Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why Children Refuse to Read and Other Revalations

Please reflect upon this poem that my daughter's Class II book contains and which she was supposed to learn by heart for an oral recitation test-
Miss Tidy
I always make the bed myself
Without anybody's help
I spread the bedsheet nice and flat
And give myself a big,big pat
I have my bath and wash my face
And keep the brush and soap in place
I rush to have my breakfast soon
And sometimes wash my plate and spoon
Of my books and bag I take great care
And never leave them here and there
On getting up I wrap my sheet
And never leave till the room is tidy and neat
Now am I wrong in saying that such a poem would not enthuse me in the least if I were a seven year old?Apart from the fact that some lines like the last two do not make sense, I would certainly not identify with 'Miss Tidy' ,more likely I would like to wring her sugary sweet neck if I chanced upon her! This poem belongs to a lesson on moral science, there is no subtlety to it. An English lesson should be interesting and easy to learn, something that the child likes to read, some humour, some fun anything but this.
The heat in Delhi has become intolerable. Summer does not agree with me I breakout in rashes and am dripping sweat all the time, to have to deal with a belligerent seven year old at this time is killing! Teachers are springing one test after another on us moms and coupled with that are the pressures of sending appropriate craft materials as and when asked for. "Bring five ice-cream sticks and four buttons for activity tomorrow" says the teacher and unleashes the brat on us. The hapless mom runs pillar to post to procure the items with parents in law saying_" This school is no good!What has education come to? They do not do any studies and all they encourage is art and craft...." and the mite keeps whining "Maam says we have to get the ice-cream spoons that are broad on top and thin at the bottom. You always give me white buttons when everyone else gets colourful ones.....etc" With this droning background music continuously ringing in the ear coupled with the weather and a toddler to look after (who calmly throwns wrist watches down from our first floor balcony) the mom , that is me, is ready to commit suicide.
Unloading myself here has a calming affect. Please send your views regarding the poem and suggest ways in which I can help my seven year old read.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Enlightened Mommas and This and That

I thank heartily my brother at for giving a link to the mad momma for now I am intensely proud that there are other moms like me who are managing to be a mom and at the same time not being brain dead. From mad momma's blog ( I have come to know that there are many such mommas out there. These moms are younger than me I think because the species that I meet at my neighbourhood park are my age and completely zonked. I can't see them being a biomechanics (or some such thing) professional by day and a writer by night as is dotmom. It is good to see that the moms of today have evolved into a very superior multi-tasking species. I belong to a generation before this lot who are not completely overwhelmed by motherhood but neither do they express themselves so profoundly and effortlessly. I belong to the generation that has come to know of Harry Potter but are not reading the latest copy in a mad frenzy. In fact I have not been able to read any of them after the first one and I am not even afraid to say so! But I identify entirely with what mad momma has to say about getting the right perspective in life. Like the humbling and beautiful relationship that is motherhood, there are other inter-personal connections like friendship, and the one shared between husband and wife that are more important than speed reading the last Harry Potter. But I am glad for Potter and the rise of the reading habit in children. For the time being I am struggleing to get my seven year old to read. She refuses to. She hates to learn spellings and you will be surprised to see how difficult it is to teach kids what they do not want to learn. I must admit that their English text is very uninteresting and the poetry makes you want to scream out loud but I am still to convince her that you cannot get by without learning to read!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hey Mrs President!

Well, we have beaten the US to it! Even as the electorate there mulls over the candidature of Hillary Clinton as the next President, we have already put a woman president in place!But how much will change for Indian women? only God knows. Feticide, rape, abduction, sexual harassment, economic dependency, torture, and no security of even a roof over her head, this is the predicament of Indian women. After reading about one harrowing tale of rape after another I think instead of contemplating sex education for children the government should hold such classes for adults for if the older generation treats sex as a means to gratify their thirst for power over hapless women and children how can we expect their progeny to be normal. we believe that education has to be completed by about the age of 20 when one is expected to join a profession. Then one is said to have 'completed ones studies'. However I believe that education is an on going process. We learn from the time that we are born till the moment of our death and the perpetrators of these henious crimes need education like none other. I have read that most of the cases of such abuse are perpetrated by persons known to the victim even relatives. Women should also be taught how to deal with such behavior and the importance of reporting such incidents.

But all said and done, one feels a slight thrill when one finds that we now have a woman for a President. It is a sign that it is possible for women to occupy the highest post in the country. It sort of opens a new avenue for women. Even if not a single step is taken to eradicate women's problems during her term, we can always point at her and say-"if we can have a woman heading the country then they cannot be inferior in any way". I wish our new president the best of luck!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Mom Revolution and Other Facts of Life

When one becomes a mom the entire orientation of ones life changes. It is a revolution of sorts. It feels as if you have changed orbit and landed up in an unknown part of outer space. This whole feeling is compounded by the fact that new moms often look, walk and talk like zonked aliens still to familiarize themselves with the atmosphere on this earth. The most dramatic change in my behavior pattern postpartum was the habit of constantly sending furtive glances over my shoulder fearing that my kids will launch an attack from the rear at any moment! I typed my entire PhD thesis, all three hundred and seventy odd pages of it while stealing those furtive glances as a result I have developed a permanent crick in the neck that worsens in wet weather. The bad news is that it gets worse as the kids grow older. My friend Nayana rightly says, quoting Oscar Wilde or some such knowledgeable soul that if there were no schools that remove the child from the sight of the mom for some hours then the world’s mental asylums would be full of mothers! However schools make things worse too by thrusting the hapless child and hence the mother into the rat race and moms are forced to say things like-
“ explain why Hardik got eight on ten while you got only four…”
or the potent “ if you do not study there will be no TV for you for the next two days!”
or “finish your homework” followed in quick succession by “pack your bag!”, “go to the toilet!” and “go to bed!” and at the end of the exercise the mite gets so used to shouted commands that he/she refuses to budge unless some such instruction is shouted in the ear. I have to say “brush your teeth!” to my elder one every single day otherwise she will not!

Once an aquaintance at a neighbourhood park where the moms of our colony meet to exchange our respective horror stories related to childcare and studies, said that she was so disoriented and out of focus that she has to date everything from the birth of her child. For example if anybody asks her “which year did you graduate?” it will send her into a tizzy. For some time she will blabber like a moron and look here and there. Only when she first recalls the date of birth of her child will she then calculate backwards by thinking-“lets see now the baby was born in May 1998 that means I got married three years before she came i.e. 1995, and completed my graduation two years prior to my marriage…..” and such like until she arrives at the exact date. The birth of the baby is so momentous an occurance that it is difficult to remember anything else independent of it. Moms wonder at the idea that they did indeed have a life before the baby arrived.
It is much like the story of a driver my friend once told me about. The chap could only find a location in the city of Calcutta if he started from the Tata Center building in central Calcutta that is the tallest structure for miles in every direction or at least it was at the time of this story. Anyhow the result of this fact was that if the driver was asked to go anywhere in the city he would rush pell mell to the Tata center and then take the route for the desired destination from there. Thus my friend and her family were taken for long rides across the city and got a glace at the Tata Center a dozen times everyday. The child is to the mother what Tata Center was to this driver the, the anchor holding the orientation of ones life