Back to School!

I cannot believe this is my 3rd post of the Day!! It’s a MIRACLE!!

I’ve just got back from spending the afternoon with my son’s Kindergarten class! Today was his first day in Senior KG and I’m happy to report that both of us had a blast 😀 This despite the fact that my derriere is aching from sitting hunched in tiny rigid made-for-4-yr-old-butt chairs 😉 and notwithstanding the general brouhaha that occurs in a room full of 15  hyperactive, enthusiastic 5-yr-olds!!

I continue to be impressed with the teachers in the Podar Jumbo Kids Plus IB section. There are three teachers to attend to 15 children – a main teacher and two assistants, without whom I cannot imagine how they would manage to keep order 😛 These children are a handful – curious, impatient, fidgety and unique –  each in their own way. Getting them to concentrate on a single activity for 5 minutes at a time is in my opinion worthy of a Nobel prize 😉 The teachers at Podar do so with aplomb and have my utmost respect! Take a Bow Ladies 🙂

It was fascinating to see how far the education system has come since way back when I was a kindergartner myself! The children played, sang songs, modeled clay and watched stories all in the space of 4 hours, during which they also wrote their names on the board, drew objects that started with the first letter of each of their names and counted numbers! The learning is skillfully woven into fun activities so that the children scarcely regard it as a serious study process. Instead they imbibe knowledge true to the little sponges they are, by instinct and osmosis. I was pretty impressed with all the kids and happy to see that my boy – shy as he is in public, can hold his own in the classroom 🙂 It was an eye-opener and a wonderful experience and we Moms would be very happy to do it again some time 😛

Senior KG 1st day

I’m looking forward to another rewarding school year 🙂

Child’s Play!

Woohoo!!!!!!!! Survived another play date, with a trio of hyper-excitable, hyper-energetic, just about hyper-everything 4-yr-old boys 🙂 I mean, I love my child dearly, but why do the things that make him happy, have to be so exhausting for me?! This is when I’m convinced that if there is indeed a God, he is definitely a MAN 😛 😉 No offence to all you dedicated Papas out there (Hubby included), I know you exist, but well…Majority wins 😉

And yet, what is it about watching them play that brightens our days so and lightens our hearts?  What is it about the mad, seemingly chaotic running around that makes our hearts flip-flop madly in our chests and turn us into grinning idiots? Is it the instant flood of memories that rush us back to a time when we revelled in the gay abandon of rough and tumble play? Is it our craving for their obvious innocence as they caper about like monkeys, laughing & screaming for no reason, falling, fighting, and making up all in the space of seconds? Is that why we laugh while our hearts cry for our own lost youth?

Or perhaps it’s just their sparkling eyes, red sweaty cheeks & hoots of echoing laughter as they kick the ball high into the air, or run around like headless chickens looking for a place to hide in a madcap game of hide and seek, destined to fail because they will not stop giggling!! Boys giggle just as much if not more than girls, people! Especially 4-yr-olds! Whatever our reasons, however hoarse we get from the constant cautionary shots of ‘LOOK OUT!!!’, “Get OUT of the car’s way!!!!”, “NO GOING OUT THE GATE!!!!!!!!”, as much as we pretend constant worry at their hurting themselves – deep down inside, in our very cores, it is…what’s the word…Restful. Yes it is! Oh so Restful…and for those all too brief moments, All is Well with the World!!

colored hands

Cheers to children everywhere & how about indulging that inner child this weekend?

Go on – do something silly and laugh!! You know you want to 😉 

Happy Playing People 😀

Epiphany

This morning I had a moment. You know – the kind of moment that arrives without warning, usually offering a calm oasis in the midst of chaos. The kind of moment that comes sometimes from recognizing the truth but mostly from just accepting it. Yup…an epiphany.

I had a rather thorny start to my day. Granny had a fall on her way to the loo early this morning at 4 am. I was completely unaware of the fact until I came down all bleary-eyed in the morning. Thankfully, nothing’s broken, just some nasty bruising. At her age (she’ll turn 85 in April) though, I’ll take bruises over a fracture anytime! Unfortunately in characteristic fashion, I had been rather short with her. It’s just like me that. My concern always seems to manifest masquerade as irritation, especially with those I love. I don’t why that is, except to blame it on some genetic character flaw beyond my control or maybe it’s a defensive mechanism to mask my fear of losing my loved ones. Whatever the reasons, suffice it to say, when it’s time for Ishaan to leave for school, I am not in a good place.

He is outside as always, playing cricket with our driver and Pushpa, utterly oblivious to all of Mom’s flaws for the moment 🙂 Oh that it would stay like that forever! Hubby calls out. It’s time to leave and there’s a flurry of Goodbyes to Pushpa, Grandpa and Grandma. It’s a familiar scene, repeated every Monday through Friday before he leaves. Just before he climbs into the car, I hug him and hold him close, tousle his hair and tickle him while he lays his head on my shoulder, in the crook of my neck (a perfect fit :)). He erupts with laughter and climbs onto Hubby in the car. The sun is shining and my boy is happy. His eye’s are sparkling and his tiny nose is all scrounged up, crinkled with joy 🙂 Suddenly I am in awe of this perfect moment when nothing else matters but the happiness that radiates from my son in great big tidal waves 🙂 I know, I know, it’s crazy…we’ve done this a million times before, but today, although I’m laughing with him and squishing my nose against the car window making funny faces, inside I’m still. Something is different.

Magic smile!

There’s a strange duality to the moment. I’m suddenly aware of its fragility. Of the power of laughter & the healing that comes with happiness. Somewhere deep within, a load feels lighter. There are a million good things in this World and a million bad, but there’s not too many things that can’t be made better by the sound of your child’s laughter 🙂 But the moment is also symbolic of the power my son has over me. Of how my happiness is now forever linked with his and my eyes get teary – whether from joy or sadness is hard to say. Probably both. It’s scary but I feel cleansed.

I stand still and watch the road after the car is long gone. He’s growing up so quickly…too quickly. And that’s when it struck me. It’s always like this between parents and children isn’t it. Children moving away, parents left behind, happy, concerned, and proud. Did I think it would be any different for me? This is how it’ll always be…him leaving, me watching him go…happy, concerned, fingers crossed, like mothers everywhere.

I take a deep breath and walk back inside.

Drive. Dinner. Mr.Tickles!

The gist of my Saturday!

A glimpse of the Reis Magos fort...

The morning started out with a drive, its been a while since we’ve been on one…and the weather was perfect! Misty, crisp, breezy and a light drizzle. We set of in the direction of Coco Beach…we were in the vicinity for a family gathering on Monday last, and loved the surrounds 🙂 On the way, we stopped at the Reis Magos Fort (Goa has more forts than I had imagined. Apparently the Portuguese were keen fort-builders!), although we didn’t go up and explore it. That’s for another day.

Sea. Sand. Stone.

We did however stop by the road side and feel the breeze in our faces while taking in vistas of a heaving, choppy, Arabian Sea and the Panjim shoreline. At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum…I must say that Goa in the monsoons is enchantingly beautiful and the air you breathe…words fail me…suffice it to say…I feel ALIVE and it’s a good feeling 🙂

Colorful Sentinel!

We wandered on until we got to Coco beach and there stopped on a narrow road that ran along the bank of the Sinquerim river. It’s an idyllic spot…paddy fields stretching green all around, a temple in the midst of them, standing colorful guard, exuberant greenery bordering the road with tiny yellow and purple wildflowers that seemed to have attracted every butterfly and bee in the neighborhood, a pair of black ducks diving for fish and the river flowing smooth, it’s surface disturbed only by the soft pattering of random raindrops, providing safe harbor for resting fishing boats. Calm. Peaceful. Soothing. I could have stayed there forever…well for a few hours at least…urban soul that I am 😉 Ishaan enjoyed too and ran around yelling ‘Butata‘ (his word for Butterfly), trying hard to catch one! All in all…a fabulous morning 🙂

A typical Goan fishing village scene...

In the evening, we had dinner with family @ The Pan Asian Bowl, a restaurant that specializes in South-Asian cuisine, which means it’s got a great Indian-Chinese menu, of which most of my family (those who have good taste ;-)) are die-hard fans! Stuffed ourselves on Malaysian Chicken, which came with delicate rice noodles, fried (heaven!); Shrimp in chilli garlic sauce; Thai-style barbecue chicken; Fish Phoenix (I half expected the fish to rise from it’s sticky, red-brown sauce!); Burnt garlic rice and that old favorite American chopsuey!! Great food and company, a very decent Mojito to go with and an old favorite, a glass of Bailey’s on ice to finish of a fabulous evening 🙂 I wish I had pictures of the food (it was pretty too!), but it disappeared soon enough and I didn’t want any distractions while eating. So maybe next time! We didn’t take Ishaan along, leaving him at home with my Grandma and his Nanny, which brings me to Mr.Tickles 🙂

Enjoying the breeze 🙂

We were back home at 10.30 pm and all seemed quite within. I am disappointed…I hate it when I don’t get to tuck Ishaan in and say goodnight. It leaves me incomplete. I tip-toe to Granny’s room and the lights are out…further sinkage…I nudge the door open an inch and instantly hear, “Mama?” In a flash, he’s in my arms and all is well with the world!! In that moment, I remember Maura’s tag and the question about best compliments received…and I think…this is it,right here! My son gives me my best compliment every time he says Mama 🙂 Lots of kisses and hugs later, the scene shifts upstairs to our bed…and that’s when the tickling starts…he loves being tickled and it’s become part of our bed-time routine 🙂 Then the giggling begins and the sound of his laughter surrounds us. For a good 20 minutes we’re all lost in an orgy of tickling and laughter, until finally, spent, cheeks flushed and eyes shining bright…I hush him and crooning softly, coax him to sleep.

Oh Happy Day 🙂

Getting better…Day 3

The dawn of day 3 is a little scary since Ishaan hasn’t had a good night. He’s been restless and I can sense a cold in the offing…sigh…

We get to school in time, but today the crying starts as soon as we park and he sees other children milling around waving their goodbyes…it’s not the start I was hoping for! He’s beginning to cry and cling and pretty soon the tears flow freely. I harden my heart (I’m beginning to realize that it’s the one skill I’m going to have to master in as short a time as possible, if ever there was one!), and carry him down into the waiting arms of his teacher.

He disappears into the room, still calling out to me, arms outstretched…leaving me standing there, feeling like Monster Mom! Such are the joys of Motherhood! Today, I’m alone and as I sit on the ledge outside, my back to the school (lest he catch a glimpse of me), swinging my legs, I feel a lot like a school-kid myself – unsure, insecure, nervous and scared. If I feel like this at 41, how must he feel at 2? No…this is not helping…this is just making me feel worse then I already do. I feel like a coiled spring…watchful & tense, with no avenue of release. Positive thoughts…think positive thoughts…think positive thoughts…meanwhile the silence inside is vaguely disquieting but oddly comforting…

I look around the garden and decide to take a few pictures so I can show them to Ishaan later and because it gives me something to do (in typical hare-brained fashion have forgotten to bring a book and my camera!). I use my phone to click pictures of the two turtle statues and an earthen flower-pot shaped like a shell. I take pictures of the black-board outside, with its quote by Dr. Maria Montessori. I peer surreptitiously through the long window panes, trying to catch a glimpse of Ishaan, but he’s nowhere in sight and the silence persists. I should be happy…shouldn’t I be happy? He’s probably enjoying himself somewhere, having forgotten all about anxious Mom waiting outside. Why then do I mistrust the silence? Why is my heart not jumping with joy?  Why is everything to do with children a double-edged sword? Questions, questions…where are those positive thoughts when you need them?

The turtle!

A butterfly catches my eye…there are many and they offer welcome distraction. There are large Monarchs, others with opalescent wings, still others with white-rimmed, light-brown speckled wings and yet others with green and lemon-yellow wings that catch the sunlight and shine like green-gold! Pretty, delicate and uplifting. Then I catch sight of the centipedes crawling all over the garden…their fat chubby bodies moving smoothly, with equal ease both forwards and in reverse, on the wave-like motion of their hundred legs. Not so pretty (I’m not an insect person, except for butterflies), but still fascinating. They seem so purposeful, I envy them, sitting here swinging my legs, purposeless! The teacher appears and asks for his shoes. They’re taking him for a walk in the garden out back. Before I can ask, she assures me he’s fine. If only I were too!

The Shell!

I go back to my meandering thoughts and old school-memories come flooding back. I loved school and had a wonderful time, especially in Japan at the Stella Maris Convent, where I studied from grades 2 through 5. I think of Mrs. Rosario, my Grade 4 home room teacher, a stern-faced disciplinarian with a heart of gold. An excellent academician to boot! It’s hard to find teachers like her now. She took us girls in pairs to spend a night at her house, a great honor it was, though a little scary, and I remember walking down the lane by her home to watch the cherry blossoms in spring, while she spoke to us about seasons and nature 🙂 A practical lesson in science and a wonderful memory! Then there was Sr. Mary McDonald, the Principal, I still remember her calm countenance and smiling face. I don’t once remember her flustered or angry. And Mrs. Callan, my Grade 5 teacher, the first one to recognize my love for writing and encourage it. She had me write a letter in response to an appeal from a zoo where an elephant was sick. We collected money and sent it along with my letter and we received a letter of thanks in response. I remember feeling proud, the pride that comes from making someone you love and respect, happy! It’s a great feeling and it’s what I want for Ishaan…happy memories from school that he will treasure ever after! There are many more memories and I’m pleasantly lost…until I look down at my watch and it’s past 10 am!

The Quote!

The one hour is up and I am eager to see my boy, but it’s not to be…today they’ve decided to keep him for another half-hour (sigh), and he seems to be doing Ok. Suddenly, there he is at the window and he sees me as I’m talking to the teacher.’Oh Lord!’ I think, ‘Now he’s seen me and that’ll set him off again!” and I try to hide my bulky self as best and as quick as I can. He’s calling Mama and he’s tearful but he’s not howling. He’s told the teacher he needs to use the potty, and she leads him to me, but it’s a false alarm and he has to go back, which is when the crying begins again, which I confess (Monster Mom that I am), is oddly comforting!

But he goes back inside and quiets down and I stay outside. Hubby joins me and we wait together a while, before it’s time to leave. This time he walks out to me, holding his teacher’s hand and he’s not crying. He’s happy as a button to see hubby and runs straight into his arms 🙂

And so, another day is done…not too bad at all…rather well done methinks…I pat myself on the back before I bury my nose and inhale the sweet, sweaty fragrance of his hair 🙂

Juiced!

Nani & Baccha 🙂

Ishaan has developed a taste for sweet lime juice 🙂 It’s now become a darling routine between my Mom and him! Every morning after his shower, he rockets into the kitchen, looking for Mom, and demanding, “Nani, Joosh!”, holding out his hand for his sipper full of the pale-yellow, sweet and sour liquid that is his morning ambrosia! I’m not exaggerating! His obsession with juice has reached such proportions, that it’s now the first thing he asks for when he stops to catch his breath after his morning cricket session!

Two things amaze me – he never asks anyone but my Mom for it, and he doesn’t drink any other kind of juice! I know, I’ve tried, when Mom got all panicky because the sweet-lime season was drawing to a close and “What would her darling drink then?” Luckily, she was over-reacting as always and sweet limes, I discover, much to everyone’s relief are available all year round, even here, in the backwaters of Goa! They do not always however pass her high standards of juice-worthiness, and I often overhear her mumbling about how dry they are and how even the juice from four fruit is barely enough at times to fill half a sipper!

She has rules – like she does for most everything else – she will not use more than four fruit (it’s an imaginary limit she has set, beyond which tummy upsets and other dangers lurk!); every fruit is carefully selected on the basis of clear, thin skin (thinner skin = more juice & no blemishes for her darling!) and ripeness. The chosen ones are then rolled vigorously between the palms of her hand and the cool granite of the kitchen platform to release every last drop of their precious nectar. Then they are carefully washed (she has this down to an art ;-)) and dried, sliced cleanly in half and each golden hemisphere, squeezed on an old handheld juicer that thanks to this routine has now received a new lease of life! Then the juice is strained again through a strainer into a vessel, both of which she has set aside for this process (I am not kidding!), and seasoned with a pinch of salt and sugar to taste. A vigorous stir, and now at last, it’s ready for the prince and his sipper 😛 The whole process takes her about 20 minutes – the juice is drained by Ishaan in a single non-stop gulp, in under two!

And yet for my Mom, this morning ritual, I like to think, must be therapeutic. It is her special bond with Ishaan – unique, sweet and juicy 😀 She takes it very seriously and it would upset her no end if for some reason, he had to go without! As for me, this is one of those many times that I am grateful for being in Goa with my parents, while raising Ishaan! Grandparents are the best and I’m a lousy juicer!

p.s. The sweet-lime, also known as citrus limetta (now you know how much time I have on my hands ;-)) is native to south and south-east Asia and is also cultivated in the Mediterranean. And India, with about 16% of the world’s overall lemon and lime output, tops the production list! I call that Destiny 😉

Serendipity…

Last night…I had a moment…one of those much-needed, unexpected, ‘all is well with the world’ kind of moments…

I was out all day at a medical CME on Pediatric Rheumatology and had spent Sunday, away from my munchkin, listening to lectures on how to diagnose, investigate and treat children with all kinds of joint aches and pains and other related issues. That’s the thing about Pediatrics, while it is uplifting to be of help to children, it is hard (though necessary of course) to have to sit through images and cases of those same children suffering from all kinds of problems and for the most part, being ever so brave about pain and life in general. It’s heartbreaking and yet so incredibly…I don’t know…I can’t seem to find the right words to describe their extraordinary courage, but I know they have my complete and total admiration – I salute them! So after watching pictures of children suffering from all manner of deformities, I came home rather jaded, looking to escape reality, for sweet release from a day of overwhelming medical jargon and debate. I was anesthetized from all the listening and thinking I had been forced to do and longed for my two tried and tested ‘stress-busters’ – my boy’s impish smile and a comfy bed! I needed a renewal of spirit.

Back home, after a quick dinner, I gathered up Ishaan and off we went, upstairs to bed. Lying down, side by side, we curled up, rather like a dog curls up on itself, with its tail tightly wound around its body, a ball of warm fur 🙂 That’s when I realized, how well he & I fit together 🙂 How wonderfully he fills the hollow spaces in and around me, physically, emotionally, spiritually, with his presence –  his fragrance, his smile, his fingers that clasp mine. How beautiful it is to hear him whisper “Mama” as only he can, how one deep look into his sleep-drenched, liquid eyes makes my life, my world, this planet a better place…and to know that here – I am needed, I am loved, I am safe, I am home 🙂

Serendipity 🙂

Mother & Son

I wrote this a while ago but couldn’t think of a title until recently. It came to me when I realized that I was thinking of the bond between my brother and my Mom – unique, special & unbreakable. They were so dependent on each other, their lives so entwined that it seemed sometimes like they existed in a universe all their own, unreachable to the rest of us ‘mere mortals’. They always seemed perfectly in sync with each other, something I’ve never felt with my Mom – you know how it is between mothers & daughters!

And so I guess, this is my ode to their relationship of mutual compassion, nurturing and love…

He found her waiting for him, one misty winter morn,
She sat silent beside him, in the slowly waking dawn.
He thought she felt familiar, like an old and trusted friend,
Her eyes shone kind and gentle, her presence a godsend.

“Who are you?” he ventured, “Have I seen you before?”
“Why do you seem so lonely? Tell me,” he implored.

She smiled at him and said, at once both sweet and sad,
“I have this longing in my heart, I think I always had.
My story is the same as yours, for I am but your shadow,
I feel all that your heart does, your dreams, your joys, your sorrow.”

Gazing into those wise brown eyes, twin windows to her soul,
What he witnessed, deep within, shook him to his core.
He saw in them his loneliness, his darkest thoughts and fears,
Rage and guilt and tears he saw, piercing liquid spears.

Stunned, he dropped his eyes to earth, shielded from her gaze,
He wondered how she would survive, the awful burden of his fate.

She looked at him once more, with her wry and tender smile,
“I carry all your weight,” she said, “so you may rest awhile.
So give me all your troubles, your worries and regrets,
Let me smooth away your pain & ease your tortured breath.”

In her honeyed voice, she sang to him, he gave in to her plea,
The best thing he ever did, was lay his head upon her knee,
He gave in to deep slumber, as she softly stroked his face.
And found his peace in dreamless sleep, grace in hallowed space.

Come morning, when he awoke, to a world awash in dew,
Together they rose, Mother and Son, refreshed, alive, renewed.

– Harsha