Monday, November 9, 2009

Our little Entertainment Centre

'You have'nt seen a single movie in last few MONTHS?' my neighbor asked, rather shocked.

'well, no,' I answered, 'and we're not much into Television, videogames and partying.' I added, not before offering her a glass of water, you know, just in case...

'No movie, no TV, how are you guys surviving?' she asked, still in a shock.

Well, we survive on a lot of other things, but for entertainment and unwinding, both of us have an entertainment powerhouse, our little girl and her big voice - LIVE!

From the classical aalaps to opera singing, from nursery rhymes to our pop favs, we have access to unlimited music channels (just that we can neither change them at our will, nor shut it off).

A whole lot and a wide array of percussion performances, some rather energetic dance concerts, some action scenes (jumping, bouncing, paper tearing etc etc) we are blessed to have our dose of laughter, fulfillment, joy, surprises and of course drama, through our little 'multi talented' (ha ha, I'm her mom afterall:)) stand-up performer.

There's no reason to miss our dose of

1. romace - showered with her hugs and kisses, complete with dialogues like

'I love aai' 'my cute baba, my cheeky cheeky baba' (while pulling dads chubby cheeks)

2. drama - with her voice modulated, accompanied with pouting lips phrases that melt your heart.
'no! I want to wear the full pants, I got a boo-boo knee' 'I missed you' (and a hug)

3. Style - with her sense of style, color co-odinations, preferences in dressing and accessorising.
'this is a ..' dad adds (white). 'hmm, white' 'so where are my white shoes?' well, she doesnt have any. You can wear red (I suggest). 'does red go well with white.'

4. adventure - well everything now is an adventure (some fun, some challenging)
.. like visiting a doc for her vaccinations, starting school, going for a walk. and not to mention, every moment at home.

5. comedy - well, this is her forte'. may i say that we have a budding stand up comedian at home. her talks, her dances (especially the one on way to school), her mis-pronunciations on purpose, her mischiefs, role plays.
'i'm aai and you are TV, come let me drop you to school'

6. Action - this one is not her natural talent, so no major violence and action for us - maybe it's a girl thing, mabe it's just TV!(all action is verbal)
but we love her bouncing on pillows, trying to climb wierd things - dad's packed suitcases, her play tent.

7. News - our daughter can talk, she can comprehend, grasp, remember and communicate.
So we get all the news from school, her expeditions alone, at the playground, her baby sitter, who has taught her what. The news is also trasmitted via skype or telephone to her grandparents and aunt, equally efficiently in their language.

And then there's a dash of suspense (how will she react to this?) and horror (those sleepless nights, days when she's sick).

But not a moment of boredom:)

Tare zamin par

Thanks aunt K for bringing this up.
Last week when aunt M was visiting us, a hilarious episode happened.

TV was at her dinner table, almost done with eating and now on sipping water from her cup.
It seemed like she sipped in a bit too much and that made her cough. I could see the teary eyed TV, barely managing to stop coughing, while aunt M was subbing her back to soothe.
The moment the cough stopped, TV - still tears in her eyes, and water in her nose and mouth - looked up, just over her head, and asked, 'hey konte ae? (her current favorite question, to the effect - what is this?)

Looking at her condition and then looking above her, where she was pointing (there was nothing visible to me), there was only one thing I thought she could be refering to - din ke tare (seeing stars in vision).

'Are you refering to these stars around your head?' I asked, rather mischieviously.

TV nodded. A pause later, she looked up and said, quite animatedly with hands in the air (a typical TV), 'GONE'

'Sure'. and we all laughed. Sometimes it really helps to keep your sense of humor intact.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Little artist/storyteller

While we were enjoying our morning tea, TV was busy with her crayons doodling - stripes, spots, swirls - on her new 'expression art wall'.

'I make a beach' - TV
'Oh, you make a beach', her aunt who's visiting us.
'Yes, and I make a table' - TV again
'Oh, so there's table on the beach' - her dad
'Yeah' - TV
'What do you want to put on the table' I ask, intrigued by my little one's ability to spin a yarn
'mumm, mumm,' pat came the reply, 'food'
'Oh so there's food on the table on the beach,' aunt summarizes. 'who's going to eat the food?'
'tai and dada (big sister and big brother)'
'that's romantic,' dad
'is it day or night', I ask, 'is there a sun or a moon?'
'moon,' TV replies, looking up in the sky
'oh, so its moonlight dinner on the beach,' dad. 'but where's this beach?'
'on the waterfront,' TV

all three of us - mom, dad and aunt, were zapped by TV's ability to imagine, articulate and respond to the series of questions we posed, and in the process create a picturesque setting that may soon translate into a pictuer by our little artist or it may be a setting for a story, that may soon come from our little storyteller.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recipe - Whole Wheat Donuts

This can well be a pre-schooler's kitchen project. My 22-month-old, loved being an active part of cooking and then enjoyed eating it more.

1. Whole Wheat Flour
2. Water
3. Salt
4. Sugar
6. Ghee/Oil

1. A flat plate for rolling and creating shapes
2. A bowl to mix into dough
3. a small pan with lid to shallow fry
4. Spatula
5. 1 pair each of big and little clean hands

How to go about it:
1. Mix the flour, water and some salt into a dough - just right to roll a chapati
2.brush it with some ghee/oil and knead once. Cover and keep aside for 2-4 min
3. dust the flat plate and your hands with flour
4, take a small ball of dough (I took the size of an almond), roll it with your hands (and your lil ones) and create shapes you like.
Possiblities are endless for the shapes and fillings/flavoring.
5. Shapes - I did spirals, conventional donut with a hole in the centre, a tiny soupstick, a twirled around stick. My lil one made a moon - a poked-cirle, a ring around her finger - donut.
6. For flavors, we added - sugar, herbs (oregano, marjoram, fennel, mint), cheese, garlic, salt+sugar+lemon juice, jam, cream and sugar.
7. Shallow fry in ghee/oil- covered on oneside and then flip and shallow fry uncovered on the other. You can deep fry if you like

Monday, October 12, 2009

Creative Thinking

As a professional creative thinker and trainer, I always swore by the powerhouse of creativity that young children are. But I had never ventured below 8 year-olds.

Last few days my still under-2-year-old, is giving me a few aha moments as a witness to the creative brilliance of the very young.

1. Put to other use

e.g. Head band as head phone/mic, necklace, and

Computer head phone and mic as vacuum cleaner

Last sunday, we were getting ready for dinner with friends at a restaurant. Dad was ready. TV was all ready and as usual, digging her drawer while I was still confused on what to wear. By the time I was dressed, TV had entered the room with the soft ends of her head band in her ears.

I asked her what she was upto (holding back myself from instantly taking off the head band - for safety reasons). TV still looking at the band, hanging down from her ears unto her neck said 'MIC'.

She'd seen me recently with the headphone and mic and I instantly knew what she was using her head band as.

Just yesterday, another such 'creative moment' made my day. This time, again with the headset and mic. The difference was that, TV was playing with actual headset and mic (she'd picked it up from my table - a sign that she's growing taller)

She held the dangling wires in her had and moved around, with the headset trailing her. I asked her if that was her dog and if she was walking the dog. As she is quite fascinated with people walking their pets in the parks.

'NO', was her answer.

I let her be, and continued reading. A few minutes later, she held the plug-in of the wire and began to rub a mat while saying, 'wipe'. That's when it hit me. VACUUM CLEANER. (Another fascinating subject for TV)

'I know, that's your vacuum cleaner.' I exclaimed. And TV beamed with a 'YES!' She's so loved that toy, that since last morning, she's just playing with that.

'Where's my vacuum cleaner?' her first post-nap question, following it up with the action - getting down from bed and looking around for it.

2. Lateral Thinking

e.g. Runny nose Woodpecker

A clip of a woodpecker pecking at tree caught TV's fancy.

First it was simply her curiosity to know what the bird was doing. Then knowing that the bird was named 'woodpecker', it turned into an exercise to be able to pronounce an almost tongue twister for a 2-year-old.

We then followed it up with a wood pecker song with the woodpecker action and the tick-a-tick-tick sound he makes while pecking at wood.

Since then, which has been over a month now, whenever she would hear the 'tick-tick' sound she would say 'woodpaper'. Electrician/carpenter at work, knocking at the door, the clicker-clapper musical instrument are all our 'woodpapers'.

But my tots creative genius bowled me over today. TV has caught the common cold; blame the weather, her recently started school and our trip to Bangkok. She is ok otherwise, just that sometimes her nose really annoys her. Today on one such annoying ocassion, TV couldnt find her tissue and I was cooking in the kitchen. She ran up to me and rubbed her nose on my apron, hanging down at her level, around my knees. She did it thrice in a go. But once she was done, she just looked up - at me, smiled and said - 'woodpaper'.

Who knew common cold too can bring out the creative genius in you. Kids are masters at looking at things differently. Certainly, something us adults can learn from them:)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TV's starting school tomorrow

Starting school, for the first time. Staying away from me for a couple of hours- her first time. All the words of wisdom I,ve been hearing so far echo in my mind.
'o, she'll be fine. My lil one didn't even look back once. I was waiting, expecting him to come back to me, but he was just off'. I hope this is what TV does. Just go with the flow, never look back.
'you may have a tough time, she'll manage.' well I dont think so! But nevertheless I don't know.

Then there were stories of kids crying, clinging, screaming, throwing tantrums on their First days. I wonder how I d handle if something like this comes about from TV.

Schools, educators advise to jus LET GO. You don't look back, no matter what the child's doing. I m not a sentimental, emotional mom, but I certainly can't just let go my 2 year old in a strange environment, with new people. So what do I do?

I d begun to prepare TV mentally for this day. I d tell her my stories (positive and good ones of course) of early years school and my younger sisters' who she adores completely. I d tell her about her own friends from the condo who'd started to go to school. I d take her down in the lobby to see kids going to school in their school bus.(this led to her asking, why would she not take a school bus like them?). Then we d a Pooh's first day at school book, which i d read out to her. We even played school one day. (desperate mommy?)
But juding from her comments, re actions and excitement, to an extent I seem to have been successful. But you never know until the rubber hits the road.

So here I m keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow:)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Terrible TWOs

Back to journaling after almost a month. Was there nothing to write? I'd be kidding you if I said that. It's just that I'm consumed and on my toes, trying to keep up with the demanding tot who's tasting and giving us the flavor of the 'terrible twos'.

Here's the recipe for a perfect 'terrible two'

1. Frustration due to conflict between mental independence and physical dependence -
She's trying to be independent - doing things on her own, which she some times can but many a times she still can't:(
Situations like;
- wearing her own shirt, pants (she mostly can, but sometimes she would put both her legs on one pant hole), slipons (again she does get it right almost always, but she has some problem with the velcro being tighter than she wants),
- opening her hadbag (she tends to pull the handles on the opposite sides,
- trying to slip in her bag, a big book
- pulling out the shapes from the shape sorter
- trying to keep a hard-bound big book open

2. More frustration due to confusion -
Her knowledge base has widened. At the same time she's starting to develop a mind of her own. Hence sometimes it is confusing her far too much, more than what she can handle and that's more frustration.
Opinions on what to wear, where to go, what to do, who to play with, what book to read. Same is true for what not to do.

3. Some more frustration due to physical limitations
In her mind, she wants to do a lot of things. But her body doesnt support it always.
Situations like;
- long walks
- crossing the road on her own, until the green man turns red
- climbing up stairs
- running up and down the stairs, even after being tired.
- not wanting to sit back in the stroller, even when she so tired that can't walk any further

4. Then add to all this frustrations some growing up pains and troubles
Like - the ubiquitous teething pains,
- ocassional cough and cold,
- body aches,
- some minor accidents on playground, ('TV got hurt' the phrase would pop up even months after the incident)
- bumping head on the table while trying to go under it (the one which she could easily go when she was younger, but not now without a head butt - having grown taller)

5. And top up all this with a dash of irrationality and whims
- walking in a crowded market, where no one would look at their knees/feet and walk
- wanting the tiger in his slumber at the zoo to wake up
- wanting last minute to eat broccoli, when you've made pasta with all veggies other than broccoli
- wearing home dress, when we are getting late for a birthday party.

I've still not figured out a 'one size fits all kind of a solution for such variety of situations. But at it, and also have learnt to let go at times. But that's what's keeping me occupied these days.

The 'wiser souls', the 'been there done thats' and reading this one, please advise.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Apla Apla!n

TV's very first phrase 'apla apla' (on my own).
While I m helping her get her clothes on, she d shoo me off taking charge of her clothes with her fav phrase 'apla apla' and try to do it on her own. It's the same with putting on shoes or hat, applying cream to her face, even folding her blanket.
'ok' I say and let her give it a try. Then I pretend to do something else and thru the corner of my eyes enjoy watching my lil one trying desperately strive to achieve her independence. Only to realize later that she still needs my help in something at some stage. She s no too happy nor encouraged at that, nor am I. But I know she ll get there very soon, but before the she gets a taste of fruits of effort and toil, she ll have to bear with some simple failures and not give up. Hope she continues 'apla apla' trying, with patience and perseverance. And hopefully I can lead by example, with patience and perseverance - refraining myself from rushing to help every time I see her struggle or fail.

Review - Show for tots - Into the deep deep forest!

Simplicity and music works!

Professional theatre, the best known here! Real musicians (or magicians) creating magic with their musical pandora's box. Simple set. Simpler costumes. Energetic performers. And a super enthu crowd of 2-4-year-olds. Mesmerising!

The story (based on original folktale from Indonesia and Malaysia) is about adventures of a tiny mousedeer who outwits a strong tiger by his tricks. So there are 3 performers - a mousedeer, a tiger and a bunny doubling as a narrator.

Pre-show, the lighting and sounds created an credible forest atmosphere. The performers moved through the audience with stick puppets - bee, butterfly and dragonfly, allowing the young enthu audience to touch and feel. Thus stimulating senses! (What was missing was scents and taste)

First 5 minutes, the lights, sounds and the people created various versions of day and night in the forest - (Innovative) setting the stage. Then with a few song and dance introduce the forest sights and sounds, before the real story unveils. Amazing use of light and sounds. The rhyme
'Can you growl like a bear? chatter like a chimp, croak like a frog, click like cricket, chirp like a bird, roar like a tiger' with the musicians playing sounds from the various instruments was a marvel! Great forest experience. Authentic theatre experience for the little ones.

Can't say TV enjoyed it visibly. But 'I've got an idea!' and her talking about the sounds with instruments seem to have left an impression on her. It definitely did so on me.

Shrom Shootball to Foftball

It's funny how your tongue trains to maneuver words. Observing TV's language (or pronunciation, to be specific) development over the past few months has been interesting and enlightening.

The usual first words - mama, dada, baba started coming out a little before her first birthday. She has been saying aai (mom, in my language) since she was 4 months. She'd often say 'aai ghe' or just 'aai' in her fourth/fifth month. But I don't dare to publicise that for the fear of being scoffed at.

Many new words started flying soon after - bag, bat, bird, ball. Some often shortened - bo (for ajoba /grandpa). I wonder why the words starting with 'b' are popular (or are they easy) amongst the tots.

TV herself became 'T' first, then 'Tish' and now she is 'Tisha'

Then as her vocab built up further and she became adventurous, she tried repeating many words often pronouncing differently. Like saying 't' instead on 'k' - 'tata for kaka' 'tawl for crawl'. Then there have been others like 'yon' for 'one', 'yatch' for 'watch', 'yall' for 'wall'. The most memorable (also that lasted long enough) has been pronouncing 'sh' for 'ph' or 'f'.

'My shone'
'stamp your sheet':)
'yon, two, thee, shor, shy..'
'livt' (lift)
'gooshy' (that's goofy)

This possibly lasted a month. Then she could pronounce 'f' when it was in the end of the word or when I made her pronounce it stand alone as 'fa'. So gooshy became goofy (good for him). But her phone was still shone and foot ball was shoot ball.

It's only last week (about a 3 week further), that she can manage to pronounce f, regardless of it's position in the word.

But now she's saying 'foft' for 'soft'. Now is that her way to practice saying f or is she confused with s and f in the same word or is she just kidding? Well I shall figure that out soon. But for now, her rapidly building vocab and such 'goosh ups' in pronouncing are posing a big challenge for us to understand her words in her long sentences.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Good Manners, not so good result!

Today after the Boom Bah show, the performers gave an opportunity to the audience to touch and feel their props. The cat took out his little violin and invited the little ones to try it.

We were seated a little farther from the cat. A boy, who was sitting closer to him got up to play the little violin and the cat obliged. TV, my alert little one, got up and asked if she could go. I nodded. She walked a long way and stood for her turn as another girl was already waiting.

Meanwhile kids from all over poured on and ran towards the cat and his violin. Some big, some agressive, some cranky, some accompanied by their parents surrounded the cat, making way, as I watched from a distance.

As I noticed my little (really little) one wondering what she should do amidst others rushing and pushing to touch the violin, I stepped up to hold her hand. I had to say nothing, do nothing. TV just walked back, making her way out of the crowd.

I took her to the Chicken with an accordion, and with just a couple of kids around it.

I wonder how a parent could encourage her child to safegaurd her interest first, while being well mannered and courteous.

Review - Show for tots - Boom Bah!

We are just back after watching this show for the very young (age 1 to 3 years) by an Australian theatre group. Boom Bah! A very catchy title. Ask all the young fellas. My little one loved saying the phrase everytime she came across the picture of the show promo - on posters, flyers, ads and then when we went in for the show LIVE too. Not just her, many little ones were happy to identify and say - Boom Bah!

Beautiful set - a small octagonal wooden 'magic' cupboard, with windows and doors that opened on each side. From the outside, it was simple. In the inside, which we later came to know, the small cupboard had a treasure trove of all things possible - puppets and trumpets, jars and guitar, tins and violin, and of course the show's performers - a cat, a dog, a goat and a chicken.

Along the green pathway that extended from this cupboard, at one end, to the other end of the hall sat the little kids (on so cute), with a few adults. I really loved the seating plan, because alongwith the performers, I could easily also look at the other kids sitting across the 'road' (great entertainment). A couple of kids (3 year olds) who sat right across, thoroughly enjoyed the show. They were into it from the word go - spotting and saying everything that opened up - cat, milk, jar, bell, biscuit, cup, bowl.....and also guiding the performers on the way - 'it's there', 'no no that side.'

My little one, and others her age made the quieter lot amongst the audience. But I'd believe they too enjoyed the show.

It was nonsense (literally) and that seems to have worked well with the kids. The comical performers in funny costumes, their wild antics, the bubbles, bedsheet, musical instruments, chicken feathers and even eggs all popping out of the 'magic' cupboard without any logic/reason.
Another thing that worked in favor of the show was the performers' continuous interaction with the young audience. They seemed to be practically talking to, playing with and entertaining individual kid, maitaining their distance (considering their audience's age and whims) - that was very intelligent.

I loved the 'Shh listen, what's the sound' rhyme that must be the theme rhyme of the show. (Umpteen opportunities to use in our everyday with TV).

What I'd have loved though, is an underlying theme and all the nonsense around that theme. It seemed like the show started with a theme - making music with everyday items in a setting of 4 farm animals playing together. But then came the real musical instruments, eggs from the chicken and chickens from the eggs, bedsheets and suds and some uncalled for antics by the animals - abrupt and at times just filling in, without any significance. Even the most enthu kids seemed lost at times due to this.

Having been to 3 shows for the very young in last 6 months, I truly feel a theatre experience is anyways enriching and exciting for the very young. Hats off and a big thank you to the performers and producers of shows for the very young. Every show, despite its shortcomings, has something for the little ones to take back from. Like the rhyme from Boom Bah.

There are so few theatre shows for the lil ones, would not like to miss any opportunity to see TV and the other lil ones soaking themselves in the theatrical atmosphere. We are heading for another one tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Developing Language

For some reason I d left it blank when I wrote the title. I m sure I d have had some overwhelming thoughts about TV s language acquisitions, but almost a year and a half later, when I'm at editing some of my earlier drafts, I m completely blacked out in my mind at the topic. May be I should follow this up with TV's language skills iand development in current context with a fresh new post

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watching TV (television)

Have been following new and views about toddlers watching Televesion. Very often the parents are pretty much in favor of their tots (age upto 3years)watching TV. Researchers say, although there's no harm in TV viewing by tots for a short span, there's no significant gain. Some researchers also state that exposing kids to TV animation, violence (even the tom and jerry types) and video games, has a negative impact on kids' attention span and emotional quotient.

So, in a nuclear family, with limited domestic support, husband in a demanding career and as the only caretaker/entertainer during the day, for me to show (TV) or not to show is the question.

TV has been a good tot (especially after her first birthday), in that she can keep herself occupied for a good span (upto 30 min). We do a lot of things indoors - paint, read, puppet play, play, water play, bubbles, cook, play house, push cart, run, talk et al. She herself does a lot of things on her own - watch me, inspect things, spot things in newspapers, books, talk. With some music in the background and two enthu ladies (TV and I) our house is quite vibrant during the day, even with just the 2 of us.

Yet, there are times, while cooking or attending an important phone call, writing or just when wanting some time off, I feel like resorting to this 'new age baby sitter' called TV that is just a button away.

Well, starting from the beginning, we hardly turned the TV on, until our lil TV was 1 year old - even us, the parents hardly watched any TV. (and we didnt miss much)

I distinctly remember that I first showed 'Mickey Mouse Clubhouse' to TV in her November, when she was close to 1. She loved it. Till that time, she would have possibly noticed this black window/painting/glass/mirror/frame on the wall. As, when it worked the first time, she was baffled, mesmerised and completely awed at what she was seeing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Recipe - Spinach and Cheese wraps

TV loves this one and I think it would make a perfect lunch box menu (although lunch boxes for school is sometime away)

Note: This recipe requires some planning and specific ingredients hence not recommended when you are in a hurry.

For wraps
Dough of Whole wheat flour (with water and some veg oil)

For filling
onion (chopped)
garlic (grated)
spinach (blanched and cut)
cottage cheese (cut into very small cubes)
cumin powder

1. In a saucepan, heat a tsp of oil and fry garlic and onion until golden.
2. Add spinach and cheese, stir and add salt and a pinch of cumin powder
3. cover and cook for a while (about 5 min) string ocassionally.

4. Roll the dough into small circles
5. cook them on both sides on a hot plate or flat pan

6. butter one side of the wrap
7. on the other side place the filling and roll

Tip: a. small wraps make small rolls - just right for small hands.
b. trimming the wrap a bit once rolled, holds together the entire roll

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Head on the pillow

These days (or should I say nights) TV is on a mission - to get her head on her pillow. She loves to do everything we do - only chotta. So when we retire to our bed (and pillows) at night, TV tries to do just that - sleep with her head on her chotta pillow.

It's been almost a week since she is trying really hard to get her head on the pillow.

Just that she first sits on the pillow and then tries to get her head there too. This little one is surely still far away from judging distances and understanding difference between the positions of her body parts when sitting and sleeping/lying down.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Then, what do we do at home?

Yesterday when we were at the Drama Academy (yes, these days we are into drama, I shall write about it soon), a mom asked me a good question; 'Then, what do you do at home?'

It so happened that while into an activity, she asked TV to 'imagine' something, 'like Barney says.'

TV, otherwise responsive, just stared blankly at her.

'Don't you watch Barney?' the mom asked
'No,' I answered, 'not yet.'

'Barney ride!' I heard TV mumble. Apparently, she loves to ride a barney car when we are at the mall. And that's her only interaction with the popular cartoon character, at least so far.

'So what are her favorite cartoons,' the mom quizzed me. 'Does she like Dora?'
'Well,' I managed to say. 'She just watches Mickey Mouse once in a while and sometimes a Hi-5.'
'once in a while?' the lady seemed curious.
'umm may be twice a week,' I replied, 'or even lesser sometimes.'

It seemed, from her wide open eyes and mouth (though not wide open), that the lady was in a shock. This was not new to me though. I have shocked a couple of moms earlier on the same response.

The first time I saw this reaction, I was shocked too ... I mean, did I say something wrong? something outrageous? But then, I soon discovered that Barney and Dora are the most popular characters amongst the babies and just-in-tots. So whoever watched TV (television) watched these. And watching TV was the most followed ritual in a baby's or tot's day - as much as a meal - more so because in many cases, having meals and watching TV always happened together.

Anyway, so the lady further asked me, 'so is she always out of the house?'
'Sorry?' I could'nt really understand what she meant.
'Do you always bring her out?'
'No, only mornings and evenings,' I paused and then quickly added (now knowing her interest in specifics), 'about 3-4 hours a day. Rest of the time we are at home.'
'so you have a large family?' the lady again.

In my memory, I've only been quizzed like this for my interviews.
'No just us - the 3 of us - TV, my husband and I. And its just TV and I during the day, when my husband is off to work.'

'Then, what does she do at home?' came the real big question.

For a moment I was in a haze. Really, what does she do at home?

Just then another activity began in the class and we got busy in there. But the question echoed in my mind. And I decided to answer it to myself. Following is my observation of TV's schedule.

7 to 7:30 am - wakes up
then until 9 am - the morning rituals. She's a part of our morning activities like;
breakfast - we try to have the breakfast together,
newspaper browsing - she flips through the papers, watches photographs tries to copy the expressions if it's an amusing one or spots and tells what she knows like 'monkey' 'car' 'blue' and these days looks for the alphabet 'O' - chotta o, big O
dad's getting ready to office - she actually helps him - passing his wallet, shirt to him as he gets ready. Then follows him till the lobby and gets back in after an elaborate bye bye.

9 to 10 is generally our getting ready time, when I also do some of my lunch cooking.

10 is generally the time when we go out, if we go out that is. I take her with me for my badminton once a week. Then we go to drama class once a week. Then sometimes it's shopping or to a park, or swimming and playing in our condo. Weekends is when we generally go to people's places or have them over or go on picincs or siteseeing or events.

When we don't go out in the mornings, I like to cook an elaborate meal, with music in the background. TV gets involved - passing the peppers or using her toy kitchen or simply moving to the music, getting me to join the dance ocassionally.

12 noon is our lunch time (minus Television) and that's an elaborate one. We talk during lunch, about food, what we are eating, the colors on our plate. We sing some rhymes. At times, when I see TV finding it difficult to sit at one place and have her food, then I get her involved with a story. But as a rule, she would get up from her seat only when she's done. When she gets up in between, I assume she's done.

Then while I am doing the dishes or cleaning up, TV is either with her chotta broom or exploring the cabinets or busy with her toys or board books or simply talking or singing. She can now actually entertain herself for at least 40-50 minutes at a stretch (good for me).

By the time we are done, it's 2 pm. That's when we retire to our bedroom - for a nap. Now this is the process (putting her to sleep) that get's the best of me - creativity, patience and perseverance. (Nap she must, else she starts getting tired by 5). Or sometimes it's my reward time, when I get to nap while TV is busy with her antics (generally, reading books aloud or singing - in half gibberish). But what she really finds engaging is sorting her clothes, or trying to fold a kerchief - I leave a couple of her clothes and a napkin/ kerchief on the bed. After the 'going to nap' process, TV actually falls asleep sometime between 3 to 3:30 and after a quick nap, is up before 5.

Evenings on weekdays is generally papa-TV time when they either go out or we go out or they just play together at home. Then we have some evening rituals (which we try to follow regularly) like saying prayers (TV can now say 'shubham karotu' herself) dining together, reading books or telling stories before going to bed (which is generally between 10 to 10:30 for TV - much earlier for dad)

Well, that's what we generally do at home. Of course then there's always some music running in the background and at times TV and I dancing to the music, or humming some rhymes or making some ourselves, doing household chores - in a fun way, meeting friends, playdates, just going for strolls, watching the gardener or cleaners at work, or just watching birds, ants, snail, squirrels, butterflies in the garden.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pretty pretty girl!

We were at a dinner last Saturday, with of course TV in tow. She was wearing a red polka dot skirt and a really elegant white (lace) blouse (thanks to her dear aunts). Oh these kids clothes - they are so pretty. And our dear daughter looked really cute in the whole ensemble - with her white Pediped shoes.

A lady at the dinner, commented on TV's 'pretty' shoes, while I was talking with another lady sitting beside me. By the time I could complete the dialogue we'd just started, TV was carrying on her own conversation. And the conversation went like so;

'You have a pretty pair of shoes, little girl.'
'Skirt?' TV, pausing for a response.
Possibly the lady did'nt know what the little girl was hinting at.
So my little girl, without much ado, guided her. 'Skirt, pretty?'
'Oh yeh, what a pretty skirt too.'
'...and a pretty blouse.'
'Oh, sorry! I did'nt notice the little pretty button on your blouse.'
'Aai?' (mom - that's me)

That's where I intervened, rescuing the poor rich lady from calling me pretty (even if for the sake of the little girl).

We laughed the situation out but I hope this isn't the sign of times to come and the kind of social talks my little girl would get into!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Review - Book

From Head to Toe
by Eric Carle

We've been getting Eric Carle books for TV for a long time now, starting with of course his classic - The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

But 'From Head to Toe' has proved to be the most engaging, entertaining and inspiring book for TV by Eric Carle. The pictures are bright and beautiful, a typical Carle. The rhythm and repetition is great and effective, again as always. But what's special about this book it's 'play with me' format.

I am a ---- and I do -----. Can you do it? I can do it!

Different animals doing different actions - from head to toe. Like a penguin turning head, a monkey swinging arms, a crocodile wriggling hips, elephant stomping his foot. And the repeated use of the Can you do it? question by these animals actually got TV to respond in a 'Yes, I can do it!' like the kids in the book and actually DO it.

The book is like a game that the seasoned picture book artiste-author plays with kids!

Besides the engaging format of a game, what TV also enjoys and mimics is the different expressions on the kids faces. As a mother what I also liked was a subtle introduction to different animals and what their peculiar traits are.

RAW rating - *****

Thursday, July 30, 2009


TV has been almost always a part of our shopping expeditions (we had no choice to start with.) And mind you, she is quite an active part of her own shopping - so much so that I forecast that by her second birthday, we'll be playing passive spectators while she's shopping for herself.

Actually it so happened, that as new parents (and even new grandparents, aunts) we would be tempted to buy stuff for her - clothes, toys, accessories, board books and games. And as a result, by her first birthday, we had a whole lot of everything for her. The gifts on TV's first birthday only added to the largely underutilized treasure of baby stuff.

Also, TV is hardly a toy person. Her love for any new toy, stays only for the first half an hour until she has explored the 'new thing'. Then ocassionally she plays with any of her toys for a maximum of 5 min. I don't know if its same with all babies and toddlers. Or that we have not been able to really get her and keep her interested in the toys.

So post her first birthday, if we come across something really really exciting and worth taking, we have TV explore the toy in the store itself. We leave her with it for 15 min while we would check something else. If her excitement stays and if she doesn't shrug and say 'done' then we pick it up.

Even in case of clothes, she has her mind and opinion on what we should buy. As for shoes / accessories, TV is ready to try them on, look in the mirror, look around at others to see what they say and then make a choice.

There have been times when she has made demands for things we never intended to buy. And we have so far been able to not give in to those 'oh-so-cute' looks. We either convince or distract her and move on.

Thanks to her exposure to the whole process of shopping - she has now learned a few key lessons;

1. Make a list of things you want to buy and stick to the list ('that's not on our list' a good tool to convince her that we dont need abc yet)

2. Look around, try and make a choice.

3. You cannot just lift things from a shop. You need to 'pay' for it.

4. That's how things come in our house.

5. It's indeed hard work

6. Mom and dad also need some things for themselves

Involving her in this highly important activity also leaves us some room to spend time shopping for ourselves. And may I add that she's turning out to be an extremely helpful daughter who would also pick up things for us - 'this yon (one)?' just the way we do it for her!

In Seach of a perfect Preschool

Last couple of weeks our family has been busy viewing preschools for our bright little one. Of course our internet survey and literature survey about preschools started much before that.

TV is just 20 months, but we feel she is ready for a pre school. She is able to communicate, almost potty trained, can self feed finger food, seems to have grown out of all the 'mums and tots' activities and most importantly is getting very demanding.

So we've been to practically to all the relevant playschools around, ranging from a good neighborhood play school to national and international preschool chains.

My new found knowledge about preschool education has indeed got me interested in the area of business opportunity. And no wonder that the area, which did'nt seem to be significant earlier, is seeing rapid mushrooming of preschools everywhere.

So I've seen a couple of montessori schools. Here mixed age group kids direct the course of their own learning, along various areas of intelligence - sensorial, mathematical,language,cultural, language and practical life skills. This essentially happens through the montessori materials, toys and activities.

Then of course there are some versions of the montessori schools. And some are its distant relatives, like the one I saw - a school for multiple intelligences.

And then there are many preschools whose sole mission is to prepare the tots for entry into primary schools - they teach alphabet, numbers, colors etc through flashcards or rote. Some of these have a national/international curriculum developed by experts in preschool education.

Some are just day cares - no major educational/developmental objectives here.

I was particularly impressed with an education system from a village in Italy - Reggio Emilia. The system is based on the principle of 'play based education'. In this an environment conducive to playing (generally intending at driving some learnings) is said to be child's 'third teacher'. And the teachers are supposed to be learners, documenting every bit of the child's actions and developments and in the process learning about the child's interests, aptitudes, behavior and development. Very few schools know and offer this program. And no doubt a promising concept that it is, as their is no standard training/ endorsement or accredition of the schools following this system, much is left to the people executing it.

I've taken to studying the system of Reggio Emilia seriously. But meanwhile, we've enroled TV in a play school that offers the flexibility of going 2 days a week, 2 hours a day. I feel that's a reasonable start for a 22-month-old. Besides this school offers free play, story time, music time and arts. But for us what it really offers TV is a professionally-supervised 2-hour opportunity to interact with other kids, adults and the environment, when mom and dad are not around. What it really offers her is an opportunity to open up and come into her own, regardless of our presence/absence. An opportunity to becoming independent and facing the (tiny) world. To know different people from her own experience and in the process to discover herself. And if this comes in a playful and fun environment, that is surely how a first-school-experience should be like:)


TV and I went shopping today. After an hour and a half of pushing her around in the shopping cart, while finding and picking up things and then checking out and loading our 'shopping bags' (with TV's chotti bag) in the taxi, I sat back and relaxed.

And guess what my 20 month old was upto? Talking on her toy phone (I told you, she packs her own bag as well).

'Are you answering the missed calls?' I ask

'Huh' a cold response as she continued further. 'Hullo lata (that's my friend by the way). I home today.'

A long pause, while still holding the phone by her ear, as she took time to look out of the taxi - probably checking if the cabbie was taking us in the right direction.

'OK OK', the phone call continues, 'achcha achcha'

By now, our cabbie looked surprised from the rare view mirror. Then as he stopped on the traffic light, turned back to look at the little girl on my lap.

'Busy, she's working from home today,' I justified.

'snoogums boogums shopping,' TV continued, undistracted.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Typical TV Talk Titbits (T4)

'apla apla (on my own)'

'no, no. no gana (song) today' - when her dad starts to sing.

'ga-gai (sleep/nap) done'

'more?' to dad, during meals, generally once he is just done, seeing his empty plate.

'my paysure (pleasure)' even before we say thank you - generally when she thinks she's helping mom.

Getting ready to go out!

While TV and I were getting ready to go out today, something really funny happened.

As usual, I got ready, got TV ready and I was packing some snack for her in the kitchen. While I was doing that, TV -busy as usual- was running all over the house - into her room, our study, bedroom.

She is a chatter-box and has an uncanny way of giving a commentary of whatever she's doing. So I could hear from the kitchen, my little walkie-talkie in action.

'TV chhotti (little) bag'
'TV chootta (little) shone (phone)'
'TV keys'

By the time I was done, I realised that my little one had packed her own bag with the 'most important' items just the way I do.

Art Class

Talking about art, I took TV to the art class when she was 11 months. Everyone around thought it was ridiculous to take such a tiny tot to a 'class'. But TV was exploring colors and textures at home and I thought the 'art exploration' will give us (her and I) the opportunity to have some more fun. Moreover, at 11 months, TV was not quite mobile and running around like others. She was barely crawling to reach things she wanted to but was not enjoying the 'crawling all over', unlike other babies her age. Besides, she seemed to show good attention span and focus. So I thought, I shall give it a try!

Our trial class, was messy - finger and hand painting:) The art teacher was great - being a trained artist as well as an early childhood educator. And TV loved to explore the gooey paints of different colors (a texture she was not exposed to before - for obvious reasons). She was amused about transfering the 'color' on hand onto the paper in the front. She was confused that while she was mish-mushing squish-squashing and getting her hands 'dirty', the grownups around (mom included) were applauding and encouraging. She sat through the activity for 20 -25 min - about half the class duration. Then I took her around to look at what the other tots were doing, and to see the beautiful paintings by kids exhibited on the walls. After this 10 min break, TV was back to her drawing board, with markers this time (her first time with such tool too.) During the 15 min with markers, she inspected them turning them over and over. The teacher, holding her hand made some dots on the paper, by barely touching the paper. She did'nt use them much that day - the way she should have. But on the next day, at home, with my pen and diary, she explored the tool thoroughly, while I was busy with a phone call.

Since this first day, we attended 10 sessions at the 'Mums and Tots Arts Class'. And during these, TV explored water paints, colored and textured papers, collage, canvass board, brushes, rollers, markers, hand paints, and other tools like strings, rubber bands on tissue rolls, bubble paper, golf ball, crushed paper/foil, wooden blocks.

By her sixth session (at around 12 and half months), TV was following teacher's directions and doing as per instructions (although she had her opinions, preferences and of course the power to say no). Her sixt session she sat through the entire 55 minutes, without a break. (WOW! believe me its not so easy.)

Our Art Rhyme:
Move Move Move the brush,
gently on the sheet,
merrily, newly, funnily, merrily,
art is such a treat!

By the end of the term, TV had some 40-45 original artworks - those made in the class with the teacher, and many made at home on the cue. Like once mom and dad were chatting at tea, TV ripped apart a small red envelope lying around, put those pieces in my glass of water, took them out and placed those pieces on another paper to create a collage to our surprise.

In the meantime, all our near and dear ones received a touch of TV's art on their special days - either as a painting or as a greeting card or a gift wrap on their gifts. I am not sure how many of them liked or appreciated her art, this practice turned out to be a great confidence boost and motivator for TV.
'It's my painting' 'I did something useful'.
And of course, whether the recipients found it worthwhile or now, everyone had a courtsey praise for it.
'Did you do it TV? that's so beautiful. Thanks for making this special for me.'
I realised that this simple practice also had another big impact. It projected little TV as an entity in her own right. Her presence was acknowledged in social gatherings. This 1 year old was greeted and talked to by adults even in busiest of parties. She had a significant role to play during gift exchange as we made it a point to get her to gift the pack to whoever it may be.

Well, we took a break from the art class after the 10 sessions. I do intend to take her back when she begins to understand more.

But meanwhile she now has a preferred tool - markers, with which she is 'paint-paint'ing away to her heart's delight and my peace of mind.

She has innovated different techniques with her favorite tool - mono-color, black and white, poke-a-painting, doodle-ing with both hands, circle-circle, marker and water...

Not to mention, now we have a lot of gift wrap and greeting card material and a few real 'master pieces', some of which we have displayed on our walls and some we intend to part off for the ones really special to TV!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


To our great surprise (and huge pleasure) TV can now identify at least 12 colors - even if they are fleeting; changing every second. She's 20 months and has not been exposed to flash cards yet.

The world is her classroom - the environment, nature, people around, books, photos, our home, she herself and of course us - mom and dad.

Down the memory lane, I think it was when she was 10 months, when I first introduced colors consciously to her.
'Would you wear a blue dress or a yellow one?' while pointing at the dresses.
'Hey, we got a red taxi today'
'Wow, look at these colorful fruits' in the supermarket. 'A yellow banana, red apple, green apple.'

She could'nt talk much then, but she's been very expressive and could express her excitement and curiosity. She seemed to be loving the color game. And her attention and observation were now focussed on colors.

She must have been looking around and spotting colors then. 'Blue taxi, orange uncle, red flowers'. I could see the sparks in her eyes.

We even had a color rhyme;
Pink pink flowers, pink pink flowers,
where are they, where are they, pink pink flowers?
- up on the green plants.
Green green plants, Green green plants,
where are they, where are they, Green green plants?
- rising from the brown brown soil.
Brown brown soil, Brown brown soil,
where is it, where is it, Brown brown soil?
- everywhere in our colorful garden,
- under the blue blue sky!

When she was 11 months, I took her to one of those 'mums and tots' arts programs. I think, her love and curiosity for colors grew and blossomed with the 'arts class'.

Around 13 months, when she could speak a few words, blue was the first color she spotted and labled as bu (or boo). Then it was red (jed). Although she would often confuse an orange with a red or a purple with a blue, she could identify the two main colors almost flawlessly.

It was only when she was 16 months she could add the third - yellow - to her list. But at this point, it was her turn to play our 'color game'.

'Bu taxi'
'Jed dess'
'Yellow umbella' (yes, umbrella! actually that was one of her very first words - starting with ummmb - ummmla - ummmbella!)

Of course, our 'color game' was an ongoing activity.
In kitchen,
'can you pass me the yellow pepper, now the green one, now the red tomato please and the orange carrot, now how about some white onion and now the last green zucchini)'
In dressing room,
'Should I wear a green shirt or a pink one on my white pants?'
In bed room,
'Hey, it's blue bedsheet today'
With board books
and of course, in the garden, on roads, at public places.

Starting with I initiating most of the times in the beginnning (from 10 - 16 months) to TV taking charge from the last couple of months.

Yesterday, while we were sitting by the waterfront, at dusk, TV observed reflection in the water of a color changing (neon) logo from a tall building. The colors changed every second (or even faster - I did'nt care to note that much). The waters were not still - with the ripples due to wind and an ocassional passing boat. The colors were not solid (the way they are on children's board books or on taxis or even flowers/leaves). And still, our 20 month old could identify every color the moment it appeared - Red, pink, green, orange, white, purple, blue, yellow!

We were thrilled to watch her make difference between sister colors (a yellow and orange, blue and purple, red and pink) reflecting on water!

A month later