Monday, February 10, 2014

Animals and their young ones..

Last week S was doing a puzzle that required him finding young ones of animals. He solved it perfectly well, but he came up with all the following questions…

S (pointing to deer, lion, tiger, bear): All these animals live in the forest. Now I know that deer does not eat meat but a lion and other animals eat meat. So does it mean that a lion can eat it's own cub?

Myself: No, I don't think a lion or a tiger eat their own children. At;east as far as I know, I think that is true.

S: OK, then since a deer and a lion and a tiger and all others live in the same forest, does it mean that a tiger can eat a fawn?

Myself: Yes dear, a tiger can eat a fawn.

S: But that is so bad and cruel. How can the tiger eat baby animals. You don't eat other people's babies. You play with them and take care of them - like how you play with Kamakshi when we go to Meenakshi's house. The fawn's mommy deer will feel so bad.

Myself: But that is exactly how it is, Siddhu. Thats why the fawn should walk very close to the deer and should always listen to their mommy deer. Also, that is the difference between animals and humans; animals cannot talk though they can express but animal mommies take care of their children in a very different way than people…

I went on to explain him more differences between animals and humans, but still…

S: But still a tiger should not kill a fawn, Amma. God will punish the tiger for doing so. Imagine if you killed a puppy because you wanted to eat a hot dog? We don't do that and thats why tigers and lions also should not do that…

Myself: Yes nana, I understand and how nice if the world was like that but because it is not, you should be careful and may be you will understand animal thinking one day ; when you are much bigger. For today, just believe that a tiger or a lion can eat a fawn…

OMG! The questions S asks are throwing me off my legs these days. He is so inquisitive that he forgets to eat his lunch even some days as school… 

One fine day during the week of 01/13 he came back from school with his sandwich untouched; that means he just had a small handful of grapes for lunch. And I was so irritated that I yelled at him and gave him the same sandwich for supper. 

I was so engrossed in yelling that I did not even ask him why he did not eat his sandwich and then at the end of the day I felt so bad for yelling at him. Sometimes I am just so lost in so many different things that I take out my tension / irritation on my kids for very small misdoings and I HATE MYSELF for that…

Eventually before going to bed, C spoke to S and asked him why he did not eat his lunch. To that he replied saying, "Nana, I have so many questions in my mind and not enough time to ask. If I don't ask my questions how can I clarify my doubts. You keep telling me to ask whatever I can't understand. So I used my lunch time to ask my friend, Versailles, one such question." C asked, "And what was that question, Siddhu?" Siddhu said, "How do you dribble for a really really long time?" 
That was the question which led Siddhu to not touch his sandwich at lunch. :-)

Now as parents we don't bother about tiny little whys, whats and hows. But if we want our children to explore the world, embrace the creation and find their way in it; we got to let them question, not just question but question without inhibition as much as they can. Sometimes the questions are very simple and some other times they are more complicated. But answering a child's questions or at least trying to do so increases our understanding of this world that we inhabit…

I grew up in a conservative family and hence was limited to how much I can question. But   I don't do that for both my boys; both C and myself keep a very open environment at home and that nurtures our boys' little minds more than I can imagine. Some of S's questions are really strange - I wonder if I had questions like that when I was a kid.

More of S's questions are here...

S's Q and A

More of S's question /answers - 

S:Mom, if a cow gives us milk. It must be drinking a lot of milk too, right?
Myself: No, Siddhu. A cow eats grass; don't you remember from your trip to the petting zoo?
S: Then some of the grass turns into milk in the cow's body and some of it comes out as poo-poo, right?
Myself: After digesting, the waste comes out as poo-poo. You are absolutely correct.


S:Amma, does God really exist? If yes, does he live amongst us? If yes why can't I see him?
Myself: Siddhu, God is in you.
S: Amma, how can he breathe if he sits inside me?
I gave up - for some reason I am not comfortable explaining mythology and religion.

S: Is Kamsa, the bad guy from the Krishna story, still living?
Myself: No, he was dead a long time back.
S: No, Amma I think he came back but this time around he promised that he will not be hurting little boys or babies.


S: Our van does not have an emergency exit like my school bus has? So if 4 or 5 bad people surrounded us how can we escape?
Myself: Siddhu, people who want to hurt children know that they can find children for sure in a school bus. On the other hand a van might have big people too in it. So usually people who attack vans do so either for money or for some other reasons. And don't think about someone attacking children - as long as you listen to what me and nana say about being safe (hold hands while outside, don't run away from our line of sight…) you will be very safe.

S: When children fall sick, parents take care of them. Thats why if you and I fall ill together, then you always make sure that I am taken care of first - see a doctor, have all my medications and only then you take care of your sickness, right?
Myself: yes, Siddhu. Thats what all parents do.
C (jokingly): Don't worry Siddhu. Amma's parents will come from India to take care of her.
Myself: No Siddhu. I am big enough to take care of myself. So, nobody will come to take care of me. Your dad is there to care for me.
S: Even though Nana is there your parents should come from India to care for you when you are not well.
Myself (giving up) : Ok….:-)

Most of the time S's questions leave me wondering and wanting for more…

I don't like PTP Thatha

My in-laws went back to India end of May 2013 and we moved to Arizona in June of 2013 so that I can pursue my MBA from the W P Carey School Of Business (@ Arizona State University).  I left my current project and C had couple weeks of vacation that he took for the relocation. So our entire family was at home waiting for our U-pods to arrive so that we can start unloading and setting up our new home. We spent a lot of quality time with the kids - talking, dancing, singing, swimming, co-sleeping, playing weird games, inventing more such games and what not…Both me and C do all of these, but just in very different way - C asks more personal family/self oriented questions and I ask more general imaginative questions…Below is one conversation between C and S during that time that caught my attention and started me thinking.

C: Whom do you like most - Ammamma(mom's mom), PTP Thatha (Mom's dad), Nainamma(dad's mom) or KKD Thatha (dad's dad)?

S: I know what KKD Thatha and Nainamma did for me - they took care of me, fed me, put me to sleep, bathed me and played with me while we were at Green Bay. Hence I like them the most. I don't know what Ammamma or PTP Thatha did for me. So, I don't like them.

C: Siddhu, Ammamma took care of you when you were a baby. She came to US when you were about to be born and once you were born she bathed you , fed you, put you to bed, changed your diapers and played with you.

S:Yes, I remember seeing her in my baby photos. So, I like Ammamma same as Nainamma and KKD Thatha. But I don't like PTP Thatha.

C: PTP Thatha also took care of you when you were in India at his home. He played a lot with you and you enjoyed you time in Puttaparthy.

S: Yeah, I know that form the photos. But he never never ever came to our house in USA. And thats why I don't like him. May be I will start liking him if he comes to our USA home and takes care of me and Akhi…

There was a time when PTP Thatha was S's favorite person - this was when he was 2-4 yrs old and suddenly this drastic change. 

…And I just knew S would say that one day, sooner or later. He is a people person and all he wants at times is that people he loves and cares for are around him - nobody has to really do much but the presence is all that matters to S…

Monday, February 3, 2014

I love myself

As a child I was in a boarding school since my kindergarten. I saw my parents once a week for an hour on Sunday and went home for vacation for 15 days during the fall break (usually Dusherra festival) and two months during the summer time. I always wanted to tell my parents so much, but time was so limited on Sunday that I felt that the stuff I wanted to share with my parents were too small to take up such valuable time, but were not that small that I would forget. And so I always wanted to know most of what was going on in my kids' lives. I know it sounds very stupid - what is a mom going to know from her pre-schooler. But no harm in trying, right? And that is exactly what C and I do as parents.

Ever since S and A started going to school (or day care) in Green Bay - Children's Montessori, whoever picked them up made it a point to ask them different questions about what happened during their day - whom did you play with? did you eat all your lunch? did you like your lunch? whom did you sit by during lunch? what games did you play? did you learn something new? etc..etc..etc..This gradually became a part of our schedule and we just loved every bit of it - A usually gave us lots of answers (rambling when he was 1yr old, broken words when he was 2 yrs old and complete sentences once he turned 2 and a half yrs old). But S never spoke much; he gave us half baked answers and did not show much interest in sharing his pre-school happenings with us except on very rare occasions like playing the violin or making a new friend.

On such evening C had the following conversation with S while driving them back home,
C: Siddhu, whom all do you love?
S: I love 4 people - Akhi(brother), Amma (mom), Nana (dad) and myself. 
C (feeling positively amused that he included himself): How can you like yourself, Siddhu?
S: I like the way I am, Nana. See I am so cute. I study when Amma asks me to. I play with my toys, I help at home, I don't cry... And it is very important that I love myself because only then I am very happy. Thats why I love myself too…

I really never gave it that much thought until then (30 yrs of my existence on this planet) but when C told me about this conversation, I had a shocking realization. 

...Love yourself for what you are and you feel much more happier…

This was one of the first few lessons S taught me - he was just a naughty little 3 yr old...