sorts. On hindsight, an indicator of things to come. The churn, the dilemma, the quandary was just beginning. Little did we know that.

Little things, little actions of his like screeching and screaming over seemingly nothing at home, tearing paper into unrecognizable bits (something that had stopped a long long time back), going off the deep end with absolutely no clue as to why – all these pointed out to the fact that something was not right somewhere. He was stressed out and very badly so.

Sometime around November, his teachers wanted us to go down to the school to discuss with them as to “what can be done and how best Abhay can be helped at school”. Somehow, that letter, viewed in the context of his teacher’s above query to me, did not bode well.

I remember heading off to school with totally leaden feet and in a totally perverse sort of way, I remember very vividly as to how bright and sunny the skies had been as I walked the short distance to school that afternoon. The picture of Abhay the teachers painted that afternoon was formidably gloomy, very effectively dismal and incredibly dark and depressing. The image of the little boy that they conveyed to me that afternoon was not the Abhay I knew, it was not the Abhay that I had ever seen, it was not the Abhay that I would have ever imagined in the wildest of my dreams. The only thing that kept up a resounding echo inside of my head was the voice of one of his teachers saying something to the effect of getting him “assessed”.

I countered and parried each and every one of their accusations that afternoon. But with each new “observation” that they leveled at me, my heart sank just that wee bit lower.

I don’t have any recollection of how I got back home that evening. I very acutely and lucidly remember that there was a huge roaring noise that seemed to emanate from inside my ears, effectively shutting me off from the outside world. I saw things around me that evening but I did not comprehend. I heard things around me that evening but I could not synthesize or coordinate them for what they actually were. That evening, I understood the meaning of the word “pain”. It was then that I realized exactly how much it hurts a parent when one’s child is in pain, in trouble. It is agony in its purest form, it is an anguish that leaves one gasping for breath while one is still breathing, it is a torment, a torture that eats into oneself and permeates and pervades one’s very sense of being.

I very vividly remember sitting inside the bathroom and narrating to Vic over phone, all that had taken place during the meeting with the teachers at school. And that night, as sleep refused to claim me, I remember sobbing like I have never ever sobbed before. I could not, for the life of me, even imagine and envisage the pain that Abhay must have gone through during those first two months at school. Even thinking about it was getting to be a bit too much to stomach. The situation called for a countenance, a level of tolerance which seemed far beyond my reach at that point of time. I was such a confusing mixture of emotions then. I cannot even begin to describe the wide spectrum of sentiments and feelings that the meeting in the afternoon had unleashed inside of my head and heart. To cut a long story short, what had happened in the afternoon had taken precedence over just about anything and everything and I was swirling in a vortex of total confusion and bewilderment, not to mention denial.

Those were a few extremely dark days when I did what a parent is absolutely not supposed to do. I started to look at Abhay and each and every one of his actions with a jaundiced eye. I am not one bit proud of the way I acted during those days. Those days, when I, as his mother, should have been at the forefront refuting all those arrows that were being aimed at him, when I, as his mother should have been trying my level best to counter and contest all that his teachers were saying about him. Instead, what did I do ? I started to compare him with other children his age – at school, in the park, in the shopping malls, buses, trains – just about everywhere – albeit unconsciously. And even when I did realise what I was doing, chagrined as I was with myself, I did very little to curb this newfound tendency of mine. And this is something I’m going to pronounce myself guilty of, this is something I’m going to be ashamed about for just about as long as I live.

Abhay’s pediatrician, after having taken stock of the situation and after having gone through the written note from his teachers (I asked for one) very rightly put her finger on the “problem” by saying “It is just that he is an extremely sensitive person. He is ultra sensitive. I don’t really see any reason to put the cart before the horse here”.

Once that initial shock wore off, much more lighthearted after having spoken to his pediatrician and having heard what she had to say, we set about fortifying Abhay. Every single free minute, well, virtually every single free minute of my day revolved around him. Stimulating him mentally, healing yet revitalizing him emotionally and most importantly, restoring, elevating and uplifting his confidence levels – that of his confidence in himself. Every single free moment that Vic had during the weekends – he spent with Abhay. Things took a turn for the better around mid-November.

A week before we left on our holiday to Bombay, his teacher reported a setback in his communication levels at school again. Once in Bombay, Vic devoted all of his free time to Abhay and dad and son started to form an extremely close bond, they began to connect with each other. It was beautiful to watch this unfold. It was like a flower slowly starting to bloom and once in full bloom, a very exquisite and delightful comradeship began to manifest itself. The camaraderie among the two of them was unmistakable and now is inimitable.

Back on homeground in HK, back to school and problems started all over again. Complaints started to come in once again and when we went over to school for the Parent-Teacher meeting in February, his teachers suggested that I could try being in the class with him for a short period of time each day till he started to get comfortable with the class, the teachers and started to participate in the activities and started to open up to them vocally and verbally.

And that was what I did.

Little was I prepared for what was in store.

It was during this time that I got a bird’s eyeview of exactly what transpired in the classroom. During the initial few days, things seemed OK. Nothing out of the ordinary. But slowly and steadily, that veneer began to fade. That fa├žade, that pretense, that mask began to slip and the true persona began to emerge.

One of the teachers in class was overtly and blatantly aggressive with the children. Phrases like “Mind Your Own Business”, “You have a big mouth right ? So use it !!”, “Why don’t you learn to use your brains ?” were heard flying around the classroom at shockingly regular intervals.

I knew firsthand then, the meaning of words like “shocked into silence”, “dumbfounded”, “numb with shock” etc. because that was precisely how I felt. I could not comprehend, for the life of me, the use of such language in an aggressive manner and tone, aimed at children who were all of 3 ½ - 4 years of age. Best part of all, from a person who, the school claims and the parents believe, is professionally qualified to handle children of that age.

That was when things began to take shape with crystal clarity. The reason for Abhay being withdrawn, the reason why he used to go into his shell, the reason why he used to “clam up” when he got to school, the reason why we used to get to hear “I don’t want to go to school” from him.

He has never ever been good at handling aggression or aggressive behaviour. And he simply could not cope with this form of aggression – mental and emotional – that too from an adult. And in such a situation, his “flight” response took precedence over the virtually non-existant “fight” response.

We were waiting for him to move on to KG2 before we started to take any action in this regard. What we wanted to avoid was any kind of a vindictive whiplash reaction if we took matters into our own hand at this stage – given the fact that there barely is around 1 ½ months of school to go before the summer holidays begin.

Little did we realise that his teacher had plans of her own.

I was in for a shock when I went in to hand over the form for his move to KG2. That was when I was informed by the school reception that his KG1 teacher had refused to put up his name on the KG2 list and had strongly recommended that he repeat one more year of KG1.

When I spoke to her in person and led her through the maze of questions I had in store for her, she almost went over the edge. Once she realised that she had been cornered and had her back to the wall, what I got from her was nothing short of totally inarticulate and meaningless interpretations.

We were terribly upset, to say the least. And what hurt us more was the fact that we knew that in truth, in reality, Abhay did not deserve any of this. Those of you who read my blog regularly, know him quite well by now, although through my words. But forming a mental picture of him will not be a very difficult task.

His progress sheets which have been coming in from school regularly indicated that he did indeed absorb everything like a sponge. He was very much aware of what was happening in the classroom and when called upon or when queried about something, he could answer and retort to the point.

Over ten very stressful days, we garnered our defences, honed our weapons, roused, kindled and sharpened our appetite for the combat and conflict that we knew was undoubtedly necessary. As his parents, it was our responsibility to take up this crusade on Abhay’s behalf, to make sure that he does not have to suffer one more year of torture at the hands of the abovementioned distinguished teacher. For us, this encounter was indisputably essential.

And take up the issue with the Principal, we did. Vic took charge of most of the conversation that evening and the way and manner in which he put things across to the Principal could not have been packaged better. Make our stance clear, he did. Make our displeasure known, he did. But nothing was said or done explicitly or blatantly. Yet, the message that went across could not have been more clear.

After having heard all that we had to say, the Principal finally was convinced that we had a very strong case. She gave her consent to Abhay moving on to KG2 but at the same time added that she would also have a talk with him. So there was that little frontier where the little trooper had to substantiate his parents’ faith and confidence in him.

The Principal did indeed have a talk with Abhay and he described to me with great pleasure as to how he explained to the Principal about a teddy bear which was brushing its teeth and wearing its glasses and eating its lunch etc… Apparently, they had been reading a book together. And after having spoken to Abhay, the Principal has decided that he is indeed ready to move on to KG2.

While all this skirmish has been happening on the “adult front”, Abhay has been pretty much busy drawing his own battle lines. Now, he is out to exasperate her. And from the looks of it, he is doing a mighty good job of it. He has chosen the path of passive resistance, one of total non-cooperation – to whatever she says or does. I guess, that is his way of saying “Go take a walk and make it a long one”. His voice takes on a very defiant note when he tells us “I don’t want to say Good Morning to Ms.ABC” “I don’t want to talk to Ms.ABC” “I don’t like to talk to Ms.ABC”.

So, come September, he is going to be heading off towards the KG2 classroom in school and not towards the KG1 classroom as his extraordinarily illustrious teacher had sought.

With Aparna, this year has been one in which she has repeatedly, constantly and continually scaled newer and higher heights. And these have worked wonders for her self-confidence.

There have been troubles with bullies and troublemakers but this newfound confidence that she has in herself, with support and advice from both me and Vic when required, has seen her handle situations in ways that we would not have thought possible, say, a couple of years back.

Her participation as a violinist in the school orchestra also has gone a long long way in motivating and inspiring her to strive and get better still. It gave her a huge window of opportunity to showcase her musical talents in front of such a huge audience and also the entire teaching community of her school.

Her class teacher has repeatedly been of the opinion that it is becoming increasingly difficult for her to set targets for Aparna because she has long surpassed all the targets that could possibly be set for children her age.

Yesterday, we received a letter from the Deputy Principal of Kowloon Junior School, stating that Aparna’s class teacher has chosen her as a recipient for an award. We have been invited to a Special Celebration Assembly to be held at their school on Monday next, during which time Aparna will receive the said award from the Principal of their school.

And with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day just around the corner, we could not possibly have asked for better gifts from both our children.

Both of them, in their own individual, unique and distinctive ways, have gifted us with the one thing that, at one time or the other, surges in each and every parent – That Sense of Pride in knowing that your child is capable, accomplished, talented and qualified – and as an added bonus – the fact that the world knows it, recognizes it and acknowledges it.