Thursday, May 28, 2015

Waiting... Soon to be over!

After years of dilemma we finally took a call leading up to the nine month wait that is all set to culminate soon! Now that the D –day is set…and the wait is over….we are finally here. Frankly…I don’t mind the wait as I know what to expect when it is over and not exactly looking forward to the initial drudgery!:-) Though it appears as if we are more prepared than we were with our first one…..there seem to be more butterflies in my tummy now than the first time around. More so, with my older one who is at a transitional age and is being over-sensitive to the fact that these are his last couple of days as the only child and things are going to change….for life! Well…..he is not happy that he won’t be around the new baby as soon as it is born or as much as he wants…as the hospital has strict policy against admitting children below the age of twelve. Abhay believes that as an older brother…it is his birth right to be the first one to hold the newborn and is all set to play with the newborn! I can’t blame him as  I too have already been thinking of all the books that we can revisit and relive my childhood once again …. So it’s probably time for two stories a day….??? J

As a final read before I take a break post the new arrival…..we read the very charming “Waiting for Gregory” by Kimberly Willis Holt and paintings by Gabi Swiatkowska. A young Iris is excited as she is soon going to have a cousin brother to be named Gregory. But when exactly is Gregory going to be born? Each person from her daddy to wise old Mr.Connor gives her a different answer. While her father’s rather cryptic answer “ Soon …but not too soon”,  her grandmother’s belief that it will be when the cabbage in the garden is large enough to make soup for everyone and her friend’s rather confidant declaration that Gregory will arrive when her aunt’s belly is as big as a Jack-O-lantern….all this leaves her confused until her mother assures her that everyone is a little bit right. But Iris cannot wait any longer …she wants to be able to show Gregory how to make a snow angel but the last snowfall melts…..she wants to show him how to swim, but summer vacation ends and swimming pool closes. Finally autumn arrives and so does Gregory. As they prepare to visit Gregory, Iris’s excitement knows no bounds and she can’t wait to teach him how to fish… build the biggest snowman, or show him how to roll down the hill… only to find that little Gregory may be bigger than a huge cabbage but he is still too tiny to do all the things she had planned. Though Iris is disappointed that she has to wait longer, she realizes there are a lot many things she can do ….like push him in a stroller, play peek-a-boo and sing him her favourite songs. Soon, but not too soon Gregory will be waiting for her. The story is aided by spectacular water colour illustrations that transport the reader to an Elizabethan like time frame which forms the backdrop to this delightful masterpiece.

So here we are waiting for our little Gregory (boy or girl) who may be too small to play with its older sibling or for all the books we want to read. But here’s to looking forward to revisiting for the second time …the first moments of joy …hopefully this time with double excitement as we’ll reliving those moments through the eyes of my elder one! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Will it be a baby brother??

As everyone is probably aware…………since fetal sex-determination is against the law in India….expectant parents will have to wait until the D-day arrives for them to find out if it’s a son or a daughter. Of course….even abroad …one may always choose not to find out and wish to keep it a surprise…but having lived in the US for couple of years sometime ago and having seen many of my friends go down this road, I can’t help but envy the mothers who are well aware of whether to pick out the blues or the pinks! J

Anyway, Abhay may have warmed up to the idea of being an older brother (Well….its about time..isnt it??),  however he continues to squirm at the oft repeated question “Do you want a brother or a sister?”  Though he has always had a definite answer to this question ….he has come to realize that whatever be his response ….there is always a follow-up question of “Why not the other?” which he is quite frankly tired of! Well….as it is he has had mixed feelings about being displaced from his current status of being “only kid” in the household … he is expected to justify why he wishes for a baby brother and not a sister?? Hmm….that’s too much! No wonder….his current response to “Do you want a brother or a sister?” …… the jaded “whatever!” J

While most of us are hoping for a girl this time as it will offer the best of both the worlds, there are times when I admit to preferring a boy over a girl simply because it will treading onto what I may call “known territory”!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have both our boys pile on the older one (my husband!) …instead of each parent being responsible for their own tribe?? J

Anyway, I couldn’t have found a book more similar to the situation at home and all thanks to a relative who yielded to our last minute request to have brought a couple of books over from the US.

As the cover explains it all ………“Will it be a baby brother” by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Beth Speigel is a nice little picture book that makes an ideal read for kids expecting a new arrival in their household. Young Edward is all set to be a big brother and his parents have already shortlisted names “James” if it’s a boy and “Sara” if it’s a girl!  But Edward is quite clear …any day he prefers James over Sarah. As his grandma prepares to knit a nice little sweater for the little one to come, and though they settle for a gender neutral yellow…he prefers blue! Edward is not to be persuaded into picking out something for a possible sister at his mother’s baby shower thrown by her friends.  When Edward is asked what if the baby turns out to be a sister…..then to everyone’s surprise Edward has a plan …to give the baby to his aunt Elizabeth! As months progress…..Edward feels even more strongly about wanting a boy and fills the baby’s crib with his dump truck, cowboy hat, baseball mitt! But as the day finally arrives ….Edward peers into the hospital crib ….only to find an adorable baby looking up at her big brother……and then he cant help but declare “There’s no way I’m going to give our baby to aunt Elizabeth!” As we’ve read this book many times over….I have been carefully observing Abhay’s reaction in the end…only to find out that he’s been doing the same with me…….  as he asks “Amma …… will the same thing happen to us?” After all this waiting's now my turn to say  ……….“whatever”!! J

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cricket fever!

A latest addition to the ever growing number of cricket aficionados is our eight yer old son Abhay! It all began with the start of the cricket season with ICC World Cup closely followed by the Indian Premiere League this year. As he was always surrounded by cricket fans ( who isn't in India?).. and his close cousins growing up to be budding cricketers themselves... this was always expected but the sudden interest this year has been a surprise or rather bemusing! So from watching every match of the season to checking the sports page of the newspaper every morning.....Abhay is totally into cricket! Of course, for his father and grandfather at's like the son/ grandson's coming of age and they can't hide their delight as the three generations of men discuss Hows and Whys of the Gentlemen's game! Yes... This also means that they have to be ready with answers to his never ending questions that range from "How old was Dhoni when we first won the World Cup in 1983?" to questions sounding like he is a team-owner "Next season ... We are going to take Bravo..... Right?" and finally to questions from a true transformer fan " If it's between Gayle and Devillers.... Who will beat whom?" Okay... so another area where boys will always be boys!! So that's why I'm badly hoping my second one to be a girl!!:-)) 

That's why when I found this book in the Hippocampus list of recommended reads for 7-9 year old kids,  I immediately picked it up! " Diary of a Cricket God" by Shamin Flint is a Puffin publication that revolves around a young boy named Marcus Atkinson whose father for some strange reason is convinced that he has a future in sports and is determined to make him a cricketer! Marcus who till recently only believed that cricket was a kind of bug and that a bat only implies a nocturnal animal... receives his first lesson in spin bowling leaving him totally perplexed as to how could one spin ( meaning turn around) and bowl at the same time! Amidst his hilarious and laugh-out-loud antics on the field, Marcus learns a thing or two about cricket...just when his coach announces that there is cricket test the next day. As he wonders whether to bring a pencil and paper for the test, the coach puts to rest his doubts by announcing that there's no way he is going to be playing, much to his relief ... only to realise that his dad is not happy with the coach's decision! So like any anxious and edgy parent who believes that whatever it is, his son should be given a chance... his dad talks to the coach into making him the 11th player! So does Marcus live up to his dad's expectations ? Read on as Marcus surprises everyone in the final over  in the run up to what could be termed as a nail-biting finish... with a little bit of help from his ever faithful friend his dog "spot"!:-) So does he have a future in cricket, after all? Hmm... The way he runs through the fielders...  has his father change his mind to believe that Rugby is probably his game!:-) A hilarious read presented in a format that is most suited to emergent readers complemented by funny illustrations is worth picking up before the end of the current cricket season! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Special day for mothers...!

Many wonder ….why do we celebrate Mother’s day?  Well….in a way every day is mother’s day….quite literally in the case of mothers of young kids as it’s tough to get by a single day without mommy around……isn’t it?? Taking a cue from a recent write-up in the Hindu, here’s acknowledging the role of fathers, especially the new age daddies who are not only hand-in-hand in parenting our little ones, but also without whom we wouldn’t be the mothers we want to be! But I feel the pressures of being a mother are a lot different from that of being a father……especially so when I am set to be a mother-to-be the second time around. Right from conception to birth and thereafter, our kids are an inextricable part of our lives in a way that fathers never are. I’ve borne my unborn child for the last eight months.......with an innate awareness that my every step or move will impact him or her in some way (even now wondering if the radiation from the laptop I’m working on will be too much for him or her) and not to mention that the same thoughts would be uppermost for many many years to come. While it is undeniably a moment to rejoice as our little bundle of joy arrives…….it is also unnerving and sometimes even terrifying. At the same time…. as mothers….we are not even allowed to have stray doubts or misgivings about what we’ve gotten ourselves into whereas the society is quite lenient with the dads in that respect. J While mother’s have to constantly battle with guilt whether they are working or stay-at-home moms….it is not even an issue with the fathers. When things go wrong….it’s the mothers who take the blame after which it is fathers’ turn. Even so…as per Indian laws, it is father who is the natural guardian of a child only to be followed by the mother! So in all….is it too much to have one day in year dedicated to mothers???

Anyway, I am at the final stage of my last trimester of my second pregnancy, off late I have been developing what one may call as cold feet over all that I am about to experience in the next few weeks! Yes…motherhood the second time around can be as scary as the first one! Anyhow, on the occasion of Mother’s day, we read “Cloud and Waves” a poem by the most celebrated poet of our country Rabindranath Tagore and art by Sunaina Coelho brought out by Katha publications. This is an endearing conversation between a mother and child wherein the child explains how she resists all kinds of temptations emanating from the clouds in the sky to the ocean waves to  stay back and play with her mother. For instance…as she finds the folks in the waves calling out to her to join IN for they shall sing from morning till night riding on the waves, she turns down the offer as she knows a better game than that ... and is seen saying “I will be the waves and you will be the strange shore….and I shall roll on an on and break upon your lap with laughter…” along with  the illustration beautifully depicting the little child rolling onto to her mother’s lap on their bed…just like waves rushing to shore. The poem is as much a celebration of a child’s imagination as a tribute to maternal bond with the underlying theme being  that for a little child …the mother is his or her universe! Well…it is also the other way around ..isn’t it?? Happy mother’s day to all the mommies and mommies-to-be! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Abhay .............finally takes the plunge??

Come summer and Abhay knows what to expect from his mom.....nothing better than to enrol him into swimming classes of course! For the last few years, swimming has been a mandatory summer time activity that almost always made its way on Onestoryaday! Every summer.....Abhay goes through first time jitters as he stands in line with other kids needing to be coaxed into entering  the pool and this year was no different! In fact he began worrying about it much before...during our two week vacation at my parents' farm house.....resulting in his doting grandmother pulling me up for being a pushy parent ( which I confess I am). This time however...the ordeal of having to watch him panic at the poolside didn't last too long his body seem to remember what his mind didn't! By the end of the first week...he had not only regained his confidence of staying afloat sans floaters but also didn't stop showing off his pool side exploits to everyone around! So after all.....a little push is needed to take the plunge..isn't it?? 

I found a perfect book to celebrate Abhay's first confident splash into the swimming pool.... “Radhika takes the Plunge” by Ken Spillman and illustrated by Anu Biswas is a chapter book brought out by Young Zubaan publications. The story revolves around Radhika who in her attempt to adjust to her new surroundings in Perth post their move from Delhi, is hell bent on learning/going swimming with her friend and her dad, if only her perpetually worrying mother would let her. Finally Radhika cannot believe her luck as her mother gives in, only to realize that swimming isn’t simple as she thought….as she feels jinxed by her mother’s warning her that she is nowhere close to a fish!  But amidst the peer pressure, pressure of fitting into a new environment, suffering through the ensuing embarrassment and dealing with an ever-nervous mom, read on as Radhika does learn a thing or two about coping with fear! With pictures by the high school student Anu Biswas that best illustrate the travails of a tween caught in the motions of carving out her own identity in a new place, and printed content in a running handwriting font ….this is an amusing story that most kids aged seven and above can relate to. So let your young reader take the plunge with Radhika this summer ...just like Abhay did!! :-)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Being Boys!!!!

First appeared on parentedge blog. 

Though as a generation, we have managed to challenge certain gender stereotypes, we have still not been able completely break free from the same. While as urban parents we have been a lot more encouraging towards our girls breaking into male bastions, have we been supportive of our boys in equal measure? Why! Haven't we ever poked fun at our boys as being girl-like for shedding a tear or two? Or haven't we ever goaded them into being "a man" and not a sissy? So as parents we do knowingly or unknowingly seek to perpetuate gender bias. In the same breadth, boys or men are often excused from violent or disorderly behaviour and certain sections of the society still seek to justify the archaic notion by seeking refuge under the age old saying that "Boys will be boys"! So what does it mean to be boys of this generation?

We have been enjoying  reading this recently released book that seeks to break the stereotypes about boys and their so called man’s world! "Being Boys " edited by Deepa Nayar and Radhika Menon brought out Tulika publications is one compilation that promises to be off the beaten path with contributors from various walks of life from famous authors and journalists to professors and social workers.  Though supposed to be for children aged ten plus, some of the works in the compilation make ideal read-aloud stories for children aged six and above, and many others serve as a guide for pre-teens and teens during their stressful phase of adolescence. This is a collection of coming of age stories, autobiographical anecdotes, essays, inspirational non fiction write-ups, poems, diary jottings, speech excerpts, etc featuring mainly young boys as protagonists from different backgrounds, different time periods, and grappling with different issues in life- issues of identity, poverty, ambition,courage, passion,  perseverance,  peer pressure, being bullied and being the bully, an understanding of fair and unfair, and a realization of what truly matters in life. What's unique about this compilation is that all the works touch upon the sensitive side of boyhood and seek to confront issues that most often get pushed under the carpet as being unmanly. Whether it's how to ward off jokes about his long hair as a young Sikh boy in "Rinku's hair " by Amandeep Sandhu, or Swami's fear of darkness unexpectedly making him a hero in R K Narayan's "Hero", or choosing the so called girlie interests or fitting into womanly roles in Ranjit Lal's "General Apron Strings" and Samar Harlankar's "Focke-Wulfs and Fish Curry" or the hilarious account of the pimple ridden        truths of growing up in Niveditha Subramaniam and Sowmya Rajendran's "Destroy, Boy", or a real life story of how an ace footballer tackled bullying in N Sudarshan's "Man-up- It's Football" or delving into the mind of a bully in Jerry Pinto's "Kerrrrah-tuck" or the story of transformation of Chandashoka (Ashoka the fierce) into Ashoka, the Beloved of Gods in Devika Cariapa's "The ugly boy" or Vikram Seth's riveting speech on the occasion of "Founder's day" addressing the boys of Doon school and many such stories throw light on what it truly means to be boys and what actually happens when boy meets world!