Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Your true self!

We all have a basic nature that truly defines us, that genuinely shapes our personality and that we cannot escape from, no matter how hard we try. There are times when for various reasons, we disguise our real selves and try to be someone we are not. Initially, it may work but pretense doesn’t just endure for long. The sooner we accept who we are, the better it is for us and the people around us. I’ve noticed that people who are most comfortable in their skins are the ones who are most confident and contented in life. 

Today I read a well known book that conveys this message in its own way. Of course, most parents would have probably read this already! Anyway, better late than never! The book is “Leonardo, the Terrible Monster” by one of our favorite authors Mo Willems.  Looking at the title, I wondered if this was an ideal book to be read at bedtime as I didn't want Abhay to wake up in the middle of night, thanks to my monster book. But then I thought, how can a Mo Willems book not bring a smile to my little one’s face and I was right, Abhay was all smiles when he kissed me good night! This is a story of Leonardo, the monster who sucked at his job of scaring people. He was almost a laughing stock in the monster community. He wasn’t as huge, or ferocious or even weird looking like the other monsters. So he decided to find someone timid looking and scare the life out of him to reclaim his status as a monster! So he found a little boy named Sam on whom he tried to spring some of his scariest acts when the boy began to cry. At last, Leonardo felt victorious until the boy set the record straight. It turned out that the boy wept for all the wrong reasons – he had a long list of little boy woes that made him sob, and Leonardo’s scary face was not even one of them. So Leonardo finally makes a life altering decision – instead of being a terrible monster, he becomes a wonderful friend to Sam. Im not sure if the message actually sunk in, but if you happen to read this in the future, just remember Abhay - Don’t try to be something you are not, it’s not worth it. Be true to who you are and you’ll enjoy life more!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Boss is here!

Once you become a parent, in some ways you lose control over many things associated with your day-to day life. For instance, everything from what time you wake up to how well you sleep at night, what is being cooked at home, what is being watched on the television, what music is being played on your car stereo, how you spend your weekends, where you plan your vacations, what books you read and what’s on your shopping cart, etc   – your little one pretty much controls everything in life and everyone at home! It’s surprising to find how quickly the power equations shift at home, when the new boss takes over! 

Today, I read the book titled “The Boss Baby” by Maria Frazee. When the new baby arrives home, it becomes clear from the first moment as to who is the boss at home! The boss baby makes his mom and dad work round the clock with no time off! He sets up his office right in the middle of the house and creates a fit when he does not get what he wants. He makes unreasonable demands and does not care if it’s in the middle of the night. One day, when he calls for a meeting with his 'subordinates', he does not elicit any response. Annoyed, the boss decides to do take matters into his own hands; He gets out of the box and takes a first step towards his mom and dad who are ecstatic over this new development! For the first time since his arrival, the boss baby seems to be pleased with the way things have turned out. But make no mistake  – he is still the boss! Abhay liked the illustrations of the corporate styled boss baby dressed in a black suit but missed the underlying humor that may appeal more to adults than to kids….who are the actual bosses of our lives!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bedtime for Mommy!

If there’s one thing you miss the most about your pre-motherhood phase, or crave the most as a new mom and can’t seem to get enough of it post parenthood, it is a good night’s SLEEP! It all begins with nocturnal nights when your baby has got the concept of night and day completely mixed up; or an alarm that goes off every 2 to3 hours without a snooze option, or feeling utterly helpless in the dead of the night when your little one is at her playful best making you wonder if you’ll ever get to sleep through the night! Of course, you cant help resenting the fact that the world around you (read husband) gets to sleep soundly completely oblivious to your little one’s nightly adventures! Even after your baby grows up, your hectic parenting demands make you just as sleep deprived. To this day, I feel I cannot nap whenever I want and only when my baby sleeps, can I sleep like a baby!:-)
Speaking of sleep deprivation, just imagine if the tables turn and your little one puts you to sleep instead! You wish, right? Today’s book was just that – “Bedtime for Mommy” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Its bedtime and its mommy who’s begging for five more minutes before her little daughter pushes her up the stairs to take a bath, brush her teeth and climb onto the bed. After reading a bedtime book with her mommy, the little girl tucks her mommy in bed and kisses her goodnight. When she’s about to shut the door close, her mommy jumps up asking for a glass of water! With mommy finally in bed, its one down and one more to go – the little girl now turns her attention to Daddy and you cannot but be charmed by this pleasant reversal of roles!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Play Date Planner

Early childhood friendships are most perplexing in as much as they alternate between their highest peak and lowest ebb in a matter of seconds leaving you all confused and bemused at the same time. Abhay had a playdate with one of his best friends today and it was super entertaining to watch the two preschoolers play, pretend, fight and make up all in the same breath. For those unaware, a playdate is a pre-planned meeting arranged mostly by moms for their kids to get together and play for a few hours while they exchange parenting tips. A playdate typically involves a discovery tour of all the toys at home, a mini parade of all the ride-on toys, an occasional tug-of war for a toy that is totally ignored otherwise, constant nagging over the virtue of sharing, wistful reminders of how kids grow up so quickly, pure, unstructured and unadultrated fun and lots and lots of cookies!:-) Thanks Supraja for having us over.

So today I read the story of " Ribbit Rabbit' by Candace Ryan and illustrated by Mike Lowery for Abhay and his friend during their playdate. Frog and Bunny are best friends who play together, swim together, snack together and pretend to fight monsters together. Despite their friendship, they have their differences too. At times, they are seen fighting over little things like the key to the toy robot and at times big things like the toy robot itself and at other times, both big and little things. As the best friends remain at war, they both soon feel lonely in absence of each other's company. So they decide to bury the hatchet and work out a way to share the toy and play together like best friends should! An excellent guide book for your little one's next playdate!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Always listen to your.........!

While I was browsing through the picture books section of the library, I couldn’t help but pick up a book with an amusing title. It’s something I’ve always tried to rebel against, as a young girl; As a wife, something I’ve often accused my husband of doing; and as mother, something I’ve tried to get my son to do, of course guilty of double standards! :-) Can you guess what the title is?

Today I read a book titled “Always listen to your mother” by Florence Parry Heide and Roxanne Heide Pierce and illustrated by Kyle M Stone. Cliched as it sounds, I thought there’s no harm in reading this to my son.  This is a story of Ernest, a good little boy who always listens to his mother and does what his mother tells him to do – goes to bed on time, picks up his toys, eats all his vegetables, never whines or talks back and is ever ready to help out his mother who believes it takes a lot of work to make a house a home! When a  new boy  moves into the neighborhood, Ernest meets him and learns that his name is Vlapid. Ernest goes over to his house and discovers that Vlapid too is a boy who always listens to his mother. Though Vlapid  obediently follows his mother's instructions, they seem a little different from Ernest's. Vlapid ‘s mom expects her son to do everything Ernest is forbidden from doing- wreck the kitchen, spill the milk, swing from the chandelier, write on walls,  all of which Vlapid ‘s mom encourages both the boys to do, in order to turn their house a home. When Ernest returns home, his mother asks him about the new boy in the neighborhood. Ernest reassures his mother that Vlapid is also the kind of a boy who always listens to his mother. Pleased with this, she encourages her son  to  hang out with his new friend and so begins a friendship between two boys who always listen to their mothers!

Abhay didn’t quite get the irony in this story, but I was happy to drive home the point – to always listen to his mom! Suppressing a smile, my husband joked “Let’s see how long he’ll get to do that”!! :-) In fact,  I don’t think he ever plans to, as when I asked him to repeat the message in the book, my little brat said with a mischievous look on his face  “Always listen to your grandparents” !!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Of late, Abhay’s favorite word has been “almost”. "Abhay, have you finished your food? -‘Almost’; "Are you done with your coloring?-Almost"; "Did you get dressed yet?-Almost", "Are you done with your potty?-Almost" ( as embarrassing as it sounds , this is really true!)

Of course, he is not the only one to use that deceptive term! For me, it’s a convenient way to let him know that he’s not there yet. For instance, as many kids in his class celebrate their fifth birthday, Abhay wonders when his turn is. "September is almost here" I say(Seriously, is it?)

How long do I have to wait before I rip open the packet of biscuits we just put on our cart? Im almost done shopping, we'll get to the check out counter soon" I say (When I have the whole list of things to buy)

Have we reached the children’s museum?- "We’re almost there" I say (even though there’s half an hour more to go)

How long do we have to stay here at the Doctor’s clinic?- We’re almost done", I say (When there is still one more shot left!). No wonder he feels ‘almost’ cheated to spring the same on me!:-)

So today I tried to unravel the real meaning by reading “Almost” by Richard Torrey. This is a story of Jack who’s almost six and almost a grown up! Jack almost fits into his big brother’s football jersey and almost rides a big bike; Almost but not quite the best player in his baseball team; We see Jack shivering in his pants spotting his dog’s shadow when he says he’s almost never scared at night; Jack claims to almost never cry as he is seen wailing like a baby after a skateboarding accident. So as his mommy nurses his injured knee, Jack is thankful about being ‘almost’ and not yet a grown-up! Abhay smiles at the picture on the last page – as he is almost always ready for a hug from mommy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ready to read?

Life comes full circle and the same can be said about reading to your kids. In the US, one is encouraged to begin reading to one’s kids from as early as their infancy. Each stage of childhood is characterized by a certain type of book – books made of cloth and vinyl for newborns to chew on; touch and feel books as they grow up; lift-the-flap books as they turn one ; board books for toddlers with single liners that rhyme; As your toddler turns two and then three, you start looking at the picture books section of the library or the book store. With the increase in the attention span of your little one, you then progress from books with more pictures and less prose to books with more prose and less pictures. Then, your baby is all of sudden a pre-schooler taking baby steps towards reading. So your interest shifts to early readers or brand new reader books that have simple rhyming one- liners easy enough to encourage the budding readers. Don’t be surprised if you feel its déjà vu except it’s not you but your little one reading those one liners! Boy...they grow up so fast!!

Today I helped Abhay read a nice little book titled “Ducks Go Vroom” a Ready-to Read Step 1 series, by Jane Kohuth and illustrated by Viviana Garofoli. This book appeals to kids on two ends of the spectrum – babies/ toddlers as well as early readers. Three lively ducks go vroom and zoom to their aunt’s place where they quack and yak, slurp and burp, crunch and munch and later groan and moan with their stomachs full which only lets up when they scrub and sweep all the mess they’ve made which in turn makes them yawn and finally sleep! With four to five words on each page, not too difficult for the early readers and at the same time challenging enough to make them feel a sense of accomplishment of having read all by themselves. Abhay did make it to the last page with my assistance, but for him it seemed more like work than play! Welcome to the world, my little one!