Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An American brain

My nephew is about 5 years old. He loves rasam, but not the mustard seeds used to temper the rasam. He would pick each one off if he got any on his plate saying he does not like the black balls.

One evening, his mom made rasam tempered with mustard and cumin but the tempering burnt a little. She tried to pick off the mustard seeds before serving her son. But he managed to find one, which he picked off... So mommy asks, "oh you got a black ball"? to which he replied.. "no mommy, I got a black football!". oh the joys of raising children in USofA.
--as narrated to me by my sister.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spend the penny, forgo the pounds

We were talking about something my 15 year old used to do as a child.. dashing around the house or some such.. when he wistfully says "yeah, those were good times, we were rich then".

I was rather stunned to hear that statement. We now make more than we did 12 years ago, have a bigger house (yeah bigger mortgage); all indicators of "richness". But I always thought kids can say the darnedest of things but they were also usually dead center.

Then I felt really bad.. In getting a bigger house, education, better vacation, maybe we've lost sight of the richness of life.

I picked him up a few days later from something, when he wanted to stop at Rita's the local ice cream place. I happily took him.. did not protest when he got a large with whipped cream. I even brought back ice creams for everyone else at home.

Then later on in the week, I took my older one to giant, our local grocery.. bought him food he wanted, let him pick out his dinner from the salad bar dismissing the voice saying I can easily fix it at home for a fraction of the cost. I did not look for sale signs or for nutrition values. He was so happy and the bill was a much easier burden to bear than the guilt I was facing earlier.

Simple pleasures are all children need, not expensive vacation, cars or homes. I know college expenses are looming ahead, but we will manage. Meanwhile, when the weather gets warm and the ice cream truck comes by, I will happily buy my children the unhealthy-overpriced ice cream for simple pleasures.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Parenting books

I borrowed some parenting books for some tips and tricks to stay ahead of the game.. I found a coupla neat ideas.. I bide my time and one morning I spring it on my older one..

He goes.. wait a minute, you know I read that book too. Maybe you shouldn't leave your aces lying around you know!

oh well. at least he knows I'm trying.

Funny incident

My 14 yr old's phone is out of commission.. he borrows mine occasionally when he needs it. I come home to get back my phone and see three missed calls from my younger one.. So I ask him why/what he needed me for etc..

he goes.. well you didn't answer! It went to your voice mail twice then the third time a man with a deep voice answered.. So I just hung up.

As it turns out, he was calling from upstairs, answered by my computer-playing don't disturb me older one.. Man with a deep voice indeed!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reading with a teen

when kids are little, parents read to them. (some parents read to their yet unborn child hoping to catch em young).. I did not start on the cloth books, but did do the Dr.Seuss routine (I can still recite the foot book and the green eggs and ham!).. followed by some other board books such as Richard Scarry's busytown books and curious george.
One day my son figured out he could read for himself. Empowered, he devoured the books we had around and started picking out his own books. At that point, I stepped aside and one day soon I did not know what he was reading. I vaguely remember seeing Junie B Jones, magic tree house, star wars, captain underpants.. japanese cartoon books, pokemon, yugioh, manga etc.
Along came Harry Potter - a big book. I read part of book to my kid until he figured out when you can read, you can read any book. Since then I have not interfered with my kids' reading. The younger one picks up any book off the shelf and reads parts of it to see if he is interested.. and abandons if it does not hold his interest.
Recently one day, I realized that I do not read to my kids anymore.. or interact with them on the matter of books.. mainly because I have no interest in reading Brisingr or other monster books. So i picked up one of my older son's books and started reading it. This led to a discussion on the book that I felt was rather productive. Soon, the younger one comes up to me and hands over Ender's game, a book he has read 20 times and says "This is a good book; I suggest you read it"!
Sound familiar? I thoroughly enjoy reading the books my kids picked out for me because I am their mother and also because they benefit from the ensuing conversation - even if they lead it... since they've read other books in the series. More power to them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Unfortunately this has to be in tamil.. apologize to those non-speakers of tamil.

My aunt's little girl (about 2 years old then) called her uncle saying:

LG: ai! inga vaa da
My aunt: Don't say that. mariyaadaya pesanum!
LG: ok! ai! mariyaadaya inga vaa da!!

Now.. I am not making this up! nejum! kids do say the darnedest of things.


Can one say enough about this phase? I remember thinking to myself what a hype the "teen" phenomenon is.. and that my kid would not exhibit any of these dire predictions. After all, I don't remember having a particularly hard teen-time. Boy was I wrong..
I remember struggling with authority starting at around 13 years of age.. mostly me treating the kid still like a non-teen.. making decisions without consulting - after all 13 year old habit is hard to break. I remember getting upset when my plans were discarded just because.. I remember asking everyone who cared to listen "why the rebellion?" - seemed so unnecessary and self defeating. Tug of wars.. slammed doors.. random tears.. moodiness.. binge eating.. is this what the teen is all about!
Earlier, when the kid got into a fit, I gave him a timeout to get over it.. Now, I started the same technique, varying it only slightly in that when the kid got into a fit, I gave myself a timeout. When there was a willful act of "teen 'mis' behavior", I went shopping.
Then one day things started to click in my brain. What is happening is the need for more independence.. more involvement in decision making.. while at the same time, testing limits/rules that have been set for years to see if there would be consequences. Teen time is a time to hang out with their own friends, not children of parents' friends, not in a group of parents and children (which is ok once in a while).
What I've learned so far is to wait out an outburst, while being firm on rules. If rules get broken, do not bring up the topic right away, but wait until the child is relaxed and is able to listen to you. Believe it or not, the child knows very well that the rule is being broken and will only get more defensive if it is brought up at the time and may result in deterioration of the situation. Patience, a lot of patience on the part of the parent will get you through your kid's teen years. Helps if you are really busy with something else other than the child as the primary focus. Now would be a great time to take up your favorite hobby!!