## Friday, August 31, 2007

### Am at my wits end!

Amma and I are learning numbers. And Boy! is she one confused Amma!

Last week, she taught me eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen...
We were progressing ok, going on with sixteen, seventeen... when she stopped. And looked at me enquiringly. I looked right back at her. Now what, I wondered.
She asked me, "After seven, what?"
This one I knew.
"Eight," I replied promptly.
"Yes, good!" Beaming.
" So, after seventeen, comes eighteen!"Smiles at me.
I smile back. Sometimes it takes very little to make her happy. "Eighteen"
"So Sonny boy, after ten, you just have to add 'teen' to the numbers to come up with the sequence. Fine?"

I think Amma thinks I'm dimwitted, the way she asks me whether I understand anything so obvious.
"Fine," I say. And we continue.
"Eighteen, nineteen..

"Enough. Now start again, after ten....?" Encouraging look.
As easy as cake, this one. "One-teen, two-teen..."

She said, "Nooooo...!" Looked at me. And then broke up laughing!
Apparently that is not correct.

I wish she'd make up her mind. On two accounts. First, the actual sequence of numbers after ten, and then, whether she going to be mad at me for saying the wrong number, or whether she's going to laugh.
Just yesterday, she was SHOUTING at me for saying something not correct, today she laughs! I was zapped. These Ammas, I tell you... ! They sure have their moodswings. (btw, my Amma looks so much nicer when she's laughing than when she's snarling.)
Finally we mastered those elevens and twelves and thirteens.

Well, that was last week.
This week, we moved on from those confusing teens to the easy twenties.
Amma told me all I had to do was add twenty before the one-two-threes I already knew well.
As easy as pie, this one.
"Twenty one, twenty two... correct, Amma?
"Correct, Sonny boy. Go on..." Smiles.
... twenty eight, twenty nine, twenty ten!"

That look again. Now what, I thought in my mind. you never know WHAT gets these Ammas upset. But no, she was at her moodswings again. Laughing ruefully,

"Oh, Sonny boy! you are so cute, do you know that?" Hugs me tight.

Hmmmph! Big deal for my Amma to find me cute. And right in the middle of my numbers! She tells me umpteen times to concentrate and then she goes wandering.
By the way, I wish she'd make up her mind again. On those numbers. Apparently its not twenty ten, but something like thirteen, again.
Oops, not thirteen, its supposed to be thirty.
Why they have to make things as easy as pie and then add a twist in it, is beyond my understanding. And it seems this is going to go on till hundred! Bah!

I would much rather play with Thomas and Percy and Fergus!

## Tuesday, August 28, 2007

### For Onam

It was Onam yesterday. A big day for us Mallus. And one thing I like about this festival so much is that it has no shades of religion attached to it. There's nothing specifically Hindu, Muslim or Christian about it. It is actually the festival of plenty. And anyone wanting some plenty in their life can feel free to participate in the spirit of Onam. A spirit of giving and gaiety and colours and bonding.

Any mention of Onam would be incomplete without mentioning Mahabali, the noble king who comes back to visit his beloved subjects for a day, on the day of Thiruvonam. The myth of Mahabali is truly a 'shory' worth telling.

Kerala was a beautiful stretch of land ruled over by Mahabali, the Asura king. But Asura though he was, Mahabali was the embodiment of goodness. A wise, judicious, benevolent, and extremely charitable ruler, he was respected and loved by his subjects. His age was truly the golden age of Kerala. Rich or poor, all were equal in Mahabali's time. No discrimination was practised whatsoever, according to caste or creed. There was no crime, no corruption, nor any sorrow, poverty or disease in Mahabali's land. Truly idyllic times, with the entire populace happy and content.

Such was his charisma, that the Devas began to fear for their supremacy. And Aditi, the mother of the Devas, sought Lord Vishnu's help to curtail Mahabali's popularity and fame, and maintain her sons' superiority. Accordingly, Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a Vamana (a brahmin boy) and went to Mahabali, at the site of a yagna he was conducting. Since Mahabali was known for his generosity, Vamana requested alms- a piece of land- of him. Mahabali agreed. Sukracharya, the guru of the Asuras, smelt a rat, and advised Mahabali against it. He told Mahabali that the Vamana was none other than Lord Vishnu in disguise, and advised him to decline his request, also warning him that the boon would bring about his downfall.

But Mahabali was not known for his generosity for nothing. He told Sukracharya that he could not take back his given word, and directed the Vamana to state his request. The Vamana asked him for enough land to cover three paces of his foot. An ever charitable Mahabali, eyeing the diminutive stature of the lad, asked the Vamana to ask for more. But Vamana persisted in his request for just 3 paces of land. On Mahabali's consent, the Vamana grew and grew... with one step, the Vamana covered all of Earth, and with the next, he covered the Heavens. He looked at Mahabali and queried for a place to keep his third step.... At which Mahabali, realising that his vanity was his downfall, bent and offered his head to the Vamana, to place his third step.

Vamana sent Mahabali to the Netherlands, but before going, the ever loving King asked the Lord for permission to come and check that all was well with his beloved subjects, once in a year. The Lord agreed, and Onam is the day when Mahabali visits his beloved people. And the people, unite in their desire to show their much loved, erstwhile king that all is indeed well with them.

Thus it is that the people, irrespective of caste and creed, put on new clothes, eat good food and have enjoyable times for Onam. To keep their king happy, who sees only good things and good times, all through his beloved land, as in the days of his rule.

******* ********

And so Sonny boy celebrated his first remembered Onam. With a feast prepared by Ammamma ( Since Amma and Accha had no holiday on Monday, a compromise was reached, with the Onasadhya being eaten on Sunday) and eaten on green banana leaves procured by Acha.
Truly delicious. Mmmmmm... Kaalan, pachadi, payar varavu, rice, sambar, kootu, pappadam, nellikka achar, and payasam. Noodle payasam, as Sonny boy would say.

But the other aspects of Onam were not compromised with. Early in the morning on Monday, flowers were elaborately arranged in a pookkalam. Where Sonny 'helped' Amma SO MUCH, making her tell him so many times not to drop those red dahlia petals over the yellow marigold, PUHLEEEEASE! With the growing diameter of the pookkalam, Amma's exasperation grew, till Sonny boy was made to stay indoors, out of harm's way, so that Amma could finish and get on with getting ready for office.

Baths over, Acha, Amma, Ammamma and Sonny boy, attired in new clothes, (did a long jump over the pookkalam in the corridor), went to the temple, and prayed for good times, health and prosperity. And then, dropping Ammamma and Sonny boy at home, Acha and Amma went to office.

End of 'shory'.

P.S.
No discrimination, no crime, corruption, sorrow, poverty or disease..... Wonder if Mahabali could come back and rule over us once again...? ????

Here's wishing that Mahabali days come back for all of us, soon, in this big bad world of today. May days of happiness and contentment abound in our lives !

### Why

do the numbers not go

oneteen
twoteen
threeteen
fourteen
fiveteen
sixteen
seventeen
eighteen
nineteen....????

Logically, it should. Certainly it would make life easier for one three year old and his Amma. But then, what would we do for laughs?

## Friday, August 24, 2007

### Of girl things...

I am not a lady. As in, I do not indulge in those ladylike things. Bangles, bracelets, chains, make-up, ear rings, nose rings, anklets....But I have a wonderful curiosity about these things and love to see women accessoried properly and looking really good, like you so often find on the streets of Bangalore.

I'd compare myself to them and end up feeling a frump. Which was ok when I was married, sans kid. Because my husband fell in love with me when I weighed 10 kilos more than I do now, and looked well, younger, but the same, more or less. So I had no fears that he'd wander.

But I wanted Sonny boy to be able to compare his Amma without finding things wanting... So I took up some old habits which I'd left off. I started painting my nails again. (Of course, I had quite a selection of colours thanks to my hoarding tendencies.) And when I paint it on, Sonny boy almost touches his nose to my nail. He's that entranced to see the brush glide smoothly on..

He loves to see me apply lipstick. And as I have explained to him that all these are girl things, he earnestly queries,
"That is girl, Amma?"
"Yes, Sonny boy, this is a girl thing. Not for little boys."

He looks on while I apply a tiny bindi.
"This also girl, Amma?"
"This also girl , Sonny boy."

He is not allowed anywhere near my contacts, tho' he would love to poke his inquisitive fingers in.

Little Peeping Tom refuses to go out of the room sometimes while I change, and stands there unblinking. I wonder what goes on in his little mind then. But Amma has lived in hostels and is a pastmistress at the art of changing dresses with zilch free show. So I indulge him some days, while some days he is pushed unceremoniously, protestingly, out.

After I'm dressed, I bustle around finishing last minute tasks. And then, I'm all ready to go. But not quite.
"Amma!" very authoritatively. I turn enquiringly.
"Your dupatti! You put your dupatti, Amma." Comes trailing my dupatta behind him.

I make a face at my husband. Certainly my son is his father's son. The only difference being that Sonny boy dares where Accha feared to tread.

"Thank you, Sonny boy." And I drape the duppatta around my neck casually.
"Not like that, Amma. Like this..." And he proceeds to demonstrate.

Finally I am ready. One edge of the material decorously covering one breast and the other covering the other breast. What the...!!!

On second thoughts, he isn't just his Accha's son.
He is his Ammamma's grandson to the core. Bah!

## Thursday, August 23, 2007

### a prayer

Dear God,

When I land my next job,

1. Please let at least half of my colleagues be responsible mothers with toddlers. Puhleeeese! My boss especially has to be one of those types who actually like to go back home.

2. Let one quarter be loving fathers with toddlers, who would love to go back home and bond with said toddlers, as soon as work hours get over.

3. Let the remaining quarter be lovable hunks/delightful dames, who would rather spend the night hours in a pub with a lissome partner, rather than in front of their pc at work.

4. Let the weekend be off.

5. Let working hours be from 9.30 to 6. You could make the timings better if you want, God.

6. Let the colleagues be fun, and work engrossing.

7. Dear God, let that job land soon!

Thank you.

## Monday, August 20, 2007

### Pissed off...

I am pissed. I heartily dislike people I do not like, sleeping in my bed. That is an understatement. I am fanatic. About my bed, and my pillow and my towel and my comb.

I don't mind sharing the former two, but it is with difficulty that I share the last two with my husband and whenever he does, a blistering argument breaks out between us.
I don't mind sharing t-shirts with my Hubs, nor do I mind him struggling into my jeans when he has to make a quick trip down and can't be bothered to find his own. This has happened couple of times, after which he came back grumbling about how ladies jeans were so uncomfortable. Gentleman, I do not recall asking you to wear them.

But yeah, I am digressing from the main point which is bed, pillow, towel and comb, being shared by people other than the lawfully wedded husband.

Please don't misunderstand me. When I do have visitors, and when they happen to be elder than me/Hubs, I have absolutely no compunctions about giving up bed and room to them, and flopping down for the night on the good ol' mattress that served as our marital bed. The bed is as good as theirs for all the duration of their stay, post which I change the sheets and pillow cases again, and then, the bed is mine again.

After it has been re-established as MY bed, I do not like people slipping in and having a lie down on it. And, I don't know exactly why- I'm relatively more ok with my girlfriends, other women (who have reached as far as my bedroom) lying on it, but I HATE other men sleeping on my bed. I am pretty unreasonable in this matter. I do not like seeing strands of hair left around on my pillow when I know it is neither mine, nor my husband's. I prefer the fragrance of my shampoo to linger, not some other offensive smell.

Come to think of it, I do not like these persons using my bedroom either. My bedroom can possibly have nothing of somebody else's. And things of mine that are in MY bedroom, I do NOT want to share. Nor do I want to have things shifted, or unable to be accounted for. A bedroom is a private personal space, and if you are well liked, you will be welcome in that space. But if not, please keep off.

I am at a loss to know what to do with thick skinned pigs who will use my bedroom and my bed, and my pillow and my toiletries. The husband has no issues this way. He will not even begin to understand the vehemence behind this post.

But when there are designated beds for all people/guests in a house, I think people had better stick to their given spaces. Else things just might get out of hand. And a trying-to-be-nice-and- pleasant hostess might well turn into a shrew. And niceties be damned!

Do any of you feel this possessive about your space? Or am I just being a finicky, possessive hag?

## Wednesday, August 15, 2007

### -Salutations and many happier returns, my dear India.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
- Rabindranath Tagore.

How do people write these things that are valid for a lifetime?

Sometimes I wonder what our great leaders of the past would say if they saw the India of today.
1947 was a year when there were so many dreams ahead of India. So many milestones to achieve.
And while we have come a long way along many roads, there are glaring, unfilled potholes on some others. And I wish that India fulfils the dreams of her makers, in every way there is.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish for my India, that her citizens awake one day soon, to a morning where there are no families living below the poverty line. Above anything else. How glaring an inadequacy is it that in a country where so many prosper, there are still little stomachs crying for a morsel of food.

There are others- empowerment of women, reforms in social 'norms', a better life for India's children.... but most of all, I pray for an India where no one has that most dreadful of feelings- the gnawing of an empty stomach. Worse still, the prospect of an empty stomach for their little ones.

God bless. That India prospers. As a whole.
Happy Independence Day to you, my dear India.

## Tuesday, August 14, 2007

### Prof Umbridge with a difference.

"How many times? Raised eyebrows above the black-rimmed spectacles.
"25..? 50...? 100.....?"

A downbent head nodded vigorously. A curly haired head tilted royally. And the student sat down, heaving a sigh of relief at having gotten off with just 100 lines.

This was way back in school. In the eight standard. Slaked lime, milk of lime, limestone...washing soda, baking soda... The chemical names for all these used to be a nightmare for that whole year. And our Chemistry teacher used to make it a point to ask at least one of us every day for the chemical name of at least one of these 'household' names. Bah!

But now when I think of Mrs. G, she brings a loving smile to my lips. And wonderful, wonderful memories of all the fun we used to have in her class, waiting for her dreaded questions, for that quizzical look through those glasses, and for that clipped voice giving out lines. In fact, one could almost call it an inititation into high-school Chemistry

These lines brought about such a sense of unity and co-operation in class. Initially, the fortunate few would take turns to write out some lines at least for their unfortunate friends. But soon came a time when this was caught by the canny eyes of Mrs. G. And extra lines would be given to the fortunate and the unfortunate. Ah... lines were a great leveller in those days.

The day when the impositions were due, there would be frenzied writing going on during intervals too, with no distractions whatsoever. One could even say, that at times, more than the formula/name, what was getting remembered was numbers. 27, 28,29,....75,76,77,...98,99,100!

There was one girl S, (who was slightly mentally challenged) who came up something we thought was quite brilliant- She wrote just the first line- Washing Soda- Na2Co3, and then followed it up with a 100 dittoes.
While all of us were much taken with her brilliance, much amused too, none of us dared to be that audacious. We even warned her that she was in for it, but she refused to take any heed. We waited with bated breath for Mrs. G to take her to pieces when S went to take her paper back, but the staff were evidently advised of S' misfortune and Mrs. G said nothing. She just ensured that S knew the formula and let her off.

While she was a terror in class, she had a good sense of humour outside. The quizzical look inside class was replaced by a twinkle outside class. She could take a joke very well. For school festivals, at least one spoof on her Hitlerish way of taking classes was a must. But she would be one of the first persons to laugh out loud.. No extra lines for ridiculing Mrs. G, no way!
And invariably lines would be given to all generations of students who passed through her hands.

I remember, after all those lines we wrote in the eight standard, we passed out into the ninth. And the first hour of Chemistry that we had, in came Mrs. G. After roll call, she looked around at all of us and smiled. We smiled back in high spirits. And then she shot out-

"What's the formula for slaked lime?"

The class as a whole deflated. Not one of us was prepared for questions the very first day. And the funny thing was, only a couple of girls knew the formula then. And these two were sitting on the last row. After one year in her class, we knew better than to prompt or sneak looks at text books. So the girls began standing up, one after the other, some not answering at all, for fear of inviting scathing comments, some giving wrong answers.
The first row, a girl was given 2 min, before the next one stood up. By the time the questioning reached the second row, the next girl waited just one minute before standing up in her turn, and by the third row, no one was waiting for Mrs. G to look at the next person, we all just sprung up one after the other.

And at the end, one girl gave the answer - Ca(OH)2. We sneaked looks at Mrs. G, the class filled with the silence of repressed mirth. And Mrs. G looked at us with a repressed twinkle and said,

"What a bunch of dunces I have to teach! 9th std. A whole class. Not knowing the formula of slaked lime!"
And she started shaking in her chair. And the class burst out laughing. In sheer merriment at being caught for the 'dunces' we were. And class started just like ordinary times, again.

I was reading about this rule which is to be introduced in schools, totally disallowing any kind of punishment, corporal or otherwise. And while I wholeheartedly agree with the stand on corporal punishment (those incidents of students -toddlers to teens-dying due to mishandling by their teachers was horrifyingly scary), I was suddenly reminded of Mrs. G's impositions, which were famous in her time.

And I found myself wondering if it wasn't too bad that, if Mrs. G were to teach in today's times, I could sue Mrs. G for giving me or anybody else lines.

Our teachers also made us stand on benches, stand outside class, go out of class, gave a whack with a ruler (only in the junior classes, and none so hard that it ever made welts on the hand/leg), and none of us were any worse for it, maybe it did spur us onto better efforts to stay clear of that ruler. But then, all my teachers genuinely wanted the betterment of their students and did not let rage get the upper hand, ever.
Something that can't be said for today's teachers, maybe. Patience truly is the mother of all virtues, especially for teachers.

## Friday, August 10, 2007

### Kiddyspeak again

I can't help it. Sonny boy persists in coming out with these treasures.
And I really would love for all of us to have a laugh together when he's an adal, at all the things he uttered when he was a kid.

The other day, we were driving along, when we saw two trailers, carrying new cars. Since Sonny boy is quite attached to his vehicles (their tyres to be exact), pointed this not-oft seen vehicle out to him.
"Sonny boy, see this is a trailer. See how huge it is..? It is carrying cars to the showroom, to be sold."

Sonny boy looked raptly, noting the big big tyres the trailer had.

"See- in the first- Hyundai Santro..in the second, Maruti Alto..."

Sonny boy nodded. And then exclaimed in delight, "Amma, WooWoo! Amma, WooWoo!"

Before you think he was in seventh heaven over a quite extinct Daewoo somewhere, No- he had just caught sight of an ambulance on the other side of the road. Not with anybody in, thankfully, (it always distresses me to see ambulances waiting for a passage) so the sirens were off, but Sonny boy had caught the light on the top. And was delighted to see one on the roads.

"Yeah, Sonny boy, WooWoo it is."

****************

Dunno why, but things that were learned are being unlearned. Nowadays, anything ar, he pronounces as ra. He used to say it correctly earlier, work was work, park was park.
But now,
"Amma, you have wrrokkk?"
And
"Amma, after you finish wrrokkk, can we go to the pprakkk?"

"No, Sonny boy, we can't go to the prakk, its too drraak!

Like Usha says, maybe I should just record some of these. He's never going to believe he said all this!

## Thursday, August 9, 2007

### Tagged again...

I already have one tag that I'm l-a-g-g-i-n-g behind on- on Indian Writing I love. Poppins, every time I do a post, am reminded of you, and I feel guilty. Yours is the next tag I'm going to do, I promise.
Its just that Whatsinaname's tag is so much easier to take up- requires less of casting back to all the old favourites among my Indian writers... I need only ramble..., and that is something I love doing.

So, coming back to fetishes... I was musing to my husband that I had been tagged by WIN on fetishes, and that I didn't really have any strong fetishes, when the man enquired with a sly grin, if I conceded that I was rather a dull, boring person....sans fetishes?!

Just for that, here goes..

1. I loooove window shopping. And I soooo love getting my husband also to tag along with me. After all I need to voice my opinions to somebody, don't I? And we did decide to take each other on for better and for worse...
I'm a total sucker for Sales and Offers and I love seeing what's on offer for how much.

2. I don't think I'm a perfume person, I dislike strong smells. But I do love deodorants. And I have a fair number of them- bought and gifted. And those delicate whiffs are indeed so mmmm... nice.

3. I love dogs. I like all animals, except for the crawly species, but there's something special about dogs. And there's no rational thought behind it, but I simply adore them. My biggest dream is to own a house with large space around, so I can have a couple of darlings cavorting around in my front/back yard. Inside my house as well.

4. I love books. And I love buying them( no window shopping preferred here) This and point no 3. are one of the reasons I continue to work- so I can afford to indulge and realise my dreams. However, I am as happy (please don't lynch me) buying them from my roadside fella, as from Blossom/Landmark/Crossword.

5. I love bargains. And I love butting into all these shops on Brigade Road and galis on Commercial Street, where I can generally peep, and overhear other experts bargaining, (Its alway nice to observe a master at work- Usha has written about a genius here LOL!) and decide if I want to indulge myself. Also, on long drives, I would love to stop and check the prices of whatever it is they have stacked on the roadside. It definitely has to be cheaper than in namma Bengaluru. Unfortunately the partner does not oblige. And till now he's been in the driver's seat.

6. I am addicted to blogging. I can't help myself logging in at least once a day, to see what's up with my pals in the virtual world. Helps that they have little (grand) brats and (grand) bratties of their own. And that they all write so well and humourously about their trials and takes and joys in life helps too.

7. I frequently find myself buying things I have no real need for. Like lipsticks, and hair removers, and cleansers, and pots. Window shoppers too slip up at times. I think I have this idea that if I buy them , I will use them.
I have two tubes of Veta hair remover, which I bought on impulse, on two separate ocasions, but which are still unused, because I go to the parlour and wax my limb-forests away. Lipsticks are all bought during offers/sales by all the various smart marketeers. Post 30, you're advised to have a skin routine, so I buy the cleansers. But I'm yet to develop a usage routine.And I have 7 pots, outside my front door, all filled with mud, but only 3 with plants. The empty pots stare at me accusingly every morning on my way to work.

8. Another of my fetishes is finding resemblances to people. I do this all the time, to all the people I meet on the street be it a man or woman. It suddenly strikes me that he/she looks like somebody else, tho' I may not remember who it is. I drive my husband mad asking him who it could possibly be. I realised this is becoming rather an OCD, when I chanced upon Africanfragments on Usha's blog, and racked my brains to think who she looked like. Please, doesn't she look like Kiran Desai in that foto of hers in self portrait? Only in the self portrait, tho'. I thought for a whole day before I came up satisfatorily with Kiran Desai.

Hmmm... think that makes me enough feathered a peacock as I would like to be. I tag Moppet's Mom, Poppins (I will, I will, I will!), Zumzum's Mom. Come on, preen your feathers, girls!

## Tuesday, August 7, 2007

### Back to square one!

Just when you think you're getting somewhere, these things happen and you ruefully decide that you do indeed have a long way to go still before calling yourself a pro at understanding kiddy speak...

Today morning, was spooning Sonny boy his chocolate milk, when he spotted the cartoon strip in the TOI being read by the husband. Immediately he piped up,

'Acha, tell me shory!"
An unwilling Acha- "What story, Sonny boy?"
"That red shory."

We looked, and there was Garfield that was about the only red/brown thing in there. On the weekend, we'd also bought a Garfield cdROM on playing with numbers, so we thought it must be that.

"Garfield?"
"Noooo..! That redddd!"
"Which red?"
"That red socks"
"Red socks??!"

"Yeah. Red socks shory" Nods head affirmatively, eagerly. How much more patient can you get with these parents? Pah!. Its so obvious what i'm talking about and they still don't get it!!

By now both the Acha and the Amma were poring over the newpaper, wondering where the red socks were, and who was wearing them.

"Acha, that red shory Acha,... that bown socks!" A peeved voice, and big eyes.
The big eyes had me stuck on Garfield more than ever.

Somewhere a small light flickered in the Acha's mind. Not in mine, to be honest.
Aah...! You mean fox..., Sonny boy?"
"Yesss! Bown socks!"Vehement nodding of head.

Sonny boy wanted to be told the story of little Red Riding Hood. And the fox. With big eyes, big ears and big teeth.
And he was getting soo irritated with our non-comprehension because he knew that we knew he referred to fox as socks. From when he was a baby, starting to lisp.

Sigh! So its back to square one all over again. We need to really concentrate, and remember all we learned, in order to grasp what Sonny boy has in mind..

## Friday, August 3, 2007

### I am a bad Amma.

This is a long post, so let me apologise in the beginning.

Yesterday was a bad day. It started off fine. till 7 pm, it was fine. At 7 pm, Sonny boy and I sat down to get his homework done. And the day started to go bad.

Sonny boy had been down with a severe cough and cold the week before last, and he'd even been having antibiotics. He was not well, so he did not go to school for a week; and he was not well, so he did not do his homework for a week. But the next week, when he did go to school, his books were marked with a red question mark. Of the kind we used to dread getting in our answer papers. (Amazing how teachers retain the same handwriting, over the ages.) Of course Sonny boy was blissfully uncaring. And I had no cares either, inititally- after all, H/W could be caught up on.

But come the end of that week, his H/W book was marked with a list of last week's (the week he was absent) and the current week's H/W, and we still had his earlier H/W to catch up on. Man! This had to be the mother of all homeworks!

Sonny boy and I commenced briskly last Mon evening. Our weekend had anyway gone for a six. All oral stuff was a breeze, and Sonny boy being pretty fond of his books, was already familiar with most of the regular big x small, tall x short, in x out, on x under stuff. What he did not like was writing. And in writing, he particularly hated writing numbers.
Let me add here, that while he LOVED scribbling around indiscriminately with his pen/pencil/crayon, he did not take kindly to being required to colour within limits, or along lines or curves. He has a mind of his own and doesn't like to be told what to do, and doesn't do what he is supposed to , if he can help it.

But things were not too bad. We arrived at compromises.

"You want to play with Thomas?"
Dull eyes and sagging shoulders perk up instantly. Enthusiastic series of nods.

Or-
"You want chocolate/chips?"
A hopeful gleam enters above dull eyes. Confirms that chocolate/chip is indeed available. Looks at me with a isn't-this-too-good-to-be-true expression. He knows his Amma, you see.
"Ok, you can have it after we finish writing the number 2."

And tho' shoulders slumped a bit, we went on.

We finished straight lines, vertical lines, oblique lines, curved lines, and numbers 1 and 2 by Wed, before trouble started. Since Sonny boy was as yet unused to holding his pencil, I used to help him grip it, and we progressed alright on Mon, Tue, Wed. By yesterday, he was used to the concept of sitting down and writing for half an hour to an hour. That laziness had worn off, and he used to come and sit at the table without much fuss. So I thought it was time he gradually learnt to grip his pencil by himself too. This was more because, with me guiding his fingers, Sonny boy tended to let his attention wander.

We were doing 3. We'd already finished three lines of 3 on Wed, writing over the dots... We started off with the next page, where only one column had the dotted 3 and the remaining columns had to be done by yourself. There were some 7-8 columns and about 10 rows. I guided his fingers over the first 3 rows. Gradually started letting go with the 4th. Tried to make him concentrate. But he just wouldn't. HE JUST WOULDN"T. He refused to draw without my fingers on his.

By now he could sense that I was irritated, bordering on frustrated. He started getting more distracted than ever, and worried of upsetting me. After three whole rows of writing and bleating 'threeeee!' on Wed, yesterday, when I asked him what the number was after making him write it, he said 'Five!' And then immediately on seeing my look- 'Sorry!'
But no effort to concentrate... I showed him 1 and 2 in the earlier pages, and he said those two numbers correctly. Then I showed him 3, and he said 'three.' Fine. I took another book, searched out 3 and asked him what the number was . "Five!!" I showed him 2 and asked him -"what?" "Five!!"
I totally lost it. I screamed at him. He cowered before me, started crying.

My Mom was there and she intervened. Took him off to play with the magnetic numbers I had bought for Sonny boy the previous day, trying to get him to look at numbers as fun. (But we hadn't yet had time for the fun part.) She told me to change his mood and then get him back to studying. But then, when you get home at 7, and you have to go to bed at 10 so you can wake up at 7 the next morning, there isn't much time to let his mood change, is there?

I waited on tenterhooks for 15 minutes. No sign of Sonny boy's mood taking a turn for the better. And that irritating "Five" hadn't disappeared either. He kept naming all the numbers except 1 as "Five!" I decided that enough was enough- there were still some 6-8 more pages of HW to be done- all writing stuff. And when would we finish if we were to wait for mood changes?

I requested my Mom to go into her room and shut the door. Husband was already wisely behind another door. Actually, he helped at times, but he was slow, and I HAD to finish everything by yesterday, for H/W had to be submitted Fri morn. Besides, in the last H/W, for things to be coloured yellow, Acha had helped Sonny boy colour green, and that had earned a red question mark as well. So I thought it would be better to do it myself. Wrong thought.

Things went from bad to worse, and Sonny boy just did NOT concentrate ONE bit on what he was supposed to do, whereas I kept going from mad to madder to maddest. The house was filled alternately with my shouts of frustration and his shouts of rage, till finally I decided that we were not going anywhere and at this rate, he would probably end up hating studying. We stopped. Homework unfinished.

But I was still mad at him for not trying to do what I wanted him to do. Once he'd gotten away from his writing, Sonny boy came around to nestle with his Amma. But I steadfastly maintained that I did not like little boys who wouldn't do their homework, and I did NOT want to play with him. He burst into tears again. I felt like the meanest Mom, but I was too upset after our recent bout to unwind so fast.
I should never have let myself get so mad. I should not have let the pressure of unfinished homework get to me. So what if it was not done completely? It was just some pages of stuff he was behind on, because he had not been well, and we'd been overloaded with guests. Why did I have to create such a bad memory for him? He's not going to like writing any time soon now.

Why o why does a three and a half year old have so much homework? I had thought Montessori meant that you learnt through play. Then how this? Actually if we had been regular with our study time, we wouldn't have had a problem. But isn't 31/2 too young for study timetables? I am totally depressed and woe begone.

Sometimes I wonder if my going to work is the problem. Is my having so little time and so much to cram into those hours that is the problem? Then how do other working Mom's manage? And since I can't afford to quit my job, what do I do as Sonny boy grows older?

## Thursday, August 2, 2007

### MAKE UP YOUR MIND, WILL YOU?

Let it up slowwwwly, right. FINALLY, you managed to do it right!

- C'mon shift gears! How much petrol do you think you're wasting?
-Why on earth do you want to shift to 2nd and 3rd? You think you're going to train for F1?

-DON"T try to avoid potholes. Get into them, big or small, never mind if you jerk around a little.
-Don't you have eyes in your head? Couldn't you see that HUGE pothole?

-Swerve! What do you think the steering wheel is for?
-Don't swerve like that! You think you're riding a two -wheeler?

-Come left! You'll get stuck behind that lorry. Come LEFT!! Never mind that there is a vehicle, put your indicator on, he will move accordingly
-Why did you come left/right? Can't you see that vehicle coming behind you? You have to make allowances for EVERYBODY, you're the one who'll have to pay for the repairs, not them!

-Don't overtake! What is the tearing hurry?
-Overtake him, can't you? Don't we have to get home, ever?

-Go faster.
-Don't go fast!

-Go slow. SLOW! You have a problem following instructions?
-Why aren't you moving?!

-Keep the window open. You're not an expert!
-Keep the windows closed. Learn to look at your rear view mirror!
-Didn't you see him?! You have to look out of the window too, the rear view mirror won't show everything!!

-You can drive later, its raining/we have to park, you can't take it out yourself.
-Why do you want me along? Take it out yourself, can't you? You anyway don't bother to listen!

So, am I being unreasonable when I say I wish the guy would MAKE UP HIS MIND about what I'm supposed to do? And he thinks I have a problem following instructions! This is no driving instructor, but the dearly beloved.
And these are just a few of the driving-up-the-wall comments/instructions I can remember. There's loads more, but the human mind is conditioned to forget distressing moments, isn't it?

After all, I don't want to end up divorcing the guy, do I? Grrrrr!