My nine-year-old son is the center of my universe. This is the story of his childhood as it unfolds. Please read the first post, "Why I started this blog," to know more.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Off to gramps'

Tomorrow we leave for my son's first visit to his grandparents' house. We haven't visited my in-laws in years for a variety of reasons (some history and some serious lack of leave). But tomorrow, we're headed there for a quick, week-long trip. There are two shrines to visit and we'll hopefully spend the rest of our time hanging around the house and not being fed to bursting point by overenthusiastic relatives who believe that a way to demonstrate love is to stuff them full of food they don't like. :-P

We've scheduled Poppet's cryo for the 7th of Jan. And this time, I'm more terrified than ever about the anesthesia (I know, I know, I've mentioned it nearly every post related to my son's condition! I know I have to stop, but...)

Time for some praying - for good health and some calm.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sonny & Me on Sunday shopping

On Sunday, Munchkin and I went shopping. First stop, the toy shop for a remote-controlled car. We got one that had it's own pit-stop 'home' and four extra tyres. The little tyke is thrilled.

Then we stopped at the optician to pick up a pair of nearly wraparound sunglasses for the post-cryo trip next Saturday.

Then the shoe store for a pair of floaters for the growing boy.

And then the stationery store: two notebooks ("Mom, promise you won't cover them - they're for rough notes - and brown is soooo boring!"), a tube of Fevicol, colored paper ("The colors are cool, Mom." - and I'm a sucker for paper, especially when it's colored.)

Oh yes, we managed to have some soda (yea, yea, I know I should be more "responsible" but well...) and popcorn. And then we were home and Munchkin zoomed the car around to his heart's content. All in all, a cool Sunday. :-)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More treatment needed

The leakage has started again. We found out at the hospital yesterday. Munchkin was really irritated about keeping his eyes closed for them to be dilated. And somehow, ever since we left home, I was expecting bad news. We've had three exams in the past year, all of which indicated that my son's Coats was stable. I had wondered whether our good fortune would sustain.

This time, the exudates (old leakage) had reduced, but other blood vessels had swollen and have begun leaking. Amazing, how quickly things can change in four months. The good news is that these vessels are still a decent distance away from the macula, so by God's grace his vision remains unaffected.

I was in such a tizzy after having the Fundus photos taken that I agreed to leave the hospital without thinking. Poppet's father wanted to delay it until after we come back from his parents place - which would make it another two weeks. By that time, Poppet's school would have started again. I agreed at the time but something didn't seem right....anyway, now I'm hoping to fix procedure for next Wednesday. We leave for his grandparents' place on Saturday.

The whole general anesthesia thing still gives me the jitters. And there's so much in flux at the office. I have a hundred loose ends to tie up before I can go away without worrying about being fired while I'm away. :-P

More after we've organized everything. Hang in there, Munchkin. I have faith this will all work out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pre-eye exam jitters

Last Christmas, I was thrilled to post that my son's Coats Disease had stabilized after two rounds of cryo and laser. It was my best Christmas gift ever.
Now it's that time of the year again. And just like last year, the eye exam has been delayed twice for one reason or another. He's actually not past his due date but I usually start early because I work myself up into such a frenzy that I want to know the results as soon as possible. He's had two more eye exams (one in March, the other in August) and the doctor says there's been no fresh leakage. The exudates (existing leakage) are still there, though. The doctor says they'll get absorbed over time, or he can use laser.
The kid also has glasses now - very, very low power and in both eyes. He also hasn't complained of any floaters or other discomfort throughout the year.
This time, we've kept missing the doctor. he was away for an emergency surgery the first time and the next week, I clean forgot. The stress - a long story not involving my son and meant strictly for my other blog - is making me senile. We were all set for tomorrow, but it turns out the doctor's going to be in surgery again.
On Monday, the kid has his school's annual program. Tuesday's supposed to be a "bad day" for kids to be taken to a hospital; Wednesday the doctor's in surgery again; Thursday's Christmas, so the hospital OPD is closed; and Friday's surgery day again. Saturday we're leaving to visit my in-laws for a week. And then school re-opens again. And I am falling apart with the stress. It always builds up in the days running up the test.
A few days ago, a colleague mentioned my son's case to her eye doctor. He doesn't know my son's doctor but recommended someone else in the city. So that's another thing driving me crazy - do we stick by our doctor or get a third opinion (we've already had a second opinion - and it matched our doctor's).
Anyway, I'm sooo hoping the doctor will be able to spare some time to see my son tomorrow. Hopefully his assitant will be able to give me a clearer reply.
I honestly don't think I'll be able to go two weeks without knowing how my son is doing. The thing is, his condition has been stable since the last cryo in Oct 07 - which makes me wonder if all this is too good to be true.
I'm hoping and praying...God bless you little fellow. You're the best thing that ever happened to me.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Why am I younger than your marriage?

I know, I know...there's no excuse for the laziness that set in. It was a lost opportunity if you really think about it. There's so much that has happened in the past two months that I was a fool not to let the blog fodder do its work. Sigh...

Today was our wedding anniversary. Munchkin asked his father: How many years has it been? Ten years, he was told. The boy sulked. "Why are you looking sad?" asked his father. "Your marriage is ten years old, and I'm just six and a half...that's not fair! I should be older." Sorry, kid. Well, no, actually. But it was complicated to explain. Thank God the birds-and-bees talks are a few years away. Phew!

Other updates: I quit my job in April, worked until May 10 to serve out my notice period, took a week off to be with my son (while chasing red-tape to get my passport), joined a new firm, went to Colombo for training, came back with some yummy shopping and duty free goods, plunged into the new job, got the kid settled into full-day school (not very successfully at first, but hey, I'm not perfect!) and was featured in a book for working moms. It's fantastic, and not just because I wrote one rule. That's coming up in the next post. I know this blog is about the brat, but it's thanks to him that I'm a working MOM, so of course it fits here. :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

...And we're back! (from a holiday, etc.)

Sorry for the long hiatus. Last Friday was hectic because I had to work late at the office and get everything done before we went off to the beach. And Saturday morning, we went to Munchkin's school to collect his final report card. He's got all A's, except in regularity of attendance - he missed a lot of days when he had the Coats Disease treated - and imagination (in art)! That confused me at first because the kid is anything but unimaginative. And then it hit me. If you ask him to draw something, nine times out of ten, he will draw either a car or an airplane. (see our collage on the side panel?) Oh well...but he had A's in everything else!! Well done, my son.

We also had to pick up his new textbooks for the first grade, have him measured for his new uniform and track suit, buy his regular shoes and sports shoes (and socks) and pay up a fat sum for miscellaneous expenses. Then DH wanted to buy shoes (long overdue) so we just about managed to catch our overnight bus. (I ran through the bus station, sandals in one hand, and my son's hand in the other. "Mamma, I've never seen you run so fast," he panted when we finally got to the bus. "That makes two of us, kid. I never knew I could run so fast." Not with the two-inch screw lodged below my left knee. Long story, that.)

We spent the next two days at a cozy little beach resort. Munchkin divided his time between the beach, the pool, the huge bathtub where he had umpteen bubble baths, watching TV, walking all over the resort, and eating yummy food. He doesn't want to go anywhere else for a holiday, ever. Money well spent.

He also started his art camp the morning we got back. The van service picking him up hasn't been going smoothly but we hope it will get settled by the weekend. He has classes on weekends, too! I don't mind. I can finally go and get my long overdue facial done in peace. :-P

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Growing Pains: Discrimination

Munchkin's facing some discrimination with the kids in the apartment building. His best friend, who's 8, has begun keeping him out of games he plays with boys of his own age. And most kids my son's age are girls. And out of the blue one day, one of these girls told him: "You can't come to my house. My mother says boys aren't allowed."

What the...@%#*^!?

Munchkin is sensitive so he came away quietly. He hasn't figured out why this girl is behaving so differently now. It has to do with her mother, of course. I have a lot to say about the woman but this is a kids' blog, so I'll vent elsewhere. And from what I hear, people are just dead jealous that I have my mother in the same building so I can work. Well, hello, I worked from home for over 3 years before I decided to go back to work full-time. And my mum lived in the same building even then.

Mum is worried sick that this girl - who's going to be in the same school van as my son in the coming academic year - is going to be mean to him every day. I'm worried too, but I want to teach him how to deal with such senseless people with dignity. And not feel hurt.

DH thinks that most kids in our building are spoilt rotten. Well, I agree with him. I also rarely see them playing anything proper. They just seem to run around a lot and scream and shout a lot more. We're lucky our complex has a play area and a badminton court and plenty of place for kids to use their bicycles. But these children don't seem to know what to do with themselves in the evening.

I was thinking so hard on how to make sure my kid can hold his head high I even considered a full-day school from where he'd get back only by 5.30, a place that has sports teams and he gets to play with his classmates. That's probably not the way to go and I doubt we can afford a place like that, but as a mom, I just got thinking on how best to protect my child.

I realize this is a rambling post. But this thing is hurting me because it's hurting my son. :-(

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Dear God, please save the little girl"

Yesterday, another toddler fell into a 45-ft deep, uncovered borewell pit. This time in Agra, famous as the home of the Taj Mahal. The little fellow saw the story on a news bulletin and asked his grandmother a hundred questions. He was shocked to know that the girl - named Vandana - was even younger than his little friend next door, who is three. This was the third or fourth such case the past couple of years.

As the news channels continued airing updates about the Army's efforts to rescue the little girl, Poppet got all emotional. He went up to the shrine, folded his hands, closed his eyes and said: "Dear God, please save the little girl. She's so tiny. She must be afraid down there, all alone."

Then, as soon as he woke up from his afternoon nap, he asked Mum if she had been rescued. Sadly, she hadn't. So he put on the news channel again to get an update. When Mum brought him a glass of milk, she found him standing in front of the shrine, once again praying for her to be rescued.

When I came home, this was the first thing he told me. "She's so little. They've given her some oxygen too," he added.

It was 9.30 pm before Vandana was finally recovered. Mum called to let us know, because we hardly ever watch the news. (Long story, that.) As soon as he heard that, he ran off to the shrine in our house to say: "Thank you, God. Her mamma must be so happy she's okay."

I was touched and proud at the same time. He cared about what happened to her. He believes in a higher power. He is growing up to be a wonderful human being. Unpretentious and kind, sensitive and caring, despite the tantrums. Thank you, dear God.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Coats Update: All clear for now

On Tuesday, Poppet had an appointment with his eye doctor. It took longer than usual because we wanted to have his vision checked before his eyes were dilated. (We discovered that he has a power of 0.5.) But the real good news was the fact that there has been no fresh leakage since October. The exudates are still there, but the doctor still feels that this could be absorbed by the body over a period of time. No laser needed for now. Thank you, dear God.

His doctor doesn't talk much so we asked him a lot of questions. Could Munchkin go to the beach? Go swimming? Play whatever games he wants to? Not that he hasn't done that so far, but we just wanted a confirmation. And we got one. :-)

So we spent most of this evening trying to plan a beach holiday over the long weekend coming up on April 5. Naturally, tickets are almost impossible to get. Flights are too expensive. After many phone calls, web searches and frantic bookings and cancellations, it looks like we're going to Mangalore, on the west coast. The tiny resort - right on the beach - says rooms are available and we've gone ahead and booked the bus tickets. I'm only waiting for a confirmation from them tomorrow morning.

We haven't been on a vacation in over 18 months. In the meantime, the little rascal's friends have gone on cruises, treks and whatnot with their families. It's not that we couldn't afford a short holiday, but every time he had a break from school, there was an eye procedure or check-up scheduled. Hope everything goes well. Fingers crossed. :-)

Munchkin's next check-up is 5 months later, in late August.

Friday, March 21, 2008

"Where are you, Mamma?"

It was 10.30 am when my cellphone rang. My husband’s number flashed on the screen so I took the call. “Hello?”
“Mamma?” It was Munchkin.
“Hey, baby. Good morning.” I said. He’d been asleep when I left home this morning. He and his father had the day off – it’s Good Friday – but my office was working. I’d given the little brat a hug and a kiss before I left but he hadn’t woken up. I let him sleep.
“Mamma, where are you?” he said, sounding close to tears.
“I’m at the office, sweetie. What’s wrong?” I said as I ducked into an empty conference room to talk in private.
“At the office?” he sounded worse now. “Oh, mamma!”

*Cue for working mom guilt to stir below the surface.*

“What’s wrong, baby? Are you alright?”
“I woke up and searched for you and you weren’t anywhere in the house.”
“Aw…I’m sorry, baby. Where’s Daddy?”
“He’s still sleeping,” he wailed. Sleeping? At 10.30! “I’m all alone.”

*Cue for working mom guilt to break the surface and bubble over.*

“So you called me on your own? You can dial from Daddy’s phone?”
“Yes, I can. Can you come home, Mamma?”
“I wish I could,” I told him…and meant it.
“Go wake up Daddy. He has plans for the two of you.”
“He’ll get mad. He doesn’t like to be woken up.”
“No, baby. It’s okay. Go wake him up.”
“But I want to see you, Mamma. I woke up and you weren’t there.”

*Cue for working mom guilt to flood and melt my insides.*

“Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry about that. But I gave you a big hug before I left. You have a holiday so I let you sleep late. Now go wake up Daddy…” I said.
“He’s just coming out of his room now,” said the little fellow. I breathed a sigh or relief.
“Give him the phone, baby.”
“When will you come, Mamma?”
“As soon as I can.” *sob*
Then the DH took the phone. “He’s upset,” I told him.
“He’ll be okay. I’ll distract him,” the DH croaked. I could hear Munchkin asking for the phone again.
“Mamma, will you try to come home early today?”
“I will, dear. I promise.”
“He’s okay,” said DH. “Don’t worry.”

I’ll try not to. That’s all I can do. T.R.Y. I normally don’t have working moms’ guilt for a variety of reasons. But every once in a while, it’s something you can’t avoid.

*Cue to banish the monster back to its subterranean lair.*

Until next time, that is…

*Cue to bawl my eyes out in the washroom.*

Photo from

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gramma has a 10-year catering contract

I was on my coffee break when the brat phoned. "Mamma, I ate up 11 cutlets and didn't give Gramma a single one!" he announced with mischievous glee.

Whoa! Eleven cutlets? I know the size of the cutlets (patties) my mother makes so my brain blew a fuse somewhere. "And I also had roti and ..... and curds too." he rattled off.

Okay...*breathe deeply, breathe deeply*

"You can move?" I asked him.

"I can now," he replied happily and handed the phone to my mother.

"I didn't want to disturb you at work but I was relieved he's talking and moving again," she said.
Turns out she'd set aside a few of those scrumptious cutlets for his dinner but he managed to eat those up as well and then...well...could barely move. So he sat back on the couch, propped up by two pillows. For a good ten minutes. Then he decided he had to let someone know. So he called me.

Reminded us of the time he was really young and we tried giving him formula because I wasn't well. He gulped it all down and then went very still, with a rather lost look on this face. We waited five minutes and then got worried. Finally, Mum propped him up a bit and he burped - louder than I've ever heard him burp. And then he began moving again. I can never forget that. Should have put it into my Childhood Scenes posts.

Incidentally, he's handed my mother a 10-year contract for his school lunches because he adores her cooking (who doesn't). He actually wanted it right through college, but my mother said one step at a time. According to the offspring, a 10-year contract is one step. I'm allowed to pack his lunch bag 'once in a while.' Probably because that's as often as he likes my cooking. Sigh!


Monday, March 17, 2008

"Your Hair is nice, but..."

I got a new haircut...kinda like in the picture but I'm not as slim as the woman in the photograph. And my hair is black (well, mostly black...I try to blank out the gray.)

I liked the cut, it's like nothing I've ever had. The DH liked it (trust me, I did not ask for an opinion. I've been married almost 10 years so I know better than to ask for an opinion on personal fashion.) Then he asked the offspring: "Isn't Mamma's new haircut nice?"

The offspring lolled on the couch for a bit, observing silently. "Your hair looks very nice," he finally said, but the sentence was loaded. There was more to come. "But you don't look like Mamma."

Huh? Wait a minute, what does that mean? I raised an eyebrow and the little rascal grinned, his eyes twinkling with mischief. "You hair is nice. But you look very fashionable." That's the exact word he used: 'fashionable.'

"So is that good or bad?" I asked him.

"It's good for you. You'll look nice in the office. But you don't look like my Mamma." Direct, point-blank, no beating about the bush.

"Do you want me to change it?"

"No. You look nice, Mamma. But not like my Mamma," he repeated.

Ah, I see. I was looking non-Mommy-ish. Not bad, I thought. But then, mommy-guilt surfaced. Before it could overwhelm me, the little tyke scooted over and gave me a hug. "I still love you," he announced.

Thanks, Munchkin. I needed that. :-)

Photograph from Just

Friday, March 14, 2008

Summer camp search begins

It's that time of the year. The little brat's summer holidays are going to start beginning Good Friday (March 21). And school starts on June 2! So during this l-o-n-g break, what can you do with a hyperactive six-year-old that will keep said child from:
1. driving parents & grandparents insane
2. getting into falling-and-getting-hurt kind of trouble
3. turning into TV/Video/Online game junkie
4. forgetting everything he learnt in Kindergarten (including math tables up to 5)

The answer? Summer camps, of course. In Bangalore, most of them last only 3 weeks at a stretch. I guess organizers of summer camps need time off, too, right? And this isn't the first world, where you can pack of a child for 6 or 8 weeks and sit back and relax.

Last year's summer camp was a disaster. They overcharged, didn't do as much as they promised and he hated going there. Problem was, most sports camps (baskeball, badminton, swimming, etc.) would take children only above the age of six. So he managed to learn swimming with his dad and grandfather. But he's been out of practice since then. And the way the weather is: cold at 10 am and blazing hot at 11 am...I doubt we'll be able to use the pool.

I've found one intensive arts program for him. This is run by a reputed artiste and the place is not so far from our house. They also have a transport facility which means no dropping and picking up required. (Yay!) We're going there tomorrow to check it out. The only thing is, it runs even on weekend mornings. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad. We'll see the place and decide soon. There's also a school nearby which is reportedly holds some good sports camps. Need to go there too.

Picture from Freerangestock

Monday, March 10, 2008

My six-year-old has a crush! :-)

Another milestone. Munchkin's first self-professed crush! He's six. She's five-and-something and his classmate. He's known her since last year but didn't pay much attention to her. The Sports Day Marching Parade changed everything. He was leading it and she was marching beside him, holding up the placard with the name of their class on it.

For a while now, Munchkin has had his life planned out. He has to study hard (not that he likes it too much) and get into a good college, get a good job, get married, have a kid or two whom he wants his grandmother to raise (because their mother will be !) Not me, his grandmother, please note. Erm...right. Grandma will be past eighty then, but he's sure she'll still be just as pretty as she is now.

So anyway, it took me a while to coax it out of him but here are the cute details. Her name is Shalika. Why does he like her? "She's nice." What else? "She's brown, like me. Almost everyone else in our class is so fair." (He says that without's just a difference in appearance, nothing else. At least he doesn't seem to be obsessed with fairness like the rest of the country.)

That's good. What does he like about her? "She says such funny things and makes me laugh." Like what? "I'm not sure. I don't understand everything she says. When she speaks in English, she speaks very fast so I don't always follow. But she's funny." And then his brown skin turns the faintest shade of pink and his eyes look like there are stars in them. Not bad, I think. He just likes her for who she is. And Sports Day happened more than two weeks back. As first crushes go, that's a long enough time, at least for a six-year-old.

I'm enjoying this moment when he announces: "I wish I could marry her!" Cough! Splutter!
"Marry her?"
"Yes. I like her. But I have to grow up and get a good job first," he says solemnly.

I don't know what to say. My mind goes back to the first time I saw such stars in his eyes, although that lasted around 3 days. It was the first day of school last year. I went to pick him up and he was standing in line, beaming. As we walked back to the car, he whispered. "Have you seen my teacher? She's so nice."

"Yes, she seems nice. She's pretty, too."
He didn't respond to the pretty part.
"What's her name?"
His face fell. "I didn't ask."
"Well, why don't you find out tomorrow?"
"What should I say?" he asked nervously. So I told him.

When I picked him up the next day, the first thing he said was: "Chetna. Her name is Chetna." And he was beaming from ear to ear. Oh how he loved that teacher. She liked him, too. When we met her at at PTA meeting soon after his first cryopexy last July - he'd missed 3 weeks of school - she hugged him and said: "I missed you. There was nobody to keep me on my toes." (Which was her way of saying that there was nobody else as naughty as he is! But she liked him a lot, that was obvious.)

Three months later, this wonderful teacher coming to school after she was diagnosed with a problem in her spine. He misses her terribly, often saying: "I wish my Chetna ma'am would come back. School is not fun anymore."

He doesn't like his new teacher that much and I must admit, I don't see her making an effort either. But the school year is almost ending, and I can only hope that he will get a nice teacher in the first grade.

"Mamma?" he says, jerking me back from my reverie.
"Yes, baby?"
"You and Papa were classmates too, right?"
"Yes, we were."
"That's nice," he says and closes eyes. I'm thankful he went to sleep that easily, but I lie awake for a long time after that. :-)

This is my life, and sometimes, I can't even remember what it was like before he was born. Thank you, Poppet. And yes, you can rant all you like when you feel I embarrassed you by writing all this. But hey, what are parents for? ;-)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Bed Time = Question Time

Here's the latest bedtime update. After never-ending Nemo and the Fleas fetish, Munchkin wants me to sing to him (the play list is decided by the little brat, of course) and answer questions. But first, we have to decide how many questions, otherwise the Q&A can go on past midnight without the little fellow so much as yawning.

Inquisitive Offspring: "How many questions can I ask?"
Sleepy Mommy: "Two."

Inquisitive Offspring:
"No, five."
Sleepy Mommy: "One."

Inquisitive Offspring:
"How about three, then?"
Sleepy Mommy: "Alright. (yawn)"

Inquisitive Offspring: "How does the remote control make my car any way I want?"
Sleepy Mommy: "Good question...."
( see, Mommy is mathematically and scientifically challenged. Vertically and horizontally too, but let's not get personal here.)

Inquisitive Offspring: "Well...?"
Sleepy Mommy: "Er... they talk to each other. Through the antenna. Your remote has one and the car has one. So they talk to each other."

Inquisitive Offspring:
"Things don't talk, Mamma. And I never hear anything. I just push the...the...that thing and the car moves."
Sleepy Mommy: "Well, yes, you don' t hear anything because that's radiowaves talking to each other. They don't make a noise. They're on the same frequency."

Inquisitive Offspring:
"What's thing you said? And that doesn't count as my second question."
Sleepy Mommy: "Erm....frequency. It's like a language. You and I speak the same language so you know what I'm saying and I know what you're saying. So even if we can't hear what they're saying, they know what they have to do and they do it."

Inquisitive Offspring:
"What if car doesn't do what the remote tells it to do?"
Sleepy Mommy: "Well, if something's wrong, like a battery runs out, or if some wire gets loose, then the car may not be able to do what you want. Otherwise it'll work fine."

Inquisitive Offspring:
"Hmm....but they don't fight because they're not people, right?"
Sleepy Mommy: "Yes, that's right."

(More silence....Sleepy Mommy's sleep-deprived brain is terrified that something more complicated is going to arise. Sleepy Mommy is right.)

Inquisitive Offspring:
"How do you make a space shuttle?"
Sleepy Mommy: "hmmm....I don't know, baby. I really don't."

Inquisitive Offspring: "That's not fair. You said I could ask two questions."
Sleepy Mommy: "Of course you can, sweetheart. But I didn't say I would be able to answer all of them." (mentally pats herself on the back for such a smart comeback.)

Inquisitive Offspring: "Okay. But could you please look it up on the Internet? You can tell me tomorrow."

Sleepy Mommy's brain stops to function. She mumbles something incomprehensible and moves to the playlist for the evening. "I must count my blessings. I must count my blessings."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Quiet P.A.N.I.C.

It was the weirdest thing that Munchkin did in a long time. I rang the doorbell of my mother's house he opened the door and looked at me with a blank expression. No jumping into my arms, not even running away to get busy with whatever he was up to. Just this very distracted look on his face and he was quiet. Q.U.I.E.T. This is a kid who babbles even when he's asleep, hums while playing and can't stand still for even a second.

He then went down to the playground, bumped into a friend who was coming back upstairs because he'd scraped his elbow, and decided to stick with the friend. Twenty minutes later, he was back home after the handle of the friend's scooter hit him on the head. And he stayed quiet. Something wasn't right. Was it the hit on the head? But he was quiet even before that happened. Was his cold turning into the flu, was he feverish? His forehead seemed cold enough. Had something happened in school? Mum said he was happy when he'd come back. Hmmm....

I was in the kitchen, getting dinner ready. "Are you hungry, Poppet?" I asked him. "No, I had a sandwich earlier," he replied.

Mum was worried too. She tried to distract him with something funny. It worked only temporarily. I asked him if he had a headache, or if he couldn't see right - my fears related to his Coats condition were rearing their ugly heads in full force! My stomach felt like somebody had poured acid into it. I could almost hear my brain short-circuiting with the million thoughts zipping through it. "Baby, what's wrong?" I was almost shrieking now.

"Nothing, Mamma," he said calmly. He was calm! My God! This is the kid who has to be told to speak softly, more slowly and generally speak a little less for everyone around him to hang on to sanity. But that's how he is. Oh, something was seriously wrong.

"Did your new teacher say something?"
"Do you want to watch TV?"
"Not really."
"What's wrong?"
"Does your head hurt?"
"Then why are you so quiet? Say something?"

Monosyllables is all I got. He stayed that way for the next half an hour. Somebody had to do something. Eventually, he found a computer game he liked and got all excited about it. After that, it was like, "Gramma, gramma, see this, see this." (He always says the same thing twice when he's really excited.) Phew! Remind me to kick myself if I ever tell him off for making too much noise. Make as much noise as you want, kid. Just don't pull that quiet stunt on us again.

This happened on Monday and I haven't figured out what made him go all quiet. (Oh there are still some pretty scary thoughts buzzing in my brain right now, but I'll keep them under my hat until we meet his eye doctor later this month.)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Stage Fright? What's that?

A few nights back when I was patting Munchkin to sleep, he me out of my sleep-deprived stupor by asking me: "Mamma, why are some people afraid to go on stage?"

"Everybody gets a little scared when they're on stage," I replied, hoping the answer would suffice.

"I don't get scared," he said with an air of genuine hurt. "I like going on stage."

He had a point. The kid has zero stage fright. And he was this way since he was two-and-a-half years old. His first 'stage appearance' was in August 2004 when our apartment complex welfare association announced a fancy dress event for children. I didn't want to send him in the ubiquitous /Nehru/doctor/lawyer/farmer/rock star costume so I thought a bit. Then it hit me. The movie Munnabhai MBBS had come out a few months ago and was a huge hit. It follows the hilarious attempts of a thug to join medical school and become a doctor in a bid to reconcile with his parents.

So I bought him a toy stethoscope, a white shirt that passed for a lab coat, and stuck the note "Munnabhai MBBS" on this front pocket, complete with band-aid, just like in the movie's posters. (see pic) He also learned a few lines of the title track. When he walked out in front of the audience, he looked a little overwhelmed. He's forgotten his lines, I thought, completely forgetting how young he was. But he looked at everyone slowly, then his face broke into a huge grin. He pulled the free end of the stethoscope high above his head and sang his lines. The applause felt like magic to me. My little kid had just given his first performance and couldn't stop smiling!
A few months later, there was a similar contest at the Montessori he attended. I decided to recycle the costume. And this time, the Gangsta MD carried audience with him. Then there was a problem. The little brat was enjoying the attention so much, he didn't want to come off the stage. Finally, his teacher scooped him up and carried him away. He was still beaming and waving to the audience. I was embarrassed, but only just.

All this subsequent trysts with the arclights were equally confident. He was the only solo performer at the annual day celebrations. He started his poem and found the mike wasn't working. So he tapped it and announced: Papa, the mike isn't working. As luck would have it, the microphone decided to function just as junior made the declaration, so the entire auditorium heard him and laughed. The performer smiled back and non-plussed, continued his poem.

He also won top honors for his turn as Noddy, and then recited a rather complicated poem for his next annual day...this was just 10 days after emerging from a stint in the hospital for really high fever. I still have those pictures on my softboard at the office. Last November, he shaved his head to be Mahatma Gandhi.

For the school's annual day this time, he was chosen to be part of the group welcoming parents. was the second E in the 'Welcome' squad, so he had to wait while everybody said their bit in turns. We got the DVD from the school a few days ago and were not surprised to see the little thespian beaming at the audience, looking all around quite happily, trying out various 'looks' (squinting his eyes at the lights, making funny faces at the lights, and whatnot) while the others spoke. He had no idea this was being taped and looked suitably embarrassed when he saw the DVD. We had a good laugh, though.

Munchkin repeated his question: "Why do people get scared on stage?"

"Well, it can be scary: there are so many people looking at you. You wonder if you'll forget your lines, or if you'll make a mistake, or if they won't like you," I tried to explain, and wondered if I was going to scare him off. I still get the butterflies if I have to address more than three people in a room.

"So what if you make a mistake? Everybody makes mistakes. I like going on stage, Mamma," he announced and proceeded to close his eyes and go to sleep. It's times like this that I can't believe he's only six years old.

Poster © Vinod Chopra Productions

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No More Fleas!

After I loudly protested about having to do Nemo every night, Poppet decided to widen his horizons somewhat. After a string of flings with various books, he rediscovered an old favorite: No More Fleas, by Anne Peutrell. He loved that book when he was two-and-a-half. Only he used to call it "Basil and the fi-leash" because he was just learning to talk. He loved story and the book: the foldouts were fascinating.

Ah, I thought. A shorter story, and hardly any voices to do! But Munchkin had other plans. Since this story "got over so quickly," he decided he wanted to hear it twice. Um, okay, that wouldn't be too bad, I thought. I like the story, too, so I narrated it again. The kid doubled over with laughter at each attempt of Basil, the cat, to get rid of the fleas in his fur. I like it when he laughs. I sleep a lot better when he goes to sleep happy as opposed to when he has to be forced to close his eyes with a variety of threats.

I should have hidden the book the next morning. I didn't. And now, I'm haunted by the tale of Basil and the fleas. (Yes, he can say 'fleas' now. I miss the 'fi-leash' bit, though.) For the past 10 days, we've had nothing but Basil, the dog next door and the fleas. Heck, I dreamt they were invading my home!

What is it about children's fascination for the endless loop? Munchkin will still eat only vanilla ice-cream happily (although he's otherwise a chocoholic), he still wants the same old 'red chicken' when we order Chinese food, is thrilled to bits when Cartoon Network and Pogo air re-runs of his favorite shows, and will draw and color the same thing for a month before trying out somethin new.

I don't know whether this is a pattern with only him or with other children as well. Inputs, anyone?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I want to tell you so much, my son

Earlier this month, Munchkin accidentally deleted a whole set of photos from the camera, and his Coats Eye photo was among those. (See post: Coats Eye Photo)

Last night, I was downloading all the pictures from the memory card and found another photo of his which shows his Coats Eye. It was a reminder that he has to visit the doctor in exactly a month's time to see if the exudates (leakages) have been absorbed. More importantly, I am praying that there will be no fresh leakage. After all, you can do only a limited number of cryotherapy procedures.

I have been interacting on various forums and was thrilled to discover that people have actually beaten Coats with a combination of laser and cryo procedures...even when diagnosed with the condition in both eyes. It fills me with hope.

There is so much I want to say to my little soldier, but I don't know if he will understand. Maybe one day, he can read this and know what I wanted to say.
I'm sorry, my little one, that I couldn't prevent this
... that I didn't know that such a condition existed or we might have discovered it sooner
... that you had to undergo two surgeries before the age of 6 and I couldn't prevent that either
... that you may never become a fighter pilot or an astronaut, like you keep saying you want to.
... that I cannot wish away the fact that you will have to get your eyes checked frequently for the rest of your life
... that I could not do more for you

And I hope that you will not hold my helplessness against me when you are old enough to understand all of this.

Caught off-guard: Munchkin's Coats Eye. 18 January 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Little "Bose" to lead the march on Sports Day

I heard my cellphone buzz at the office this afternoon. "Hello?" I whispered, wondering who the unfamiliar number belonged to.
"Are you .....'s mother?" enquired a voice steeped in military authority.
"Yes, Ma'am," I replied and stood up automatically. Like it was the most natural thing in the world.
"This is the Kindergarten co-ordinator from your son's school," she introduced herself.
I knew the woman well, and now, having heard her on the phone, it became clear how she managed a few hundred boisterous kids without losing her sanity. I stood up, remember?
"We have chosen your son to lead the marching parade for the Kindergarten sports meet on Saturday." Oh wow, I thought. But there was more to come. "You need to hire a Subhash Chandra Bose costume for him from Sujay Stores in Shrinagar tomorrow afternoon after school. Do you know where it is?"
"Um, no..."
"Well, first you need to go to..." she rattled off the directions and finished by telling me I had to pack one set of the school uniform because my son was also taking part in the relay as well.

Ah yes, the relay. He had declared earlier in the week that he was glad he was in the relay and not in the Cinderella race. "What's that?" I asked him.
"You have to run to your 'girl partner' and help her put on a shoe and then hold hands and run to the finish line. Yuck!"
"Which part is yuck?" I asked again.
"Who wants to hold a girl's shoe? And the girls take sooooo long to put it on. So even if the boys run fast, we may not win."
Hmmm...right. "It's about winning together," I said.
"It's a race, Mamma. It's winning. And we win together in the relay too," he declared with a confidence that amazed me.

He had a point. Reminded me of the time when he wanted to shave his head to look like an authentic Mahatma Gandhi at the fancy dress competition and baldly asked me: "What's regret?"

All the best, kiddo.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We have new teeth - a whole new row, actually!

I should have written about this almost a month back. Munchkin's best friend -- 8 year old -- had belatedly lost his first tooth and got a bonanza from the tooth fairy. That's when I decided to check if any of my own little brat's teeth had begun to get loose. And surprise, surprise: his two lower front teeth were loose. I lost track of the development when he fell ill - as did the rest of the family.

The day he went to school after that, my mother asked me if I'd seen his new teeth. New teeth? What new teeth? His front teeth are just beginning to get loose, I said. She gave me an old-fashioned look and summoned the brat to come over and open his mouth wide. And sure enough, around 2mm behind his lower front teeth, serrated edge of a wide tooth had just broken the surface of his gums. And boy was it wide! It's almost the size of both is front teeth. I had visions of him looking like Roger Rabbit or Bugs Bunny in a couple of months!

Two weeks later, I inspected the teeth again, and this time, there was a second tooth struggling to emerge. Only this one was at an angle to its partner. That meant crooked lower front teeth. Like my husband's. This time, I had visions of the zeroes on the bill when we'd have to get him braces to even out the dental drama.

I still can't figure out why the new teeth are emerging 2mm behind the front row. I have to keep checking whether he's brushed his teeth properly because he effectively has two rows of teeth, one behind the other. Weird...But hey, this is a weird kid: he never crawled when he should have. His leg would get stuck under his tummy and he'd call for assistance to get himself disentangled.

Plus, he learnt to walk on his own - without any support - when he was 10.5 months old. And even then he couldn't stand up on his own to begin walking. That's when he started to crawl: because he could get to a wall and use the support to stand himself up and then walk. A couple of months later, he managed to stand up on his own one day, while building a tower of stacking blocks. And promptly looked around to see if his achievement had been noted. It had...Mommy was crying and laughing at the same time. Satisfied, he plonked the final block on the top of the tower and fell back on his bottom with a thud and beamed!

Now, excuse me while I go start the tooth fairy fund. We live in inflationary times, you know.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Where did my happy baby go?

Look at my last few posts and you'll realize that things are going downhill with Munchkin. Putting him to sleep at night and then getting him ready in the morning saps me of all my energy. This morning, things got really bad. I was so wound up that I threw up afterwards. Actually, getting him to do anything is a problem. The sleeping and get-ready-for-school routines are particularly bad because they involve multiple steps and a time limit.

He cries - nay, hooowwwwlllls - about everything. Nudge him a little to get off the sofa and brush his teeth and he explodes into: "Why did you push me? Does anybody push a little child like that? You hurt me! Waaaah....." followed by "You made me cry again! You make me cry all the time." And this is with real tears streaming down his cheeks - most of the time anyway!

From getting out of bed, brushing his teeth, drinking his milk, having a shower and eating his breakfast, every step is like climbing Mount Everest - without oxygen. In the night, it's worse. Here is a kid who gets more than enough physical exercise in the evenings - playing in the park, riding his bicycle, running around, etc. He yawns and yawns but he won't close his eyes. How on earth am I supposed to get him to do that?

We're all terrified the excess crying will hurt his Coats eye. The condition is unpredictable to begin with and we have no idea what can make it worse (apart from the whole altitude fluctuation thing.) It doesn't stop me from being strict with him but it wears me out to get every little job done with threats/bribes/endless cajoling.

I've thought of a hundred ways to improve the situation and made no progress with a single one. Must keep on trying, of course. But it is getting more and more difficult by the day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When the baby is a brat!

Notice I haven't posted anything in a couple of days? For one, I got hit by the worst migraine in my life last week. Then the offspring decided he really didn't want to sleep at night any more. Oh yes, and in case he did fall asleep, he didn't want to wake up in the morning. At least not when I woke him up to pack him off to school. DH and I were walking around like zombies by the time Sunday rolled around. (Partially explains why we're not having more kids, doesn't it?)

Early on Monday morning, DH flew off on a business trip and Munchkin decided to see if Mommy would spank him if he really drove her up the wall, round the bend and over the edge. He discovered that yes, Mommy would duly spank him, especially if there was an attempted head butt involved of Mommy's hip. (You ruin the parts now, kid, and you'll have to pay for the replacement when I'm old, doddering, and possibly broke! How's that for a threat?)

Anyway, I was a zombie again by 8 pm and despite playing with him and reading him a story and cuddling with him just the way he likes it, he wouldn't sleep...not even by 11 pm. At around 11.30, after being woken up for the zillionth time to be asked some deep question about the time-space continuum (or was it "why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?") I lost it. I truly did. More spanking, howling, crying (hey, I was shedding tears, too!) we finally managed to sleep.

This morning, I told him to drink his milk and went to shower. A repairman was due any second. When I came out, I found the brat fiddling with his remote controlled car. The milk was untouched, it was nearly 8.20 (his school bus arrives at 8.40) and when I took the car away, he thought I had done something unpardonable.

To make things worse, his school sweater is missing. (This is a BIG deal.) It's not in Mum's house and it's not in ours and DH maintains the last he saw it was in the brat's school bag. Anyway, Mum was upset I hadn't found it, I was upset because I thought Mum was making a big deal about it. (It was a warm day and I planned to search for it again in the evening.) Anyway, Mum is still upset because this equals not getting a grip over home and hearth. (I'm out of the house for at least 10 hours a day and a not-very-good housekeeper.) And I am still very un-Mommy-ish in the old-fashioned sense. (Blame it on my sunsign: I'm an Aquarius! Apparently, we don't exactly take to motherhood like a fish takes to water.)

So that's the week that was. Here's to more interesting times...

Image from Freerangestock

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Thank you, Mamma

No, this is not Munchkin. That's me, saying thank you to my mother for all that she's done for me, for Munchkin. I guess everybody feels the same way about their mother, but I know that my life would be worth a lot less if my mother wasn't a part of it. She has helped me through the worst times of my life even when she was fighting battles of her own. Her courage, endurance, and patience are awe-inspiring. If I can ever become half the person she is, life would have been worth living.

(Remember, Munchkin, your grandmother played a vital role in gifting you the values that make you a good person.)

This is for you, Mum.

Artist: Jamie O'Neal, Track: Somebody's Hero

Friday, February 8, 2008

Flashback: We're pregnant

Munchkin has been giving me a really tough time lately. He cries for every little thing he's told to do and seems to be evolving into a loudmouth! It's driving me nuts. As I stood over him watching him finish his homework in seriously slow motion (he had to write out seventy-one to eighty, in words) I was irritated, frustrated and exhausted.

And then, out of the blue, I remembered the moment I discovered I was pregnant with him.

I was a few days overdue and decided to check if I was indeed pregnant. I was working a day shift that week at the newspaper. On the way home, I bought a DIY testing kit, but simply couldn't get myself to do the test. I was feeling all mixed up. I wanted a baby (DH wasn't so keen, but he wasn't against it either) but we'd just moved into a new house and my career was going great guns despite the fact that we worked really long hours. DH was on a late shift that day at his online media job. Finally, at around 1 am, I took the test. It was the longest five minutes of my life! And it turned out positive! I tried to sleep - DH was going to get home only around 3 am - but I couldn't. When he came home, I bounded out of bed and blurted out the news. "We're pregnant!" he exclaimed and gave me a big hug.

I honestly can't remember what happened next. Except that the next day, I got a "proper" test done at a hospital near my office. They promised to give me the results the same afternoon, but when I got there, I was told the result was still being "typed out." Aaargh! The receptionist saw the look of disappointment on my face and offered to help. She took me to a small cubicle in the back and opened a register. She started to search for my name but then told me to go ahead and look for myself. I must have turned at least five or six pages before I finally spotted my name and then slowly and carefully ran my finger to the last column where a scrawl said: Positive. I beamed! The clerk gave me an assuring smile and asked me to wait outside. Within a few minutes, I was handed an envelope with a sheet of paper that said the same thing.

We were going to have a baby! :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Munchkin's world of knock-knock jokes

A little while back, Munchkin discovered knock-knock jokes. He was amazed by the fact that just about anything coud be turned into a knock-knock joke. Every night, before or after his bed time story, he wanted a knock-knock joke. And then two, three, four...He just couldn't have enough of them. To begin with, I remembered only a few, so I had to improvise. Here's one I dreamed up when I was half asleep and fully exhausted.
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
'Mamma' who?
'Mamma who'? You've forgotten your mother already?!

He then went around improvising on that with everyone he could find, sometimes using his own name (with friends) and sometimes using the names of other people who knew each other. Here are another few of my inventions made in a sleep-deprived moment. (Due apologies if you've heard this before or if it's the oldest knock-knock joke ever.)
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Boo hoo.
'Boo hoo' who?
Now what are you crying for?

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Hoot, hoot.
'Hoot, hoot' who?
Stop doing that. Are you a boy or an owl?

PS: If you're reading this and have your own favorite knock-knock joke, do add it to the comments. It'll save me some frantic searching on the Internet (coz he still demands a new knock-knock joke out of the blue and leaves me stumped) and you will have my heartfelt thanks. :-)

Photograph by Petr Kratochvil from PublicDomainPictures

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A pain in the head, literally!

I haven't posted anything in a few days, mainly because I've just emerged from the worst migraine attack I've ever suffered. I had it in college, but never to the point of nausea and feeling like I was about to collapse. Now, this blog is supposed to be my son's so why am I taking up precious space? Well, for starters, it's the little tyke who's partially responsible for this. (Yes dear, you can make me feel guilty about writing this when you're a teenager, but I'm still writing it.)

Ever since he recovered from his illness, he's been ultra-cranky. It's always that way with kids. But this time - probably because his father and I were also sick, and because he's bigger now - we haven't been able to tackle him just as efficiently. Every morning is a dreadful sequence of his father waking him up, him asking for me, me dropping all the kitchen work to get him out of bed (See earlier post: You Wake Me Up So Nicely) and then it gets worse. He refuses to brush his teeth or drink his milk and throws a major tantrum when it's time for his bath. The "reasons" for this slo-mo activity range from "I hate school," and "You never let me watch any TV," to "Why are you always irritating me so much?"

And while I somehow manage to get him to the schoolbus on time, I've been reaching my office pretty late. I hate being late, but that's a different story.

It's the same story in the night: to change his clothes, to wash up, to eat dinner, to sleep. "You don't like me. You want me to be unhappy," he raves. Duh, did I miss a generation? Is 6 the new 13? Mum says it's all part of the recovery: we've seen his behavior deteriorate after an illness before returning to normal. But this time, it's taken a major toll on my health. The migraines stem from being too sleep deprived for too long. I hope to rectify matters when DH takes off on a week-long official trip next Monday. Somehow, it's always been easier to bring him back on track when there's only one parent around. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Childhood Scenes 9-12

Click here for Childhood Scenes 1-8

1. 'Where were you? They left me alone!'

It was early in the morning. Mum - my son's favorite person in the world - was out for a walk. I was in the bathroom and my father was at the computer, I think. Suddenly, Poppet (around 3 months old) woke up and started wailing because nobody was in the room with him. It took me five minutes to get to him, during which time he howled his lungs out. My father reached the room the same time as I did. He'd thought I was with him, so he took his time. Anyway, we managed to calm him down with some cuddling and a feed. Twenty minutes later, Mum returned and scooped him up for their morning 'conversations.' And what do you think the little tyke did? He started complaining to her. It was mainly some wailing (his heart wasn't in it) but the tone of complaint was unmistakable. His grannie had to mollycoddle him, scold his mother and only then was he satisfied enough to start cooing again.

2. Bummer!
Munchkin was around 8 months old when my parents were preparing to move into a new house. Mum and I had a suitcase open on the floor, trying to cram it full. It was the kind that has to be filled on both sides. The little fellow was dangerously leaning over from the bed so I plonked him down on the floor. Within a few minutes, he had maneuvered himself into the suitcase and wiggled around to settled down. The next thing you know, he's bobbing up and down like a cork in water, and making whimpering noises. Mum picked him up immediately. Turns out he'd settled onto the metal loop provided in the suitcase to hold neckties in place and it was poking his bottom!

3. Have escort, will travel
This is again around the time my parents were moving. All the kitchen stuff had been packed so we'd ordered lunch from a take-out place. Poppet was in my arms when the delivery guy arrived. As I rummaged for the cash, the man held out his arms invitingly and Poppet jumped right to him. I gave him the money and held out my arms to get Poppet back. And the little brat put on his naughty smile and turned his head, gesturing to the delivery man to take him out of the building! The poor fellow had no idea what to do. I was stunned for a bit, too. In the end, we all trooped down to the main gate (Poppet still in the delivery guy's arms) and I went out and gestured to my son that I planned to go out, while the delivery guy was still inside. Thank God he was only 8 months old. Any older and he wouldn't have fallen for the trick, I'm sure. So he willingly came to me and the delivery guy was free to leave.

4. Genie in the lamp?
Okay, he was less than 3 months old when he fell in love with a small chandelier hanging in the middle of my parents' living room. He would lie on the sofa and stare in fascination at the contraption - nothing fancy, just a plain old lamp kind of thing which we rarely lit. In a week, the little fellow began hooting at it in different tones, and with different expressions, like he was having a conversation with the lamp. My father lit it one day to see how he reacted. Poppet's face fell and he turned away. His grandpa put off the light and Poppet's face lit up. The hooting began in right earnest, too! To this day, we wonder what was so friendly about the lamp. Answers, anyone?

Coats Eye Photo

Around 10 days back, Munchkin and I were fooling around with the camera and one of the pictures I took shows his Coats condition: the tiger eye. The yellow area is really small compared to some of the other photos we've seen on the Internet, but it was a sad and heart-rending confirmation of his condition.

All we can do is pray. I recently read at a Coats forum that there are people out there for whom a combination of laser and cryopexy has worked and their condition has been stable for years. I pray for such healing, too. The other doctor (to whom we'd gone for just a regular eye check to see if my son needed glasses) scared us so much that I'm afraid to go back there. (See 'More Confusion') His next appointment with the retina specialist is in March. I am fervently praying for some more good news.

Something tells me he may need a round of laser to get rid of the existing leakage (exudates) but please let it not be cryo. Cryo is destructive and scarring, although it does play a major role in stopping the leakage.

Whoever reads this, please pray for my son. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Childhood Scenes - 1-8

I've just decided to document some memory flashes from Munchkin's childhood. Scenes that I think are worth remembering. Times when I wished I had a camera to capture the moment. Since I couldn't get a picture, I guess descriptions will have to do instead.

I - 'You look pretty, Mommy'
I kid you not. It was April 2002, which meant that Poppet's head hadn't steadied yet. We'd been invited to a baby shower and it was the first time that I'd dressed up after having my son. He was asleep when we left the house, waking up 10 minutes after we'd started. In the car, as I played with him on the back seat, his eyes widened in curiosity as he looked at every inch of my face. Slowly, he smiled. He seemed to like what he saw and gurgled his appreciation the rest of the way.

II - 'She's here!'
He's always been very attached to my mother. This happened when he was a little over 4 months old. Mum had just finished all her post-lunch work in the kitchen and hurried into his room to give him a quick hug. She lay down on the bed and hoisted him over her. The brat beamed and exclaimed what sounded like: Aayeehai. In Hindi, that transaltes into: She's come! Mum and I both burst into laughter and the brat beamed some more.

III - 'You have no idea what I've been through'
We were at the hospital for his vaccinations. Most children cried when the needle pricked their soft thighs and the nurses took advantage of their howling to put the polio drops into their mouths. The bitter taste made them howl some more. This time, Poppet howled when he was given his shot. But as soon as the nurse put the drops into his mouth, he stopped crying and smacked his lips instead. I brought him outside, where Mum was waiting and he promptly started to 'cry' again - wailing to complain about his recent ordeal. He wrangled a few hugs and kisses and plenty of baby talk from Mum on the way down to the car park where my father was waiting. As soon as he saw his grandpa, he started the whole wailing-complaining bit all over again until he'd had his fill of attention and affection.

IV - Windy Ride
We went out for lunch and the only way to get there was to use an autorickshaw since the car wasn't available. We'd put a hooded blanket on Popppet and I held him close to me. It was his first windy ride and he opened his eyes to look out. The wind was too much, prompting him to squeeze his eyes shut at once and bury his face in my neck. Five seconds later, he dared to check out the view again, and was once again forced to shut his eyes because of the strong wind. But he refused to give up. I tried to put him between my Mum and I but he wriggled and yowled his way to the windy side, only to be forced to close his eyes again. He kept it up until we reached the restaurant and then fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.

V - 'Am I being stood up?'
We were getting ready to go out somewhere and were in a rush to leave. Poppet was all dressed up and looking forward to getting out of the house. Mum scooped him up in her arms and walked out of the room. Suddenly, she remembered something she needed to take, came back into the room and plonked Poppet on the bed. He looked up at her with the utmost misery - a look that clearly said: you put me down! why? Needless to say, he was promptly scooped up again and hugged and kissed even as he milked the situation for all it was worth, snuggling against her neck and coo-ing his way to even more affection.

VI - 'Drooly Kisses are the Best Medicine'
Mum had a really bad throat and the cough refused to go away. I've rarely seen her so upset. One afternoon, she sat him down on the table in front of her and said: "Poppet, do something. Grandma has a really bad throat. It hurts so much."
The next instant, Poppet put his little hands on her cheeks and gave her a kiss on her nose and then a few all over her face, all the time with an I'm-so-worried-about-you look. Mum was pretty taken aback but loved the affection he showered on her, drool and all.

VII - Clap, clap, clap...with my feet!
Mum was teaching Poppet to clap his hands. He tried a few times but couldn't co-ordinate very well. After a few minutes, he threw his head back and lay down on the bed. The next minute, he had raised his legs in the air and started to clap with his feet. As Mum turned to look, he gurgled and shot her a mischievous smile. A couple of months later, we took him to visit his great grandmother and she would request the feet-clapping performance three times a day. Like the good great-grandson he is, Poppet obliged every time.

VIII - Bouncy, Bouncy Toes
If you held Poppet under his armpits and if his feet touched any surface, he would start bouncing on his toes and could keep it up forever. Hey, I have a video of this somewhere. Must dig it out. We also had this little song for him: How does the tree dance? Like this, like this (he would sway from side to side) How does the baby dance? Like this, like this, like this (he would start his toe-dancing routine.)

Yelling and Screaming, Again

Munchkin went back to school today, all dressed up and ready to give out his belated birthday chocolates. At around 2 pm, I phoned Mum to find out how he was doing and I could hear some happy screaming in the background. In case I haven't written this before, Munchkin has the habit of babbling nonsense when he's happy and contended. He'll add a tune to it and sing-song pure gibberish. Not a chance of finding a familiar word - and this is with five languages in the family!!

Anyway, so there was this background score and Mum pointedly asked me: "You're asking me how he is? Just listen."

And I did. The loud babbling continued and paused only to yell: "Don't talk to Mamma, come and play with me."

Which means he's fine and maybe he won't be so clingy again. The edge of my face and my neck is full of pimples because Munchkin's been playing play-doh with the area. I have a glam do to attend in less than 4 weeks and much as I love my kid, I'd like not to look like a pimply teenager at the annual office event.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Time flies when you have a fever

Sunday, 20th Jan, 2008: I thought Munchkin had a slight temperature. But since he was still his hyperactive self, there wasn't much I could do. Later that evening, Mum came down with a mild case of food poisoning (weird, since she hadn't eaten anything that hadn't been cooked at home). So Munchkin and I spent the night with her. By midnight, he was burning up.

Monday, 21st Jan, 2008: (incidentally, also my 34th birthday) Mum was weak. Munchkin still had a fever so I took him to the doc. That evening, his fever climbed to 104.4F despite the medication. And he hates sponging. The last time his temperature crossed 103, I'd panicked and taken him to the hospital. That was around his 4th birthday. All they did there was start him on antibiotics and do some more sponging. This time, he finally agreed to the sponging around 11 pm. He was so sleepy and I wanted to kick myself. Here was a kid who I've spent half a lifetime putting to sleep. Now that he wanted to sleep, I had sponge him! Hated myself.

Tuesday, 22nd Jan, 2008: All of Poppet's appetite was gone. And he had an upset tummy with the loosies. The doc put it down to medication and I started him on some pro-biotic meds. The fever kept coming and going throughout the day, although it was better in the evening. In the afternoon, I was giddy and feverish. Seemed to have caught the viral fever from the kid. Sigh.

Wednesday, 23rd Jan, 2008: Mum has the viral flu thing, too. So does DH. He went to the doc who confirmed the diagnosis and put him on antibiotics. Poppet was much better today. So we all thought he could have a decent enough birthday after all. As it is, we had to pull him out of the Republic Day celebrations in the apartment complex because he simply couldn't go for practice.

Thursday, 24th Jan, 2008: Munchkin's sixth birthday. He coughed all night and the fever was back. And he was very weak. So we saw the doctor again, and this time, he started the antibiotics. This didn't help his upset stomach but at least the fever stayed away. He was cross with me for not taking him to buy his gifts. Thank God he had his Criss Cross Crash set this morning. He was so tired out, though, that all he could do was smile at the sight of the big box.

Friday, 25th Jan, 2008: The brat and DH were better but Mum and I seemed worse. For me, shuttling between DH and Poppet, there was simply no time to visit a doctor. Poppet's tummy pain still won't go away. :-( He was also very, very cranky. I lost my cool twice and Mum was pretty irritated with me for that, but seriously, I was at the end of my tether.

Saturday, 26th Jan, 2008: Munchkin was very weak and still very cranky. Got scolded by Mum and DH too. He missed the flag hoisting in the complex but enjoyed the RD parade on TV. In the evening, he howled because we were missing the program downstairs. "All my friends are enjoying themselves and I can't go," he wailed. DH enticed him to watch Superman Returns on HBO. Then he watched a bit of a Hindi film on my laptop and the evening went off well enough. He said he wanted to sleep at Mum's again and that led to all kinds of chaos....

Sunday, 27th Jan, 2008: Munchkin is better, DH is better, I'm better, Mum's not. The day went past in a daze as I coped wtih mounds of laundry, bland food for everyone, DH's mood swings, Poppet's crankiness and my own exhaustion!

Monday, 28th Jan, 2008: The brat was supposed to go to school today but his tummy ache was back after the loosies refused to go away. Finally took Mum to the doctor because her throat was getting worse. I was just about falling to pieces, too. In the afternoon, I grabbed a quick nap. Munchkin came to play "play-doh" with my cheeks again but fell asleep next to me. On his own! I can't remember the last time that happened. Anyway, in the afternoon, I took him to Landmark - the much belated birthday-gift trip - and he bought himself a basket full of toys with the money he got from his dad and from my father.

Tuesday, 29th Jan, 2008: He couldn't go to school today either - more tummy cramps - and was in tears that he wouldn't be able to distribute chocolates to his friends for another day. The antibiotics end today (or is it early tomorrow) so I do hope his tummy is okay by then. He's sick of eating the same old bland stuff. I'm sick of feeding it to him. He's lost a lot of weight although his appetite is back despite the antibiotics.

Get well soon, kid.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Munchkin is Miserable

If Munchkin is miserable, that's a problem for me.

My dear husband (DH) went back to work a little while ago after spending 13 months at home writing a novel. And when he comes back, he grabs a bite and heads straight for the computer. (One of these days I need to post about the fact that I'm an Orkut/GTalk widow!) Now, although the little fellow is busy playing with his friends until it's almost dinner time, he's taken to announcing that he wants to have dinner at my mum's place. Which we found weird at first but the little rascal is quite attached to her. And given his Coats condition, we don't want him to bawl for no reason. So he's been packing up his dinner and heading down, sometimes making quite a fuss about coming back upstairs to sleep.

Worse, his class teacher at school is not coming back this year. A few months back, she had a severe back problem and has had spinal surgery. Poppet's class got several substitutes until the new teacher settled in. He doesn't seem to like her very much. So he's been moaning in the mornings saying he doesn't want to go to school.

But this morning, he was positively miserable. Virtually in tears. Last night, he got a major scolding and spanking from his father for making a huge fuss about going to sleep and how many stories he could get before bed-time. Earlier in the evening, he had cried his eyes out saying he wanted pizza for dinner because we hadn't ordered in for a long time. (This is true, it's been a few months, I think. And his father took up his cause. So the two of them had pizza.) At any rate, the little fellow was quite petrified at the end of it all and I had a tough time calming him down. Then I told him a story and made sure he smiled before he went to sleep.

Now, I've scolded him plenty of times before when he wouldn't sleep on time. Past 11 pm is much too late for a four-year-old and yet, he would simply not sleep before then. His sleeping pattern has caused huge fights between my husband and I. None of it is Munchkin's fault, his father self-confessedly needs food on time, peace and quiet, and 8 hours or more of sleep and goes ballistic if there's any noise in the house when he is in his "I-need---" mode.

Anyway, this morning he got ready after the usual whining but when I was putting him into the van, his eyes were brimming over. I promised him we'd take pictures tonight - he loves the new camera - and that seemed to cheer him up a bit. Nevertheless, he stuck his arm out of the window of the van as it was driving away and yowled: "Bye, Mamma!"

I have a feeling he's feeling neglected. I've never pampered him much. But the thing is, he senses that things have changed around the house now that his dad has returned to full time work. And 13 months is a long time in the life of a six-year-old. For my part, I've made sure I have no chores to do once I'm home except laying the table and heating the food. It was a conscious decision to be able to free up time so I could do whatever he wanted me to do. But I think he misses the stuff he and his father did together. It wasn't all that much, but still, he's just a kid.

I hope to remedy the situation as soon as I can. I did raise the issue - in a roundabout kind of way - with DH, but he put it down to the changes in school. Before she left, his original teacher - whom Munchkin had quite a soft spot for - had told me that he felt unchallenged in class, bored even because he seems to know so much more than the other children. So one solution is to move him to a better school. Tomorrow, we'll know the results of an entrance test he took last Saturday. He didn't know several of the spellings they asked for but did everything else fine, including the addition and coloring. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. There is one other very good school but seats are subject to vacancies - so we'll know about that only in March or even later.

Also, this other school is quite expensive. Since I am sure that I will quit my job at the drop of a hat should my son want me at home, DH may have to support us all for a while. I reminded him of this - important, because what he really wants to do is sit at home and write novels and make a living from that. He says he'll aim for a better position somewhere in a couple of years. I can live with that. At least he's open to the idea.

In the meantime, I need Poppet to be a happy little boy again. His sixth birthday is just around the corner and he deserves to be really, really happy after the tough year he's had.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Camera Confessions!

I finally bought a digital camera earlier this month and have been clicking away. So why aren't any of those pictures up on the blog yet?

Confession#1: There's some software I have to load onto the computer and I haven't found time to do that. I keep forgetting (I can just hear my son saying: "Bad Mommy....what's your Blackberry for?")

Confession#2: I keep forgetting to borrow a card reader from my friend (which is one way to upload the pics without the whole load-the-software hassle).

Confession#3: I want to put up all the wonderful pictures we've taken of my son over the years but I'm still wary of putting up his photos on the Internet for fear of God-knows-what might happen to them. (Feel free to tell me why my fear is unfounded and I'll have a slideshow up in 7 days - that's a promise!)

Confession#4: I've always thought of myself as possessing some semblance of a talent for photography. I love random images and I'm wondering if I'll make a complete fool of myself for putting those up here.

So here it is in black and white. My resolution to put up some pictures on this blog in 7 days' time.

Image of the Kodak M853 from the Kodak website

When I turned into a prude!

I wrote this in July 2002, but never bothered to spruce it up to send somewhere to get it published. Some of the stuff may seem outdated - Britney Spears, for instance, has come a long way from her virgin-till-I'm-married days. Anyway, now that I have a blog, I thought this piece to be 'out there.' It's a little bit of history. (grin!)

My son is just 5 months old and I have turned into a prude. I don't know whether it's a permanent thing or whether it's a phase that every new mother (or parent) goes through. Of late, the kid has been showing a whole lot of interest in newspapers and magazines. Put one in front of my little laptop and if you keep turning the pages regularly, he'll stay mesmerized for 20 minutes even. But every time I come to a page that features a "bold" ad -- by which I mean lots of skin-showing or suggestive lines (shudder!! Did I actually use the word "bold") or a graphic representing India's options in an all-out war with Pakistan, or the photo of a most-wanted terrorist, I find I'm cringing inwardly and find myself quickly skipping those pages and settling for showing the baby some "nice" display featuring colourful, attractive but "innocent" stuff.

It never used to be like that. I'd been seeing these very ads get bolder (Oof! There's that four-letter word again!) over the years. And they didn't seem that bold (Grrr…. where's a thesaurus when you need one). Sure, there used to be a big hoo-haa every once in a while when some ad crossed the line, so to speak, and steamy pictures and suggestive lines popped up in between boring TV programmes or even more boring political analyses. They were a topic of animated conversation to find out which side of the fence you were on, or in more intimate circles, an excuse to drool over the models' fabulous abs and vital statistics. Good for a few giggles, that's all.

Yet all of a sudden, it feels like there are simply far too many of these skinny, big things splashed all over the place. And there's this fish market inside my head going: Makers of innerwear and condoms justified in featuring semi-nude models. Semi-nude? Hah, there's hardly anything left to the imagination. Wait a sec, isn't that something my grandmother once said? Or maybe my Mum? Uh-huh. This is me I'm hearing. And I have a couple of years to go before I touch 30! Besides, it's not just innerwear, it's the (un)veiled ads for cigarettes, alcohol, shoes, colas and art paper. Even ads for clothes feature more of the model than the garment. Eeeeks!! I can't believe I just said that. Plus all that on-screen smooching and sexual innuendo on for-all-the-family sitcoms, not just the Dharma and Greg variety.

Then there's the violence. Till a few months ago, shows like NYPD Blue were good timepass and even Schwarzzenegger films didn't seem outrageously violent. The fictional guns and car chases and explosions were just a part of the action. Even real-life events, like the Columbine high school massacre, were a tragic news story I had to decide how best to position on the foreign page of the daily I worked for. Sad and scary till the "issue died down" and the stories stopped coming in. Now, it all seems very real and too invasive for comfort.

Since I refused to put my rising anxiety levels down to post-natal hormone changes (as advised by kindly neighbourhood ‘auntie’) I decided to an insta-poll outside the family. It's natural, said a friend with a degree in psychology but now selling insurance.

"You're afraid of all the stuff you have to protect your child from while he's growing up. Sex and violence in the media is something our parents worried about too. We watched cops and robbers on TV, we turned out okay. And when everyone grows up with it, everyone's cool with it." Is that so, I countered. So why does the Western media still mention Britney Spears' lack of clothing and her celibate-till-wedded vow in every little tidbit featuring her? The psycho shrugs. "Look on the bright side," she assures me. "At least we don't have topless models on the metro supplements and tabloids."

Not yet, I thought, remembering a colleague who was at his wits' end wondering what to tell his three-year-old son asking him why the "didis" on the cover of a daily's city supplement weren’t wearing proper clothes. "Chill out," the psycho ordered, "The discussion about the birds and the bees and the facts of life in specific are far away. He'll know how to cope." I'm sure he will. But what about me?

"Well, you should have thought about all that before you decided to have a kid," declared another, more forthright friend who admits the prospect of global warming and WWIII round the corner is a serious obstacle in way to becoming a Mum. "You've got to be kidding," I tell her. "While you're at it, you might as well worry about AIDS and cancer and pollution and water wars and the ozone layer and…." Gulp. I stopped to listen to myself and my anxiety levels went up some more.

Calm down, I told the voices in my head. Tried doing some breathing exercises, failed, and came up gasping for air, only to open my eyes and find my mother looking at me in a rather amused fashion. She knew what had been bothering me.

"Your friend is right. You have other, more challenging things to worry about before you get to the birds and the bees and questions of how much skin is okay," she said.

"Like what?"

"Toilet training."

I had to ask. Sigh. Thank God life happens one day at a time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Finding Nemo! Every night....?

Finding Nemo was the first full-length animated feature in English that my son sat through. He was around 5 years old then and we watched it on TV. The movie was then shown on the kiddie channels dozens of times and the little fellow loved to watch it over and over again! After a while, it stopped being shown so often. A few months later, in some crazy my-son-likes-this-story-moment, I bought him the full comic book. (Um, apparently, they call it a 'junior graphic novel' these days. Thank God for the 'junior' or else I'd have felt like a perv!)

He wasn't overly enthusiastic about the book and for a couple of months, it joined a pile from where he randomly pulled out books each night for me to read to him. Then one day, he fished out Finding Nemo but took his to his father to read to him. Hmm...good enough, at least he's shown some interest.

A couple of days later, he came to me with the book and I told him "the story," complete with explanations that would make sense to him. The next night, he wanted me to read him Finding Nemo again! So I changed my narration a bit and kept the little rascal happy. I also hid the book the next morning. But Nemo was duly found and waved in front of my nose that night. Sigh! I was too sleepy to tell him a story so I thought of a way out. I just read out the whole book - if he'd understood the movie, he could follow the book. I did all the different voices - which he loved - and this gave me the opportunity to skip through certain portions. (As a working mom, I do not have the energy to read every printed dialog.) Big mistake. He absolutely loved the voices. Declared that his favorite part was where the starfish in the dentist's aquarium announces: "Good morning everyone. The sun is shining. The tank is clean....The tank is clean!!"

He made me do that part over at least 5 times, doubling up with laughter every time I said it. That was a sight for sore eyes...but my eyes were very sore indeed and I desperately needed some shuteye!

The next night, I told him to get his father to tell the story instead. I mean, how many times in a row can you do the voices or tell the same story without wanting to throw the book out the window? His unsuspecting father cuddled him up and started to tell him the story in a we've-never-heard-this-one-before manner. Complete with explanations. They were still on the first page when the little fellow announced to his dear Dad that his narration was BORING! You can imagine what happened next. The brat got a minor scolding and was more or less kicked out of the bedroom for saying that "Mommy does it better, with all the voices."

So I put him back on his bed and started on the voices. Somewhere between the trench that Marlin and Dory were supposed to swim through and not "over," and the sea turtle ride to the EAC, I fell asleep mid-sentence. "Mamma, wake up! Do the sea turtle's 'dude' voice," commanded the offspring. I felt older than the sea turtle but I managed to finish the book, falling asleep once in Sydney Harbor and once when Darla was shaking the bag. I reckon I got a minute each time because he woke me up saying, "The commercial breaks don't last longer than this!" Talk about media influence!

The next morning, I wanted to burn the book. But that's just not done so I wearily went through the whole routine again. This time, I had to do only three re-runs of "the tank is clean!" because he fell asleep right after that, halfway through a peal of laughter, with a grin on his face. He looks like an angel when he's sleeping, especially when he's just dozed off. I kissed him goodnight and turned off the lights. Sweet dreams, munchkin.

Finding Nemo Image © Pixar Animation Studios

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bad ankle, Bad drivers, Good son!

Okay, the movie was good. (Taare Zameen Par - see previous post) I cried a bit and my son cried a bit more. The kid in the lead role was fantastic. The movie theater wasn't all that great. The incline was so shallow that neither I nor my son could see without maneuvering our heads around a bit. Fifteen minutes into the movie, I put him on my lap to give him a better view. The fact that I had an aisle seat helped.

On the way out, he ran ahead with his friends and I was trying to make sure I didn't lose sight of him in the crowd. On the last step out of the hall, someone hurried past, knocking me sideways. I twisted my ankle on the edge of the step and fell down. Thankfully, a few people helped me get up. I tried to get my bearnings and find my son. He was playing with his friends and one of the mothers was supervising them. Another had taken her son to the rest room while the other had gone out to pick up her daughter, whom her parents were dropping off.

I limped across and told my son I'd fallen down. "Oh," he said, but went off to play with A, his best friend. Outside, the parking arrangements were crazy: cars and bikes seemed to be coming from everywhere. I had a tough time keeping my son within grabbing distance. And all he was bothered about, was being with A. Now, A is more than 2 years older than him and that much more boisterous. They ran off to a corner and I couldn't follow. When we finally managed to get all kids in one place, my son was still trying to get away to go stand with his friend. That's when I gave him a hard slap on his rear. He started to bawl, but my priorities were clear: keep him with me and get out to the road without letting go of his arm.

We didn't get an autorickshaw so we had to cross the road to the other side. That was painful! We finally got one to agree but he drove like a maniac, threatening to offload us half way home when we told him to go slow. There were three kids on board, but he blandly said that was none of his concern! My son was a brat throughout the journey home, while my ankle continued to throb painfully. After getting home, too, all he was worried about was drinking his milk so he could go out and play with A.

Later, I suspect my mother knocked some sense into him because when he came back home after a short visit to her place (my parents live in the same apartment building) because he said he would do anything I told him to and I could rest. (Aw...that was nice.) And he did do all kinds of little things that saved me a couple of painful rounds around the house.

This morning, he listened to me a little more than he normally does. Which is to say we all got ready on time despite my limping around. I put him in his school van as usual. Ten seconds later, the van stopped, a window slid open and the little fellow's head appeared. "Aren't you taking the car today?" he asked, frowning. "I am," I replied. "Then where is it? You won't have to take an auto, will you?"

That's when I realized that our driver hadn't brought the car around like he usually did. My husband probably hadn't locked up and come down yet. "It'll come. Don't worry, baby," I told him. "Okay," he relented, smiled, and closed the window. The van sped off.

I couldn't help smiling to myself. He'd asked his van driver to stop so he could make sure I wouldn't have to walk out to the main road to take an autorickshaw to work because I was limping. And he knows how tough it is to get one during the morning rush hour. It was his way of showing his concern. Thank you for caring, Poppet! :-)