Saturday, March 29, 2008

His first farewell.

Sonny boy had his first farewell yesterday. It was the last working day of his first school.
And it set me walking down memory lane, for Sonny boy is too young to do that.

We started looking at a playschool for Sonny boy when I was planning to start work again. We looked at around 4 or 5 schools that were in the vicinity, but Sonny boy wasn't majorly interested. As we stepped out of each school, we'd ask him:
Sonny boy, is this school nice? Shall we go to this school?
And he would reply with a sometimes mulling, sometimes emphatic NO.
To be quite honest, we were quite disappointed too.

School A had a mallu lady, which we thought might be helpful, as she would be able to understand the Mallu-English jumble that he spoke. But that she lived on the second floor and had her playschool on the third totally put me off. I didn't want to spend my time in office having nightmares of him falling down the stairs like Jack, and breaking his crown.
School B was Montessori, these were the persons who actually got me interested in Montessori, but the place was a little cramped. Besides, I didn't like the ayahs there.
School C was the playschool of a regular school, but they seemed a little too eager to get Sonny boy admitted immediately. They seemed to think that they didn't need to tell me anything about their school and their values, except that we had to pay X amount as admission fees. While I did want Sonny boy to value money, I didn't want him to think money was the beginning and end. so it was NO to that school too.
School D was nice actually, it was a biggish house, with a garden and trees and all that, as a playschool for a kid who lived in a flat, I thought it quite ideal. But- it was closed, and there wasn't any telephone number for us to call and check either. And Sonny boy was getting cranky by now.

The Acha and I had had enough. We decided to turn for home. It was then that we made an impulsive decision to take a look at M Montessori School. It was a two storey building, but here, the school as such was in the basement and on the ground floor. They had a garden, which was predominantly potted, but still quite pretty. A nice lawn, with a sliding board on it, and also a duck see-saw. We went inside and were met by the Director of the school. She told me rather distantly that she normally met parents only by appointment, and when we apologized for butting in just like that, she unbent and said it was ok and that she'd show us aound. She took us personally around.

I liked what I saw. The classrooms were basically large rectangular halls, with work benches lining the walls. It was airy, bright, spacious, uncluttered, CLEAN. No garish posters adorning the walls. No bright colours either, which was a marked difference from every other school we had seen. Instead of blue/ yellow/ red/ green, the walls were a muted cream, and everything seemed to kind of blend in. Later I was told that this was a montessori prionciple of not letting too many things distract the child from the work he/she had to do. The toilet was very clean too. But what had me hooked was the equipment they had. I was clean zapped with the beauty of the Montessori system of education.

Everything seemed to facilitate the child learning lucidly and with delight. Practical experiments rather than just bookish learning by rote. Basic concepts were made so simple with those materials and seemed to pave the way automatically for further enthusiastic learning...

Matters were helped not a little by the fact that the Director was passionate about the Montessori system. That passion was infectious. Even before we finished going over everything, I was quite decided that I would love my son to have his first taste of learning there. But the deciding authority had to be consulted. We looked for Sonny boy. He had been taken by one of the ayahs to play on the slide which had in the meantime been brought indoors and was delightedly occupied. On our way out, we asked him :
Sonny boy, shall we go to this school?
Pat came the reply. Yes.
There was no need for any further mulling by either us or him, we were both unanimous in that we liked the school.

The first days were not easy. Sonny boy cried heartbreakingly the first day, when he saw that I was going away leaving him behind. But Ms. R (the Director) told me sensibly that the more he saw us, the more he would cry, and so she asked us to be brave for him , and leave him. We left him crying in her arms. (not in an ayah's). I noticed that she did this with each new child. The end of that first week saw Sonny boy going to school happily.

There were regular observation days, where parents were called in to observe what work their child was up-to-date with. And these were the times when I was amazed with how organised and systematic Sonny boy was at school. A place for everthing and everything in its place was something that was ingrained from day 1. (sadly I have not been able to incorporate the same at home)

And this was also where I noticed and admired how much smarter the little girls were, compared to the little boys. They talked better, grasped better, worked more efficiently and were cuter than the boys. Before I could start feeling that my son was a dud, Ms. R told me laughingly that the girls were always ahead of the boys in the younger years.

There were sessions with the child's teachers too, where we were given an idea of how they behaved at school and what they liked doing and what they did not like- workwise. His first teacher told me that Sonny boy loved songs and loved the outdoors. The first was nice- she often got ideas from him as to how to enact a rhyme, but the latter was difficult- he would always be running off outside to play on the lawn...

Two very busy years were spent in that school. Sonny boy learnt his sounds and his numbers and his vowels and his alphabets. He learnt how to put his shoes on, and how to remove his buttons and how to put them on. He drove me mad with the way he would roll up the door mats at home like he would the work mats at school. He made friends and had his first crushes. (oh yeah! he's his father's son alright) Addition and subtraction and spellings are currently what he's on. And Hindi too.

But, he had to move anyway, since M Montessori School has classes only up to M3 level. Which meant that if he moved after M3, Sonny boy would have to join UKG when he moved to a regular school, where he could be till his 10th or 12th. Which was a dicey thing, definitely more difficult than getting in through LKG. So we looked at other schooling options for Sonny boy commencing for this academic year. The school Sonny boy will be going to come June is not a Montessori school. And I am utterly sad about it. But the only option we have that has Montessori up to the higher classes is in a totally different direction from both our offices as well as home. Not a workable option at all.

But I do have one thing to console me. While looking at schools this time round too, we had looked at a few. This time too, Sonny boy was very clear. The minute he saw X school, he said: "I go this school!" He has been very clear about this through all the other school interviews he's been through. (I was actually scared he'd blurt out - I don't like you. I only like X school! ) He went around telling everybody and their aunt that he was going to go to X school. This when we had only just bought the application forms. When it came to a last choice between schools, he started crying, saying he only wanted X school, he didn't want any other. Made the decision easier for us. Because this time, his Amma is not so confident. And a school is a big thing in your life.

God grant that you be as happy- happier if possible- in your new school as you were in your old one, dear Sonny boy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why , why, WHY, dear God..?

Some time back, on an impulse, I bought The Kite Runner from my roadside book guy. I have never regretted that impulse which introduced me to one of the humanest writers I have ever come across. I was utterly moved (after a long time) by the story, the protagonists (to me more than Amir, innocent, vulnerable loyal Hassan was the soul of the book) and the stark reality of the horror that was life in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Khaled Hosseini wove a story of dark bestial deeds by an inhuman people, but in between, he deftly wove in some strands of human kindness and gentleness and love that came back to haunt you....

After that, when I got to know of his second book- A Thousand Splendid Sons- I was not at all eager to buy it. I was yet to get over The Kite Runner, and I did not want to be so disturbed again. But then, like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to it against my will, and I bought it...and once again, I was burnt.
Mariam's life seemed to be one long endurance ... In spite of enduring so much, that she has it in her to be the saviour of her husband's second wife brings out the beauty of human nature. The novel simultaneously makes you wonder at the weakness and strength of womankind in the face of male bestiality.

I would recommend both these novels to anybody for , if nothing, they make you count your blessings which seem to be NUMEROUS when compared to Hassan or Laila or Mariam or Sohrab. Hassan's son almost made me cry.
Both those novels were behind me, and while I felt deeply for the women and children of Afghanistan, there is not much you or I can do, except read and hope that the writer was taking some liberties with reality and pray that God does something for these distraught people....

And then, I read a post by a friend of mine, which brought to mind afresh the torment that it is to be born a woman in Afghanistan. Do read through this post about a little girl in Afghanistan, whose life is worse than fiction.....

It would be better to be born anything in Afghanistan than a woman - a rat, a dog, an insect...anything! After reading it, all I could hope was that the mullah would be some person like the Director of the Orphanage in The Kite Runner. Not able to outwit the sytem, but doing what he could to make things at least somewhat better...The poor poor girl.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

cat dog and mouse tale.

I love dogs, I do. But this morning's conversation had me wondering...

Sonny boy was as usual playing up while drinking milk. That boy of mine can make me mad like nothing else over his glass of milk! Delegated the make-him-drink-milk chore to Acha, while I focussed on the comparatively almost delightful job of making veg pulao.

The Acha (TA): "Sonny boy, come here, drink your milk."
Sonny boy(SB), prancing about: "I Coming, Acha!"

TA: "Sonny boy, BIG gulps now."
SB: taking a small sip: "Acha, come, let's play."
His feet are dancing again. This boy CANNOT keep still while drinking and eating. It gets my goat, it does!

TA: Ok, what shall we play?
Amma rolled her eyes at this from the kitchen, and almost shouted at them both, but maintained peace remembering that Sonny boy was not keeping quite well, what with cough and cold...

SB: Acha, we play Tom and Jerry.
Acha:OK. How do we play..?

SB : In a tone brimming with mischief,
"Acha, I be Tom.
You be Jerry.
Amma be Dog!"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I, me, myself, mine...

Choxbox tagged me, Parul tagged me, Moppet's Mom tagged me,... I thought I'd wait till 5 bloggers tagged me;-) but the spate seems to have trickled down. Thing is I don't really go back to my old posts. I hardly have time to read all of your posts, why would I go back to mine??(The blog is for me to read when ALL the hairs on my head are grey.. I still have a few black ones left on my head)

But then again, a tag is a tag is a tag is a tag. Here goes...

The rules first: Post 5 links to 5 of your prevously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given (family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like) Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little better. Now don't forget to read the archived posts and leave comments.

Family. I've chosen to include my Dad and Mom under this head.
... the pains she takes to get Sonny boy to do things happily, I wouldn't even think of.
...I think of him in all the happy times- and I think of him in all the unhappy times.

Friend. How can I post just one under this? Two posts to keep each other company of course...
...we were such good friends that I have no idea what any of them are doing now
... once outside, the tension seeped out and we rolled on the floor with relieved laughter literally.

My love- the husband? I fell in love once before too..

...every step of those walks on that sprawling campus, she followed faithfully
...and while I did call up my Mom to tell her I reached safely in one piece, I did NOT call the mean husband

Me. This blog seems to be peppered with stuff about me. How come? Ah! those blessed tags...
my quirks
my fetishes
I'm judgemental about
had enough? ;-)

Anything at all. I quite liked going back in time actually. And these really made me smile.
...he was even more zapped. There was this presentable girl with a name like Bien Merci??

Hmmm.. that wasn't quite so bad, except for the painful part of linking to all those posts. Now I tag- (I don't think there's anyone left to be tagged. If any of you've already done this tag, pliss to excuse.
Thinking Aloud
Random Vignettes

Edited to add: Fuzzy and Usha, you guys are sweethearts!! Hey Presto! here's my tag appropriately posted. :-D

and Fuzz, since Dipali's already done this tag, pliss to take it up instead of her.:-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The infuriatingly unmanageable 5 tag.

this tag came at me from all corners of blogdom, so I set down to do it in right earnest, .. I actually posted it in my hurry, then realised I hadn't linked up to all those posts. So I took it back and saved it in drafts to add all those links.
Links added, now when I post it, it stubbornly goes to the date originally published!!???
No matter what I do, I CAN'T post it in today's date. The little &^%$#@#!!!!
Now you know I really am technologically challenged. So please all of you- this is my NEW POST ON THE 5 POINTED TAG.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why Sonny boy goes to school.

Yesterday afternoon, a peaceful weekend afternoon, Sonny boy and his Amma were cuddled together on the bed, for the afternoon nap.
Sonny boy's story had been related, and he had his leg over Amma, and his hand on Amma's ear, and he was all set to sleep. Amma was peacefully re-reading and smiling over Gerald Durrel's My Family and Other Animals..
I LOVE that guy's descriptions...its is so evocative..
...cypress trees were whipped like dark pendulums against the sky..
...the island was drenched with dew, radiant with early morning sun, full of stirring life...
I compare Gerry's life with Sonny boy's, and find it so lacking, even tho' I am glad my son doesn't make friends with scorpions!

But I am digressing. Sonny was half asleep, when he felt me shaking with laughter at the scorpion episode. His eyes flew wide open again, and he looked curiously at the book for a clue to the merriment. Finding none, he looked at me. Amma knew better than to meet his eyes and invite a barrage of questions that would send the sleepy mood flying. So she kept on reading, ignoring the eyes fixed on her.
But the questions were on their way.

"Amma, when I am big...bigger than you.. bigger than Acha, I will be able to shake my eyes?"

Amma registered the question, and in her turn, searched for clues to the meaning behind 'shaking the eyes'. Nope. Not a clue. But now this looked like more fun than Gerald Durrel.

"What, Sonny boy?" when you grow big.., what?
"When I grow beeeeeeg, I will also be able to shake my eyes? Like Amma?"
Now this was getting interestinger and interestinger. Amma had been shaking her eyes?

A totally blank Amma looked at Sonny boy, and regarded Sonny boy...
Sonny boy raised his hand and gently fingered my eye. "
Amma.., when I grow bigger than you.., I will be able to shake my eyes..? For story?

The obscuring clouds moved and revealed light.
Sonny boy was referring to my pupils moving as I read. Shaking my eyes indeed.

"Yes, Sonny boy," a laughing Amma hugged him close. "That is what you will learn in school. To shake your eyes and read your own stories."

Ah! to have the mind of a 4 year old.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Today, was Sonny boy's close friend's B'day. He stays in our flat and the Mom and I used to compare notes on kicks and bulges and pukes and everything associated with pregnancy, so we're rather close. This time Sonny boy insisted that he wanted to decide on the B'day gift for HIS friend, so we were not able to buy a gift in advance, with the result that this evening, I returned early from office and made a dash to the newly opened neighbourhood store with Sonny boy at 5.30 pm (the party was at 6).

We spent a half hour at the store and chose toys for the B'day boy and the B'day boy's friend, yours truly as well (yeah, the 7 day good behaviour rule got cut down to 3 days). Sonny boy as usual tried to get this and that and that too, but all requests and hopeful looks were to no avail, as Amma said we ONLY had time to get the B'day gifts and nothing else.. Rushing to pay the bill, I spotted a pack of Whisper and since I was running out, and my period was overdue, I pulled in one pack hastily.

Immediately, an offended Sonny boy said loud enough for all the men in the store to hear,
"Amma, why you want that? Keep it back!"

The Amma kept on walking, as if she hadn't heard anything.
Sonny boy, most upset at the different set of rules for mother and son, was determined to make himself heard.
"Amma, you don't want that. Keep it back".

And he took it from the bag and went back to the rack. By now she could feel all eyes on them. It was a new store, and was only just beginning to be patronised and the many young salesmen were most eager to be of assistance.
"Soony boy!" hissed an embarassed Amma. "I want that. Keep it back!"

But Sonny boy was determined to follow it through to the very end. He turned to Amma and asked chidingly, "Amma, are you a baby? Only babies want that. You're not a baby. Keep it back"

I am NOT returning to that shop in a long time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Unrealistic targets, and unachievable too.

Sigh! The school Sonny boy HAS gotten admission to seemed to us on second and third thoughts to be VERY far, esp. taking into consideration the fact that we didn't find any suitable alternate housing arrangements nearby. So when another school called us for the interview, we decided to give it a shot, esp. since the said school was right in the middle of civilisation and quite accessible from both home as well as both our offices.

At the school, Sonny boy found himself a friend who was more than willing to acquiesce to his demanding frolic, and the two had a rollicking time running up the corridors and playing run-and-jump-and-sit-on-chairs while we parents waited impatiently.
The husband wisely kept glowering at and ordering Sonny boy to sit beside him, but Sonny boy paid no heed, and the Amma, for once, thought it the lesser of two evils to have the son jumping around quietly from a distance, rather than fidgeting in a chair adjacent. Alas! It was her undoing.

The trio got called to the Principal's room in their turn. The room was as big as a Princi's room ought to be, and Sonny boy was delighted. He sat in the chair between Acha and Amma, and took in his surroundings with interest.And then, while Acha was responding to something the Princi had asked, Sonny boy espied a row of chairs near the window.

Chairs! puhlenty of them! Run-and-jump-and-sittable ones...!!!!

I really don't know how it happened, but the next second, Sonny boy was out of the chair between us and onto the chair near the window.
The Acha and I gaped, then were horrified. The Amma went after him and brought him back to his chair. To his credit (?) the Princi didn't bat an eyelid, he continued looking at his -or rather our- file before him.
And then while the Amma was tackling a question on who would look after Sonny boy while both of us were at work, Sonny boy tried sidling out on my side of the chairs. He had spied the many shields on top of the shelves. Quite worth a a second look, they were. Sonny boy certainly thought so too. Luckily, the Amma was not as absent minded as the Acha and caught him before more damage was done.

"I only want to look... "plaintively began Sonny boy.
"NO looking," sternly stated Amma.
Glare from the Amma.

The Princi cleared his throat and said that would be quite fine, and thanked us.
The Acha and I, given our marching orders, gathered up Sonny boy and marched out of the room.
I do not think that school is going to call us. Sigh! Unruly, disruptive, distracted kid with inept parents who have no sense of think he would have written any worse?

The Acha berated Sonny boy soundly on the way to the car and told him that he was a very bad boy. The Amma added her two bits. Out came the lower lip and trembled for a few seconds... Sonny boy looked suitably chastened for a few minutes, then he was back to normal again.

On seeing a nearby toyshop,
"Acha you'll buy me toy?"
"NO," thundered the Acha. "You have not been a good boy. NO toy!"
"I be good boy, Acha."
"No. I am very angry. You be a good boy, listening to what Acha and Amma tell you for a whole week, and then, we'll think about a toy."
"One week?"
"7 days, Sonny boy, till Saturday."
"7 days?"
"7 days."
"Ok, Acha, I be good boy for 7 days."

After 5 minutes of sitting quietly in the back seat.
" Acha, 7 days over? "