Monday, November 30, 2009

What's with the brag -fest?

I am often encountered by parents who ask me why my son is not in Kumon or Abacus or some such thing! I want to say "He is in school you know?" and sometimes do try to explain to them why! All parents want the best for their kids. And we know that the first few years of the child's life is when the brain grows the fastest. And this is why some parents think it is absolutely essential to make sure their kid is "2 grades ahead" like a friend said!
I must admit that the thought crossed my head too. My son was 3 and people all around me where teaching their kid new tricks while I was struggling to let my neighbor understand why I did not care if he did not color between the lines! Then it occured to me, that my son would probably be behind in the "rat race" as Sumana put it. Noon also talked about this in her blog post and brought back memories of this time. So I picked up the phone one day and called the Kumon center and almost went to look it up! Meanwhile I spoke to a few people and they told me Kumon was about repetitive learning.. now I have no clue if this is true or not or what they really teach at Kumon. But while I was researching all this, I got thinking. If my son's brain is developing so fast in these years then so is his personality right? Would I rather he be academically strong or be a more rounded individual? I never got around to the Kumon classes.
A friend asked me a year back when she was choosing a school for her kid what I would reccomend? I said "I would look for a place that has the most toys, that gives the kids the freedom to explore and have fun and that is very secure"! "But what about the curriculum" she asked! "Your kid is 3 for heaven's sake, let her learn to love school before worrying about academics and grades" I advised. Well I was probably the only one who told her that, later she said she actually gave it a lot of thought and followed my advice. My son started full time school only this year.. till last year he would go only 3 days a week.
This year he started Kindergarten and I was really finding the homeworks he lugged home rather strange and amusing, but learning to live with it! Till one day he brought back a paper home with a grade on it. It said A+. I smiled and put the paper away, soon this became a routine thing. They had graded tests in school and I was starting to get mildly annoyed. Still I assumed that they probably just gave all the kids an A+. Then one afternoon my son came home very upset and worried. He was worried that he had not drawn a zebra right and would not get an A+ in his paper. I was so incredulous.. what now they are grading zebras? After assuring him I did not care what his grades where as long as he was having fun I had a talk with the teacher. Turns out they never did grade the zebra. After a lot of thought I gave my feedback to the teacher and then the director that they should stop grading these children and guess what they agreed with me! Some kids had got B- and D's and had been so upset over that! Like I said "This is a pressure they can live without.. atleast not at 5!".
So back to the Kumon classes. Recently a friend asked me why I was not sending my son to Kumon and lectured me about how the brain develops at lightning pace these years! I asked her, "So tell me if that is true then by sending him to school and Kumon and focussing so much energy for academics you are letting only one part of that brain develop arent you?" Cheeky is a sports fan and goes to a sport camp once a week. We are waiting for the dawn of the new year to start him on Taekwondo (that earned me a snigger from some parents too.. you want to teach your son to fight?)! And in summer I want him to join a music class and swimming lessons. Maybe some tennis too if he can fit it in.. however, I take the cue from my son and these are all the activities he has chosen for himself! At this age I want him to have maximum exposure to all aspects of personality and physical development. There are somethings you can't leave till too late and personality is one such thing!
Meanwhile I must say that Cheeky does work on some workbooks at home. He is also encouraged to do puzzles and mazes, word search, and word puzzles. He has learnt to handle money and tell time, read fluently and do advanced math problems for his age. However he does all this because he enjoys it and has fun while doing it.. it is not another exercise to do, it is a fun activity to do! We miss our afternoon soujourns to the park (what with more long school hours) but we love to get out on weekends and give our legs a stretch!
This post is to all those parents out there who have to ask "So why is your son not in Kumon?" I am sure they have their reasons too.. and I am sure their kids have enough fun too.. atleast I hope they do! Mine is having a blast! What say?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

That shoe fetish!

I have written many posts about shoes.. so much you must be thinking it is an obsession with me! Well shoes has always been a pet peeve with me! I have always felt my legs were oddly shaped and that it is so hard to find the perfect shoes for me! Not to mention, I like the shoes to be just perfect too.. I hate broad shoes, I hate those that are too narrow, I hate stilettos but would like to leave behind the flat shoes (remember the height difference between the hubs and me). So the quest has been on for finding the perfect shoes!

When I was foot loose and fancy free (naah not literally, I mean when I was not married), I went home one weekend to spend the time with my parents. My room mate of those days had a shoe fetish and literally hoarded shoes. I on the other hand had landed with one pair of sandals on my foot that broke on the very first day! We had spent the next day hunting down the perfect pair of sandals in a new town! We had ended up finding some really cool places (This was in Jayanagar 4th block - Bangalore.. for those of you who have been there, you know why I did not at all regret hobbling around with one broken shoe)!

I went home one weekend with a re-awakening. I needed shoes! I dragged my dad to one shoe store after another in the hunt! I wanted to get 5 pairs of shoes. I don't really remember what else I got, but one of them would continue to remain with me for years. I wore that lovely pair of high heels to my wedding reception (so I could atleast match the Hubs height). Year later I had lost track of that favorite shoe! This year on my vacation my heel fetish hit me again and I was found shopping at shoe sales to find some shoes I could bring back with me! Nostalgia struck and I began the hunt for that favorite heels. After much searching my uncle told me it was probably hidden somewhere in my grandmom's home as he had heard my grand father complaining about all my shoes taking up so much space!

So one afternoon I made my uncle hunt the shoe down and bring it to me. To his credit he did warn me "I am sure you really weren't expecting this" he said as he handed me the bag of shoes. And there in the heap lay my precious pair with its sole peeling off! I wonder if my grandmom used it to hit something? Maybe it made a good hammer? The heel was broken in two!

My grandmom was capable I tell you. Remember the time long ago when Stone wash jeans came into fashion. My mom would mumble about these ridiculous looking jeans that looked like they were a million years old. But who listened? I got a pair and treasured them. About a month later they went missing and how! I went home to a beaming grandmom! I am not sure if this is possible now, but in those days (God do I feel old) you could give your old clothes to the plastic vendor and he would give you plastic goods in exchange for the clothes. So my beaming grandmom told me "Remember your old jeans that were so faded? I gave them to the guy and got a bucket (pail)" You've got to be kidding me I thought but just ran in to check and confirm my suspicion. I couldn't crush her bouyant mood, so I said "Wow that must be worth 20 bucks.. congratulations" while inside I cried!

Now back to the shoes! Remember how I wrote about the made to order shoes for kids that were available on this website? I wish I could get those! I need some made to order shoes this instant. The 10 or so pairs in my closet do not suffice! Meanwhile Cheeky wants yet another pair of shoes.. he claims his feet have grown again. I think it is just a ploy to get shoes that tie up. He has been caught chanting "Loop, Sloop (whatever that means) and pull" and he just now told me he is going to practice on my shoes. I better be off to extricate my fav sport shoes from the imp's hands!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Girls! Jewellery! Princesses! Sigh!

Sigh! I was looking at all the black friday ads and they have so much fun stuff for girls this year! However we will be spending another year looking for deals on car toys and adding to the never ending, unmanageable pile in the closet! Not to sound like an ungrateful mother (I do adore Cheeky and his retorts), I would have loved to have a girl! Considering that I got a pink cradle for my little one (Cheeky is never going to forgive me for that) should tell you something! We only found out the sex of the baby when he was born, till then I was sure it was a girl and the Hubs was definite it was a boy. So we avoided the pinks and the blues and got the yellows and the greens! However when it came to the cradle, there was only one option available on that day! PINK! And the hubs had chosen to leave me to it while he caught up on work {wink}, so I made the monumental decision and dragged a pink cradle home.. and jinxed fate I think!

Ever since I have been trying to fulfill my shopping desires by shopping for my niece! It is rather strange the amount of time I spend at a store looking at girly stuff! As I looked longingly at the Princess paranephelia in the black friday ad and told the Hubs, maybe we should buy some of those. He looked at me like I had lost my mind (but of course) and said "You aren't going to be seeing S (my niece) anytime soon and most of our friends do have boys"! Very true! Sigh!

This year I went to India on a vacation and was seen scouring the streets of Delhi for costume jewellery. My son came along to every store I stopped at and rolled his eyes while he chatted with his grand dad on why his mom seemed to have lost her mind (or some such thing!). He seemed to just barely tolerate my penchant for jewellery. I tried to model some for him.. after the first 2 were met with "Mommy you look very pretty", the next time I modelled he declared "Dont you have enough already, lets go and look at some toy fighter jets"! Sigh!

I did not stop of course! Later in Chennai I went shopping for my niece and got her some awesome girl jewellery! She absolutely loved them and wore them to a wedding we attended. In 5 minutes of dressing them, my son had grease on his sleeves while my niece sat there like a doll in all her finery! Now I have been admiring the Girl's Jewellery on this website. Their assortment of pearls and jelly bean necklaces, the cutest charms and bangles have me sighing yet again!

Meanwhile it has earned me yet another exasperated look from my son! But what does he know... maybe my niece will like more gifts! Or maybe I can wear some of those jelly beans myself! What say?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guns in Schools - God Bless America

I have not been that active on blogger these days... have been trying multiple stuff to see how much the writing world will tolerate me! Meanwhile Cheeky is having fun turning me around in circles! He is celebrating 40 yrs of Sesame Street today with a trip to Sesame street live program. I meanwhile have been twiddling my thumbs today.. and decided to come online and share with you an article I wrote for Momaroo this week. I would like to hear from you what you think!
I was shocked to see the headline that made its way to my inbox this morning " Gunman holds school principal hostage in NY". After a week of horror with the Fort Hood shootings followed the very next day by the shootings in Orlando, I was very upset to read this news. I have often wondered how I would feel when I have to pack my son off to public school next year. And the one thing I have not been able to get over is the possibility that someone might get there with a gun in hand.
Earlier this year I watched the news incredulously as they showed a story about a 6 yr old first grader who had brought a loaded gun to school. The little boy had taken the gun from his father's verhicle. The father was arrested and the kid was expelled from school. Later the kid's punshment was reduced to a suspension and he was accepted back in school after a week's suspension. Thankfully no one was hurt!
However, this is not the case in most scenarios. I was looking up the statistics and stumbled across the Brady Campaign. Here is a list of school shootings in the recent past. Be it 15 and 16 yr old teenagers who just shot out in the parking lot, random drive by shootings, or younger kids who simply wanted to show off a gun to a friend. The very fact that these episodes happen show us that guns are easily available and accessible to children.
And why not? 31 states have legal right to carry laws. Anyone in the United States over 18 and without a criminal record can own a gun! Why would I not be worried to send my 5 yr old to school next year? Why would I step out of my house without the dread clutching my heart? Why don't we get tighter gun laws?
Meanwhile, the gunman in NY was apprehended and found to be a 40 yr old former student of the school. No one was injured.
Please share your thoughts on gun control and how you think we can lead a safer life in this free country?
You can find the original on www.momaroo.com. I would also like to invite all you mommy bloggers and others out there to share your stories and experiences on momaroo. Just go to submit post tab abd submit your post and if we like it (yeah right.. see how I am showing off :P.. I am sure I will love it, I love all your wonderful writings!), you can be on the front page on Momaroo. And whats more you can link to your own website too! Isnt that great? See you soon

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A big hearty southern breakfast

I recall the movie My Cousin Vinny. Set in Alabama, Vinny is shocked when he sees the guy in the restaurant making breakfast with a huge laddle full of butter “Haven’t you heard of the ongoing cholesterol problem in the country” he asks. I got to experience this in reality this weekend!

I have always known that southerners are fabled to eat hearty meals. I have seen it in the movies read about it in the books but was yet to experience it! I am a light eater in the morning. Coming from a culture where the mid day meal is the heartiest packed with loads of carbs and centered around eating a lot of white rice, I have followed this all my life. I start my day with a glass of water and then rush through a small tiny bowl of cereal after an hour or maybe 1 banana and a coffee! I have never been able to eat more than that. Now my lunch is bound to have bowl after bowl of white rice with spicy concoctions and a side of vegetables. I am a vegetarian, so I have to fill up on this to survive, that is my excuse!

This Saturday however I had to make another trip on the quest for “that elusive flu vaccine ” (more on that later) and couldn’t fit a breakfast into my schedule. So after struggling with my 5 year old and that flu vaccine, we made a trip to a diner for we were famished! We were handed a 4 page bound menu for breakfast! I looked incredulously at the hubs who was struggling to understand the multitude of combo’s and sides that we could possibly have. I never knew there were so many options for breakfast trust me! The hubs likes to have a hot breakfast and it usually comprises of toast and maybe if we have the energy a couple of scrambled eggs! This is our idea of hot breakfast. On weekends I make the exception and make some rice pancakes a la Indian style and I think I have excelled myself. And here I was staring at at least a 2 dozen options for breakfast and was almost having a dizzying fit! My 5 yr old however was unfazed as he decided to have an egg and some fresh fruit!

I on the other hand ordered a combo and if I was a camel I wouldn’t have had to eat for the next 15 days. There were the grits resting in enough butter to coat all my stomach and intestine I assure you. Haven’t heard of grits? Its a porridge made of corn! Looking at the butter I raised an eyebrow at the hubs and asked if we better call emergency before we have that heart attack? This was followed by a plate of roasted potatoes that oozed oil, 3 scrambled eggs with mushrooms, spinach, cheese and grease, some buttered toast that literally melted in my mouth and a big bowl of fruits followed by a large glass of juice to help drown all that cholesterol! I refused the ham, or I would have had that resting on my plate too! And now I know what a big hearty southern breakfast is! I was left looking around in amazement at all the people who sat around me and ate that meal unfazed! I was seen peering into a lady’s plate to make sure she got all that butter too.. but I am sure they all ran home from the diner. Me, I sat in my car and went home to stretch in front of the television and try to ingest those 2000 calories of breakfast, while my rice cooker was cooking up a big bowl of rice for lunch! Sigh!

(Note: The picture courtesy of google images does not describe my hearty southern meal as the egg portion is a lot smaller as are the bread. The fruits are missing too.. ) Makes you want to try a big hearty southern meal doesn’t it? For all the cholesterol I assure you the meal tastes absolutely heavenly even if it left me with a pounding headache as my stomach tried to process all that fat for the rest of the day!
[This post has been cross posted on WorldNewsVine. Please go to my post and vote for me! Thanks for your wonderful support]