Thursday, June 30, 2016

School days...those golden rule days!!!!

The month of June signals the start of a new academic year in most parts of India.  New academic year brings with it new friends, rivals, teachers and challenges (not necessarily in the same order!). As my nine year old steps into grade five, I can’t believe that he is already into middle school (or is it considered middle school from the sixth grade…I’m confused!)! With school work, home work/studies, assessment and grading system getting tougher with each passing year….it’s time  to pull up one’s socks and get serious……and mind you….it’s not just the child but also his or her parents who now need to be all the more involved in school work and studies. Plus there’s always growing up pangs with each phase of growing up throwing up new issues and quirks to handle and deal with……there’s never a moment in parenting, now… there?? J

Going to fifth grade also means transition into tween years and the way time flies …what do you know…within a year or two, he’ll be stepping into the dreaded adolescence! J Anyway…we always pick a book for the start of the new academic year and this time we’ve been reading two books  and both are connected through our current favourite author, Ruskin Bond…..of course! The first  “Whistling School boy and other stories of school life” written by Ruskin Bond which I have just featured in my previous post and another “The Puffin Book of classic school stories”, a compilation edited by Ruskin Bond. Isn’t it such a treat not only to be reading your favourite author but reading the favourite stories of your favourite author!?? 

This compilation comprises of excerpts from famous works from David Copperfield,   Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Jane Eyre that revolve around school adventures or misadventures of the protagonists, extracts from acclaimed school story classics like “Tom Brown’s School days” by Thomas Hughes and E.R.Braithwaite’s “To Sir with Love” to home grown school stories from R.K.Narayan’s immortal Swami and his friends and boarding school escapades of Rusty by Ruskin Bond. While most of the stories are set in the previous century, it’s amazing to see how these stories continue to appeal to the school goers today…a hundred years later. Still a work in progress in so far as our reading is concerned, these stories beautifully capture the various aspects of school life…friendships, resistance to authority, formation of secret clubs and societies, impressing fellow classmates and probably even teachers, rivalries and fights, examinations and competitions…..all those golden moments of care free school days! Though the language and narrative of some of the works may be a little challenging for a nine year old to read on his own, these time enduring school stories make for fantastic family story times…not just for a nine year old! Well….as Ruskin Bond mentions in his foreword that the purpose of this anthology is justified if any of these extracts make the reader pick up some of the classics from where they are taken…..these stories not only make you want to go back to reading those classics…but also in a way go back to school!! Have a great academic year ahead everyone!! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Letter to my father!

We find ourselves in an unenviable position of being caught in between two entirely different phases of growing up! Abhay’s near transition into tween years juxtaposed with our little one’s transition into toddlerhood makes for a trying test in parenting. While we do manage to sail through on some days…there are many occasions when we falter and fumble and that’s when the co-parental support assumes great importance. No matter how hands-on a parent you might be, it’s certainly tough to single-handedly manage everything on your own, without the support of your partner-in-crime! Today’s age and lifestyle has blurred the lines between what was typically considered a mother’s role or a father’s role, and the roles now seem interchangeable, depending upon time and convenience. The credit largely goes to the new generation dads who’ve stepped up and are not just actively involved but rather thoroughly enjoy their parenting responsibilities. Daddies are always special… matter how late they turn up from work ……they always get a giant grin from the kids….be it a one year old or a ten year old!

Well…parenting is a journey and no journey is fun without a companion! So father’s day or mother’s day is also about acknowledging the vital role played by our spouses  in this journey. So as we embark on this amazing experience together … we start out as rookies, gain experience along the way and then probably turn pro, especially the second time around! J

So over the father’s day weekend a couple of days ago, we revisited a passage that is a touching ode  to a father-son relationship beautifully expressed in the form of a letter in “Letter to my father”, being an excerpt from his recent compilation “Whistling Schoolboy and other stories of school life” by Ruskin Bond brought out by Red Turtle wing of Rupa publications. Considering that schools have begun in most parts of the country, this collection of stories revolving around school life makes for an ideal read this season. “Letter to my father” feels like a continuing monologue of a son recounting his everyday experiences, reflections and thoughts to his father. No one would have guessed that the father to whom the letter is addressed has been long gone as the letter is written in a conversational style that only goes to show the undying love between father and child. Written in first person as a young adult, Ruskin Bond fondly remembers the precious time he spent with his father as a nine year old, as if it were yesterday. Though this also brings back unpleasant memories of his father passing away and that he misses his father even though his father has been gone for over four decades …. ….the letter however does not strike a sorrowful note but is instead a celebration of the special bond that the Bonds share! J  With a breezy narrative that alternates between witty and wise, insightful musings that are quintessentially Ruskin Bond, this poignant tribute to his father is sure to bring a lump in your throat! For instance, he wonders what if he happens to meet his dad, would his dad look the same and further will he still be a small boy or an old man? Classic Ruskin Bond..isn't it??:-)
Belated wishes to all the daddies on Father’s day!! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hey....its a year!

I can’t believe it’s already a year since my little one was born! It feels like yesterday since I stepped out of the hospital with the little one in my arms wrapped in a  pink blanket, unsure of how I’ll be able to manage, now that I had officially become a proud (and nervous) mother of two! It only feels like yesterday that I had to relearn the baby 101 basics that I had unlearned over the past eight years. It was only yesterday when a dear friend had advised that if you survive the first year…you’ll be OK!  One year is up and although things are still a little topsy turvy at home….it feels much more settled,  with a set routine (that changes almost every day)  ….well ….as settled as it can be with a toddler, a nine year old  and a ninety nine year old at home!J

Though we weren’t keen on celebrating our little girl’s first birthday, it was her big brother who made a good case in point on why we shouldn’t think twice about celebrating our little one’s birthday when we made a gala event out of her brother’s first birthday! ( How selfishly generous!) So it was more for the older brother than for anyone else that we had a birthday party for his little sister! So it was all about the big brother in his little sister’s birthday party! And so it was mainly the big brother and his friends who enjoyed at the little sister’s birthday! What did the little sister do…she did everything but enjoy the party!:-)

On her first birthday, we picked out a book that has become  quite a  hit with her, off late. So much so that she follows it up with a “B” as soon as I show her the book! Frankly, this book was a random selection from Abhay’s library and I certainly did not intend on introducing ABC so early in her childhood. But this Tulika publication was the only one I could lay my hands on, on one cranky evening! “Hey That’s an A” by Jerry Pinto and illustrated by Sayan Mukerjee was a book that I originally picked out for Abhay but it turned out that Abhay was too old for it. Now that I pulled out the same for my little one, it turns out that she is too young for it!:-)

More than an alphabet book, this is a one-of-a-kind representation of the written word, packed with puns and tongue-in-cheek humour that is sure to entertain and appeal to every reader. We love the little references to funny names and terms that in a way mirror the baby pet names that we call out to our little one with. Though stated to be meant for children aged 3 +,  my little one jumps with joy as I read out these funny verses.  
 “Hey, that's  an A”… is a robust ABC book that not only offers a phonetic perspective to the alphabet but also explains the technique in writing the same, which hopefully will help us in the near future……and going by today's schooling standards…it is not too far away!:-) Happy Birthday…my little one…enjoy every little thing before things get serious! J