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.

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.