Monday, September 16, 2013

A wants to go to school :(

Since S started Kindergarten, A always accompanies me in seeing off his big brother to school.  And once S is in school, I spend some time with A playing legos, teaching him some letter sounds, dancing, reading a book, cooking and more. Most of the days, I read during A's nap time. Though, some days I  have to read a bit during my morning just so that I can complete some of my pending MBA homework. And some of those days it feels like A is the naughtiest little boy in town - he needs mommy to take him potty (other days he does it by himself), various parts of his body begin to ache all of a sudden (only lots of mommy's kisses can cure those aches), daddy kisses and cuddles are but a disturbance to him (every other time he enjoys daddy's bear cuddles and asks for more), asks for snack very often just to make mommy visit the snack center as often as possible and what not. he just does not like it when I study and he is all by himself - of course now, which 2 year old will like that. He does everything possible to grab my attention.  But frankly speaking,  he has been a very co-operative 2 year old since my MBA started. 

Like any other day, we started our routine last Friday (09/13/2013). With the mid terms fast approaching I  was trying to get caught up with my reading and A was busy trying to write out his letters. Suddenly he got up, put on his shoes and stood at the front door and began to cry. He cried a lot and very loudly. And why? Only because he wanted to go to school just like his older brother...He hung to the door knob, brought me my shoes and said, "Amma, come on. Drop me at my school. Otherwise, let us go and pick up Siddhu from his school" It took a lot of consoling and kissing to calm him down. And then once calm, it became TV time.

That day, I realized how much A wanted to be amongst kids his age. Ever since he was 1 year old, he just got so used to that routine in Green Bay that I almost feel very wicked to have taken that away from him. He went to a wonderful school, had very loving teachers and one hell of a naughty toddler population to play with. I sometimes feel bad that he had to give up all of that so that I can pursue my Masters from an institution of my choice. But it won't be long. My baby will turn 3 next Thursday and then he will be off to pre-school - a bittersweet moment for me and a sweet sweet moment for his daddy. However happy I am, I still feel that pinch because he is growing up so fast. Though I am very glad that he will explore and learn new things, make new friends, meet new people, but still...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I am brown and Hailey is white but...

2011 was S's first year in preschool and his best friend at that time was Hailey, an American fair skinned little girl. It was during a time when S just turned 3 or was about to turn 3 (September to December time frame) that we both had the following conversation-

S: Amma, why are some children dark like me and some children white like Hailey?

Me (not knowing what exactly to answer to such a heavy question):  God makes people like that, Siddhu. He makes people of different colors from different places and with different habits.

S: No, Amma. I think Hailey is white (he did not know the word fair and its usage) because her mommy and daddy are white. And, I am brown because you and Nana are brown.

Me (jaw dropped in awe) : Yes dear. That is very correct.

S: But you know Amma even though our skin is different colors, we are best friends. And that is OK because skin color is not important when we make friends. Any child can make friends with any child irrespective of the skin color because the children do not ask for a particular skin color. It is given to the child when he/she is made. Right, Amma? 

Me (at a loss of words) : Yes, you are absolutely right. But who told you this?

S: I just know it Amma. 

I don't know from where he got it, but it was a sweet and sensible logic from a 3-yr old. If only the entire world thought on the same lines...

And till date if S wants a boy in a coloring sheet to represent himself, he will color the skin of the boy brown.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A's word of the month - Beautiful.

Off late, A started to use the word beautiful in almost every conversation -

  • We bought him the light-up shoes with the Planes movie design. He loves the shoes so much that he wears them at home too. One day when he put on the shoes, he asked C " Nana, can I go to Green Bay and show my beautiful shoes to Miss Crushere?"
  • Every morning while brushing, he looks at himself in the mirror and says, " Amma, Akhi is beautiful."
  • Whenever he is ready to go out, even simple grocery store visits, he asks us if he is beautiful or not. 
  • As soon as he build a Lego structure with his duplo blocks, he will show it to us and tell us, " Amma, it is beautiful, right?"
  • On the phone to grandparents in India, " Akhi is wearing a sponge bob shirt. It is beautiful."
  • " Amma, is my tiger beautiful?" ( to this I think - ohh so now we talk about the beauty of soft toys too. Hmmm, interesting!)
  • On getting the boys a nice duvet cover from Ikea - it is a vehicle print one with bold colours, A says to S,  "Siddhu, our new bed sheet is beautiful. Right?"
  • If I make a PB and J and cut the sandwiches in a penguin / heart / elephant shape, deck it with raisins as eyes, corn as beaks etc; he will always complement the sandwich saying, " That sandwich is beautiful."
  • We recently got A's hair cut real short (in Telugu, we call it dippa cutting). Every morning I show him a picture of himself with more than shoulder length hair and ask him, " Which Akhi do you like more - the one with the long long hair in the picture or the one in my lap with the really short hair?" To this, he replies " The one with the long long hair." I ask, " Why?" . He replies, " Because Akhi is beautiful with long long hair."
  • Using his crayons and markers, He turns a white paper plate into a multi colored water body. Each day, the water body is dominated with a different shade of various colors. He puts it up for display and asks the viewer, " Isn't my water beautiful? Can you pin it on the craft board?"
  • If I make him a mixed snack of rainbow gold fish crackers and pizza gold fish crackers he says , " Amma, my snack is so beautiful?"
  • On varalakshmi vratam ( 08/16/2013), I straightened my hair, wore a saree and decked up. I asked him how I looked. My sweetie pie replied, " Amma, you look beautiful." And that made my day even more beautiful...

The funniest part is that he asks his older brother, S too (as if S will know anything). And he will neither accept "no" nor silence for an answer. He will make us answer in the affirmative.

And the sweetest part is the way he says the word beautiful - that in itself is very beautiful. We love it so much that we make him use the word repeatedly day in and day out.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Naughty little A sets off the fire alarm

It was a hot day on 05/23/2013. I left the boys with their grandparents (C's parents) and went to the garage to pull out some cartons for our move to Arizona. The boys wanted to ride their bikes. So the three of us got into a deal - if they behaved till I returned with the cartons, I will take them to ride their bikes.

(A was all excited because it was his first year bike riding and goes all jumpy when I mention the word 'bike'. Last year it was the same with the word 'swimming' - the word swimming made him extremely excited).

Suddenly I looked around and saw both the boys in the garage. When I asked my in-laws what happened? They answered saying, "Oh My God! these boys did not at all listen. They put on their shoes and just wanted to go biking immediately. How much ever and how many ever times we told them that you will scold them, they did not seem to care. Especially the little one. He instigated S to follow. So the start of all this is A." Not so much for promises, huh???

I took it easy and allowed them to help me with the cartons. Both of them helped me bring all the cartons from the garage to the front door of the apartment. There are four apartment homes in one building which have the same common front door. And then three such buildings are joined to form the same building number. For each building there is a fire alarm as soon as one enters the common front door and also in front of each individual apartment homes. 

I did not want the boys to trip over the cartons and asked them to go up and wait for me to finish bringing the cartons up the stairs. S was very obedient and went up to the house immediately. On the other hand, A was hanging around on the stairs. Very opposite to his usual self, he was climbing the stairs very slowly. I went all the way up and was ready to dump the cartons in or house when I suddenly heard a LOUD LOUD LOUD sound -  THE FIRE ALARM went off. Thinking that there was a real fire somewhere in one of the three buildings, I asked my in-laws and S to go out of the building. We were about to get down the stairs when I saw A at the bottom of the stairs - he was standing by the fire alarm examining it, naughtily laughing away, twitching his eyes as he was laughing and sneaking few peeks at my shocked face. it was then that I realized that there was NO REAL FIRE, A set off the fire alarm. 

Unable to withstand the screeching deafening noise and ignorant of what is really happening, everyone (about more than 70 people) came out of their humble homes and were waiting on the road for the fire department to arrive. One of my friends who lives in the same building stopped by and about 5 of us tried to fix it to stop the noise. We followed all the instructions on the fire alarm, but nothing helped. Finally I called the apartment emergency service and got the fire alarm sound fixed. I got all weird questions from the emergency service, "Do you see smoke coming form anywhere in the building?" "Do you see orange flames anywhere?" etc etc...When i answered everything in the negative, they thought it must just be an accident that the fire alarm went off. It took them a while to come. But till they came we all took refuge in other friends' houses.

When I told my friend that it was A who did it she was shocked , but not much because we all know what kind of a little naughty fellow our dearie A is...

The next day we all got a notice from the apartment office to stay away form the fire alarms and not repeat any accidental setting off of the alarm.

Swimming and the boys - Episode 2

In the summer of 2013, we moved to Arizona. Now, who would not know swimming in Arizona. It is one hell of a hot place and the only way to stay cool during the summer is either stay indoors or stay in the pool. So, off we went swimming again. 

The first time we went into the pool, A was very relaxed and comfortable in the water. But S cried incessantly and was terrified of the water. I stood on the pool side, asked him to hold onto my hand and slowly cycle in the water and play with the water. I got him to relax the tension I felt in his arm. I spoke to him very patiently, comforted him in every way possible, assured him that swimming is safe and that he was not going to drown, enticed him with rewards if he swam well and so on. Slowly he got over the fear and started to cycle through the water from one end of the pool to the other end of the pool , with his floatie though. Looking at how he has been doing with swimming for the past so many years, I thought this was a great accomplishment for him. So, we celebrated with ice cream and extra play time too. 

S was very happy and was showing more interest in swimming. We then enrolled both the boys into a swim school near our house - I LOVE the swim school - IT IS SIMPLY SUPERB. S did well in the first few classes, but then he cried a lot in one class. We tried A for the Baby and Me swim level but then realized that he would do better in the StartFish level - in the Baby and Me level a parent has to get into the water with the child where as in the StarFish level they go into the pool only with the teacher. We wait and watch our little kiddos acquiring some water skills from the viewing glass...

On seeing S cry in the swim school too, we started to work harder on swimming at home too. So on one very hot Saturday evening (July 6th, 2013) we took the boys out swimming into the apartment pool at 4:30 pm thinking we would be done by 6:00 pm. S was all excited because he cycled through the pool earlier and he enjoyed it. So, as soon as we were in the pool he started to cycle and was very comfortable (but he had his floater on). The crying started when we asked him to jump into the water with his floater. He just did not want to do it. He dropped himself into the pool with one foot. I started to push him into the water with his floater so that he will understand that he will float and that the water will not hurt him. In the middle C even removed his floater and to our surprise, he was able to swim. He always found his way up. 
But to get him to jump by himself was another BIG challenge.On showing him that he was able to swim without the floater and hence would be able to jump and swim his way up, he always said, "Amma, you hold my hand and I will jump into the water." No matter how hard we tried to explain to him why that is not a good idea, he just did not budge from his stance. So, then I held onto him and he jumped. But because I was on the pool side, he could only jump how far my hand could stretch into the pool. We repeatedly told him and also showed him practically that it was not a good idea and that he would get hurt. But being the stubborn scorpio, he just would not listen. But during one such jump his chin hit the pool side and his chin got deeply cut. He cried a lot, not because of the pain from the cut but due to his fear of jumping into the water. But in the end, he jumped into the water not once but thrice and all on HIS OWN. And, he loved it - he loved jumping into the water so much that he wasn't ready to go home - he wanted to do more of it. But we had to stop him so that we could treat the cut which was already bleeding. It was 7:30 p.m, way over our planned time.

Ever since that day S neither cries in the water nor says "No" to trying new things while swimming. He is able to glide on his belly, make bubbles under water, go all the way to the floor of a 3-ft pool to fetch rings and is comfortable on his back. He waits for his swim classes every Thursday and asks for more. Above all, he lost his fear and that was happy news to us all. 

In fact the change was so drastic that; in the beginning of the summer, when we asked S if he likes swimming he replied, "Amma, I don't like swimming. Why do I have to learn something that I don't like?" And we answered in terms of safety and pool parties. But towards the end of summer, S tells me after every swim class, "Amma, now I am not afraid of the water. And I love swimming."

When C and I retrospect about that one day when we pushed S into jumping into the water, a battle of thoughts goes on "Did we push him too hard? May be he will learn how to swim but just at a much slower pace than his peers. But what if he misses out on those pool parties that his friends will invite him to? May be that is Ok. Why are we so bent on the fact that he has to know how to swim, why cant we just take it easy and let him learn what he is interested in? We are his parents and we always do anything keeping in mind our child's  best interest. As parents, we are responsible for bringing out the full potential of our children. How can we bring out the full potential without challenging them? How would he have lost the fear if we don't make him get over it? " and the battle goes on... 
We both still believe that if not for that day, S would still be scared of the water and would not like swimming. So in a way we are OK, but the question remains ...

...what is the extent to which we as parents can push our children to in achieving something that we consider good for them but they really do not care about? 

As of now, we just answer this question by our child's safety, but there will be more to think about as the kids grow...

Swimming and the boys - Episode 1

While I was pregnant with S (during the first trimester), i.e., in early 2008, I visited a Lifetime Fitness centre. That was my first visit to a fitness centre in the States and I fell in love with the swimming pools. There were lots of pools - diving, 6ft pools for adult swimmers, 10 ft pools and what not. The one that caught my attention was the one with a depth gradation of 0 ft to 4 ft. There were just months old babies learning to swim (along with their parents), toddlers trying to blow bubbles, preschoolers jumping into the water and so on. Everyone was ENJOYING the water. Seeing that I made up my mind to teach my baby swimming (at that time I did not know if it was a boy or a girl).

On those same thoughts during the summer of 2009, I would put S in his big inflatable froggy pool and let him play with his bath toys, splash water out of the pool and play with him while in the pool. We also wanted to get him accustomed to big bodies of water so that when he started formal swimming lessons, it would not be extremely difficult. He enjoyed the water a lot, but I just think a swimming pool is a lot different form a baby's inflatable pool.

When S was 18 months old, we enrolled him into the Parent and Baby swim lesson at the Y during the summer of 2010. Every Tuesday C would go with S into the pool and they would have fun. (I did not get into the pool with S because I was scared of S kicking onto my second time pregnant tummy). For the first three classes, he did just great. Something happened (I cannot understand what it is until now) and from the fourth or the fifth class onwards, he continuously cried really loud (read wail) in the pool, clung on tight to C and did not let go, never tried to blow bubbles, was very hesitant to walk on the floating pad and play with the swimming toys provided by the Y. I asked his swimming teacher a couple of times and she always said that it was OK and that he would get over it. Neither C nor I knew swimming at that point in time to really understand what was going on. Also, A was due in a month or two. So, once we were done with S's swimming lessons (9 in total), swimming took a back seat.

Then in summer of 2011 we used to take both, S and A to the apartment pool.  Like before, S never ever liked it. He just did not want to swim. He was very frightened, cried for as long as we were in the water or just wait on the step in the pool. I brought his bath toys, a net and what not. NOTHING enticed him.  Pursuing my childhood dream, I learnt swimming during the same time. So, I tried to get S comfortable using the techniques that I learnt at the Y. He would be OK for a while, but he needed me around. He did not feel comfortable in the pool even with his dad around. 
Quite the opposite, A loved the water. He would stay in his little duckie floater and try to catch the bath toys. Though it was his first time in the pool, he went with anybody into the pool - as in, he wasn't specific that he needed his dad or mom. He was OK with the pool water in his eyes - if we got him underwater - if we stayed in the water for more than an hour etc etc. All of us got into the relaxation mode looking at him in the pool - it was a wonderful sight to see.  During our farewell swim party at the Y, all my swim teachers just held onto A and did not want to let go of him. He was comfortable on his back, side and stomach. He just loved the water and we both started to call him 'The Water Baby'.

Then came the summer of 2012. This time S was a wee bit more comfortable in the water because he had been going swimming every afternoon in summer school. He always went in with his floatie and his teachers told me that he used to do good. But the little I saw he was OK, not good. We did not push him too much only so that he doesn't get averse to swimming. A was great as usual in the water. He just needed formal training to really start swimming.
Winter 2012 came and swimming took a back seat in our home. So, that little comfortable factor that S reached during the summer was gone too. :-(

When I think about it, S's fears were extremely difficult to overcome. His fears and/or dislikes during swimming included - 

  • getting wet - S just does not like getting wet. This stands to date. While washing his hands or mouth, he does not like even a drop of water on his clothes.
  • no bottom in the pool - The fact that his feet are not on land during swimming / cycling etc makes him very uncomfortable.  
  • water rides - he disliked water rides / water parks too. we tried those thinking that he would overcome his fear, but I think they worsened.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Is corn dog veggie?

S started to attend Kindergarten this year in a traditional academy in Arizona. The schools offer meals at reduced prices, based on the lunch account money. But since S is a vegetarian, I usually pack his lunch from home.

On the first day of school, like usual I packed s's favorite lunch to school. After school, we had the following conversation:

Me: S, how was your day? Whom did you sit by during lunch?

S: My day was good, Amma. I sat by some of my friends for lunch. But Amma, some children buy their lunch from school. I think their mommies are too busy to make lunch for them. But, there are other children who brought their lunch from home like me.

Me: Siddhu, I think the children who buy their lunch at school like it that way. may be they would get the same stuff from home. I would have allowed you to buy if there was a vegetarian option, but I checked your menu and there was no vegetarian option.

S: Amma, there was a corn dog at school today for lunch. I thought of picking it up, because I like corn and it said corn dog. But I wasn't sure if it was vegetarian or not, so I did not pick it up. Even though corn is my favorite, I did not eat corn dog. Amma, is corn dog vegetarian? 

C and I were surprised by his thought process. I was amazed at the fact that he did not  eat meat only because that is what we follow at home (even though the name made him think that his favorite vegatable, corn was in it)...

Sometimes S is very strong-willed. Hoping he will keep his strong will for the future too.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I am cuter, that is why I am big brother.

S and A chat with each other very often - while I am in the kitchen, after tucking them into bed at night, while playing in their room, in the van and so on. This summer, one day I overheard S say the following to his brother: "Akhi, you know why I am your older brother? In the beginning, we did not have parents and Mom/Dad did not have kids. They wanted children and prayed to God for the same. So, she asked God for children. He asked her to choose from a bunch of children with Him. She selected you and me. God made both of us cute. But still God made me your Annayya (older brother in telugu) because even though we both are cute, I am cuter than you - just a tiny bit, but I am cuter than you are. That is why I am your Annayya...:-)"...

"That's Ok, Mom. Don't worry. "

I met C during college days in 2001 and we have been seeing each other until we got married in 2006. 

C is a very easy going person. He takes most of the things on a light-hearted note and does not worry much. He plans his days as it goes on and he is OK walking into a restaurant at 7:30 pm even though S has school the next day at 8:00 am. He is Ok if he paid extra for buying a couch but did not have to stand in line or look into too many deals. Even traffic tickets did not stir him up. He is a extremely humorous person and that is what I love in him. 

On the contrary, I am an extremely organized person (at least I think so). I make a calendar, I need a plan and I like sticking to it. Any deviation from the plan will turn me crazy (though temporarily). There is a library day / swimming day / walking day etc in our schedule.  Saturdays are sleep over days with my boys and I stick to it. If I cannot make it,  feel very bad and make it up to the boys in another fun way. Prior to my marriage, I was a pretty easy going person, though not on all subjects. I could not see wet towels on the bed, shoes near the couch, tooth brushes in the sofa, clothes out of order in the wardrobe, things lying on the floor, utensils scattered in the kitchen and so on and so forth. So, my organizing madness along with my cleanliness turned C crazy at home. 

Due to such a contrast in personalities, I got "That's OK, Sai. Things happen sometimes and other times they just don't. You got to take it easy..." And that drove me even madder. Recently, S too has got onto his Dad's wagon. He started to tell me, " Mom, it's OK. Don't worry.  We can do that some other time..."  Below are some instances -

  • Last week, we were running late for S's after school tuition and I was hurrying the kids. Siddhu turned around and said to me, "Amma, it's OK. Some times we get late for the tuition and I don't think that is wrong."
  • In the footsteps of his older brother, A never uses the toilet until the last minute. Due to that rush, the pee sometimes ends up getting sprayed onto the toilet floor which then means cleaning work for me. I usually get irritated, but just clean it out. After all they are kids and they are going to learn from their mistakes. But one day, I got really serious and told A very firmly that it is not OK to pee on the toilet floor. After a week or so, A agin peed on the toilet floor. To this S said, "Mom, it's OK. Don't get mad at A. He is a baby. So, it's OK for him to pee on the floor. He will slowly learn not to. OK?"

There were many more incidents like this and I usually did not give it much thought thinking that S just goes after his dad. But one incident threw me off and that is what set me into thinking...

Here in Arizona, Wednesday is Early Release day from S's school. So, parents are supposed to pick up children from the school at 1:00 pm (except for ids enrolled in after school programs). This is something I am not used to, because while we were in Green Bay (WI), S used to go to full day preschool. 
On the first Wednesday ( Aug 7th, 2013) during this school year, I forgot about the early release. Suddenly @ 2:30 pm, we received a call from the school saying that S is sitting at the front office and waiting for us to pick him up for the past one and half hour. Hearing that, I drove really fast to the school and picked up S. On picking him up, I told him, "Siddhu, I am extremely sorry for forgetting that Wednesday is an early release day. I will make sure it does not repeat. I really mean it and I am very very sorry." I meant every word of it and was very apologetic in my tone. He did not speak immediately, but after 5 minutes he said to me, "Amma, don't be sorry. That is OK. Sometimes big people also make mistakes and today you made one. But that is OK. Few mistakes are OK, not a lot of them."

I was taken aback by his sense of maturity and was just silent for the rest of the drive home. 

Seeing S's take-it-easy nature, I decided not to get upset at the boys for petty things. Along with that, I decided not to use the words , "Hurry UP" , "Quick" and the like. Usually, it is "Quick, get into the car. We are getting late." Now, it is just "Get into the car. We got to go swimming.". Learning never stops, we learn new things all our life. And my boys teach me new things day in and out. Thank you, my dear boys!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My first bhajan

We recently joined S into the Pre-SSE section of Sathya Sai Balvikas. The Balvikas sessions occur on Sunday mornings and the first one for this Fall was on August 11th, 2013. It was a mandatory introduction session for all parents and children of all age groups. There were more talks during that session and S was getting impatient. He asked, "Nana, why are they not singing? Why are they going on talking?" We just calmed him down in the routine fashion. The group sang only one bhajan and that was "Manase Bhajare Guru Charanam." On hearing the bhajan S asked his dad, 

S: "Dad, why does everyone usually sing Manase Bhajare Guru Charanam bhajan in most of the bhajan sessions or in sessions where we need to sing only one bhajan?" 
C(his dad): May be because that was the first bhajan Swami sang.  
S (after a long pause): That was the first bhajan I sang too, Nana.

We were shocked at his answer - his presence of mind and his responsiveness just blew us off. We are ever thankful to God to give us such beautiful children...

Why Lord Indra does not have hair on His chest?

One day S was going through at the pages of an Indian mythological story book he has. Looking at a picture of Lord Indra, he asked, "Amma, why does Lord Indra not have hair on His chest? Dad has hair on his chest, why not Lord Indra?"

First of all, I wondered where children now-a-days get their questions from. But the answering talent kicked in and I replied saying, "Some men are like that. Some have hair on their chest and some others don't. " I showed him a picture of Shah Rukh Khan and told him, "See, he too does not have hair on his chest."

I wonder if my answer was OK but, I understood that with children (like it is with people) there is no black and white - it is only that grey area. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Xtremely Important - Practice before you preach

S's quite-for-some-time doubt : "Why do vehicles have red rear lights? And why do these lights come on only at specific times?" I gave him a theoretical explanation with which he wasn't very satisfied. So, I gave him a practical explanation while on our way to Walmart for some back-to-school shopping. Giving him the explanation, I lost the way and ended up taking a U-turn. Seeing that I took a U-turn,

S : Amma, you again lost the way to Walmart?

Myself : Siddhu, you were constantly talking about brakes, accelarators, head-lights and rear-lights that I got diverted and I lost the way. Just stay calm for a minute and I will be on the right track.

S: But Amma,  some times you and Nana talk a lot while I am doing my Math work. Because of your talking, I get disturbed and I end up doing some of the sums incorrect. But you tell me that in spite of  anyone's talking, I still should do my Math correct. Just like that, even though Akhi and I keep talking in the car, you should not lose your way.

Hmmm, Nice logic... (Point noted)

Why don't I have 2 fathers?

One day during this summer I was reading "Tales of Lord Hanuman" from the Galgotia's publication. The very first tale was about the birth of Lord Hanuman. The story read as follows: "Hanuman was also called - Kesari Nandan and Anjani putra after his parents (Kesari being Hanuman's father and Anjani, Hanuman's mother). Pavan, the God of Wind was his spiritual father so he was also known as Pavan Putra."

On hearing this, S asked me, "Amma, if Hanuman has two fathers; why don't I have two fathers? I have only one daddy, why is it so? How can Hanuman have two fathers and only one mother? Everybody should have only one mother and one father."

OMG ! Crazy questions !!! Felt like tearing my head apart - mythology and it's many complications...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Early Entrance To Kindergarten

Usually Kindergarten accepts children who are 5 years old. S is 4 years old and will be turning 5 this November. So, we were expecting him to be in preschool for another year and start Kindergarten in 2014. But the Arizona law is a little different. It states that all children must be 5 years old to be registered in kindergarten. There is one exception to this rule though - any child who will turn 5 between September 2nd and December 31st can be accepted into the Kindergarten program provided the child scores well in an 'Early Entrance To Kindergarten' exam. This exam is conducted by the district office. It is a 1 hr exam; 1st half hr is social skills and the 2nd half hr is more academic.

S undertook his exam on 25th of July, 2013 @ 10:30 a.m. C and I think he was a little tensed, but when asked S replies that he is not. (I am sure he does not even understand what tensed means.). He came out of the exam in all smiles. Right after the test we had the following conversation with him:

Myself: How did you do?
S: I did goodly. No, I did good. (He answered on a very positive note.)
Myself: What did they ask you?
S: Amma, I do not remember the questions. But I answered one question without seeing. And I answered it correct.
Myself: How do you know you answered correct.
S: Because the teacher said "Good" as soon as I answered that question.

As promised we took him for a treat. I think it was more a treat for us than the boys. We had cupcakes - Mojito cupcakes for parents and chocolate cupcakes for the boys....

I thought that the Mojito cupcakes were very creative and out of this world (loved the frosting - it was delicious)...

We were told that we would be hearing from the district office about his acceptance into Kindergarten in 2-3 days. But it did not wait that long. We got call on Friday ( 26th of July 2013) that S was accepted into Kindergarten (We were expecting the same). On hearing that I felt bitter-sweet; sad that my baby was growing up so fast but happy because he was going to learn new things, have new friends and have lots of fun...

"I love my mother SO much."

Today (08/09/2013, Friday) I was teaching S some sight words using the following method - open 4 flash cards with sight words on them, say the word, say the meaning of the word and make a sentence with the word. The word was 'SO' and S's sentence was "I love my mother so much..."Smelling jealousy (at Dad's end)...

Awww...So, cute...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Amma, my helper...

We are moving to Arizona and hence are really busy packing, discarding, moving and what not. The organizer in me makes a plan and that plan includes a bit of packing during the weekdays. But somehow both C and I are dog tired by the end of a weekday, so we hit the sack right after our daily routines. Seeing that there was no progress during the last week, I packed a lot today. And on my agenda was kids stuff -books, toys, entertainment etc. Taking advise from a teacher at school, I planned to include S in the  whole packing and moving process. So, while C was out with his parents and A; S and I started packing. I had the following conversation with him, rather he had it with me-
S: Amma, you asked me to stay at home and not Akhi because I am a good boy, dont tear books and do a lot of naughty things like Akhi?
I: Yes nana, Siddhu.
S: So, I am your helper for today, Amma?
I: Yes dear, you are my little helper.
S: But Amma, Akhi will become your helper when he is 4 or so. He is very little. Thats why he does a lot of naughty things.
I: do you think so? I doubt it.
S: No Amma, he will be your helper - like he is Mrs. James's helper at school.
I: OK, let us see.
S: You know Amma, all our birthdays will now be in Arizona. And I will miss their birthdays.
I: Whose birthdays will you miss, nana?
S: All my school friends - I am going to miss all their birthdays.
I: So, are you sad at that fact?
S:Yes. I will miss my school friends.
I: But you will make lots of new friends. So, are you not excited?
S: Yeah, I will make new friends. But I am not excited. I will still miss my Green Bay school friends.

I must say that even C and I are going to really really miss the school and the teachers. We love them like crazy. They take such good care of the kids - I just cannot describe...

Then we started packing the boys' books. S wanted to make three piles -
In pile - for books that have to packed right away.
Out pile - for books that can be kept out for the following weeks.
Car pile - for books he thought he and his brother need on their car rider from Green Bay to Phoenix.
He was surprised at the thought of driving, but he was kind of OK with it. He made a huge division of books - one train book ( The little engine that could), two look and find books (nemo and animals), planets book, good night book, Guess how much I love you, the very hungry caterpillar - the list goes on. While arranging the in-pile books  in a carton, the out-pile books in his book shelf and the car-pile books in a knapsack; he said-
"Amma, when nainamma ( C's mom) and Tata (C's dad) come home I will tell them that I helped you pack mine and my brother's stuff. Otherwise they will think that I only played and you packed all the stuff alone.
To that I replied, " Yes Siddhu, you are doing a wonderful job of packing. Thank you so much, dear."
he immediately said, " Actually you know Amma, I am packing and you are just helping me here and there.  am the one who is packing stuff very very seriously. So, you are my helper. I will tell Nainamma and Tata the same. Right, Amma?"
Then I said, " Yes dear, whatever you say."

While separating the DVDs into in / out piles, he checked every DVD case to make sure it had a disc in it. If it did not have a disc, he made sure I found the same for him right then. I must commend him on the  packing task, because he really really did a great job at it.  This very good behavior earned him extra TV time. And as usual, he watched Cars...:-)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Religion and children.

S goes to Children's World Montessori, a Christian school. Like every Montessori school, they teach kids Christianity. They teach the prayer before food, read Bible, tell the kids the story of Jesus and more.  For the birthday song, he was taught to sing "May the Jesus bless you." instead of "May the Lord Bless you...". S used to sing a lot of Christmas carols and "Jesus, I love you" songs at home too.
When Christmas 2012 was fast approaching, all the kids were learning Christmas carols and memorizing their dialogues for the Christmas play. During this time, the children learnt a lot about Jesus, his birth and his good deeds. 

Suddenly one day S asked me, "Why don’t we have Jesus picture in our altar?" The only convincing answer I found for a 4yr old was that "People who speak only English and no other language have Christ as their God. In addition to English, we speak Hindi too and hence we have many other Gods." Hearing this he said, "So, like Hailey 's (his first girl friend) God is Jesus and Aditi's (his Indian friend's) God is Hanuman?". To this, I replied "Yes dear. That is correct."

From then on his favorite God became Hanuman. I think Hanuman struck with him because of Hanuman's naughty doings as a kid. He loved to see those videos; he never wanted to see any other Gods' stories except Hanuman's. He replaced the word 'Christ' with the word 'Hanuman' and sang all the songs he learnt at school accordingly.

One day his teacher told him that he should not be doing that. He became resistant that we got a complaint for Siddhu's songs from the school. When we asked him, he said, "I like Hanuman, that's why I like to sing Hanuman songs at school." We again had to explain him why he needs to sing Jesus songs at school and Hanuman songs at home. We also explained to him that God is one, but he has may names.

I understand it is a very complex topic, but we brought it the level of a 4-yr old with various examples from real life and then accordingly made him understand the concept. There have not been many questions or conflicts around that topic recently. So, I am assuming that all of us, mainly S, are good.
Sometimes, religion and faith are just so difficult to explain without being overwhelming...

Not as big as Jupiter, Amma?

Putting the kids to bed meant that one of us (mom / dad /grandparent) lies down in bed between the boys and puts them to bed – singing lullabies, telling stories, patting them, rubbing their hair and more. During this bedtime routine, we also called over our legendary friend, Wiwiliwinkie. We would say “Wiwiliwinkie is coming on it’s rounds to check if all kids are in bed. So you better get going. Else, you are going with Wiwiliwinkie for the night…” (OR) “Wiwiliwinkie, come and get Akhi (or Siddhu). He is not sleeping.” To this last comment, S always got scared and slept.  We always had Wiwiliwinkie as one of the kids’ bed time helpers until one day A looked out the window into the stars and said “Wiwiliwinkie, come and take Amma(or Nana) away. Keep her with you.”
Then I understood I was just wasting my time because neither is A scared of Wiwiliwinkie, nor is he going to sleep when he doesn’t want to. Also, it was getting a very time-consuming process and I wanted to transfer responsibility of sleeping from parent to the child. So, we changed bed time strategy to the following: Bath - pyjamas – milk - medicines – brushing – story – favorite blankets – sleep frens (toys) - music on - lights off – no adults in the room (boys sleep by themselves). Usually at this time, I go into the room and whisper into their ears how special each of them are to me and how much I love them. Going on some of their favorite books, I say “I love you to Pluto and farther and back all the way to our home… “, “I love you as soft as your skin”, “I love you as bright as your eyes”, “I love you as big as Jupiter is”, “I love your sparkling eyes, your running nose, your cute bum, your rumbly tummy, your short hair etc etc” and more. I use a lot of comparisons, spend about 5 minutes in the room with my boys and then plant a BIG BIG BIG GOOD NIGHT KISS.  S returns the same to me  - he kisses me, hugs me really tight (it gets tighter day by day), he says to me “I love you a lot , Amma”…..Then I leave and both of them sleep. A usually gives me a kiss and says “GOOD NIGHT” (He is too small to react like S)
On 04/23/2013 and 04/22/2013 after 10 minutes of me leaving the room S yelled out “Amma, Amma, Amma…” The pitch of his yelling made me wonder what happened – did A fall? Did someone have an accident on the bed? Did A beat S? Only to realize that the yell was for S to give me a good night hug and goodnight kiss…(This is after we have given our due of kisses to each other)… When such things happen, I usually tell C “A mom’s kiss can solve any problem for her little ones…”
Two days back (on 04/24/2013) I told A, “I love you as big as Jupiter, as red as Mars is, as cold as Pluto, as small as Mercury, as beautiful as Earth and as wonderful as you…” then I went to S’s bedside and told him, “I love you as bright as your eyes, as curly as your hair, as enchanting as your smile, as jumpy as your little legs and as beautiful as you…” Immediately S asks me, “Not as big as Jupiter, Amma???”
Yesterday (on 04/25/2013) after our GOOD NIGHT kisses S hugged me real tight and told me “Amma, I love you to the sun and moon and back. I love you day and night. (so sweet of my 4-yr old)”.  He also asked me if he and his brother can have a sleepover with me. We agreed to Saturdays being our sleepover days…So, our first sleepover will be this Saturday on 04/27/2013. Waiting to see how that goes…

S for a smart sensitive Siddhu...

Smarty Siddhu - One night towards the end of brushing S's teeth, he started to say " amma, look my teeth are yellow in color. So let us brush again because I need to make them white (I don't like yellow teeth)." To that I thought there might be some food particle stuck on his teeth and I made him brush again. The second time in a row, he said the same thing about his teeth being yellow. Then I told him that it is the yellow light in the bathroom which is making his teeth look yellow. Right after his brushing was done he ran out and asked his dad to put on the white light in our house (above the fireplace). Though none of us understood why,his dad put on the white light. Immediately, S observed his teeth in the fireplace glass and was satisfied because he saw that his teeth were white and not yellow.

I was very impressed to see how smart S was. But, even before I could complete that thought, he justified that he can eat more chocolates than allocated per week. 
Now, coming to his sensitive side - S cannot see people in physical pain (he is too little for the emotional aspect of pain). Three out of 4 grandparents are gifted with the 'sweet gift',diabetes. So the three of them take insulin shots daily.  When he was 2 yrs old, he would sit ne t to my dad and tell him " Tata, is it hurting. Poke yourself slowly." And he would sit and see my dad through the whole thing. Similarly from when C's parents are here, he does the same thing for his KKD Tata, gives him a kiss and tells him not to worry about the pain -that the pain will go away. He does that with such a dearness that I feel like taking easy all his naughty doings around that time.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

November 6th, 2008

It was November 2008.The question of a baby shower had passed by many times, but I did not show much interest. But Mom insisted and my baby shower date was set as November 5th,2008. It was a very small scale one and mom had made preparations ahead of time (half cooking items, making return gift bags, setting the house etc.). We saw the presidential victory speech for the first ever African-American President of the United States. Discussing all the changes that might come to the already sinking economy, the ever tightening immigration policies, the effect the new President will have on the world and action items for tomorrow's baby shower; the three of us went to bed at around 12:00 am (midnight).

I woke up at 1:15 feeling a 'leak' - I felt no pains at all. I spoke to Mom and went through the routine of making sure it was the 'water breaking'. Once I confirmed the same, I called the doctor on-call ( Luckily, my doctor was on-call). She summoned me right away. I then woke up C -  and he went from happily sleeping to tensed up (typical of C). C got ready in a moment; asking a zillion questions, "Why did you not wake me up earlier? How are you feeling? Are you in pain? Can you tolerate till you get to the hospital?" Avoiding a few and answering a few, the three of us drove to the hospital. It was one of the most excited,yet nervous drives.

...THE D-DAY came...

The hospital was a little more than 30 miles from home (Eden Prairie to Minneapolis downtown). And the entire roadway was under construction - a part of it closed, some deviations etc. But knowing my 'poor' directional sense, we cautioned and practiced the home to hospital route a couple of times.

On arriving at the hospital, my doc performed all the check-ups - no dilation at all, lot of internal contractions, got hooked onto the painful IV, induced putocin, baby heart monitor and what not...My doctor and I went over the already decided birth plan. Knowing all the pros and cons of an epidural, we took an informed decision early on. I opted for one when the time is right, because when there is a safe way to deal with the pain without feeling it, why not? 

Funny that in the morning, we called all our friends and cancelled the baby shower - :-). 

The anesthesiologist did an OK job of administering the epidural. The dilation hardly made any progress through out the day. But the epidural started to wear off and the anesthesiologist had to re-administer the epidural couple of times. C tried to lighten up the situation from what they taught during the Lamaze classes, "Honey you are doing great. Just a little while. Is there anything I can get you?" . Me, "Crazy Chaitu, can you just stop talking for a while till the damn contraction subsides." Chaitu said to my mom, "That is what they taught during the classes and I wondered if that really works with women when they are in so much pain." (as if it is experimentation). My mom right away said "Chaitu, come and sit by my side before she hits you or pokes you with the IV."

It was 8pm and I had dilated 5 cms. My doctor's on-call shift ended and the next doctor (Dr. Elfstrand) came on duty. There were difficulties with my epidural all through; so, I could feel the pain from the contractions.  At 11pm, I was 9 cms dilated. There was a flurry of nurses, noise from the tools and arrangements for the height/weight of the baby. Though the baby was face up and I was not completely dilated (must be ideally 10 cms), the doctor was OK to deliver the baby; but the baby's head was not in the correct direction (instead of the crown part facing down, the soft part was). As instructed by the doctor and assisted by my labor nurse, I did a ton of exercises groaning in pain hoping for the baby to twitch in my belly and turn in the correct direction. All efforts were futile...

At around 1:00am on November 6th, 2008, I developed fever and was running out of all the amniotic fluid as I was in labor for more than 20 hrs. In fear of the baby getting infected (it seems that if the mother develops fever during the birth process, it is not very safe to keep the baby inside because there is a high chance that the infection may spread to the baby), my doctor recommended C-section and I heeded right away.


Again - a flurry of people, cold operating room, big overhead lights, covered mouths and noses and general anesthesia (Could not get any more pokes on my body) that knocked me off for a good 6 hrs straight.

At 1:49 am, S was born. The nurses cleaned him up and took him out for dad and grandma to see - it was a very brief sight. He was all wrapped up in one of the hospital blankets and a yellow cap.

At 6:00 am. I woke up to find my labor nurse was sitting by my side reading a novel.She took me to my room and then my doctor took me to the NICU to meet my son for the first time in his incubator. Due all the happenings in the birthing process, they wanted him under 48 hrs observation.

Our lives had changed forever in an unimaginable magnitude...Always for the good, better and best.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

...until early hours of November 5th, 2008

We were in Dayton, Ohio when my first pregnancy was confirmed in February of 2008. As this was going to be the first grandchild, everyone in our family was very thrilled on knowing the news. During the next two months, we moved to Minneapolis for our next projects. My due date was November 8th, 2008. So, plans were made ahead and Mom landed in Minneapolis on October 19th. It was her first visit outside of India . So, imagine the excitement...

During my first pregnancy-

  • I did not have nausea, but was EXTREMELY hungry ALL the time. (even right after a meal).
  • My spice quotient in the taste scale increased exponentially - hubby dear was shocked at this. Though from Andhra Pradesh, a state in India that is famous for it's spicy food; I was hardly a big spice eater. But I did not like sweet either.
  • Memories of my (actually C's) experience with my hormones are horrendous - they went for a roller coaster ride during those 9 months. And with that came the mood swings.
  • S would turn around completely (not just move) and kick a lot whenever I was in a meeting at work. It would require me to take a break to feel the tickles and then get back to work.
  • I made a conscious effort to eat VERY healthy - chole (garbanzo beans), rajma (red kidney beans), nutrella (nuggets), pecans, fresh fruit in abundance, dairy products and whole grains. Forced the same on C that he never ate rajma, chole or nutrella for the next entire year.
  • Every night, we both walked for almost an hour every night, watched an episode of Friends.
  • During the weekends, we played a lot of bowling in WII.
  • I gained a whooping 50-60 pounds and looked like a puffed up balloon (I am not a tall person - so, it was worst). My complexion had gotten much darker. I had a lot of water retention in my face. People at work asked me if I was having twins. 
  • There were some people who guessed I will be having a boy - a lady who worked at a restaurant (Kabobs) we frequently visited, my colleague and some people I met at the mall. The logic they had is that if the tummy looked round like a ball; then it is a boy. Else, a girl. I cannot make out that difference to date. (Any tummy will be round during a pregnancy. Now, to distinguish between the types of rounds is beyond my  comprehension)
  • For the first time in USA that we stood in a queue for 3 hrs to watch a movie on the release date, July 18 2008 - The Dark Knight.
  • Our favorite restaurants were - Surabhi(for the dosa and tomato chutney), Kabobs ( biryani joint in Minneapolis), California Pizza Kitchen (Kung Pao Sphagetti, Chipotle pizza and Tiramisu), Cheesecake factory (Chicken jambalaya without chicken) and Potbelly Sandwich works.
  • We watched a number of movies.
  • We were planning to make one last trip as a couple (without kids), but never really made it - I was bent on the East Coast and hubby dear on Florida...Now that I think of it, it's OK without the trip. 
  • I hated travelling in the Infiniti G35 coupe that we had because of it's low-lying seats. Like all guys, C loved going in the Inifinti G35 coupe because of it's sporty look and feel.
  • When it came to buying a car seat and stroller for S; I researched online for a week, took almost 3-4 hrs of testing various brands of strollers/car seats and finally bought the Chicco Cortina Travel System (Orange and Grey colour).
These are just the highlights. More than 8 months passed by and we were getting impatient to see our baby; not because I was physically tired but just anxious to see what he looks like, how the delivery will go , his first reaction to the world outside, how we will do as new parents, understand and know all the little things that our baby will like and not like, how will I get back into shape (I was confident I would) and more. I took maternity leave from October 27th 2008 to spend some time with Mom and...

...the waiting continued into the early hours of November 5th, 2012.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I am a baby.

Usually S's bath time becomes a mess, because of A. A wanders into the bathroom, sticks his hand into the potty, pumps all of the hand soap, gets into the cabinet under the sink and plays with the plumbing there, pulls his brother's hair from outside the tub, pulls the water tap the the extremes and more and more (as if the above is not enough)...So, we started to close the master bedroom door and keep the knob protector on so A cannot open the door.

Around Aug-Sep of 2012 (A was about 2 yrs old), C was giving S a bath in the master bathroom. He closed the master bedroom door so that A does not go in and make a mess of stuff in the bedroom and/or bathroom. A went till the master bedroom door (there was a protector on it), he tried to open it – he could not – he immediately said -
           “Nana (Dad), can you open the door for me, please?”. 
Nana did not respond. Noticing that C did not open the door, A spontaneously said – 
           “Nana (Dad), I am a baby. Now, can you open the door for me, please?”

…Now, who can resist opening the door??? Only parents, I think - because we see the naughty spark through that cute smile. But I must admit, I was so amused that I carried him into my arms and played with him till C was done (pausing my dinner preparations)...

Oh my dear Akhi - I love you to the moon and back... (Or may be to eternity and beyond...)


This was way back in Fall of 2012, during one of our skype sessions with C’s parents. I served lunch during the online session. And I just wanted to have a decent lunch hour – without any nudging/yelling to eat. While I was busy getting A to eat; S was engrossed in talking to his grandparents that he had not taken even his first bite (in the past 20 mins).  (I think he was purposely not paying attention to my repetition of my lunchtime punch line “Eat your food. Else, you will not grow tall like Nana.”). But A took away most of my attention, that I could not handhold S that day during lunch. Observing the situation, my father-in-law intervened and –

KKD Tata: Siddhu, eat you food quickly. If you eat your food fast, then you and I can chat for a long long time. 

S: What will you give me if I eat my food fast?

KKD Tata: I will give you a blue airplane (S’s favorite color at that time was blue)

S: Ok, I will eat. (He began to nibble)

KKD Tata (to make S eat faster): Siddhu, you are eating with a spoon. Ohh, how nice? I don’t know how to eat with a spoon. Will you teach me to eat with a spoon if I give you the blue airplane?

S: Yes, I will teach you. See, how well I can eat with my spoon. 
He showed his grandpa how he can eat with a spoon and finally was done with his entire lunch. Thank GOD (Actually, THANK GRANDPA!)

KKD Tata: Now that you are done with your lunch, can you teach me how to eat with a spoon. You ate so well. I also want to learn the same from you.

S: No, I will not teach you. You did not give me an airplane. So, I will not teach you. BTW I want a brown airplane, my brother wants a red one and dad wants the blue airplane. So, when you give us our airplanes, then I will teach you to eat with a spoon. And since you anyways know how to eat with your hand, you don’t need to know how to eat with a spoon. (During the conversation S remembered that he likes Mater more than McQueen and Doc Hudson – that is why he started off with a blue airplane and ended up with wanting a brown one)

Oh My Siddhu Cutie Pie!!! You are growing up so fast - I just hope time could stand still the second you were born... SLOW DOWN DEAR...

Children's Logic 101

It has been a little more than four years now as a mom. And in those 4 yrs, I understood that children have a phenomenal thinking power. I always thought that children are too little to understand what we tell them. But life in the past couple of years has taught me that the right mix of patience, firmness, letting go and spending time with a kid will help a child in assimilating what an elder wants them to. That also makes the kid more curious. S is an extremely inquisitive kid and hence questions people a lot - Why can't the moon and sun be together in the sky? How can a caterpillar become a butterfly? How can I become tall without eating any food? Why did mom and dad not take me on their earlier vacations? Why does KKD grand dad have a mustache?Why does mom do magic  (straightening) on her hair? Why does Hanuman and other gods have earrings? 

But along with this understanding capacity children too (like adults) are blessed with selective hearing (A's teacher calls that silent defiance)...Right now A is in the silently defiant phase (he started being so after his 2nd birthday). And off late, he is getting a lot of timeouts in school because of that nature...I have never had much trouble with S in general; except for two avenues - toys and food. There is nothing I can say that will get him to like food or put toys away. He will have some reason or the other to NOT eat food and to NOT put his toys away (He takes his legos to the loo too!) Though, S has gotten to the next step of applying his logic in different situations and coming up with solutions. Below are some examples of his logical reasoning...
#1 Growing up (and ‘growing’ small)…
Whenever S acts up or is busy in a conspiracy with A, we tell him “Siddhu, you are teaching bad things to your brother. If you want to be a good boy, you cannot teach bad things to him.” (Though most of the times, it is the opposite). On Friday (06-Oct-2012), S and C were having a conversation and he told his dad,
“Dad, right now I am a small big boy and A is a baby boy. In a while, my brother and I will become big like you and Amma. And then, you will become like me, a small big boy and Amma will become like A, a baby girl (He meant the sizes). When that happens, you cannot and should not teach Amma any bad things. OK?”
#2 No Puttaparthy Granddad…
I have been working on S’s eating ever since he turned 1; this was another technique. I divided the food into spoonfuls and gave a name to each spoonful. And he decided whose spoon he ate first, second and so on…One day during summer of 2012 (S was 3 yrs old).
One day S was having his meal (yellow lentils and rice) and I was dividing his food into spoonfuls – the usual order is Akhi, Mom, Dad, grandparents (all 4 of them), his favorite toys , his favorite relatives etc. That particular day he said,
“Mom, I don’t want Puttaparthy Tata’s spoonful. He is not in our house; so, I don’t want his spoonful. I will instead eat Swami’s, McQueen’s and Mater’s spoonfuls…”
I was shocked because he always says that Puttaparthy granddad is his favorite one. But at the end; all that mattered to me was he ate his food without much fuss (though it was his favorite food – muddhapapu annam)…J

#3 Don’t love Ammamma.
One day while S and I were having a conversation I asked Siddhu, “Do you love ammamma (my mom)?” Without any hesitation he replied -
“No, I don’t like her because she never comes to our house in USA.” (Though she came for both my deliveries, he said this… L …Poor Ammamma.)

#4 So Sweet …
One Sunday night (3-Feb-2013) I was making phulkas for dinner. And whenever I do so, both my boys want their turn in rolling a couple of phulkas. Since they are too short to reach the countertop, they drag dining chairs (or toddler chairs) and stand on the chairs to reach the countertop (Here, I must tell you that the credit for this idea goes to 2-yr old A who has been doing this ever since he was 18 months). Both of them had their fair number of turns and hence a satisfied A was off playing around. S (who is a keen observer) was still giving me company in the kitchen. Suddenly he said to me,
“Amma, today is a Sunday and you are making rotis. But do not make rotis on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. You can make rotis on Saturday again. Even though I like rotis, I will eat rice or pasta. Because when you are flipping the roti with your hand, your hand will get burnt. And I don’t want your hand to get burnt.”
It was so sweet that he said such a thing. But later thoughts also made me feel that it might have been one of S’s trials to escape from food.
P.S. When the roti puffs up on the flame; S always says “Mom, look the roti became a balloon.”

#5 I am all alone
My friend (Michelle) and I went shopping to Walmart with both the boys on the night of Thanksgiving 2012.  C was busy shopping elsewhere (@ Target). So, Michelle and I decided to split the boys and each of us stood in different lines – S went with Michelle and I took A along with me. While Michelle(and S) were in the line for Christmas trees;
S to my friend (with very sad expressions on his face): My daddy left me and went away long back. Now, my mommy too left me and went away. Now, I am all alone in this huge Walmart store. I am all by myself. Who will take me home? How will I get to my mommy, daddy and Akhi?
My friend: Siddhu, I am there to take you home.  I’ll drop you at your home.
Siddhu (very sad): But, you are not my mommy. And you do not have a car seat in your car. So, you cannot drop me home in your car.
Being Thanksgiving, there were lots of people in the queue who could hear the conversation and all of them (including my friend) burst out laughing. Michelle later told me “Oh My God!  Sai, Siddhu has changed so much. He has become a big boy and is all naughty…He said all these things and I was scared because everybody around could hear what he said - especially with all the rules around parenting in the US..."

Oh my dearest Siddhu….I just cannot express in words how much I love you and how much of happiness I wish for you…

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mutually exclusive - S and food...

Expanding on the topic of children and their observation power, the following happened between me and S.
S is not at all a foodie; he has never been one. So if given a chance, he can eat his meal for more than a couple of hours. That is how disinterested he is in a meal. I have always been working on S’s eating. Since most of what I have worked with before (pleases, yells, stories and sometimes feeding (which I am not a great fan of)) have ended up in high levels of irritation, I thought of trying a different technique for S to eat all of his food (an entire balanced meal) within half an hour. The most important part is ALL FOOD and HALF AN HOUR… I thought that a technique which will show him that there are consequences to his actions will make him more responsible and also lessen my irritation levels. Hence I started the following technique – put the plate of food in front of S, tell him how much time he has, just observe and remove the plate once the allotted time was up.  This method has many other caveats not mentioned here- make the food very interesting (different shapes and variety), no multi-tasking during meal time, not losing my balance/temper, making food more fun and more...
So, finally one day everything went as planned. S ate his meal in less than half hour and he ate everything on his plate. (Though I gave him his choice of food item – roti instead of rice).After his meal I told him, 

Myself: See Siddhu, how easy it was when you ate on time, without much fuss and most of what was on your plate…Everybody is happy,  Siddhu’s tummy, Siddhu and Amma…So, can you eat like this everyday????
S: Yeah.  But Amma, you did not loudly, loudly and more loudly, shouting at small little cute Siddhu saying ‘Eat, Eat, Chew, Swallow…..’ like you do every day. You did not very very upset or mad at me…But Amma, what do you always say upset and not sad?
Myself: Because sad is only sad; but upset is sad + angry.
S: So, that means you did not get sad and angry at me because I ate all my food very very quickly. OK, Amma. Then every day I promise I will eat very quickly and not make you upset while eating. But will you promise me that you will not talk very loudly with me while eating…Pls, amma?
Myself: Promise Siddhu…

(Not that he kept his promise. But at least it is getting better…)

He just could not get himself to say the word scream or yell. Instead he only said ‘talk loudly…’..So, sweet…

And that is when I realized that come what may, I should not yell at S. He can only be won by Love...trying hard to practice the same - hard because both my boys together driver me nuts sometimes - but that is what it is and I AM LOVING EVERY BIT OF THAT CRAZINESS....So, far I have been pretty successful at not yelling at S (but I must admit that the meal time is easier because of hubby dear. He has committed to taking care of S's meal times every single day)...

So, lesson learnt from my little master - No yelling at home, only firm talking...

P.S. - I have dealt with a lot of eating issues in S and will be blogging about all my techniques used in another post pretty soon.

Grumpy Grandma...:-|

On 13th Jan, 2013 (Sunday), the following conversation happened between me and Siddhu –

Myself: Siddhu, it is nap time. Can you go to bed?
S: Mom, I would like to chit chat with you (He said this in Telugu – Amma, neetho kaburulu chepthanu)
Myself: OK, Siddhu. Let us spread your sleeping bag and lie down for half hr, just like you do at school.
S : OK, Amma. But you have to be by my side.

So, I was sitting by him and he was lying down on his sleeping bag and we were chit chatting about all weird things (flying cars etc). My father-in-law came by and showed him a black and white photo of a lady in her early 20s and then-

Father-in-law: Siddhu, who is this in the photo?
S: I don’t know. Amma, can you tell me.
Myself: Siddhu that’s your grandma (dad’s mom).
S: No, that can’t be.
Myself: Why?
S: Because they both are different – the grandma standing in the kitchen and the one in the photo are different.
Myself: How are the two different?
S: The grandma in the photo is not grumpy. Grandma has to be grumpy. See grandma in the kitchen, she is grumpy always.
Myself:Which grandma do you like; the grumpy one in the kitchen or the smiling one in the photo?
S: (thinking) Mmmm..I think I like the grumpy grandma in the kitchen...:-)

What else to do, but myself and my father-in-law burst out laughing and my FIL said to my MIL – “Vani, I told you that you have to learn to smile before you come to the United States.”

...Kids have such a pure heart that they say everything that comes to their minds. And as a parent I understood that one can learn a lot from children. t is just that as adult, I think that children's observation power is negligible, but such incidents tell me time and again that in fact children can have a very keen observation power...

Now, for the lesson learnt - I better not be grumpy before my kids again.

My dear Siddhu, Mommy loves you a lot, lot, lot; to the moon and back...