30 April, 2010

Parenting - A Complex Career !!

Pecan came home from school the other day with a rather thoughtful look on his face. He looked rather subdued, which, in itself, is rather unusual. The afternoon snack too, was eaten with nay a murmur – another first of its sorts. The afternoon snack was eaten pretty fast and the cup of milk downed without any protest – a h.u.g.e first.
Something was on his mind. Something was bothering him. We did not know what it was. We would not know what was troubling him – until and unless he chose to tell us. With Pecan, prodding around for information does not really help. It just serves to push him into a shell – pretty much like our turtle Timmy.

Come late evening, Macademia was heard calling Pecan for the evening prayers. There was no response. Instead, Pecan turned around with a “Can I ask you a question ?”. Here it comes, I thought to myself.

“Is there really a God ?” asked Pecan

“Yes. I do believe that there is a God” I said, sounding totally sincere since those words echoed from the bottom of my heart.

“How do you know that there is a God ?” asked Pecan. “Is there any proof ?”.  You can't see God, you can't hear God .... then how do you know there is a God ?"

“How else do you explain creation ? How else do you explain the universe, the people on it, the life on it, the sustenance that it provides ? “

“That can also be science, no ?” retorted Pecan

“There is a God.” said Macademia, looking befuddled and rather perplexed by this line of questioning from Pecan.

“If there is a God, why is there so much fighting around the world ?” asked Pecan.

Then came the crux of the matter ……

“You know, Mummy – I was just telling my friends at school that God is everywhere. They laughed at me.” said Pecan. “They said there is no such thing as God”.

I was, honestly, foxed.

How does one explain an abstract concept like faith to a 7 year old ?

The Wikipedia defines faith thus “Faith is the confident belief or trust in the trust or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing.”
Ever tried explaining that to a child ??

Trust me when I say – It is rather difficult to get the essence of the whole concept across in all its entirety, in all its beauty and in all its wholeness and completeness.

We told him that to have faith in something means to place your trust in something. It could be a person, it could be an invisible entity like God, it could be one of your beliefs – something that you stand by very strongly.

“Does God break people’s trust ? Ever ?” came the question from Pecan.

“Yeah, I know what he means” said Macademia. “Like when there is an earthquake or something, so many people die. I mean, what did they do to die in an earthquake. There are kids whose parents die in such quakes and the kids are left all alone. What did they do ?”
“Yeah” nodded Pecan. “All the people who are injured or who die in accidents or natural disasters – don’t they believe in God ? Then why do all these things happen to them ?”

Yet again, we came down to another difficult concept.

Something that is very true, something that has always been true, something that will always remain true – “What goes around, comes around.” “You do good to people, it comes back to you in some form or the other and vice versa.”

Yet again, we do strongly believe in this concept – because life has taught us this – in its own inimitable ways. It is not tangible, it is not concrete, it may not be solid or material – yet this belief persists in a very strong sense – because we’ve placed our “faith” in it. Having read, seen and realized that Karma and the effects of Karma do exist has made it infinitely easier for us to “believe”.

Martin Luther King, Jr. put it very succinctly, when he said

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

How does one put all this into a package which a seven year old and a ten year old can understand ?

Very intricate, elaborate and complex, is it not ?

Macademia, through it all, has definitely seen a lot more of life than has Pecan. She knows what it is like to be isolated, what it is like to be bullied, the pain associated with it and in a lot of ways she has realized that some things are beyond our capacity, as human beings. She is in the process of realizing that there are lots of things which defy a tangible or a concrete definition, yet somehow, it is evident.

The first few foundations of this rather indefinable, indescribable and to a great extent ethereal and subtle concept called “faith” have been laid in Macademia. The teacher has been none other than life itself.

We, as adults, have seen many facets of life that children are as yet unaware of. While we are only too painfully aware of the many wrongdoings around the world, we are also aware of the hows, whys and the why nots – to a much larger extent that children. The spectrum of being worldly wise is, fortunately or unfortunately, much wider in adults than it is in children. Adults have learnt, sometimes the hard way, that life is much more than just shades of black and white. For the most part, what we deal with and what we come across, are indeed those shades of grey that fall neither in the category of black nor in the category of white.

Children, in their purity of heart and the innocence that they are blessed with, believe in single colors. They haven’t, as yet, come across the mixed shades in this huge canvass, this enormous continuum that we call life. Thus, where there is a clash of beliefs, there is bound to be confusion, there is bound to be doubt.

When we were kids, there was no explanation given for rules laid down. If our parents said “This is the way this is”, well ….. that was it. It was an unspoken law - something that was not meant to be questioned, something that was not meant to be argued over, something that was absolutely not to be negated – not in terms of words, deeds or actions. It simply had to be followed.

Now, with parenting having undergone a lot many changes, the equation has changed too.

With parents now being more receptive, with the manner of parenting differing, with the mode and approach being more open – such questions are bound to come up. When there is an element of confusion or a clash of beliefs, children are bound to come back with questions. And as a parent, I’ve realized that it is not always easy to answer them – in a way that covers the whole picture, in a way that encompasses all the shades, in a way that balances all aspects and components.

What Joyce Maynard once said, makes so much sense in situations like these

“It is not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”

28 April, 2010

The baking bug ......

The oven in the Krishnans' household is being kept extremely busy, nowadays.  Some baked goody or the other is constantly being churned out - so much so that the neighbors, Mommy's sure, get a "vanilla high" just by inhaling that "freshly baked" aroma that fills the house and the outside corridor, almost every other day.

Recent escapades with baked goodies include Tollhouse Cookies, Double Chocolate Chip cookies, Butter Demerara Cookies, Eggless Cocoa Cookies with cherries, Dark Chocolate cookies with White Chocolate Chips, Eggless Vanilla Cake with chopped glazed cherries and tiny tutti frutti bits, Eggless Chocolate Cake dusted with Icing sugar ...................... and the list goes on and on and on .........

Needless to say, Mommy finds baking so therapeutic that she totally forgets to take pictures of the goodies being baked.  Psst !!  Now you know why Mommy does not have a food blog !!!

Since the cookie jar inventory screamed its "not many cookies left in the jar" alarm, Mommy donned the mitts again, in an attempt to have the cookie jar overflowing with yet some more cookies.

These were the baked goodies of the day - Lemon Drop Cookies with a Lemon Glaze.  The cookies, as is the case most of the time, are rather giant size :)).  Since Mommy was in a tearing hurry to take pictures of the baked goodies, she could not, just could not wait for the glaze to set and harden.  The pictures were taken soon after the glaze was poured onto the cookies.

The cookies after the lemon glaze had set ...... (took a couple of hours for it to set) .....

The recipe for the cookies was adapted from Amanda's blog

Just a couple of changes made to the recipe.  Mommy needed to add 6 more tbsps of all purpose flour to the batter.  Also, the shortening was substituted with canola oil.  The baking temperature was reduced from 400 degrees to 360 degrees Farenheit (around 180 degrees Celsius).  Baking time increased to around 12 mins at 180 degrees Celsius.  Icing sugar for the glaze reduced to one cup. 

Mommy is seriously considering doing this more often.  No - not the baking bit.  Posting the recipes with pictures.  Mommy should probably take pictures while cooking, in stages.  But then again, knowing exactly how scatterbrained she is, that probably is going to take a long time happening !!

Bon Appetit !!! :))

22 April, 2010

Between the devil and the deep blue sea !!!

Mommy’s been hoping and praying that no girls in Pecan’s class get a stomach ache.

Sounds weird ?

Well, there’s a story behind it.

Macademia, being a Primary Year 6 student and all that, is getting all set to move to Secondary/Middle school, starting August 2010. Apparently, a few weeks back, the teachers rounded up all the Year Six students, herded them into the assembly room and gave them all a talk about how they could expect a lot many changes in the near future - changes in terms of changing schools, going into a high pressure zone a.k.a Secondary/Middle school, hitting their pre-teens and last but not the least, physical changes which manifest themselves when kids hit their pre-teens / teens.

This, combined with the fact that “Kotex” has suddenly become a rather hep word with the girls in the Year Sixes (a sort of a “I have Kotex in my bag so that makes me all SO grown up”) has led to a lot of loose tongues at school. There are plenty of discussions going on about good old Kotex, its friends, its cousins – oh the whole Kotex family, for that matter !

Needless to say, these conversations have been spilling over at home too. And in the midst of these conversations, the ladies in the house have been doing their very best to ensure that the little spectator was not around when “Kotex talk” happened.

There was this one day when Macademia was recounting how one of her friends had to go back home due to a bad stomach ache. In the midst of the discussion, whilst clarifying that “Kotex moments” do, at times, bring about a rather disconcerting stomach ache and the like, the ladies in the house miserably failed to realize that they had a rather curious spectator in their midst.

A couple of days later, Pecan was seen sitting on the sofa, looking about as lively as a wet blanket. It took a bit of investigating before Pecan dropped the bomb. “I think I’m having my Kotex moment, Mummy”, said Pecan – completely unaware of the effect that the statement had on his mother – who, incidentally was having one of those “multiple choice question” moments.

a) Roll on the floor laughing

b) Give Pecan an explanation

c) Ignore the statement

Pecan’s mom being Pecan’s mom, she mustered as straight a face as she could, given the circumstances while Macademia was locked up in the bedroom, howling with laughter. The house sounded like Michael Jackson did in Thriller – all thanks to Macademia’s mirth, which was indeed bringing the roof down.

Mommy did the next best thing – told Pecan that Kotex moments happened to girls and not to boys. Fortunately for Mommy, Pecan suddenly recollected that there was a cricket match scheduled and he completely zoned out into the cricket world, pretty much the way guys normally can and do !

Mommy heaved a gargantuan sigh of relief at not having had to “explain” to Pecan as to why “Kotex moments”, as a domain, were registered to girls and only girls.

Those feelings of respite and reprieve, however, were short lived. All thanks to Macademia. The very same Macademia who normally drops bombshells with a poker face. The very same Macademia hypothesized “Imagine a situation where one of the girls in his class has a stomach ache. Knowing him, he will probably go and tell that girl that she’s having a Kotex moment. He will probably add, for good measure, that his mom told him that Kotex moments and girls are best friends.”

Oh Lord !! Oh.My.God !!!

So now, Mommy is rather fervently hoping and praying that no girls in Pecan’s class ever ever have a stomach ache !!

For that matter, I hope his teacher never gets a stomach ache either !!!!

12 April, 2010

Linguistic Confusion !!!

Ever since Macademia and Pecan have embarked on “learning our mother tongue and Hindi” project, home, as we know it, has become a much more interesting and a hugely entertaining place.

Learning an additional language is, as we all know, a huge task in itself. With the nutty siblings trying their hand at two new languages at the same time, life has turned into a linguistic roller coaster. And a mighty funny one at that !!

The other day saw Macademia peering at Pecan’s dinner plate and announcing to him that there happened to be a monkey on his plate. What she meant was that there were mustard seeds in the dal.
“Onnudu plate la korangu irukku” (There’s a monkey on your plate) she said, which promptly sent Pecan scurrying under the table in search of the ever evasive monkey. What she meant to say was “Onnudu plate la kadugu irukku” (There are mustard seeds on your plate).

The other day, as is the usual practice, Mommy was at the receiving end of a whole barrage of questions from Pecan whilst supervising his shower. “Tell me which Indian sweets you like” demanded Pecan. “Sandesh” said Mommy with a flourish, hoping that it would throw him, for Sandesh was hitherto unknown to the walking encyclopedia named Pecan.
“Indian sweets which I’m familiar with, Mummeeee” said Pecan, those brows furrowing rather infamously.
Procrastination being her middle name, Mommy promptly replied “Tell me which Indian sweets you know of and I’ll tell you the ones I like”.
“Hmmm …. Peda, Jilebi, Gulab Jamun, Burfi and there’s one more sweet but I’m not able to remember its name” said Pecan.
“Think about it and tell me” said Mommy, breathing a sigh of relief for the few seconds of respite which had just been awarded to her.
“Ahh yes … I remember …. that sweet is called Vettalai Pakku” announced Pecan.
“Vettalai Pakku” ???? queried a thoroughly confused looking Mommy.
Now Vettalai Pakku is what we call Haldi Kumkum in Talayalam. As far as Mommy knew, there was no such sweet.
“It is square and yellowish brown in color and Meenakshi thathi had made yummy Vettalai Pakku” insisted Pecan, defending his argument rather haughtily.
What Pecan actually meant was Mysore Pak, which had inadvertently been changed to Vettalai Pakku. It’s all in the language, I say !!

The other day, after having watched Aishwarya Rai gyrate and swivel rather suggestively to the tunes of “beedi jalaile”, Macademia was seen walking around with a thoroughly quizzical expression on her face. Well, watching dear Ms.Rai scantily clad, gyrating her hips like the planets revolving around the sun does have a rather mind numbing effect on people after a while – pretty much like an overdose of some drug – it leaves you rather deadened and anesthetized, devoid of all feeling except one that feels more like distaste. Knowing Macademia, Mommy attributed that quizzical expression to one of aversion towards the dance number. The silence was soon broken when Macademia said “But how …. just how can one burn ones wife ?”
“Burn the wife ?” “Whose wife ?” “Who burnt whose wife ?” asked Mommy, wondering if she’d read up on the practice of Sati somewhere.
“In that song, Aishwarya Rai was singing “beedi jalaile” no ?” said Macademia, her eyes round and wide with indignation. "And Beedi means wife in Hindi, right ?"
Mommy does not need to say what happened next. Whatever happened took a long time to subside !!

The other day, Macademia walked home with another one of those quizzical expressions she’s quite becoming famous for. This time around she wanted to know how someone could eat thieves.
“Eat thieves ?” queried Mommy, who is pretty much getting used to all sorts of weird questions flying around nowadays.
“A friend of mine on the bus was saying she’s to go home and eat Choru in the afternoon” said Macademia. “Choru means thief, right ?”
“Ahem …. Chor means thief in Hindi”, explained Mommy. “Choru in Malayalam means rice .”
“Oh !” was all Macademia could manage at that point of time.

Pecan, having mastered the art of punctuating his sentences with “chup re” quite frequently, added to his repertoire of Indian language vocab by saying “po da”. Yesterday, chup re and po da were combined inadvertently, when in the heat of the moment, Pecan was heard screaming “Chup Da”.

So you see, life at home has become a rather interesting linguistic experiment. And this, with Macademia and Pecan trying to speak in Hindi and Talayalam.

Wait till they start learning Marathi too !!!!!!!!!!!!