27 April, 2007

Is child rearing Boring ??

Is there something abnormal if

Moms drop their child off at school and fetch their child from school everyday ?

Moms go to the park with their children and stay there the whole time ?

Moms do not entrust the responsibility of taking their children out to play to a helper or a maid ?

Moms do not entrust the primary caretaking responsibility towards her children – either fully or partly – to a helper or a maid ?

I, for one, have been told umpteen number of times by a lot of people that it indeed is !!!!

And surprisingly enough, most of the people who have chosen to air this particular view are SAHM’s.

Some of the views that have particularly stood out are

“Children are children and they grow up – irrespective of whether we are around or not – don’t they ?”

“We carried them around for nine months and then went through the ordeal of labor and childbirth. So now are we not entitled to some time of our own.”

“Maids are being paid, are they not. They bathe the children, feed them, drop them off at school, bring them back and this works for me because I don’t have the time to get into all this nitty gritty”

“Arrey what yaar !! The same routine everyday. Bacchon ko nehlao, khana khilao, park lekar jaao. Kaafi boring lagti hai mujhe tho”


By no means do I mean to say that I'm a saint. Far from it actually.

There have been innumerable number of days when my kids have driven me up the wall, when they have driven me to virtual insanity, they've driven me nuts so much so that by the end of the day I've had to hang on to sanity by the skin of my teeth. There have been a number of instances where I've pulled them up for some wrongdoing or the other. There have been plenty of times when I've had to grit my teeth and resist the urge to pull at my hair.

But I have to admit that life is anything but boring with them around.

Boring ??? Humdrum ??? Lackluster ??? – Are these sentiments that one would normally associate with bringing up a child ?

Many a time, I’ve been told by a lot of other SAHM’s that it is healthier to “let go” of the children and entrust their caretaking responsibility to a helper or a maid – partly or even better fully. The reasoning being that the children have to learn to live without their parents around. And the earlier you do that, the better. The younger the children when their parents leave them in the care of a third person, the better. One person whom I was acquainted with has even gone to the extent of saying “If the children get smacked around by the maid, let them – it’ll teach them to value and respect their parents better”.

I too am firmly of the belief that children should not be hanging on to the coattails of their parents all through their life. But to willfully entrust the responsibility of being a primary caretaker to a helper/maid while the child is not grown up enough to understand what is correct and what is wrong in terms of what other people do to/with them, while the child is not grown up enough to be able to verbalize and vocalize their feelings AND whilst the mom is very much a SAHM - is something I still cannot stomach.

Maybe this stems from the fact that I’ve witnessed a lot of children being ill treated by maids. I’ve seen maids sitting and gossiping amongst themselves while a toddler goes and licks the walls all around a rubbish dump. I’ve seen maids hitting children for not having heard them the first time around. I’ve seen children almost choking on food because the maids are in a hurry to get the feeding done and over with. I’ve seen children choking on food because the maids are too busy talking over their phone or talking to yet another maid whilst feeding the child and the topic of discussion is so interesting that the child is neglected. I’ve seen children being fed with spoons which have fallen onto the pavement (where scores of shoes and boots walk) because the maids just don’t feel the need to go that one extra mile in having to clean the spoon or get another one.

I remember with distinct clarity an incident that happened at the supermarket and this was when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. I stopped over at the supermarket on my way back from work and while I was at the fruit section I saw a maid repeatedly screaming at a child who could not have been more than 2 years old. No one else was paying any attention and apathy is a very common sentiment among the locals here in Hongkong. She repeatedly kept screaming at the child – all because she was busy talking on her cell phone and the child kept interrupting her because he wanted an apple. Finally, she just lost it and dragged the child roughly and pushed him violently, so much so that he stumbled backwards and banged his head on a trolley and fell down on the floor. Instead of backing off and ensuring that the child was not badly hurt, this particular maid decided to go one step further and she went ahead and started smacking the child for having fallen down.

And I guess that was when I lost it !!!

I very vividly remember standing there, all of seven months pregnant and looking it, thoroughly livid and screaming at that maid. I was totally beside myself then. I was fuming, outraged and totally furious and I gave that maid a piece of my mind. I threatened to call the police and the Social Services Dept right then and she burst into tears. Trust me, no doctor would have wanted to take a look at my BP right then.

Just a couple of weeks back, a child went missing from the park. The maid, instead of staying in the park and keeping an eye on the child, left the child in the park and quietly slipped out to carry on a conversation on her cellphone in peace. And the child disappeared from the park and no one knew where she had gone. The maid went hysterical when she got back to the park and a few of us who know each other spread out all around the huge park, looking for the child who is about 3 ½ years of age. She was nowhere to be seen. I still remember the cold feeling of frightening dread that I felt while searching among the dense thickets and bushes for the child. It was heart wrenching and never ever has my heart pounded out of fear like it did that day. She was found quite sometime later – she had wandered off all by herself to the lobby of the block in which she stays. All’s well that ends well – is what the adage says and in this case, fortunately, it stood true.

Some parents are faced with a situation wherein both the husband and the wife have no choice but to work for a living. In such cases, they have no choice but to leave their child with a helper. My heart goes out to such parents who have no choice but to continue working and much against their wishes have to leave their children under the care of helpers/maids, whilst all the while wondering how the child is being treated or taken care of.

There are mothers who have chosen to work after having had children and as I have gleaned from them, they know exactly what they want and what they are doing and there has not been a single instance wherein I have heard a working mom saying that she puts her job ahead of her child. Not One !!!

Parental responsibility does not end when a child is brought into this world. Rather – it begins when a child is brought into this world. And bringing children up is anything but a dreary routine. There is nothing humdrum or boring or monotonous about it. Quite the contrary.

And leaving children in the care of maids/helpers just because “child rearing” is a “mundane chore” which can just be handed over to someone else is something that is totally beyond me.

I cannot help but recall here a quote from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

23 April, 2007

An addition to our family

I thought of the many different ways to say this. In fact, I have been mulling over this for the past week or so. But then, came to the conclusion that the best way to say this is straight out.

How we got ourselves into a situation like this is totally beyond me. Honestly !! I mean – another mouth to feed, another little one to tend to, to care for, feeding schedules, another responsibility.

And not to mention cleaning poop !!!!!!!!

What were we thinking ??

Fact remains that we simply were not.

It was an impulse that we gave into. A whim, a fancy – call it what you may.

And Appu and Abhay are thrilled to bits. But then, that’s how kids are supposed to react to something like this, are they not ??

Now, having read this far, if you are thinking what I think you are thinking – the answer is NO.

Let me introduce you to the newest member of our family :-))



We asked the kids to come up with a name and the latest addition to our family has been christened Tiny Timmy.

20 April, 2007

Spring Glorious Spring !!

Given the infidelity of the weather in Hongkong (it could be sunny in the morning and we could have a typhoon in the evening) and given the fact that the weather, over the past couple of months, has been downright gloomy and cloudy - it was a welcome forecast from the HK Observatory which said "bright and sunny" for a couple of days during the Easter break.

The kids' favourite haunt - Kowloon Park - was in full bloom and as an added bonus - Appu and Abhay's winged friends were back at the aviary too.

And when they are at the Rose garden, I've always noticed, the children seem to spring to life. It is almost as if those flowers in full bloom with the honeybees flying and winging their way in and out of the flowers and all those migratory birds chirping and cheeping - all that magic that is woven into the single word "Spring" - enthuses them to bubble over.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said "Earth laughs in flowers"











"The beautiful Spring came ; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also"

~ Harriet Ann Jacobs


(Photo Credits - Vic Krishnan)
May I add - Many thanks to His Highness for endorsing the use of the above pictures on my blog :-)))

18 April, 2007

The Tale of the Two Easter Eggs

This whole saga started when Abhay’s kindergarten decided to do a Easter Day Parade with all the kids dressed up in Easter costumes. They were very very helpful in indicating to the parents that the children could be dressed up as bunny rabbits, chickens or Easter Eggs.


Very helpful indeed !!!

Anyways, parents started hunting for bunny rabbit ears at all the outlets of Toys R Us (where else ?). But then – guess what ???!!! All the Toys R Us outlets reported having “sold out” their stocks of rabbit ears. Apparently, according to one of the sales staff at Toys R Us, people were booking up for the rabbit ears and buying them in multiples of 50 pieces at one go.

Huh ????!!!!!! She sure made it sound as though there were Playboy parties going on all over HK !!!

Anyways, let me not go off at a tangent here.

There went the possibilities of my taking the easy way out on the Easter costume issue. What is it that they say “Man Proposes …. God Disposes”.

So then, deciding to give the whole thing a different kind of spin, off went Yours Truly to the stationery shop. The idea was to turn Abhay into an Easter Egg Sandwich. Basically, Abhay was to be the filling - sandwiched between two colourful looking Easter Eggs. Ran the idea by Abhay and found that he was not averse to it. So Easter Egg Sandwich it was !!

These were the result of about 2 ½ odd hours of cutting and painting.





And finally, once two little shoulder straps were attached to the eggs, the “egg shields” were ready.

Next day morning, Abhay gave it one look and said “I don’t want egg”. He got quite agitated at the very idea of wearing the “costume”. So much so that there were tears in his eyes. And he kept shaking his head in the negative.

On the one hand, I could almost visualize about 2 ½ - 3 hours of effort flying out through the window and on the other hand, there was Abhay, looking totally miserable at the idea of getting into the “costume”.

I just did not have the heart to say “Abhay Mommy has made this for you and wear it you shall”.

“Mommy proposes Child disposes” – a new twist to the old adage.

To just put things on an even keel, I told him that he need not wear it if he was not comfortable with the idea. But at the same time, I also told Abhay that I was going to carry the “costume” to school and hand it over to his teacher. That way, in case, later on in the day, when he saw many of the other kids in costume, if he felt like wearing his, he could.

I believe he did wear the costume at school – for two minutes – just to pose for a photograph. We have not been graced by a copy of that picture as yet – guess it will come around by the end of the school year.

The eggs came back home and since I did not have the heart to dump them and since we did not have the space to stack them either, we chose the next best alternative.



Here they are, put up on the wall in the kids’ room - on either side of a totem mask that Appu had made at school.

16 April, 2007

A Paradoxical Mom's Rambles

The third and last term for this school year has begun today.

And both Appu and Abhay left for school at their usual times today.

Protests were aplenty. Ranging from Abhay’s vociferous bellows of “I don’t want to go to school. I don’t like it. I want to stay at home” to a more mellow “When do my next holidays begin ?” from Appu.

Both of them woke up in the morning looking lethargic, not at all enamored by the prospect of “school” beckoning them. Apathy, laziness and floppiness hung heavy in the air. Visually too the spectrum was very broad. Ranging from Abhay’s tears to Appu’s glumness.

And with both of them off to school, the house feels raucously quiet. Over the past fortnight or so, there was seldom a moment when peace reigned supreme. And I used to crave for peace. Now when the house is so very quiet, I crave the noise.

Now, as I sit at home in peace, what I wish for, what I yearn for is the total din, the clamor, the clatter, the banging, the shrieks, the screams that used to accompany the activities that the two monkeys used to engage in.

Little did I realise that all that racket, all that ruckus and all that hullabaloo that they normally create would leave such a gaping silence in its wake. The hush that prevails right now is quite overwhelming.

Over the past 3-4 months, both Appu and Abhay have started to communicate a lot more with each other. They do have there trials and tribulations too, they have there share of disagreements – they have their dissimilarities, they have their differences.

But, in the midst of all the fights and the mayhem and the confusion, that sense of camaraderie, of companionship and one of amity is becoming increasingly evident between the big sister and the little brother.

There are lots of times now when they don’t need anyone else around (except for the times when arbitration comes into the picture). They are content playing with each other, more importantly – having each other as playmates.

At times they bring the house down zipping frantically from one corner of the house to another, from one room to another screaming, screeching and laughing it all out – that laughter that builds from the very deepest depths of the heart and echoes all around the house.

At times they are content just sitting and building blocks together, sitting together and making shapes come to life on a magnetic board, sitting together with their drawing books and sharing a box of sketch pens.

Many a times, of late, I’ve found them huddled together, lost in the world of stories and tales that Appu reads out to Abhay.

And of course, to pepper the whole thing up, they do have their fights – over seemingly immaterial things. Things that might, on first glance, seem totally inconsequential. They sulk, they cry, they fob each other off, there are words like “mean” which fly around.

But what is becoming more and more visible and evident as the days go by, is the bond that only two siblings can share. In its entirety, it is beautiful to see the bond forming, to see the attachment growing among the two of them.

And here I am, sitting in this uncannily peaceful house, which, right now, feels very weird and unnatural.

And there I was, a few days back, telling my friends that “I just cannot wait for school to reopen. Then both kids will be off to school. Thank God for small mercies”.

And here I am, willing that time flies real fast and wishing for July to materialize real quickly – for it will herald the start of the summer break for the kids – two whole months.

And when that does happen, I will, in all probability, come right back here to say

“Oh God !! When are the schools going to reopen ?”.

Happy Vishu !!!!





HERE'S WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY, SAFE, PEACEFUL, HEALTHY AND PROSPEROUS YEAR TO COME !!

What does Vishu signify?

On the day, the Sun leaves Meena Rasi and enters Meda Rasi, it is Vishu Sankraman and Vishu is celebrated the next day. This is near vernal equinox, one of the two occasions of the year when day and night are of equal length, owing to the Sun crossing the Equator.

Vishu Kani and Vishu Kaineetam are the highlights of the celebrations.

One the eve of Vishu, a mirror, rice, dal, specified vegetables and fruits, ornaments and coins are arranged in the puja room. In the early hours, the senior most member of the family wakes up and lights the traditional lamp in the Kani. The oldest member of the family then wakes up the others and leads them one by one with their eyes closed to the Kani. Then they open their eyes to the light and prostrate before the deity. The oldest member then hands out Vishu Kaineetam.

This festival shares the spirit that is normally observed in all festivals of Spring - the spirit of Hope and Expectations that a new dawn brings with it.

14 April, 2007

Different shades .............

.......... of the same person.




The "Shareef"

AND


The "Badmaash"

Now who says hairstyles don't make any difference in defining a personality ??

13 April, 2007

Chicken Wings or ........

Saturday before last, while all of us were making our way back from the park, we stopped over at KFC to pick up some spicy chicken wings. Appu had been salivating over the thought of chicken wings for a while, so KFC it was.

Abhay, as was the case during that time (that's past tense cos he changes phases so quickly and so often, of late), was full of questions.

On and on and on went the questions while we waited for the spicy wings to be packed up. Finally, having gotten our parcel, we made our way home.

Once home, Appu and Vic were digging into the wings while I joined them after a few minutes. Abhay was sitting on one of the dining chairs drinking what he calls "Coke Joosh". And then I got to the table too.

Just then, the little wise guy says "What u eating ? Chicken Pox ?"

And I'm dead sure he caught that quick look that passed between me and Vic at that instant.

"No Abhay. Those are chicken wings" I said, in a very feeble attempt to salvage the situation and my rapidly dissipating appetite.

"That's a Chicken Pox" he reiterated, pointing to the cardboard carton in which the chicken wings had been packed.

“No Abhay – that’s a box not pox” said Vic

For emphasis, I added “B…B….Box”

But Abhay would have none of it and as far as he was concerned, chicken pox it was.

Fortunately, Appu was totally immersed and well into attacking the chicken wings as though they were going to come to life and fly off. So busy was Appu that none of the above conversation even registered in her mind !!

And needless to say, one can't blame me for having totally lost my appetite !!!

12 April, 2007

Little "chips" of wisdom !!

This happened yesterday when the kids were watching a VHS tape (do they still make them ??) of Disney cartoons.

A particular favorite with Abhay, among the Disney characters, are the two little chipmunks. Until yesterday, he used to insist on referring to them just as chipmunks.

Yesterday he wanted to know their names.

“One is Chip and the other is Dale” I told him, not getting into the specifics of the whole issue because for the life of me, I can never figure out which one is which.

"Chip and Dale" "Chip and Dale" started the chant, seriously making me wonder if we had been better off referring to them just as chipmunks.

And in an effort to put the brakes on the chanting, I told him

"Chip and Dale are two little chipmunks"

"NO" came the reply.

"What no ? Why no ?" I asked him, my voice bordering on exasperation.

“Chip is Chipmunk” and “Dale is Dalemunk” said the little wise guy.

And so they have been christened.

11 April, 2007

The day Abhay brought home a caterpillar !!!

I still remember the day very vividly.

The day Abhay decided to bring, of all the things, a caterpillar, home.

The image that was burnt into my retina was one of Abhay standing there proudly holding his prized possession – a caterpillar.

I must have been quite a sight – a scream fully formed in my throat whilst not quite finding its way out though, my eyes as wide as saucers, my hands flailing wildly yet doing nothing constructive, my feet rooted to the ground on which they stood, my knees threatening to buckle any moment, a rush of blood zinging in my ears.

There I stood – cooking up all kinds of horrific scenarios in my mind while at the same time a small part of the same mind acknowledged the fact that the little caterpillar did look quite cute.

Finally having found my voice back, I managed to squeak

“What is that Abhay ?”

“That’s a caterpillar” came the reply, real real prompt.

“What is it doing on your hand ?” I croaked

“Want to take caterpillar home” came the reply with a smile on his face

“What is it going to eat ?” I inquired in all of my adult wisdom

“Caterpillar eat leaf” came the simple reply with a rather suspicious look on his face

“Is Mummy leading me on here ?” is what that look seemed to ask

Finally, I gave in (as if I really had a choice) - that expectant little face, those two little eyes gleaming with pride and joy reminded me not to disappoint him ........

And yes, the caterpillar came home with us and is staying with us under the same roof.

And since it is here anyway, I even clicked a picture of it.

The fat, plump and green little caterpillar with two beady black eyes, resting on its leafy bed.

I have to admit though, much as I fight the desire to say this, it looks so darn cute !!!





P.S. : This actually started off as a very innocuous post.

While I was drumming up the post, I was also going through some pictures of Abhay during his babyhood days and one particular picture caught my eye. It was a picture of his which had been doctored and I burst out laughing.

I had emailed that picture to one of my dearest friends who wrote back to me remarking that I had a very “quacky sense of humour”. And when that "quacky sense of humor" came into play, it brought about a twist in the “tale” of the caterpillar.

What say T ?? Is my quacky sense of humour still around ?? :-)))))))

05 April, 2007

Simple pleasures of the ABCs ........

There is something so immensely satisfying, so innately heartwarming about holding your child’s hand and teaching her/him to write. It is not a feeling that comes about instantly. It grows over a period of time. So much so that you miss it when you are not part of that activity any more.

To be able to hold those little inexperienced fingers in your much larger, longer ones, to be able to introduce them to the delights of straight lines and the sleeping ones, the curved lines and the zigzags. To be able to guide those little fingers into the intricate swirls and curls and the ups and downs and the dots and dashes, to form an alphabet – is a source of total delight.

It never did strike me as to how much I enjoyed holding my kids’ hands, helping them write. That is to say, until Abhay said the other day “No Mummy – Abhay do” when it came to tracing alphabets out in his book. That was when it really sunk in – that this seemingly basic, tedious task is one of its kind – very very pleasant and enjoyable - an activity, the absence of which, will indeed be sorely felt.

Even today, as I held his little hand in mine and helped Abhay write numbers from 10 to 30, it did strike me that pretty soon it is going to be just that little hand holding the pencil. And when that does happen, I am sure going to miss this little activity and the myriad of sentiments that accompany it.

But then again, as is the case with almost anything and everything in life, it is a question of being able to “Let Go” – is it not ??

Little Izzy ...

I read about Izzy at Usha’s blog.

Izzy is a little girl, all of 3 years old and she lives in Michigan. For little Izzy, growing up takes on a different meaning altogether. Because she has recently been diagnosed with Pre-T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. So life, as she knows it, is going to mean a lot many doctors, a lot many procedures, twice a week visits to the cancer clinic either to have blood tests done or for chemotherapy.

And since chemotherapy also lowers the immunity of the body, Izzy’s parents have to keep Izzy at home. It is indeed very difficult to imagine a three year old having to forgo simple pleasures like playing in the park or a romp in the pool or a visit to the zoo – the list is endless. It must be so very difficult on the parents too.

But, like Usha says, we can help.

Izzy happens to be extremely fond of stories and loves to act out the characters in the stories. She wants to grow up and become Sleeping Beauty.

We could help by sending Izzy little things like little stories, cartoons, drawings, paintings, poems. – anything that would help take a little mind off all that pain and discomfort.

These could either be posted as comments on Izzy’s blog Or could be emailed to izzysfund@yahoo.com.

Anything that would help take a little mind off all that pain and discomfort, albeit for a little while.

03 April, 2007

Abhay ......... in words

There came a piece of paper from Abhay's school last week, titled "Parent's Words".

The school wanted the parents to send in a few words about their child - what the child is like etc....

"Abhay .... in words" - this was how it went ..........

"If Abhay is to be described in one sentence, this would be it.

He is incredibly naughty, mischievous, constantly “on the go” and “full of zip”.

“Fire” is the current element of his fascination, much to our anxiety.

He loves to fix puzzles on the PC, do “lopsum” colorings with sketch pens, build “lopsum” cars and buses with Lego. He is totally captivated by the solar system and could very well talk about the planets in his sleep too.

His penchant for cars, buses, trucks – for that matter – anything on wheels, has all but turned our house into a makeshift parking lot. Many a times, it quite resembles a fully operational garage too. And among all the cars, his absolute favorite is Lightning McQueen.

He has been completely bowled over by Mumble, the little penguin in the movie Happy Feet. So much so that he identifies with Mumble. And very much like Mumble, Abhay too has a very gentle psyche shrouding his personality."

02 April, 2007

Kowloon Junior School Music Concert

The Kowloon Junior School Music Concert was held in the school on Wednesday, 28th March 2007. All the hardwork, persistence and commitment on the part of all the students who participated in the concert, bore fruit.

What an awesome performance it was !!

Absolutely astounding, totally breathtaking. It was quite literally an “out of the world” presentation from the 211 students who presented a varied selection of items from their school’s Extra Curricular Music Programme.

Aparna is a member of the Year 3 String Club of the Kowloon Junior School. This young group comprised of 8 violinists and 2 cellists. The Year 3 String Club played for the members of the audience during both halves of the concert.

During the first half, they played two pieces

Concerto in a Minor 1st movement

and

Blackjack




During the second half, the Year 3 String Club accompanied the Year 3 Choir in presenting “February Twilight”.

The tandem that the children in the Choir and the children in the String Club demonstrated during this song was unbelievable.


Such was the concentration and determination on each and every young face that one had no choice but to acknowledge the wonderful commitment of these talented students of KJS who prepared, practiced, rehearsed and performed with huge enthusiasm.

And the deafening applause that used to fill the school hall at the end of each and every piece that was presented, stood testimony to that fact.

Geoffrey Latham once said “Music is the vernacular of the human soul”.

And that was what the huge audience of parents witnessed. The Music Concert brought together children of many different nationalities, presenting varied musical items in more than one language – and they did it with great grace and panache.

Thomas Carlyle once said “Music is well said to be the speech of angels;in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite”

The hour and a half of joy, pride and peace that the children bestowed upon their audience during the concert, was priceless. It was infinite, it was immeasurable.

Aparna's Biography for the KJS Music Concert.....

The Biography



On display in the school foyer