Friday, July 29, 2011

The Brand New Kid!

As a part of “Get Set for India” series, today I talked to Abhay about his new school in Bangalore and what to expect being a new kid in school. Well, Abhay is not exactly new to this new school situation as he has already changed three schools in his three years of schooling! It is the same with Abhay's father - with my father in law being transferred to a different place every three years, mu husband too is familiar with being the new kid on the block! If there’s anyone who’s never had the unenviable experience, it’s me! Though my father was on a transferable job, I stayed put in Bangalore along with my mother. The result being, from preschool to Class 10, I was in the same school with no change and no hope for change! :-)  Hey….there is no reason to complain, I have more number of school ‘friends’ on facebook than my husband! :-)

Anyway, today I read “Brand New Kid” by Katie Couric and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. Ellie and Carrie are excited to start the academic year and both wonder what’s in store for them. As their teacher begins taking the attendance roll, they soon realize that there is a new kid in class! The new kid has a funny face, accent and a real different name called Lazlo. Instead of making him comfortable in the new surroundings, he is made to feel lonely and unwelcome by the entire class. Feeling bad for Lazlo, Ellie offers to play with him after school and Lazlo is more than happy to invite her home to a game of checkerboard and soccer. When Ellie is pulled up by her classmates for being friends with the strange new kid, she tries to explain to them that even with a funny face and an equally funny accent, he is no different from them! Its not long before Lazlo graduates from being the new kid to just a regular kid in school! I just hope Abhay's fits into his new class sooner than Lazlo did!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hello Doctor!

With a few days left for our return to India, I had set up an appointment with Abhay’s pediatrician for a final follow up on his vaccinations and all other things that he is either sensitive to or intolerant towards. When he first came to the US, Abhay was as adaptable as any Indian can be, but three years later, he leaves the US as a quintessential American bred kid allergic to dust and grass pollen and lactose intolerant!  What a fuss….really! I only wish he soon recovers his Indian thick skin to handle the toughest of the tough back home in India!
Anyway, Abhay is always petrified of going to the doctor and believes he is the only one in the world subject to immunization shots. Sure enough this time he screamed his loudest when the nurse held his arm for a prick. His acrimonious protests made it virtually impossible for me to handle him all   by myself and I had to have husband come in for back up! So today when I had him read “Hello Doctor” by David F Marx and illustrated by Mark A Hicks, a Level A Rookie Reader, I realised that I should have got this book earlier and it would have made our doctor's visit a lot more peaceful!  On a routine check up, a little boy is all excited to see his doctor and does as he is told – opens his mouth to say “Ahhh”, blows hard as the doctor checks his lungs, bends down and kicks for the doctor to check his reflexes. But as the doctor gets ready to inject the immunization shots, he gets scared and wonders if he can go through with it. But before he feels a pinch, it’s over and he realizes another thing – that he has indeed been a brave boy! Hopefully, when Abhay sees his doctor the next time, instead of howling, he’ll say “Hello Doctor”!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting used to...blackouts!

With only three weeks left before we set foot in Bangalore, I’m trying to prepare Abhay for life in India and what to expect when we start living in Bangalore. For starters, he has absolutely no idea what a power cut is or what it means! Abhay is in for a rather unpleasant surprise when he has to miss his favorite TV program because there is no power or has to make do with candle light at night with a scheduled power cut being right on schedule! :-)

In order to give him a peek into some of his evenings in Bangalore, I read "Blackout" by John Rocco. It is a book that presents a romanticized view of what is an everyday nuisance in India. It is a normal summer night in the city – hot, noisy and everyone at home busy doing their own thing with no one having time to play the little girl’s board game. Then, all of a sudden, the light goes out and off goes everything else – the telephone, computer and the electric stove!  The city is dark and quiet and everyone at home is huddled around flashlights and candles. When it gets too hot inside, mom, dad and the two girls go to the rooftop only to find that everyone else is partying on their rooftops, under the star studded sky! When they hear noises from below, they go down to discover a party going on with children playing on the streets, neighbors perched on the steps playing guitar and ice cream being distributed for free! Finally, mom, dad and the girls sit down and enjoy an unexpected quiet family time, all thanks to a blackout! “Power cuts seem like fun” Abhay said! May be ….we’ve probably forgotten how fun they used to be …when we were kids!  To tell you the truth, more than kids like Abhay, it is we adults who need a refresher course about getting used to all those little inconveniences when living in a place that is after all our home sweet home!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Abhay's moving Van!

As the D day (moving day) draws near, we accomplished the formidable task of handing over our shipment to the shipping company over the weekend. So as of now, I can say that we have moved …partially!!! Our shipment comprises of 18 boxes with over 5 boxes full of Abhay’s toys!  I’m sure these toys have a way multiplying without us realizing it! In three years, Abhay’s toys have swelled from a boxful to a roomful and turned my four year old into a pat rack! Abhay wanted all of them to be shipped, with no exceptions - oversize or not, age appropriate or not – he dumped them all! With some shrewd negotiation on our part, we managed to pull out his infant/toddler toys from the boxes. After a lot of elbow greasing we successfully fit his oversize toys in an extra large box that wasn’t a part of the estimate at all! We’ll soon find out how much his inflexibility and our flexibility has cost us!  Even after all this, his room looks far from empty!:-) 

Abhay was all excited to see our boxes being picked up and moved to a FedEx truck to be taken to the port in California and was wondering how the move will go. So today I read “Big Dan’s Moving Dan” by Leslie McGuire and illustrated by Joe Mathieu. Big Dan drives a moving van that helps people move from their old house to a new house. On one such working day, he is seen helping the Moore family move from New York to California. Big Dan and his helpers pack all their belongings into boxes and load all their furniture into the van. Big Dan then gets on the highway and heads west. On the way to California, he stops at the weigh bridge to weigh his van only to find out that there is room for some more. His dispatcher then instructs him to pick up a package from an old couple in Ohio to drop it off at their granddaughter’s place in Illinois. From Illinois, he drives through five states in five days to reach California. When he arrives at the new house of the Moores’, are they glad to be reunited with their furniture and belongings! Big Dan unloads everything, bids them goodbye and sets off to help another family move from California to New York!  So yesterday Abhay’s belongings were picked up by a moving van like that of Big Dan to help him move to his new house across seven seas! See you soon – Abhay’s red bike!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Racing Abhay!

For Abhay, life is a race! I know this is not far from the truth but what’s the hurry in arriving at this realization? He has an entire life to worry about catching up and now is the time to take it a little easy! Well, don’t we know, we’ve been through it …right? Anyway, Abhay wants to compete with his best friend Suhas at everything, at all times and in every possible situation – whether together or alone in their houses, at drawing class, at the park, during a play date in a third person’s house – they are each other’s constant competitors! Even over telephone, the only thing I hear Abhay say is “I'm first and you are not”!  In fact, to tell you the truth, I may have played a part in turning my son into a competitive monster as I found his competitive spirit  to  work wonderfully at the dinner table ….. “I bet Suhas has already finished his lunch ….you are not even half way through!” Hey…I should have the right to jump on the bandwagon too! :-)

Shamelessly continuing to take advantage of his obsession with racing, I had him read “Race Around the worlda Disney Early Reader based on the movie Cars 2 by Susan Amerikaner. At least the story in the book is a lot simpler than the movie!  In a contest between race cars of the world held  in Japan, a race car from Italy stands out and finishes first. But Lightening McQueen is not happy and is determined to win the second race. In the second race held in Italy, when some race cars spin out of control, Lightening McQueen wins the race against his Italian competitor. The final race is in Radiator Springs and as all the cars line up, the race ends in a surprise tie and it is left to the reader to decide who the winner is. As Abhay finishes reading this early reader, he is quick to point out  Amma, Im the first one to finish this book …right…not Suhas”:-)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Imagine what I saw.....or could see!

 Today I picked out an old classic, a book I remember reading to Abhay long ago. (with kids literally growing each day….two years can feel like a long time!) Anyway, on browsing through my blog archives, I realized that I had almost committed sacrilege – over 160 posts featuring various picture books and not one by Dr. Seuss!! Frankly, Abhay has never been a great fan of books like One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish or Green Eggs and Ham or Fox in Socks and other Dr. Seuss books.  But what struck a chord with him was the first book by Dr. Seuss titled “And to Think That I saw it on Mulberry Street” and he seemed to like it even more now probably because of the easily relatable character called Marco, a boy who has a mind of his own….not surprising for me! 

On the way back from school, Marco remembers his father’s advice to keep his eyes and ears wide open for interesting things and sights on the street. In fact, he takes this advice a little too far. As he walks long Mulberry Street, he spots a wagon drawn by a horse and imagines this everyday sight turning into a marvelous spectacle so that he’ll have a story to tell…a story no one can beat!! So instead of a horse, he imagines a zebra pulling the wagon only to realize that a wagon is too commonplace for an exotic animal like a zebra  and it would be much more compelling to have the zebra pull a chariot instead…and so he goes on from a zebra and a chariot to a reindeer and a sleigh which according to him seems only too predictable. So he imagines the sleigh being drawn by an elephant with bejeweled Rajah perched on top! Suddenly he feels that the sleigh doesn’t match up to the elephant in its grandeur and the sleigh is transformed into a brass playing band along with a man on a trailer playing audience to the band;s performance! Now to assist the elephant pull the heavy load, he decides to have two giraffes act as helpers,  with the police clearing the road of traffic! It is only fair to have the city mayor inaugurate such a grand event with airplanes dumping confetti from the sky and so his imagination runs wild and as he runs home from school all along Mulberry Street. Finally when his father asks him what he saw, what does he say – “Nothing but a horse and a wagon on Mulberry Street”! Kids' imagination.....we parents just don't get it...right?:-)