I Am OK…

Aayush has moved onto preschool. For the school, it is just transferring him to the class next door. For me, it is his first step to growing up. For him, a whole new batch of kids, bigger class and teachers that treat him more like an adult and less like a kid. He walked into the class this morning with me, his hand in mine, looked around the new surroundings and gulped twice. I bent down, intent on staying for a good while longer till he is comfortable in the new class.

“Aayush, I can stay for a while, if you like.”

He looked at me, gulped down hard to stop the lone tear in his right eye from falling amd said ina very low voice,

“You can go.”

Then, he smiled wobbly and said in a more firmer voice,

“I am OK..”

With that, he let go of my hand and walked over to one of the drawing boards. I stood there uncertainly and then slowly started backing away towards the door when he wouldn’t look back and seemed intent on drawing. He didn’t look back till he heard the door open and then gave a wide, real smile this time before waving me off.

I walked back to my car in a haze. This was the first time I got that feeling. He is growing up. There was a lump in my throat as I drove away, I did not feel that way even on the first day, I dropped him off at the daycare. He is becoming independent and much as I am proud of him, I am going to miss his clinging. The practical side of me is telling me that it is good thing and in good time,too. Anoushka has reached a age when she has started the clinging-to-mommy business right now. But, sometimes feelings have nothing to do with practicality.

There is a lump in my throat as I type this post. As I go to pick him up today, I gulp down the lump just as he had this morning. “I am OK..”, I say to myself just as he had to me this morning. There is Anoushka.

Hanuman!

We spent the weekend moving our stuff to our new apartment. In between the pain of doing so and lamenting the foolishness of hording hazaar stuff when basically living a nomadic life, we came across the DVD for Hanuman that we had picked last year in India. I bought it with the intention of watching it with Aayush and somehow never got around to doing it. The DVD made a reappearance during the upheaval of moving and seemed the best thing to do to cut through Aayush’s boredom. A boredom he was choosing to dispense by unpacking everything we were packing.

So, I put it on and Aayush, a dutiful son that he is, promptly started watching in rapt concentration, the one in which he doesn’t blink. Of course, I started sneaking a looksee with him and there it was. A large demon with a very ugly face, uprooting people , throwing them into the fire, crushing them under his feet, eating them. My first thought was that the DVD was too violent for Aayush. I mean, Aayush is too young to watch stuff like that, isn’t he? Close on it’s heels, was the observation that Aayush still wasn’t blinking. The second thought right behind first one was the fact that everyone in India grows up hearing/reading these stories. The good -evil business, more to the point dev-rakshas business of Hindu mythology is drummed into our brains right from childhood. There is always a big war before the evil is vanquished and Indra Dev can go back to being the King of Devs again only to almost loose the throne to another evil character, leaving the triumvate Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh to come up with another avataar. Yes, I was an avid Amar Chitra Katha reader. The point is that it never seemed violent to me before nor did I grow up with a violent streak.

I am realising how much you are influenced as a parent by your environment. If we were in Iraq/Afganisthan, the kid would actually have already seen much worse. If we were in Africa, I would be much more worried about where the next meal will come from. If we were in India, the thought would never have entered my mind. I shrugged off the thought, the packing duties and spent the next two hours watching the movie with Aayush. He spent the two hours thereafter trying to mimic Hanuman flying. The next time he watches it, he will rake around in his toy bin till he comes up with something that resembles Hanuman’s Gadha. The phrase, “Don’t you want to be a strong/brave boy?” has been replaced with “Don’t you want to be like Hanuman?” Right now, Hanuman is as cool as Elmo and I will gladly take it. More importantly, Hanuman is now a approachable figure as opposed to the figure on the altar. He is his friend.

Just for the moment, the God-fearing side of me is very happy to see him sit cross-legged on the floor,fold his hands in prayer by aligning them perfectly instead of just clasping them.

Apparently, it is much cooler when someone on TV does it than when I or S do it. Aaj kal ke bachche, I tell you.

Aayush-isms

Much as we prefer that the kids speak ‘konkani’ our mother tongue at home, we quite enjoy the American-isms they bring to the conversation.
Some of the recent additions to his vocabulary,

It’s Trash” not garbage, not dustbin
I made a Mess” Everything from cluttered toys, to food drippings on his clothes is a ‘mess’
Hi-Fi” after everything he does, whether going to the bathroom by himself, finishing his plate or pronouncing a new word. Every new accomplishment is followed by “I did it” complete with hands up in the air as if he has won the marathon and then “Hi-Fi”. Not giving a prompt ‘Hi-fi’ is akin to an insult of mammoth proportions, the kind that takes a good 40 minutes to make up for.
No Way” His school tells me that saying ‘no’ teaches negativity to the kids. A statement I heard at the recent Parent-Teacher Meeting, “We are working on how we do not say ‘No’”. The kids being the obedient little brats that they are, promptly settled on “No Way”. Of course, they way they say it “Nowayyy” makes it one word and so very different from just “No”…

This ‘modern method of raising kids’ by treating them as adults and not as kids’ is good in its own way. But where my kids are concerned, highly overrated.

A recent conversation,

Method 1 : Including them in ideas
“Aayush, are we gonna ‘clean up’ the toys and books before we go to sleep?”

“No Way”

Try Method 2 : ‘Golden’ words
“Aayush, Please put away your toys and books? “

“No Way”

Try method 3 : Gentle Reasoning
“We have to clean up everything, otherwise it’s a mess, isn’t it? Then, you won’t find the books you want tomorrow. Your friend will come and say, ‘Aayush’s room is messy’ Right? we don’t want that, do we? We are going to clean up, aren’t we? “

“No Way”

Try Method 4 : Reward System
“You will earn the merit sticker that you can show off at school tomorrow”

[thinking] “No Way”

Try Method 5 : My Mothers System
“pUra bitari kANu dAvari natle kAn tirpitA”
(Keep everything back or else I will twist your ears)

{Scrambling to help clean up}

Mom had it right.

Dava ki dua

“Finish you dinner, sweety”

{No response}

“Finsh your dinner, Aayush”

{No response}

“Fin-ish your Dinner, AA-yush”

{Awarded with bland look}

“Finish your dinner or else..”

{Bland look, again}

“Finish your dinner or else I will take you to doctor for more shots”

{huh! you are getting desperate , mom}

“Finsh your Dinner and I will put your favorite DVD on”

{I am not falling for that}

“Finish your dinner and I will read you as many books as you want”

{you are going to do that, anyway}

“If you finish your dinner, you can have the medicine that will stop your ear-ache”

empty plate in a few minutes..