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...