30 March, 2007

Reading Buddies ......

On Appu's first day at primary school, the one thing that struck me, the one thing that I found extremely pleasing was the willingness of the senior students to help the juniors. And I found that there were plenty of helping hands and cheerful faces to guide the little ones and initiate them into primary school. How lovely, I remember thinking to myself then.

It is during the Primary One year that the children are encouraged to make the first move towards independency as far as reading is concerned. And what made this whole exercise more remarkable was the fact that the children from the Primary Three classes used to sit with the children from the Primary One classes and help and encourage them to read. They help them put phonics together to form a word, they explain the meaning of words that might otherwise seem quite outworldly to the little Primary Ones.

During her Primary One years, Aparna used to very often come home and tell me

"Mummy - today Dan helped me read this book."
"Mummy - Dan told me the meaning of this word"

Dan, from one of the Primary Three classes, was Appu's reading buddy then.

And she's come a long long way since then as far as reading is concerned. She's virtually a bookaholic (sounds stronger than a bookworm :-0).

And I was indeed more than pleased when Appu came and told me a few weeks back that she now regularly goes to one of the Primary One classes and helps a little girl called Mandy with her reading.

Aparna is Mandy's reading buddy.

From having a Reading Buddy in her Primary One year to being a Reading Buddy in her Primary Three year ..........

.............. Aparna has indeed come a Full Circle.

27 March, 2007

Spring is here .........

......... and lots of Lil Green Thumbs have been busy - planting, nourishing and nurturing Nature.

Today afternoon, as the little children filed out of the classroom, each one had in their hands a small pot of lush green grass. And this was no ordinary grass. It was the result of their efforts and their commitment and their nurture which Mother Nature had fully taken into account.

For the past week or so, the little gardeners had planted grass seeds in little thermocol cups and used to very diligently water their "pots" once a day.

This was the little pot that our Little Gardener carried home today from school.

Through the day, I've caught Abhay staring at the grass with obvious fascination and a couple of times I found him gently running his little palm and fingers on the grass.

Today evening, I found him leaning towards the grass and merrily belting out

"She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes ........"

Queries Abound .......

The third tooth falleth.

I’m talking of Appu’s upper incisors this time around.

Last week, one upper incisor left its gummy bed, leaving in its wake a huge gap on Appu’s upper jaw. It was an absolute breach of upper jaw security. So much so that it prompted Vic to pull Appu’s leg by telling her that in case she needed to drink something through a straw, it would be possible for her to do so without opening her mouth now :-0.

After felling one tooth (she pulled it out by herself this time around), Appu came to me and remarked that “the next tooth too will fall out soon Mummy – cos it does not have any foundation now”.

“You mean support Appu – don’t you” I asked her

“No – I mean foundation” she said.

“The next tooth does not have any support” I told her “Foundation does not sound quite right”

“But why ?” came her query.

“See Mummy – when you say foundation of a building – you mean that foundation is something that supports the building right ?”

Hmmm. Supplementary contemplation proved that this little “foundation-support” question did have a lot of weight.

Another time, when I was giving her her shower, she asked me

“What is the difference between science and technology ?”

Just before she went off on camp last week, I remember her asking me

“Who makes the sun rise and who makes the sun set ?”

According to the information gathered by Appu from The Mahabharata (which she is currently reading), it is Brahma who makes the sun rise and Dharma who makes the sun set.

I really did not know this. She enlightened me in this regard.

Frequent, intermittent brushing up and an incessant need to keep adding on to the existing amount of specifics inside my head, seem to be the order of the day.

26 March, 2007

Little Mumble ....

(Photo courtesy Google)

Abhay has been absolutely taken in by Mumble - the little penguin in the movie Happy Feet. In fact, he is so enamored by Mumble that he identifies with him.

And last week, when I went over to the library to get a fresh lot of books for him, I found a book titled “The Little Penguin”. And ever since that book got home, Abhay has it read out to him whenever the opportunity presents itself – which is to say “lopsum times” (Abhayism for lots of times).

Yesterday, while I was giving Abhay his shower, the green Pears soapcake (which happens to be oval in shape too) broke into two. I did not stop to think and plonked both the pieces into the soapdish.

On seeing this, Abhay’s face broke into a huge grin. And I could not really figure out why a broken soap could possibly be such a huge source of amusement and delight.

The mystery was fairly shortlived.

With that famous index finger pointed at the soap, he quipped

“See. The soap hatched. The soap hatched”.

Our little Mumble’s brain seems to be “hatching” with ideas.

23 March, 2007

Ever wanted to live in the Polar Region ??

When I had been for the Parent-Teacher meeting at Aparna’s school last week, as is normally the case, all their books/worksheets etc had been laid out by their teacher for the parents to peruse before meeting up with the teacher.

In her Topic/Research book, earlier this month, their assignment had been to research for information about the polar region.

And later during the week, to check as to how much of information from the research had been absorbed by the children, they had been asked to write a report, the title of which was “If I were living in a Polar Region”. Very interesting !!

When I was going through Aparna’s book, I saw that she had divided the whole thing into areas.

Climate in the Polar region
What kind of a house would she be living in there and why
The advantages of the polar region
The disadvantages of the polar region

There was a very short but succinct write up about the climate in her book.

The kind of house she wanted to have in the polar region was a two-storey house with sloping roofs. Sloping roofs because when the ice melts even a little (if it does), a sloping roof would enable the melted ice to slide down whereas with a flat roof the ice/melted ice would just collect on the roof.

The house, according to her had to be two storeyed because of the high possibility that the lower windows could very well get covered with snow stacked very high.

I was pretty impressed !!

I kept reading through the advantages of living in a polar region and finally came to the disadvantages section

She had again listed them out pointwise and right at the bottom of the page, I saw a hasty scribble which read

“I would not really like to live in the polar region because it is extremely cold through out the year. It is so very very cold that I could very well catch the flu”.

Now that really cracked me up !!!!

I could not contain the laughter that erupted all of a sudden at that unexpected little note at the bottom of the page.

That’s a sample of the “Aparna brand” sense of humour.

21 March, 2007

Treasured memories of being read to and reading to.....

I read about this contest being hosted by CHBM and The Kane Miller Publishing Co at Tharini's blog. The theme is to blog about treasured memories of being read to as a child or favorite memories of reading to one's children.

Here's my take on the pleasures of being read to and bliss of reading to my children.

Right from early childhood, a bedtime story had become a norm for me. A comforting ritual before gliding off to dreamland. I remember vividly how my dad used to patiently read me stories from books. At times, he used to read up on stories from Tamil magazines like Kumudam or Vikatan and used to narrate those stories to me.

My dad first introduced me to a book during my primary school years. During the primary school years, I remember how very often I used to curl up in a corner of the balcony, in the close and comforting vicinity of the various potted plants there, with a copy of Chandamama in my hands. And it used to transport me to a different plane altogether – a totally different world, a fantasy world.

Once I was comfortable with Chandamama, next came Champak. On my next birthday, my dad subscribed to The Target Magazine and the following fortnight, I remember being on top of the world when the postman delivered The Target Magazine home with my name written on the cover. I remember coveting that cover even. If my memory serves me right, it should still be around – inside a copy of a much thumbed Websters Dictionary.

After this came the Enid Blyton stage - when I was nothing short of addicted to The Famous Five. Very soon, the craving extended to books like the St. Clare's series and Mallory Towers. This was soon followed by the Secret Seven, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys.

Once I was started college, my dad gifted me with a membership to a very old and famous library right in the heart of Bombay - The J.N.Petit Library. My visits to the library got more frequent once I started working, as my office was a stone's throw from JNPL. Each and every Saturday, I would spend hours in the library poring through books and perusing and scrutinising the library shelves, trying to decide upon which books to borrow. The lot many hours that I spent within the confines of the huge J.N.Petit Library were some of the most idyllic ones during those days. Surrounded by books and book lovers, the only sound in the library used to be the crackling of the old, yellowed pages on some books and the cooing of pigeons on the windowsills.

As far as reading to my children goes, Aparna had always been interested in books. Even as a toddler, what could keep her occupied the longest was a book and not a toy. Nowadays, when she has some free time, she is seldom seen without a book in her hands. And a new addition to her wardrobe in the form of a pair of glasses has in no way diminished her enthusiasm as far as reading goes. And she is now totally out of the picture book stage and is onto chapter books. And when we visited Bombay during Dec 2006, the trip proved to be an absolute windfall for Appu as far as books were concerned. Her book collection now consists of these books too.

When I saw her totally immersed and engrossed in “Famous Five go to Mystery Moor” the other day, I could not help but take a trip down memory lane.

As a toddler, kindergartner and even as she started primary school, we used to read to her and she used to love books. Once she started Primary One, there came a stage when she had to start trying to read books on her own. And that was when she realised that it did indeed involve a lot of effort. I still remember the first book that her teacher had sent home from school – The Little Pelican. Big block black letters to make reading easier for the kids. But she just did not want to go that extra mile. “I cannot read this” “You read it to me” “It is too difficult” “I don’t know how to read this” were comments that were indeed heard very often during that phase. I still remember how we used to sit together and I used to help her put the phonics together and form the word and say it aloud. Once she got the hang of the whole thing and once the going started to get just that wee little bit easier, she just would not let go. Books, as they always do, opened up a totally new vista. Books provided her with a totally new landscape in her mind, on which she was free to paint her own pictures with splashes of colours as she pleased. It opened up a whole new world.

Abhay, on the other hand, as a toddler, never really exhibited the same kind of interest in books – except that he realised ripping paper could be quite a pleasurable task. At that stage, even with his board books, if I could hold his attention for a full 10 minutes, it was an achievement of sorts. And there was a phase when he did not want to have anything at all to do with books. The sight of a book used to bring forth a “NO” accompanied by a furious shaking of his head.

Once he found that he was not being forced into it, slowly but surely curiosity got the better and once again there was a renewed interest and gradually, bit by bit, his friendship with books began to grow, it began to take shape. And books began to grow on him. The pictures in the books, the colours, the stories, the pleasure of having a story read to him, the coziness of the entire setup was, I guess, too good to be missed out on.

Now when I hear him say “Go to library and get new books” it, for me, is like hitting the Rewind Button and going back a few years because this was the same chant I used to hear from Aparna. Abhay just cannot have enough of books now. And what is read to him, he retains.

When I look at both of them today, with all of their attention riveted and focused on the book in their hands, totally immersed, wrapped up, captivated by the words, the pictures – the book, in its entirety – my feeling is one of satisfaction.

When I look at the joy, the delight that books bring them, when I catch that look of total rapture on their faces as they find new books waiting for them, the excitement, the anticipation on their faces as they wrestle with their little yet infinite minds about the treasures that the books hold for them – the feelings that are topmost on my mind are that of complete gratification and pure delight.

Like Charles W. Eliot once said

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers."

The day the bus "Broke"

On Friday last, the kids in kindergarten were to go on a field trip. A trip on a school bus. I guess this was to get them used to the idea of the “dos and donts” in a school bus.

That afternoon, I asked Abhay how the ride had been.

“I sit in school bus”, he said.

“Abhay put the seat belt” was the next comment

“The bus go BRRRRRRRR on the road” said Abhay.

And then he said “The bus broken”.

Now he associates the word “broken” with a vehicle usually when we are watching the news on TV and there is some footage of an accident having taken place.

“The bus broken ?” I asked him not quite comprehending what he was trying to tell me.

I must have been looking quite weird because he gave me one long look and started shaking his head quite furiously from side to side and said

“The bus broke.”

Realising that it was not making any difference, he tried

“The bus broked”.

I then asked him “Abhay how did the bus broke ?”

Fortunately, he decided to use sound effects this time around

“Keeeeeeeeeeeeeeccchhhhhhhh” !!!!!!

Oh !!!

What the little guy had been trying to say was “Brakes”.

11 March, 2007

What do children do at night ??

Yesterday was one of those days when Abhay just did not want to go to bed at night.

It was almost 10 pm and our energy levels were already running on reserve battery. But Abhay was zip zap zooming around the house like a bumble bee.

We tried all ruses to get him into bed - yet nothing worked.

Finally, in an effort to get the obvious answer out of the "horse's mouth", I asked him

"Abhay - It is so late at night. It is almost 10 p.m" (talk of subliminal messages)

"So Abhay - what do little children do at night ?"

Pat came the reply

"See the planets in the sky".

10 March, 2007

This one's for you, Mad Momma !!

This post is for The Mad Momma - who is expecting her second baby later this week.

This wonderful idea of an online baby shower for Mad Momma was the brainchild of Surabhi. What a lovely thought !!

When I thought about this post, Mad Momma, what came to mind instantly was the poem "Baby Feet" by Edgar A. Guest.

The verses, the phrases drip with feelings and emotions ever so sweet and exemplifies just about everything babies stand for.

So, here's to you and to little Baby Bean :-)

Baby Feet

Tell me what is half so sweet
As a baby's tiny feet.
Pink and dainty as can be,
Like a coral from the sea?
Talk of jewels strung in rows,
Gaze upon those little toes,
Fairer than a diadem,
With the mother kissing them!

It is morning and she lies
Uttering her happy cries.
While her little hands reach out
For the feet that fly about.
Then I go to her and blow
Laughter out of every toe;
Hold her high and let her place
Tiny footprints on my face.

Little feet that do not know
Where the winding roadways go,
Little feet that never tire,
Feel the stones or trudge the mire,
Still too pink and still too small
To do anything but crawl,
Thinking all their wanderings fair,
Filled with wonders everywhere.

Little feet, so rich with charm,
May you never come to harm.
As I bend and proudly blow,
Laughter out of every toe,
This I pray, that God above,
Shall protect you with His love,
And shall guide those little feet
Safely down life's broader street.

~ Edgar A. Guest

MM, here's wishing you all that and lots lots more.
Sending Hugs and Prayers your way for a safe delivery and a speedy recovery.
God Bless !!

09 March, 2007

Very Eggciting ...

I had earlier done a post I Do v/s I See which brought forth Abhay's tendency to be very specific. I mean, we have to be very specific about the words we use whilst asking him something.

Yesterday night, as all of us were in the living room after having had our dinner, amidst all the din and uproar that both Appu and Abhay were managing to create, the topic of discussion turned to omelettes.

Abhay's ears perked up when he heard the word "omelette" and we were singing to him the virtues of eating an egg everyday. All our verbal efforts to get him to agree to have an omelette as part of his breakfast menu were in vain, I must say. All that we said was met with a very stubborn shake of his head.

I then asked him "Abhay what do we use to make an omelette ?"

"Hmmmm ....................." he thought ................

"A fork" he said.

(We do take the easy way out by using a fork to beat the eggs rather than go thru the cumbersome process of getting the electric beater out..... blah blah blah ...... to put it very plainly ..... we take the lazy way out)

The answer I was looking for was "egg".

Seems very obvious, does it not ?? What does one use to make an omelette - the obvious answer would be EGG.

Then with due respect to his insistence towards precision, I asked him

"What do we need to cook to make an omelette ?"

"Egg" came the totally unambiguous reply.

02 March, 2007

Upper Deck and .......

Today afternoon, after he was back from school, Abhay was seriously explaining to me the difference between a Single Decker Bus and a Double Decker Bus.

He pointed to the single decker bus and very seriously said "That's Single Deck Bus"

Then pointing to his toy bus, he said, "That's Double Decker Bus".

Just as seriously, he pointed out to the upper deck of the bus and said

"That's a Upper Deck"

And then he pointed out to the lower deck of the bus and said

"That's a Downer Deck".

Powderpuff, Powderpuff, my little Powderpuff

Picking up from Orchid, this is my edition of the "Got Mischief" tag.

Today morning, after I'd given Abhay his shower, I realised that I'd forgotten to put out his thermal vest alongwith the rest of his after-shower clothes.

I left him alone for a couple of minutes, while I went and got the said thermal vest from the wardrobe.

On my way back from the wardrobe, I saw something that sent me scurrying for the camera.

When I got back with the camera, this was what I was confronted with !!

"Abhay put powder" was all he could manage :-))

01 March, 2007

The Little Weatherman

It is part of the daily morning routine in Abhay's class to check the weather for the day. One child is asked to go over to the window and look out and then come back to the whiteboard and tell the whole class what they think the weather for the day is.

To make things easier for them, they have nice little boards, which are as follows

1. Cloudy - pictures of grey clouds against a sky background with the word "CLOUDY"

2. Rainy - pictures of clouds and raindrops with the word "RAINY"

3. Windy - pictures of trees swaying in the wind and swirls for emphasis and the word "WINDY"

4. Sunny - picture of a big smiling sun with the word "SUNNY"

5. Partly Sunny/Partly Cloudy - with the sun peeping from behind the cloud and the words "PARTLY SUNNY AND PARTLY CLOUDY".

To those of you who are still reading this post, I must say I admire your persistence :-)

They take turns - the children I mean - to peep out of the window and announce to the class what the weather for the day is.

Since he is so very enamored with the concept, I am at the receiving end of a great many weather reports through the day from Abhay.

Yesterday, the kids had already settled into bed when Abhay had this sudden insistent urge to look out of the window to report the weather.

I tried telling him that the sky was too dark for him to be able to make anything out, but to no avail.

"Want to see weather" was the insistent, unrelenting chant.

Finally I gave in (as if I had a choice) and told him

"Go Ahead and look out of the window. Mind you the sky is dark and you are not going to be able to see anything - forget being able to gauge the weather"

"Want to see weather" came the reply

"Go Ahead" I said, looking quite smug at the prospect of Abhay's reaction when he found dark skies.

I was all prepared with an "I told you so" retort.

He hopped up onto the ledge, opened the curtains up with a flourish and looked up at the sky ...

.... and we waited ....... for the weatherman's verdict.

Appu asked me in a whisper "What's taking him so long ?"

Finally, after a few minutes, the "weatherman" turned around.

"What's the weather Abhay ?" me and Appu asked him together

Silence ...........!!!!

"Abhay, what's the weather ?" we asked him again

Hmmmmm (it seemed to go on for ever) and then he said

"Partly Moony Partly Cloudy".

And there was no way, absolutely no way I could dispute that one !!!!!!!

So much for my smug look and the "I told you so".

Abhay helps out ........

......... with the household chores quite a bit, of late.

The area of interest, however, clearly seems to be vacuuming the floors.

And this is how he helps out with the vacuuming .......

......... by sitting on top of the vacuum cleaner.

Ah !! Glorious Childhood !!!