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.