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.

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