Monday, January 31, 2011

Keep the faith!

It is said that faith makes things possible, not easy. Children sometimes have an immeasurable amount of faith that diminishes gradually as they grow up. One may call this - coming of age or turning realistic or cynical, but in fact it is simply losing faith - in either the system we live in or the people surrounding us or religion or at times even oneself. There is something pure and untouched about childhood faith that is both endearing and at the same time makes you feel melancholic.

So is the book that I read to Abhay today. Termed as the Granddaddy of picture books by Maurice Sendak, “The Carrot seed” by Ruth Krauss, is an emotional appeal to that childhood faith all of us once had and now probably see in our children and wonder where did it go? The picture of the young boy in the book reminded Abhay and me of Harold, the boy with a purple crayon. Sure enough, as Crockett Johnson who is the author of ‘Harold and the purple crayon’, is the illustrator of “The Carrot seed”. A young boy who has planted a carrot seed hopes to see it grow into a plant. However no one around him seems so optimistic - neither his parents nor his older brother who all repeatedly tell him that the plant wouldn’t come up. To his dismay, the seed showed no signs of sprouting into a plant. Hardly discouraged, the boy continues to pull out the weeds and water the ground. At last, one day, the boy’s relentless faith is rewarded as the plant comes up and yields the biggest carrot of all! A wonderful book to be read when your little one is down and low or feels discouraged, when you can say“ Keep the faith, buddy!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The world of wild things!

One of my biggest challenges at home every day is to get Abhay to the dinner table. Just when it’s mealtime, he manages to find a million other things to dig himself in and having dinner hardly seems interesting enough! I despise handing out any incentive ( like TV) other than food itself. I mean.....there are a million kids in the world deprived of basic food!! When I bring that up with my parents, his doting grandpa manages to find fault in the food that is offered to him! C'mon ...a picky eater like Abhay can hardly be an impartial judge of my cooking! Mealtime is in itself an ordeal and now I have to suffer through a prelude to this ordeal! As much as you try to be civil with him, the more he tests your patience! I’m desperately looking forward to a time when he runs up and asks me “Amma, what’s for dinner?”There are times when I’ve been so tempted let him go without food as long as he can, until he’s comes to dinner on his accord! But as made clear in my earlier posts, ‘letting go’ is not one my USPs!

When you let your son go without food, what transpires after he has been dismissed to his room is the subject of a classic called “Where the Wild Things are” by Maurice Sendak. Recently made into a movie, this is one of Abhay’s all time favorite books. One evening, Max, dressed in a wolf suit, cant help playing mischief one after another and is sent away to his room without dinner by his mom. Still in his ferocious self, his imagination transports him to a world of wild things – wild savage beings who roar their terrible roar and gnashed their terrible teeth and show their terrible claws! Max, no less wild himself tames them with his magic trick. Awe-struck by this little monster, they crown him as their king and call him most wild thing of all! Then the king of wild things, says his most famous words “Let the wild rumpus start”! As the wild jamboree is on, Max sends off the wild things to sleep which in turn makes him feel lonely. He suddenly smells the aroma of something good to eat that gets him all hungry and motivated to sail back to the good old real world only to find his supper waiting for him in his room…piping hot! So you may go where the wild things are, but home is where your heart is and mom’s cooking is where your taste is! What say you…Abhay?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Goodnight favorite!

Abhay drives a hard bargain when it comes to reading books during his bed-time or nap-time. He always manages to negotiate his way into having more than two books read to him before he goes off to sleep. Sometimes, there is even a ‘default’ book to be repeated everyday that is exclusive of the two main books chosen for the night’s story time! So if you agree to read him two books at bedtime, you are automatically bound to read the default book. There is simply no backing out once you realize you’ve actually been conned into reading three and not two books! What’s the big deal ….you may ask….it’s just another book!! Well, when its 8.30/ 9.00 PM in the evening and you face the prospect of some quiet and relaxed time to enjoy dinner watching something on TV besides ‘Thomas & Friends’ ….one more book seems like forever!!

Anyway, for as long as I can remember, Abhay’s default book was the classic “Goodnight Moon” by Margret Wise Brown and pictures by Clement Hurd. As the title suggests, it creates a perfect setting for bedtime and best suited for all ages from toddlers to early readers. You can almost feel the night descending on you with the book’s bright red and green illustrations beautifully interspersed with black and white, the repetitive rhyming verses and the subtle images of bedtime atmosphere. This is an ideal book to goad your little one into the wind-up mode. After reading this book, believe me, he is not the only one to let out a yawn! :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

To be or not to be - the Stereotype

I have never been overly bothered that my son is not into sports and games like other boys and instead into drawing and coloring. As long as he is enjoying himself, why should I care! Having said that, I do wish he’s more aggressive or athletic like other boys in his basketball class. My son does have a good time shooting the ball into the basket, but that’s about it!! His lackadaisical approach in each class is probably his own way of telling me “This is really not my thing!!” Of course, I don’t want be pushy….at the same, letting go is easier said than done!!

A wonderful classic dealing with the issue of not fitting into the stereotype is “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf and drawings by Robert Lawson. Even Sandra Bullock is shown reading this book to her kids in the movie “The Blindside”! A touching tale of a little bull named Ferdinand who’s different from the rest of the bulls in the farm. While the other little bulls are busy fighting and butting their heads against each other, Ferdinand spends all day under his favorite cork tree to smell the flowers. His mother worries that he may be lonesome, but soon finds out that he’s not being aloof but is simply happy doing what he’s doing. Being an understanding mother, she simply lets him choose his path to happiness. When he grows up, he is accidentally selected for a bull fight, a job to die for, in case of any ordinary bull. But Ferdinand couldn’t care less. On the day of the bull fight, as the crowds cheer and the Matadors fear at the sight of Ferdinand, what does he do? He runs to the middle of the ring and instead of sticking his fierce-looking horns out, he sits down to smell the flowers worn by the lovely ladies in the crowd! Predictably, he’s sent home which is a blessing in disguise as Ferdinand is now free to do what he loves to do! This book is more of a lesson for moms like me to become the understanding mothers we wish to be to our little Ferdinands!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Love at first sight!

Children often experience love at first sight! Its true…they fall in love the minute they set their eyes on a doll, a ball, a toy airplane or a toy truck. Like adults, they quickly fall out of love once they get their object of affection!:-) Unlike adults though, they live in the moment ….relentless in their desire for the toy, feigning complete memory loss of countless number of similar toys lying unwanted at home. Ready to do anything to get what they want, they turn a deaf ear to all logic and bribery! Sometimes, it seems as if the toy has cast some sort of a strange spell on your vulnerable child, who's unable to let go. It makes more sense after you read the Don Freeman classic called “Corduroy”! A must read for any kid who has a soft spot for soft toys and of course any kid who loves to dress up!

Corduroy, a cute little teddy bear dressed in green overalls sits on the toy shelf of a department store. He realizes he’s missing a button when a lady points out to her daughter who is hell-bent on taking the adorable teddy home. Not wanting to jeopardize his chances of a being purchased by an eager customer, Corduroy decides to look for his lost button after the store's closing hours. When trying to find the missing piece of his attire, he goes on a discovery tour of his grand store making a mountain out of an escalator, a palace out of the home furniture division and mistaking the mattress pins for his missing button. He finally gets a button sewed into his overalls, by the little girl who comes back to buy the teddy she fell in love with. Corduroy sets out on another quest in search of a pocket for his overalls in the sequel “A Pocket for Corduroy” by the same author. You cant help falling in love with this adorable teddy yourself!!

Don’t be surprised if your pre-schooler regresses into wanting to wear Overalls again… mine did!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Blueberry Mix-up!

Robert McCloskey is an award winning children’s book author and illustrator whose famous works include Make Way for Ducklings, Lentil, Time of Wonder and Blueberries for Sal. Of all these, my son’s favorite and I guess, for a long time will be “Blueberries for Sal” and believe me when I say….if you’ve haven’t read this book to your little one yet, you are definitely missing out on something!

It is an endearing story of a little girl named Sal who sets out to pick blueberries with her mother to have them canned ahead of the harsh winter. As they begin picking blueberries on one side of the hill, Sal cannot resist munching on them instead, much to the chagrin of her mother. Meanwhile, a mother-baby pair of bears climbs the other side of the hill intending to eat as many blueberries as they can, before hibernating for the winter. You cant help wondering who has the better deal – the one who is required to collect blueberries to be canned later or the one who is required to eat them right away, both preparing for winter in their own way. Its no surprise that Abhay chose the latter! The story then has a comic mix-up when both Sal and the bear-cub end up following each other’s mother instead of their own! Abhay was amused at this jolly confusion and found the pleasant suspense of the story engaging. He even wanted blueberries, not to eat but to fill them up in a tin pail just like Sal. A perfect story to cuddle up with your little cub this winter season!