Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grandpa's boy!

Odgen Nash says when grandparents walk in through the door, discipline flies out of the window. I'm not sure if my parents would concur, but I couldn’t agree more!! While we look up to our parents for support when it comes to child care, it is also true that we wish they exhibit the same no-nonsense attitude with their grand-kids as they did with us! Of course, there is something magical about seeing your parents transform into doting grandparents! But there are times you wonder if they’ve actually forgotten how it feels to be a peeved parent of a fussy five year old! This is especially true with my dad for whom Abhay, the apple of his eye, is always infallible and the follies are all ....well ...mine! For instance, if Abhay doesn’t eat, the problem is in the food served! If he yells, he is imitating me! If he falls, it is I who has been careless! :-) In fact, when it comes to vying for my dad’s attention, it almost feels like sibling rivalry with my son!! 

Almost all grandparents believe that their grand-kids are nothing short of perfection personified and Abhay’s grandpa no exception! So a couple of days ago I had him read “My grandson is a genius” by Giles Andreae illustrated by Sue Hellard. A story narrated by a proud grandpa who cannot stop bragging about his extraordinarily ordinary grandson. The grandfather claims that his two year old grandson is a little genius though he is seen pointing at a dog when shown picture of a cat! He extols the mechanical abilities of his grandson predicting his future as a scientist as the little one shoves a sandwich into the CD player! Watching  his grandson sprint towards the pigeons in the park, the grandfather is certain of his grandson's Olympic medal even as the two year old loses balance and lands a fall! Of course, he is not the only one who believes that his grandson’s face is meant for being displayed in advertisements! Lastly, the grandpa is seen gushing as he admits to being told that his grandson is after all, just like him!! So appa….the next time Abhay points a finger at me……I’ll say he is imitating you!:-)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Abhay's new bike!

Though we had lived in Portland for only three years, it was in Portland that my five year old spent most of his time till now. So as expected, it was in Portland he learnt to ride the bicycle…well …almost as he still requires training wheels!  Though we managed to ship most of his toys when we moved back to Bangalore, he only remembers the ones we left behind and his red bicycle is one of them! No ordinary bicycle, Abhay’s pride and joy was a Disney Cars bicycle. Of course, we found a worthy successor to the Disney bike – his friend Keshav, another Cars Aficionado!  

So for his birthday this year, when Abhay’s grandpa decided to gift him a bicycle, Abhay didn’t mince any words. He made it amply clear that he wanted no other than a Disney Cars bike and my father had to pay a pretty penny for it! Beware …brand loyalty starts very early!!:-) 

So with his new bike around, I read a book on the most famous monkey on wheels, Curious George.  Curious George rides a bike” by H.A Rey. To celebrate their third year anniversary, George’s friend, the man with a yellow hat, buys him a bicycle. Riding the bike near his house leads him to most amusing  adventures from delivering newspapers to floating paper boats down a river because of which he trips over a rock that damages his cycle. While trying to make do with one wheel, he meets the director of an animal show who straightens his wheel and allows to participate in the show. As usual, he squanders this opportunity due to his unrelenting mischief only to later redeem himself by helping the rescue of a lost bear with the help of his bike!! So…if you have a curious little monkey monkeying around with his bike …this book is for you and your monkey!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Abhay goes to the library!

When we left the US last month, if not anything else, one thing I felt most certain I would miss was the American public library system. I almost got emotional on my last visit to the Hillsboro public library as I looked at the two storied structure one last time wondering if I will ever find such an extensive collection of books, CDs and other resources both for me and for my five year old. Well, I'm glad to announce that I’ve almost found not one but plenty of such options in Bangalore ! In the past one month, I discovered many places exclusively catering to my favorite category – children’s books! One such library we enrolled Abhay into is the Hippo Campus located in Koramangala, a wonderful place for kids to read, reflect, listen to stories and participate in events. Another chain of libraries with branches across Bangalore and many other cities in India is Just Books, a facility that houses just books for the whole family. Of course, they are not free like the public libraries in the US …but like they say - there’s no such a thing like a free lunch...especially true in India.:-) 

Since we have resumed our weekly visits to the library, I read “Maisy goes to the Library” by Lucy Cousins. Maisy loves going to the library to read a nice little book in a quiet little place! So one day when she visits the library, she is in the mood for a book about a fish. She looks all around but cannot find what she wants. She decides to do others things one can do in the library – use the computer, listen to music, make copies of her favorite picture and gaze at the fish in the aquarium  and that’s exactly where she finds a book about fish! Just as she settles in a quiet corner to read the book, she meets her friends who Tallulah and Cyril who have come for story time! Maisy too decides to attend the story time conducted by the Ostrich. All of them  listen to the amusing story of an old lady who swallowed a fly …. and cant stop laughing even as they check out books and leave the library and so ends Maisy's fun filled day at the library! Thanks to the new age libraries of Bangalore - one reason less to miss Portland! Cheers to Namma Bengaluru!  

Monday, September 19, 2011

I love school but not its homework!

When I graduated in 2002, I was really glad to be done with school, exams, tests and assignments! Little did I realize that all of this would come back to haunt me again when my son starts school and that too in India! The funny thing is that I didn’t feel any pressure when he was schooling in the US. For most parents returning to India after a stint in the US or any other western country, this is a major concern!  The transition from a relatively carefree system to a more rigorous pattern of schooling can be hard not on the kids but on the parents!!! I mean seriously, when my five year old returns home from school with homework to do, it is my ‘to-do’ list that gets updated! When the day’s homework is cursory writing in English, it is I who get nightmares about connecting a and m! If there are no homework instructions in his diary, it is me who is  most thrilled!!!  To the teachers of TSA, C’mon guys…..go easy on me …. I’ve just begun school……I mean… my son has just begun school! :-)
More than Abhay it was I who needed the book “I love School” by Philomen Sturges and illustrated by Shari Halpern. A little boy exclaims that he loves school; he loves the bus that comes his way to take him where he’ll spend his day; He loves to play with building blocks and draw pictures of speeding trains; When its recess, He loves to play on the slides and the swings and run and kick the ball in the playground; With recess done, it’s time to get some serious work done – count numbers 123 and write letters ABC which gets them ready for lunch. Lunch is followed by story time made all the more interesting by their teacher whom he likes the best!! A good book to be read to your little one who is starting preschool but you may attach a caveat that hidden conditions (homework) may apply!:-)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

To be or not to be ...five!

Growing up is not easy and Abhay has had to learn this the hard way! Post his fifth birthday, Abhay has  come to realize that while he is entitled to many benefits, he is also ineligible to claim some of the privileges he once enjoyed as a three year old or a four year old! Ever since we moved back to India, Abhay has literally regressed back to his early years.  Gone are those days of “I can do it by myself” attitude! Instead, he needs help in every aspect his daily routine – eating, sleeping, getting ready for school, and ridiculously even for wearing his socks or shoes! Of course, the fact that he now lives with his doting  grandparents plus enjoys a 24/7 on-call support from his overly eager maternal grandparents has absolutely nothing to do with why my five year old finds it hard to act like ….well…..a five year old! 

When Abhay’s grandparents allow him a little more leeway than he deserves, I try to remind the grandfather-grandson duo that he is no longer the baby he used to be and is now five years old. So today I read “It’s Hard to be Five – Learning how to work my Control Panel” by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. A five year old boy laments the fact that he is no longer little and with a heavy heart bids goodbye to being one, two, three and four. In his considered opinion, it’s hard when to be five years old - his clothes no longer fit him, he is supposed to start school when all he wants to do is play, expected to walk everywhere when his little brother gets the stroller, he finds it impossible to sit still in class when his mind is racing with a thousand thoughts and is sick of hearing constant “Nos” and ‘Don’ts” from his mom, when instead he expects a ‘Yes” or a “Try it” even if it means aiming his ball at the juice box! In the same breadth, he realizes that being five means he is capable of building and growing things, knows when to walk and when to run, when to stop and when to go, when to push and when to tow. He can lie down alone in his big boy bed and dream of his past and his future ahead and whatever he does or messes up, it’s a start as he has a heart and a mind of his own! When I asked Abhay if it’s hard to be five? He didn’t reply immediately, in turn he answered this with a question “When will I be six, amma?” :-)