Now my son had entered preliminary school. He was known to be very talkative and naughty kid. One day I received a call from his school. His teacher told me that he disturbed the class. He intentially gives attention seeking answers. I aksed her what was the matter. She narrated the following incident.
She was a Maths teacher. She was teaching the class about units of measurement. While teaching she had asked the class if they had ever noticed the measurements like 1 kg, 500 grams or 1 litre written on certain packed items. My son had promptly replied, “Yes, on “Daru ki bottle”. After this answer there was ruckus in the class. Kids started laughing, clapping and lot of time had lost in bringing the class under control. I assured the teacher that I would speak to my son.
I was also surprised by this answer. Of all things “Daru ki bottle” was a bit too much. All of us are teetotalers. Even most of our acquaintances are likewise. I don’t even remember going to any party with my kid where alcohol was served. I spoke to my husband. Even he seemed clueless. It appeared that we would have to speak to our son directly to know the secret. We had to be very careful. In the evening I asked him casually.
Me: These days whats up at school? What new topic are they teaching these days?
After couple of other topics he reached “Units of Measurement” I immediately caught the thread. And asked him where all he had seen measurements written?? He mentioned couple of items and then mentioned “Daru ki bottle”
Me: Daru ki bottle? Where have you seen “Daru ki bottle”? We don’t consume it.
Son: Arre Mamma, yesterday I was coming home with Daddy from day care. On the road I stumbled upon Daru ki bottle. So when teacher asked where you had seen measurements before I remembered that bottle.
Me: Oh! It’s ok. But how did you know that it was indeed a “Daru ki bottle”?
Son: Because of it’s shape.
He traced the peculiar shape of liquor bottles in the air.
Me: How do you know that Daru ki bottle has this peculiar shape??
Me: Teachers?? What do you mean by teachers?? Teacher told you it is liquor bottle??
Son: No Mamma, hoarding! It’s the hoarding!!
Me: Will you please tell me what are you blabbering??
Son: There is that big hoarding on way to school, you remember?
Me: Yes, what of that?
Son: Mamma, that hoarding has big ad of Teacher’s!!
Finally it dawned on me. The hoarding had big advertisement of famous liquor brand – Teacher’s Highland Cream.
This is how my son had deduced bottle he had stumbled upon was “Daru ki bottle”. I was aghast. After listening to this I had no heart of telling off my kid about the teacher’s complaint. I just decided to let go off the incident. When he will grow he will automatically understand the difference between what is socially acceptable and what is not!! Till then the answer that the measurement is written on “Daru ki bottle” holds good for me. What about you??
My limited point in this incident is don’t just get panicked by complaints from school. Nor scold the child without having meaningful dialogue. Have faith in your upbringing as well as have faith in your kid. Give him opportunity to explain himself.
One day my kid came home in an irritated mood. He was very very angry with his Hindi teacher. I asked him patiently what was the matter. He told me that the Hindi teacher had scolded him for no reason in front of whole class. He started narrating.
Son: Today the teacher was teaching us a poem in Hindi class. It was about importance of time. While teaching she asked “पल पल इकठ्ठा हो कर क्या बन जाता है?” (What do moments in time add up to?)
Son: I answered “घंटा” (an hour). Then the other kids in the class started laughing and teacher scolded me in the class. Did I say anything wrong Mamma??
I could sense the righteous anger in his tone. I heaved a sigh. Technically speaking there was nothing wrong in his answer. The catch was that Marathi being his mother tongue he didn’t know the Hindi slang. Literally speaking घंटा in Hindi means an hour. But in slang the same word has a vulgar meaning. The kids who knew this meaning laughed and created ruckus in the class. The teacher who knew this slang had scolded him and my son who didn’t know this slang was totally clueless. I pacified my son. I had to tell him that there was absolutely nothing wrong in his answer. But at the same time I had to explain him the how the word was used in slang. In slang it either meant “nothing” or “penis”. The teacher had obviously thought that he had purposely used this double meaning word in class and had scolded him. After listening to this he was pacified to some extent but some glitch remained in his mind.
In all this I appreciated the fact that the teacher was vigilant in the class and she had paid attention to the language kids were using. But one thing bothered me and it was that my son didn’t know why he was scolded. I decided to speak to his teacher. I made an appointment and met her.
I narrated the full incident to her. She recollected it easily. Firstly, I appreciated her keen attention towards the kids. Then I told her that I had absolutely no problem in teachers reprimanding my son if he made mistakes or if he misbehaved. But at the same time I expressed my concern that the child did not know why he was reprimanded. If he did not know the reason for scolding he would not be able to amend his behavior and he would end up having a grudge against teacher. I requested her to ensure that the kid knows the reason when they are reprimanded. After listening the teacher also agreed with my view point.
Friends some times it happens with us also. We are adults and our thinking pattern is governed by social acceptance norms. But kids are more impulsive and may not understand our view. If admonishment or punishment is required then do so but let the kid know the reason. Else how the kid would understand where he went wrong or where he needs to improvise.
Come to think of social acceptance norms I remember one more incident regarding measurements on liquor bottle. Let’s meet next week with a new story.
२०१९ हे वर्ष आम्हा सगळ्यांना एक्दम गडबडीचे आणि बऱ्याच बदलांचे होते. मुलींचे अरंगेत्रम , निहारिकाचे कॉलेज यामुळे हे वर्ष कधी सुरु झाले आणि सरले ते कळले पण नाही .म्हणून शेवटी क्रिसमस सुट्टीत कॅंकून ला जायचे ठरवले. मेक्सिकोच्या आग्नेय दिशेला कॅरिबियन समुद्र किनाऱ्यावर वसलेले हे गाव. एकदम आपल्या गोव्याची आठवण करून देणारे. आमची हे पहिलीच मॅक्सको बाजूची ट्रिप होती. मेक्सिको भौगोलिक साधारण भारतासारखे आहे, खूपशी झाडे आपल्याकडे असतात तीच. कण्हेर, तगर, तेरडा, बोगनवेल सदाफुली सगळीकडे बहरलेली. आकाशी नीलमणी समुद्र, नितळ निळे आकाश आणि पांढरी स्वच्छच मऊ वाळू. अजून काय पाहिजे सुट्टीसाठी ? पण आम्ही आता साधे नाही राहिले, बरच अमेरिकावासी झालो आहोत. ऑल इन्कलुसिव्ह रिसॉर्ट पण लागते हे सगळे अजून एन्जॉय करायला . या रिसॉर्ट मध्ये होती ८ रेस्टोरंटस, २ कॉफी शॉप्स, स्पा, ३ स्विमिन्ग पूल आणि पाहिजे ते बसल्या जागी आणून देणारा सेवकवर्ग
आमचे रिसॉर्ट ड्रीम्स रिव्हिएरा
या रिसॉर्ट मधले सगळ्यात पॉश रेस्टोरंट होते ते फ्रेंच. तिकडे आत जाण्यासाठी ड्रेस कोडे पण होता, पुरुषांचे कॉलर वाले शर्ट आणि पँट्स, शॉर्ट्स चालत नाहीत. बायकांचे ड्रेस किंवा पार्टी टॉप्स, जीन्स नाहीत, स्लीपर्स नाहीत वगैरे. आम्ही बाहेर मेनू पाहिला , एकमेव व्हेजिटेरिन डिश सलाड. पण तरी विचार केला एकदा जावेच. दोन तास बाहेर थांबल्यावर आत प्रवेश.
एकदम सुंदर टेबले, छान म्युजिक , प्रशांत वातावरण
पण वेटर छान होता. तो म्हणाला तो व्हेज डिश अरेंज करेल. तिथले जेवण पाच कोर्स वाले.
पहिले आले अँपेटीझर. एका सुंदर प्लेटमध्ये अर्ध्या चेरी टोमॅटोवर,चीज आणि अर्धे द्राक्ष
दुसरा कोर्स सलाड. ४ पाने आणि ड्रेसिंगची सुंदर ओळ
तिसरा कोर्स बटाटा सूप. आख्खे तीन चमचे भरून होते ते.
मग मेन कोर्स . त्याचं वर्णन ५ ओली होते मेनू कार्ड मध्ये पण आली डिश ती मधल्या बोटाच्या लांबीची ग्रेप लीव्हज मधली गुंडाळी .
मग डेसर्ट २ घास (छोटे बरं )केक आणि २ घास आईस क्रिम
मग कळले कि फ्रेंच लोक इतके बारीक कसे राहतात ते. आम्ही आपले बाहेर आलो , खाली वर्ल्ड कॅफेला जाऊन पास्ता खाल्ला आणि मग पोट भरले .
दुसऱ्या दिवशी आम्ही गेलो शेल-हा या वॉटर पार्क आणि डॉल्फिन ऍडव्हेंचरला . आम्ही पाहिलेल्या सगळ्या पार्कपेक्षा एकदम वेगळी नैसर्गिक पार्क आहे ही . स्नॉर्केलिंग केले, मुलीनी क्लीफ डायविंग केले, प्रचंड मोठी वॉटर स्लाईड होती. पाण्याची गुहा पाहिली .
मग पाळी होती डॉल्फिनची. . त्यांना शिकवलेले असते, त्यामुळे तुमच्या जवळ येतात, कसरती करतात, त्यांना टच केले तरी चालते. सुंदर फ्रेंडली प्राणी .
एक दिवस झिपलाइन पार्क केली. उंच उंच जायचे आणि १० वेगवेगळ्या स्पीड आणि अंतराच्या झिपला लटकून यायचे. खाली बघायची भीती वाटत होती पण मजा ही येत होती. सगळ्यात वेगळे होते ते झिप रोलर कोस्टर . तुम्हाला शेवट दिसत नाही आणि किती वरखाली आहे ते पण कळत नाही.
मेक्सिकोला पण भारतासारखा इतिहास आहे. खूप जुने पिरॅमिड्स आहेत, उत्खलन केलेली आहेत. आम्ही अशाच एका ठिकाणी गेलो होतो . कोबा नावाची जागा आहे. मायन लोकांनी देऊळ बांधली आहेत. त्यांची देवळे आपल्यासारखी नाहीत. पूर्ण सपाट जागी असल्यामुळे, त्यांना देऊळ म्हणजे टेकडी बांधावी लागायची. टेकडी म्हणजे देऊळ त्यांचे, आत गाभारा वगैरे नाही. दर बावन्न वर्षांनी त्याच देवळावर नवीन देऊळ बांधायचे. असे करत करत उंची वाढवत जायची देवळाची. वरती जायचे आणि निसर्ग देवतेला (वरुण , सुर्य ,अग्नी ) प्रार्थना आणि बाकी काही अर्पण करायचे. जवळ जवळ १२ माजली उंच देऊळ ते. चढलो पण उतरताना दोरी धरून बसून बसून उतरावे लागले.
मेक्सिको भागाचे अजून एक वैशिष्ठ म्हणजे सिनोटे. जमिनीखाली गुहा आणि त्याचे छप्पर पाहून एक भोक पडलेले आणि पाण्याने भरलेलं . मेक्सिको भाग पूर्ण चुनखडीच्या दगडाचा आहे. त्यामुळे जमीन मऊ म्हणून अशी सिंक-होल तयार होतात. पूर्वीच्या काळी हेच त्यांचे प्यायच्या पाण्याचे स्रोत होते. अजूनही मायन लोक तिकडे जाण्यापूर्वी पूजा करून जातात. आम्ही कधीही अनुभवले नव्हते अशा जागा आहेत त्या. ५० फूट रॅपलिंग करून दोरीला धरून खाली जायचे. अंधारी गुहा, पण मोठी, स्विमिन्ग करता येते. वटवाघुळे फिरत होती. वरच्या मॅन्ग्रोव्ह झाडांची मुळे लटकत होती . स्वच्छ पाणी, सगळा खालचा तळ दिसतो. तिकडे स्विमिन्ग करताना मजा आली.
सिनोटेचा दुसरा प्रकार म्हणजे पूर्ण जमिनीने घेरलेले पण मध्यभागी उघडे. तिकडेही एक दिवस स्विमिन्ग केले.
प्लाया डी कार्मेन हे जवळचे अजून एक गाव. फाईव्ह स्टार तुळशी बागेसारखी दुकाने एका बाजूला आणि शॉपिंग मॉल्स दुसऱ्या बाजूला. शेवटी समुद्र किनारा. बोटींच्या स्वागतासाठी किनाऱ्यावर मोठी कमान होती.
जवळ जवळ सगळे फोटो आम्ही काढलेले आहेत, पण काही वेबसाईट वरून घेतले कारण आम्हाला काढायला परवानगी नव्हती.
By now my kiddo had started reading books. He was growing and he was very observant. That’s why he used to get so many questions. Encyclepedia used to give many answers. But Mamma was the ultimate solution when it came to little odd questions.
One night I found my kiddo in little thoughtful mood. He called me, “Mammaaaa….” I immediately went into attentive mode. He seemed little hesitant to ask question. Mamma’s sixth sense had already sensed that something odd or awkward was coming. I said, “Fire away your querry”
Kiddo: Mamma why you are fat in chest? Look at me and Daddy. We have such flat chests.
For a moment I felt little awkward. In my mind the reflex action was wrapping my hands around my chest and thinking why my kid asks me such questions. But my experience had taught me that any reaction which would suggest that there is something abnormal/ odd/ awkward about the question would surely invite some drama or some kind of mention in public. Kids are very adept at sensing this. They read our body language much better than our words. So without betraying my true emotion I answered.
Me: That’s because the body of man is little different than the body of a woman. Woman’s body is supposed to perform few different functions. So the shape is also little different. You only tell me who carries the baby in womb??
Son: Of course a woman.
Me: Then in that case only a woman will have womb and not man, right?
Me: The nature has designed bodies very carefully. All types of living creatures are bestowed with the instinct to provide food to babies till they grow. Now look at birds. Normally the mother bird remains with babies and father bird brings the food and and feed babies. Though in some species it may be little different. You remember the cat at Nani’s place who had given birth to kittens??
Me: You remember how the kittens used to drink their Mamma’s milk??
Me: Same is the case with puppies. Mamma dog feeds the babies with her milk. Cow feeds calves with her milk. Normally all these animals feed their babies with their milk till the babies grow and they are capable of finding their own food.
Same is the case with humans. The Mamma feeds her baby with her milk.
Son: what?? Mammas can produce milk??
Me: Yes. That’s why women have milk glands in their breasts. Men do not have milk glands. That’s the reason why her chest shape is different than man’s chest.
Son: Did you also feed me with your milk?
Son: But then how come we have a photo of me drinking milk from bottle?
(Gosh! This boy is so observant!!)
Me: That’s because my milk was not sufficient to feed you. So first you used to drink my milk then I used to give you milk formula or cow milk.
Son: Mamma, even now you have milk??
Me: Nope. The nature has done its own magic. The milk production starts after baby’s birth. As the baby grows we start giving babies other foods like rice, kheer, fruits etc. Automatically the baby starts drinking lesser milk. Slowly the milk production stops.
My son was listening carefully. After all this conversation all he remarked was “Oh! That’s why your banyaan’s shape is so wierd…”
Afterall boys will be boys!!
My last word to my son was “By the way this kind of ladies banyaan is called as brassiere or simply bra.” He rolled his eyes and turned his face.
Friends, why we feel awkward about such questions is may be due to our shyness or culturally we are not used to discuss such topics. We are not taught to talk freely about body. Curiosity about the anatomy is very natural. So let’s talk about our bodies freely at least when kids demand information. Discretion is definitely required while talking to kids. But try to open up with kids and keep their question bank going!! As I said in my earlier blogs reiterating again let the kids come and ask you rather than depend on friends or Internet for answers!!
In my last blog we read about how my kiddo started handling encyclepedia since the age of 2. Encyclopedia was his most favorite book. Just imagine a kind of story he would narrate.
Once we were going out with our kiddo in our car. One of our acquaintances joined us. My kiddo was very talkative. So he was very happy to have new company and insisted on sitting with this new aunty. They started chitchatting. Suddenly he said, “Aunty I will tell you a story” Aunty was very delighted. Normally small kids demand stories from elders. But here the kid was volunteering to narrate a story. She happily consented. My kiddo started, “I will tell you a story of carnivorous plant”
Kiddo: Yes aunty. But I am telling you full story. Please listen…
Aunty: Ok ok.. tell me.
Kiddo: There are carnivorous plants. They eat flies, insects. They have bright, nice colors. The insects get attracted by these colors. There is one plant called sundew plant. When insect sits on that plant it’s hair curl. The insect sticks and is not able to go away. Slowly the plant curls around insect and absorbs nutrients. The other parts of the insect just stay outside.
Aunty: Where do you find these horrible plants??
Kiddo: They are found where the soil is thin or it is poor in nutrients..
Kiddo had finished telling his story and he was now busy looking outside the car window.
The aunty was still quiet with shock. She had expected any story but this. Finally she said, “What kind of story is this? Can’t he talk normal?” I laughed my heart out. I told her that the kiddo keeps reading encyclopedia and this was one of his favorite stories. She just said something “umm..ok alright”
Now whenever my kiddo is around she goes in attention mode and proceeds cautiously!! Because if she is not cautious he has huge stock of stories ready ranging from nebula, tornadoes, volcanoes, dinosaurs, Titanic to penguins and Mangalyan!!
All this was there when he was a small kiddo. As the kids start growing the difficulty and awkwardness level of questions starts increasing. Their self body awareness starts developing. Let’s try to tackle one of such questions in the next blog.
In last blog we saw how reading habit was developed. But nothing is constant in this world. The reading journey which had begun so well faced rough waters. Now internet videos, mobile games were giving tough competition. There came a time when my kiddo had almost stopped reading and was not interested in doing anything apart from watching videos or playing mobile games.
My little kiddo was a big boy. And the big boy had a string of endless arguments in favour of games and videos. I had already realized that arguments and mere discussions are not going to be of much use. Nor complete ban on internet and mobile would work. It was time for direct action.
My son is a big fan of Harry Potter movies (like his mother 😜). I took advantage of this fact and told him that most of the movies had deviated from the books and they had changed couple of plots in each movie. So I set him a task of finding out these differences. This move met with some success. My son read first 3 books and that was something because he read the books in the first place and moreover he read fiction books which he had been refusing to do hitherto.My kid loves competition. And if that competition is with Mamma and he can beat his Mamma at it then he loves that competition even better!! Now I decided to have reading competition between mother and son. He readily agreed and we started reading Harry Potter series again. This time he completed all 7 books and one play. The competition spirit had haunted him. Every day his lead was increasing by more than 100 pages. At one point I started suspecting that he was skipping pages and cheating me. But how to find out?? Again I had simple idea. We started having Harry Potter quizzes. I was glad to know that my son had not skipped pages!! In fact he enjoyed these quizzes so much that even when our competition is over we continue to have these quizzes during dinner time, during traveling or even in restaurants waiting for food.
Similarly, Enid Blyton’e riddle series was completed. I started keeping tab on newly published Gerenimo Stilton’s books and buy him latest book.
My son is studying in IGCSC curriculum school where they don’t teach local history much. I wanted him to read about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his history. But it was not his favored topic. One day I got opportunity. My kid saw saffron flag gifted to his cousin and demanded similar big saffron flag. I agreed to buy the same with a precondition that he would read biography of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who established Maratha empire under saffron flag. And yes, he read.
That’s how the reading came back!! If we had not eliminated internet and mobile completely we had at least curtailed it to some extent. Now mostly we try to have reading hour before going to bed.
One needs to be really clever while dealing with such situations. Merely telling or scolding does not work. There is no one solution that fits all. Every kid is different. You need to understand your own kid and then plan activities. We knew that competition works well with my kiddo and I simply used this fact to my advantage. My last mantra is try to bring some challenges/ activities based on reading so that it becomes a game rather than purely boring activity. Happy Reading!!
As we have seen in the earlier blogs my kid was interested in stories where he could correlate rather than fiction and particularly in science. Follow my blog to know more about when the kiddo decides to tell a story!!