Friday, April 29, 2011

Grabbing Travel by the Horns

I had meant to write about my Matheran trip, but it happened during my dry spell and when I got back to blogging, it seemed like it was in the distant past (if two months can be called that). Then just today, I happened to read The Mad Momma's post about her recent travels and decided to write about this very unique trip I took.

Our book club decided to shake things up a little and do our February meet in Matheran, with families in tow. I checked with Jai a couple of months in advance and he committed to being in town on that weekend. But it was not to be, and two weeks before the upcoming weekend, something supremely important popped up on his work calendar and he backed out.

I had made up my mind to cancel but Sonya, who runs the book club, would not hear of it. My biggest issue was that I really could not see myself doing the 3-hour drive (some of it on scary, winding roads) alone. She nipped that objection in the bud by offering to take us along with her family in their SUV. I was still a little freaked out at the thought of traveling alone with the two kids, but a sudden spurt of adventurous spirit had me saying yes.

A few friends suggested I take one of the maids along to ease the burden but at a very basic level, this traveling with maids business just does not appeal to me. I never take my maids to restaurants either. It is just too weird - they would be uncomfortable sharing the dining table with us, I would be even more uncomfortable asking them to wait outside. It is very socially awkward for all concerned, to say the least. Moreover, I like to believe that when push comes to shove, I have the ability to manage the kids on my own and holidays are my one chance to prove this.

The first challenge was having the troops packed and ready to leave at the crack of dawn. This was not such a big deal since my kids are early risers in any case and Sonya and family were running late, so we were actually waiting down for them when they drove up at 7 a.m.

The drive to Matheran was relatively uneventful. Sonya has three lovely daughters and the youngest is just a couple of years older than Ayaan and they got along like a house of fire. They spent much of the drive in the back of the Scorpio, reading, chatting and generally fooling around. Tarana sat in my lap and was reasonably low maintenance. We stopped for breakfast at a little restaurant on the way, which happened to have fishes, geese and chicken so the kids had a gala time checking them out.

Those of you have never been to (or heard about) Matheran have to know this - no motorised vehicles are allowed beyond the parking lot, which is a good 45-minute hike from the town. There are essentially four ways to get there. You can take the toy train from a place called Neral but getting tickets can be quite a challenge, especially in the tourist season. Or you can drive up to the parking lot and then make the final ascent in one of the following ways: ride a horse, hire a manually-operated rickshaw or walk.

With the kids, the horse or rickshaw seemed to be a more sensible option but I decided to walk, with Tarana bundled into a sling. Ayaan was having a good time with Sonya's girls and since they were walking, I thought Ayaan would enjoy that more and the longish hike would be a good experience for him. I could have let him walk and taken Tarana on a horse or rickshaw with me, but he can be quite a handful and moreover, I wasn't sure he would agree to go without me. Also, I have a problem with hand-drawn rickshaws - they seem somewhat colonial and exploitative - and managing Tarana on a horse wouldn't have been easy either. So yes, we walked. My back and legs were seriously achy by the time we reached, especially since Tarana fell asleep and got about twice as heavy. Ayaan was a pretty good sport about what was probably the longest walk of his life, though he did get whiny towards the end.

We were staying at this lovely hotel called The Verandah in The Forest. For those of you who were reading me in 2006, we had been to this place when Ayaan was a toddler. Anyway, after a refreshing drink and a quick snack, the older kids went off to play while Tarana toddled all over the verandah with me in attendance.

There were eleven children in the group, including mine, and it turned out that 10 of them were girls!! I wondered if Ayaan would get bored but I don't think it bothered him at all. Barring two incidents, I barely saw him as he traipsed around the place with the other kids - hanging out in the treehouse, throwing pebbles into pond on the property and swinging away merrily.

The first incident happened when he got into a fight with one of the girls. For some reason, the two took an instant dislike to each other and before I knew what was happening, Ayaan poked her with his pencil. There was no harm done but he refused to calm down so he was hauled off to our room. He had a nuclear meltdown there that shook the very foundations of the place but once he was done with that and the accompanying fit of the sulks, he was ready to go back and play.

The other incident happened when he landed up in the pond. I wasn't there when it happened, but I think it was an accidental shove by one of the other kids and I went rushing over when I heard him screaming. The pond was less than a foot deep, so the only harm done was to his ego. I quickly handed Tarana to the first willing set of arms I found and rushed him in for a bath and a change of clothes. He was a bit subdued for the rest of the evening but thankfully, it was almost time for dinner when his bath was done.

They served the kids dinner first so after they had eaten, I put them both to bed and came out and joined the adults for the only bit of real adult conversation I got throughout the trip. We had dinner and then sat around discussing the books. It was good fun. I excused myself at midnight, knowing that my kids would be up in a few hours.

The next day, the kids were up by 6 and I had to keep them entertained in the room for a couple of hours. When I heard sounds of the other guests stirring, we went out and Ayaan headed straight to his favourite spot by the pond, where the other kids soon joined him. After breakfast, we headed out for a small trek. I came back early but Ayaan went on a longer jaunt with a group of kids and their parents. By the time they got back, it was check-out time. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in the main town and started the walk back to the car park.

I think Ayaan had had his fill of walking by now and he complained endlessly on our way down. 'Mama, how much longer?', 'Mama, are we there yet?', 'Mama, I want to take a break' and so on and so forth. This was the hardest part of the trip for me. I was achy, sleep-deprived and exhausted and it took an almost super-human effort to stay positive and keep encouraging him to walk and keep up with the others. Once down, we drove straight back to Mumbai and though Ayaan was hyperactive and Tarana was cranky, we made it back in one piece.

Would I go on a holiday without Jai again? Probably not, definitely not till the kids are a little older and more self-sufficient, especially Tarana. She had just about started walking when we went on this trip and would refuse to stay put in one place. Having no other back-up, it meant constantly following and monitoring her and even with me watching, she managed to take a few spills, eat some mud and break a plate. So, it was not much of a break for me and I watched enviously as the parents with older kids (Ayaan and Tarana were the youngest in the group) lazed around in the planter's chairs and read their books or chatted desultorily.

I am glad I went though. I think Ayaan had a fantastic time. He got to spend some quality outdoors time, learned to get along with a diverse bunch of kids, and exceeded my expectations on his ability to walk. And me personally? I have to admit I felt a great sense of accomplishment at having flown solo and done a pretty good job of it. The only regret; I had my hands too full to take any pictures and the camera stayed comfortably ensconced in my backpack.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mommy Comebacks

One evening, I happened to be hanging out at my latest adda (also known as Twitter). I had just dropped Ayaan to his skating class and before that, we had had 'words'. It got me thinking about all the times when he said horrid or whiny stuff to me and I had managed to gather my wits around me and retort effectively. It resulted in a mini-series called #MommyComebacks.  In the interest of keeping up my blog frequency, I decided to make a post out of them.

Brat: I don't like you.
Me: You don't have to like me. I just need you to listen to me.

Brat: You are not my friend.
Me: Yes, I know. I am your mother.

Brat: I know everything.
Me: Name all of Jupiter's moons.
Brat: I don't know them all.
Me: See! You don't know everything.

Brat: Why does he get to bring chips in his tiffin?
Me: Because I am not his mother.

Brat: I am not talking to you.
Me: Don't talk. Just listen.

Brat: I want to win this game.
Me: So do I.

Brat: When can I choose the hotel to stay in?
Me: When you are paying for it.

Good fun, no? What's your favourite mommy comeback?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Schools and CSA Awareness

Some time in February, we headed down to Hyderabad to get the school admission process started. We were quite lucky since Ayaan got into 4 of the 5 schools on our list - some because he did well on a test, others because they liked the look of us and yet others which liked the look of our bank balance.

The first school we visited was a well-known school and we were offered a seat there after Ayaan cleared the test but I hoped we wouldn't have to take it because I just did not like the place. To start with, they had a written test and I have a problem with schools that test 5-year olds. Then I saw a teacher swatting a kid on his upper arm - I was too far away to see if it was done in anger but it left a bad taste in the month. Then, they wanted a hefty admission fee - in cash. Very, very shady.

So, we were pretty much decided against the school (in the hope we got into some of the others) but the final nail in the coffin was the principal's interaction with the parents and the way she responded to a parent's concern on child abuse and the measures the school was taking to protect the kids from it.

Now, I have never actually seen a deer caught in the headlights but I would bet good money that the look on the principal's face was a reasonably good likeness. I guess she was just not expecting a direct question on this. Once she had schooled her features back into their principal-like stern demeanour, she went on the offensive.

After making some vague and completely unconvincing sounds about how they take 'adequate measures' on all aspects of the children's safety, she then went on to say that children were much more likely to face abuse at home than at school. To make her point, she then went on to tell the story of a girl student who was being abused at home by a servant and how she did not tell her parents but confided in her teacher at school.

I thought her response was inappropriate on so many levels. Firstly, while she might be right about the fact that more kids are abused outside schools than in, it is hardly a reason to be complacent about the issue and have no stated policy on how the school plans to keep kids safe. Secondly, I was quite shocked at her 'story'. My husband felt she made it up on the spot and I hope he is right, because I don't think she has the right to violate some student's privacy by telling her story so casually in a public forum.

The laws on child sex abuse are virtually non-existent in India and there is no governmental pressure on schools to put in place a formal system for avoiding and dealing with incidents of sexual abuse. To add to that, the supply of good schools falls way short of demand so most parents aren't as pushy as they should be when it comes to holding schools accountable for their policies.

I am no expert in this field, but as a parent, I would like to see schools do the following when it comes to Child Sexual Abuse, I would like to see the following happening across schools:
  • Schools should have a greater sense of ownership of the children in their care and a partnership approach to working with parents to keep them safe. Ayaan's Mumbai school is pretty good in this respect. They pro-actively call experts to conduct an annual session for parents, making it compulsory for at least one parent to attend.
  • Schools should also work in safety lessons into the curriculum including 'good touch-bad touch' and not talking to strangers.
  • In addition to parents and children, the teachers and staff should get regular training on appropriate behaviour with students and warning signs displayed by abused children.
  • There should be a written policy of Child Sexual Abuse and it should not be a state secret - any current or prospective parent wanting to know about it should be able to access it easily.
  • There should a robust background check on all new employees - both teachers and other staff.
  • Every school should have a qualified child psychologist or counsellor on hand to pick up warning signs amongst studens and work with victims.
  • School buses should have responsible escorts, preferable a teacher from the school.
  • The school toilets should be brightly lit and easily accessible and manned by gender-appropriate staff.
  • In the event of an incident, big or small, happening in the school, it should not be hushed up and swept under the carpet. The privacy of the abused child is supremely important and should not be breached but strict action should be taken against the perpetrator and this should be publicised as a deterrant. The school should warn other schools in the city about this individual so that he does get another job working with kids.
That's what I could think of. Do let me know if you have some ideas on this. I will update and add to the post.

This post is part of the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month. Go here if you want to read more.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blowing My own Trumpet a Wee Bit

A few commenters on my last post happened to say that I worried needlessly about Ayaan clearing the tests and indicated that since he was a bright child, he would have made it anyway.

I beg to differ. I don't want to take away credit from him. He is definitely a smart boy and in the end, he went into a room without me and delivered the goods. But I'd like to talk a bit about the run-up to these tests and way that I prepped Ayaan for them, which I do believe made a big difference.

Both the schools that required him to take a test were kind enough to provide a curriculum. The things that had me worried were Hindi, addition, subtraction and spelling numbers up to 100, none of which he had been taught in his Mumbai school. I mean, come one, in the English section you say you expect them to know three and four letter words - then how the hell are they supposed to know how to spell words like nineteen and eighty eight?!

The Hindi part was easily solved. Once we told the schools that he hadn't been introduced to written Hindi at school, they said they would not count the Hindi section when scoring the test. But the rest of the stuff, he had to know! Teaching it to him was easier than I thought. We had already been working with fingers to add small numbers - I just taught him to draw a short line for each number and then count them for addition and cross out lines when it came to subtraction. His number spellings were a bit dodgy but he got them phonetically right (thurteen) most of the time, so I left it at that.

A bigger part of my effort went into emotionally preparing him for the test. Knowing him as I do, I knew that that would be the clincher. Here are some of things that I think worked:
  • I played on his excitement of moving to a new city. I told him that we couldn't move unless he got into a school by clearing a test. I told him that he needed to practice doing some tests before the real ones and he was really charged up and was practically nagging me to set the tests for a couple of days before I got around to doing it. Overall, he was as invested as I was in the goal of cracking those tests.
  • I set him about 7 tests that he had to sit and do, one a day for a week. I drilled it into him that I would not be there to help him. The first day I sat in the room with him - I was available for clarifications, but not answers. On the second day, I stayed in the room but I sat in a corner and read my book - he was not allowed to ask me anything and was told to leave questions that he didn't understand or know the answer to. The rest of the tests he had to do alone in his room, and for one, I timed it for when I was out of the house.
  • Ayaan does not deal well with failure. A difficult puzzle or a craft activity that does not go as planned can be the cause of a severe meltdown. The first few times he didn't know the answer, he got awfully upset and he actually crumpled up one of the tests in a fit of rage. But towards the end, he learnt to accept that he would not know all the answers and peacefully move on to the next question.
  • I set pretty elaborate tests. There were fill in the blanks, sums, pictures to be labelled, match the following, and a whole lot more. I think he was pretty familiar with almost every type of question that was finally asked in both the tests. 
It worked. At the second school, the teacher who took Ayaan in gave me very pessimistic vibes saying that there were only a couple of seats left and unless he scored over 80%, he didn't stand a chance. There was a marked change in his body language later and he told me that the boy was intelligent and he was very impressed with the confidence with which he left my side and went in for the test. He said most kids at this age tend to cling, whine and even cry.

So yes, I am going to take at least some of the credit for Ayaan acing those tests. I am not saying that he wouldn't have done it without my help. But it would have been harder for him, intellectually and emotionally.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Final Countdown

Our decision to move lock, stock and barrel to Hyderabad was taken way back in November but for quite some time, it was merely a theoretical concept in my head. This was especially so because we had not told Ayaan about the move. I wanted to tell my maids as late in the day as possible, worried that they would start hunting for jobs the moment they heard that we were off in the not-to-distant future. And there is no way to keep a secret if the garrulous 5-year old in the house is in on it.

I finally broke the news to Ayaan (and subsequently the maids) some time in February, a couple of weeks before we needed to take him down to Hyderabad for the schools admission process. I thought I would take my time about it and slowly build up the excitement, but once the ball was rolling, he pretty much took it all the way. It went something like this:

Me: Hey, you know what? When I was a child, I never went to the same school for more than three years.
Ayaan: How many schools did you go to?
Me: *doing some quick mental maths* Six
Ayaan: Six schools?! Why so many schools, Mama?
Me: Because Patti had a job where she had to go and live in a new city every few years and so we went with her and joined a new school in the new city. It was a lot of fun living in different places, going to different schools and making new friends. (Ok, it wasn't - but it's my maternal birthright to stretch the truth a little when I want to sell him something)
Ayaan: I also want to go to different cities and schools.
Me: Hmmmm... which city would you like to go and stay in?
Ayaan: Jaipur. Because then we can stay with Patti and play with Buddy and Beanz everyday.
Me: But we can't live in Jaipur, because neither Mama nor Dadda have a job there and at least one of us has to have a job in the city we choose, otherwise we won't have any money
Ayaan: *thinks for a few seconds and has a light-bulb moment* But Mama, Dadda has a job in Hyderabad. Let's go and live there. (Jai joined the new organisation in December itself and was spending weekdays in Hyderabad)
Me: That's an interesting idea. But do you think Dadda would like us to move to Hyderabad?
Ayaan: We should tell him that it is a good idea because then he can see his children every day.

Post this conversation, he made me call Jai up and then 'sold' him this grand idea of being able to see his kids everyday and 'convinced' him that we should all move to Hyderabad. So he basically thinks this whole Hyderabad move was his idea

My biggest stress point on the move was the school. Two of the five schools on our shortlist required students to take a test. Now, I personally think a written test for kids who have just learnt to read and write is nothing short of ridiculous but it's a seller's market when it comes to schools in India so you just have to suck it up. In addition to clearing the test, I wanted to make the process as less traumatic for Ayaan as possible. So for a week before we left, I set him written tests to do. I made him sit alone in his room and he was not allowed to ask me for any clarifications till the test was done, to stimulate the actual tests. He did pretty well at home and finally made the cut at both the schools. Overall, he made it to 4 out of the 5 schools and we had the luxury of choice. We finally went with a school that did not test him. In fact, they never even met him and decided on the basis of an interview with Jai.

We hadn't done much about finding a place to live because we wanted to close things on the school front first so that we could factor commute time into the decision.  Once that was done, Jai did a preliminary search over a month and short-listed some flats for me to see. The poor man's hard work was somewhat wasted since I summarily rejected all but a couple of places that we saw. We weren't entirely happy with anything so Jai kept looking and then last week, he finally found something that seemed to fit the bill. I went down last week and hallelujah! we now have a house, that will be available in under 4 weeks.

Now, there is no running away from the fact that this time this month, I will be living in a new house, in a new city and days away from Ayaan starting a new school. Needless to say, I am getting the heebie-jeebies. It's time to get my butt in gear and amidst some pointless hyperventilating, I have been doing semi-useful things like making lists, de-cluttering like crazy and calling packers and movers (or relocation specialists, as they are calling themselves these days). There's so much to do, and it doesn't help that Jai is only here on the weekends. Anyway, these things have a way of coming together at the end. Or so I keep telling myself.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Letter to a Worrywart Circa 2006

Dear Rohini of 2006,

The other day, I happened to catch up with some of your posts, especially this one. It lists down all the things that worried you as a mother. Gosh, were you paranoid or what? Well, worry not (if that is at all a possibility given your current frame of mind). Six years of motherhood and a second baby (yes, you will want another one some day) will cure you of most of these fears, though you'll probably have a new list of stuff to worry about.

Firstly, what is with all the germ phobia? Get this. Germs are everywhere and there is no way to protect your kids from them entirely. In a year from now, Ayaan will be diagnosed with enlarged adenoids and months and years of chronic coughing will make you lose your fear of them. You will grow to ignore minor coughs and colds and use only home remedies unless the kids are in active discomfort. You will realise the inefficacy of most OTC medications and learn to hold off on antibiotics till it is absolutely necessary. You will leave your current paeduatician and find one who thinks the same way. You will even buy into the 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' philosophy and accept that most childhood illnesses are a necessary evil for your kids to build their immune systems.

Stop fretting about your childcare support system. You have been blessed with rare good fortune. The nanny you hired three months ago will turn out to be just the right person for the job and will stay with you till you leave the city. She will be reliable, dependent and affectionate. She will never, like many others, take a day off without adequate notice and will show herself totally up to the task of managing your mischievous, energetic son through infancy, toddlerhood and early boyhood. This will enable you to keep working till the birth of your second child, pay off the home loan and therefore have the option of taking an extended break after that.

No kid learns to crawl and walk without hurting themselves, obsessive child-proofing notwithstanding. You have cleared your house of all the dodgy furniture and put sturdy grills on all your balconies, so now relax. Your son will get his share of bruises, cuts and bumps but there will no serious injuries. When your daughter comes along, you will let the tablecloth stay and forget to use the corner cushions and door stoppers, and she will be just fine too.

Thankfully, you will learn to relax about the food. You will come to terms with the fact that you seem to be destined to have skinny kids. Your reward will be a relatively non-fussy eater. With your daughter, you will discover baby-led weaning and just let her take the lead when it comes to food and be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Your heightened sense of your mortality will stay with you though. You will fret about leaving the boy alone at night (even after he is fast asleep) with the less-experienced full-timer and will finally find the courage to go out for dinner on your seventh anniversary. It will turn out to be 26th November, 2008 - the night of the terror attacks in Mumbai. All those stories about children orphaned because the terrorists killed the parents while they were out for dinner will haunt you and it will be over two years before you will realise how irrational your behaviour is and start going out together again. And you'll wish you had done it sooner. You will never get around to making that will but it is about time that I did.

There are some things that you didn't seem to be worried about as much back then but will be worried about as time goes by. Teaching your son to rein in his energy and behave safely while walking on the road. Keeping him safe from sexual abuse. Protecting him from what you believe are inappropriate and violent children's shows, even though all his peers seem to be watching them. Keeping him from developing the sense of entitlement that is an almost-natural outcome of having affluent parents.

We will worry, you and I. Much of what you worried about then seems silly or downright paranoid to me today. But it's hardly as if I am worry-free. Rohini of 2020 will probably pooh-pooh at my current fears but I guess a mom's got to do what a mom's got to do.

An older and hopefully somewhat wiser Rohini of 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

With a Little Help from my Friends

This year, my birthday was something of a non-event. As things panned out, the weekend of my birthday was the only time we could fit in a trip to Hyderabad for a spot of house-hunting. So, the day dawned in a hotel room with both of us catering to the never-ending demands of the bratsome twosome. In fact, it was an hour into the day before I got my first wish by SMS and remembered that it was my birthday! We spent the rest of the day seeing a whopping 11 flats, with just a break for lunch. By 9.30, we were all in bed!

To be honest, I wasn't too fussed about this situation. One's got to do what one's got to do and I am at the age where birthdays are not such a big deal any more, unless they happen to be one of my kids'. But some of my friends thought otherwise. So after I came back to Mumbai, I was treated to a little surprise tea party and presented with this:

Now, for some background. Months ago, I had happened to mention to my friend N in passing that I wanted to get myself one of these chairs because it was just the thing for me to lounge around in and read. I never got around to doing much about it but N rounded up three of my other friends and they decided to get it for me as a birthday-cum-farewell gift. N also happens to be an artist, so she made me this adorable 'voucher', which is almost as special as the chair itself and goes into my keepsake box.

After this, my friend M was deputed to accompany me to the Oshiwara furniture market to help choose the chair. For those of you in Mumbai who haven't been there, you should go - it's quite an experience. Dusty, old shops piled from floor to ceiling with antique and not-so-antique furniture and the hard-core bargaining make it quite unlike any other furniture shopping experience. Anyway, we knew what we wanted and had been recommended a shop by a friend's mom, so we got right down to business, chose the chair, bargained a bit and then left him to finish the chair.

For an interesting history of this chair, including its shockingly x-rated name, go here.

The chair got delivered last weekend. Please note my re-creation of the artist's illustration, complete with the frog. (The frog is there, by the way, because I was christened Frog/ Froggie by the husband a long time ago and the name seems to have stuck).

I am totally thrilled by my newest possession. I have banned the kids from playing with the arms and the husband, who was thinking of appropriating it as his TV-watching chair, has been told to take a proverbial hike. I am looking forward to hours of lounging in it and reading.

A big thank you to my super-awesome friends, especially to N for being the architect of this scheme and to M, for taking time off to trek with me to Oshiwara. Being miles away from you guys is the biggest downside to the Hyderabad move. I will really miss you guys.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Our Boys Need Watching Over Too

I think one of the biggest misconceptions that people, especially those from the previous generation, harbour is that only girls need to be protected from sexual abuse. I have seen this in practice with my own mother. It does not occur to her that sending Ayaan somewhere alone in the car with a new driver or to an art teacher's (a man) house for art lessons is risky behaviour. Once I point out to her that I am not comfortable with it, she readily makes alternative arrangements but at some level, she thinks I am being paranoid and over-protective.

In reality, our sons are as much at risk. And we need to think about how we want to keep them safe, just as we would with our daughters.

For more on this, go read Monika's post on why our sons need our protection just as much. And then read Sue's post on what measures she takes to educate her son and keep him safe.

Also, there have been some folks who have been giving the organisers of this great initiative a lot of grief because this kind of stuff makes them uncomfortable and they think it is obscene and best kept out of the public domain. Well, that is exactly the reason why child molesters are able to do what they do and get away scot-free. Because we are only too willing to brush the whole thing under the carpet. Well, not anymore. It's time to bring this out in the open, talk about it and equip ourselves with all the knowledge we need to keep our kids safe.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

You Know You Are Raising a Geek When...

.... he sees the shapes of continents in potholes, clouds and pieces of chappati

.... he looks at a cutlet coated in sooji and comments that it looks like the Milky Way galaxy

... you walk into your room to find him curled up in your bed with a globe

... he chooses to watch a Discovery Science programme called How the Universe Works over his favourite cartoons, even though he understands not more than 10% of the content

... when you teach him to play 'Name, Place, Animal, Thing', the places he comes up with include Oman and Libya

... his farewell card for his teacher features a map of Australia, copied from one his favourite books, on one page and a map of Maharashta on another

... he knows more about the solar system than most adults 

... he asks a million questions a day. Ok fine, I am exaggerating but definitely a hundred, most of which revolve around space and geography which, in case you haven't picked up on it already, are his current ruling passions

... the only time he is ever really quiet these days is when he is poring over his set of solar system books, which he chose over a Winnie The Pooh book at a recent book exhibition

... his idea of a fun colouring activity is to take a map of India he found in a car brochure and colour the states in the same colour as his India-shaped jigsaw puzzle

... he doesn't have a favourite colour, but has a favourite planet (Saturn)

... he wants a telescope and a microscope for his next birthday

... he wants to be a 'space and sea scientist' when he grows up

... when you tell him you don't know something, he asks you to go find out on Google

Friday, April 01, 2011

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month – April 2011

The statistics on sexual abuse of children in downright frightening. According to a recent study, over 53% of children reported having faced some sort of sexual abuse. Just in case that didn't quite sink in - FIFTY THREE PER CENT. That is freaking more than half of our children. What's even worse? In 50% of these cases, the perpetrator of this awful act is a person known and trusted by the child and his/ her family.

It is not a small problem. It's not something we can wish away or pretend that it doesn't exist. It's not a dirty little secret to be locked away into the family vault, leaving the child to bear the burden of the guilt and scars from the abuse, while the sicko who deserves all the blame walks scot-free.

All through April, over 40 bloggers are coming together to talk about various aspects of Child Sexual Abuse. Their posts can be seen on their blogs as well as on the CSAAM blog. The CSAAM blog will also feature survivor stories and posts by experts and NGOs working in these fields.

You can join in our efforts to make the world a safer place for our children. If you want to join the discussion, or know someone else who would like to, entries are welcomed and can be submitted in any of the following ways:
A list of suggested topics is available here. Anonymous contributions are accepted and requests for anonymity will, of course, be honoured. Please remember to send in a mail with all necessary links or just your input to to ensure that your contribution is captured and tracked.

You could also support this initiative by putting the CSAAM logo on the sidebar of your blog or website. Here's the code:


I have had such a bad case of blogger block these past few weeks, that it qualifies as more of a blogger freeze. For a bunch of reasons (worry not, list coming up, in typical Mama Says So style), I have had a lot to say but couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to actually get it down on the blog. Over the last week, I have felt the urge to shake myself out of it and it looks like today is the day I finally manage to do it.

Just this morning, I happened to be catching up with my blog reading, and I happened upon this on a blog friend's blogroll and almost fell off my chair. 5 weeks??? It's been 5 weeks???! That's about four weeks too many even by my slow blogging standards. So here I am, making sure that number doesn't inch up to 6 weeks.

Friends in the real world have been asking why my blog seems to have dried up to. One of the husband's friend's (Hi, there!) asked him to tell me to write another post already since she was heartily sick of seeing the word 'boobs' every time she came by. LOL! And Sai left a comment on my last post saying she missed my blog. One more reason to update :)

So anyway, to cut a long story short, I am back and hope to be more regular in the future. Remember, my December resolutions? Sounded great in theory, but resolutions are resolutions and these too fell by the wayside. I stopped going to the gym and the blogging frequency has been worse, if anything. Oh, well. Now, I am just going to try and blog more frequently and not hold a resolution-loaded gun to my head.

Anyhoo, onwards to some navel-gazing about the multitude of reasons that robbed me of my blogging mojo. 
  • All written out: I don't think I have mentioned this here before but I took up some freelance writing a few months ago. So, on an average day, I spend an hour or two writing stuff for that. I know that does not sound like much but in my current schedule, that is a big chunk of my free time. And when I am done with that, it's hard to push myself to write for leisure. It's far easier to read something that someone else has written, in a book or on a blog.
  • Busting the SAHM myth: Call me delusional, but when I decided to take a career break, I thought I'd have more time to myself - to do stuff that I didn't get to do enough of when I was juggling work and motherhood - like meeting my friends more often, reading more books and, of course, blogging a whole lot more. Well, not so much. For some reason, I can never seem to find that me-time I was so looking forward to. One of the kids always needs me and when they don't, I am either catching up with my freelance writing or my sleep. And you know how they tell you that a SAHM's kids will be more secure and less clingy. Again, not so much. Ayaan pretty much thinks every waking hour of mine belongs to him and Tarana's separation anxiety is way more severe than Ayaan's ever was. Leaving the house without them is an exercise in diplomacy and speed and they both seem to be allergic to the sight of me powering up the laptop.
  • Going solo: Sometime in December, Jai joined the organisation he will be working for in Hyderabad and for the last few months, he has been living there and coming back to Mumbai only on weekends. So, during the week, I am living the single mom life and boy, has it given me a healthy respect for women who do this regularly. Come Friday evening, I am so up to my neck in all things mommy, that I can't wait to hand the kids over to Jai as soon as he walks in the door and hang up my mommy shoes. And that includes writing about the kids!
  • Exit mode: At work, we used to have this concept of exit mode. It refers to the period after one knows that one is moving to a new role or job and hence one loses all motivation to work. That's pretty much happened in my household. Whether it's small maintenance jobs around the house or bigger projects like toilet-training Tarana, everything is on hold till we are done with the move. Blogging more frequently is also one of the biggies on my 'Things to do in Hyderabad' list.
  • Twittering my time away: Sometime in February, I finally gave in to the temptation and hopped on to the Twitter bandwagon. It's been just over a month and goodness, I am addicted. It doesn't help that I have downloaded the Twitter app on my phone as well. But if there is one thing I am sure about it is that I definitely don't want to become one of those bloggers whose blogs fell by the wayside when they got onto Twitter. So I am trying to cut down the amount of time I spend there. Let's see how that goes:) 
Anyway, so that is what has been happening in Mamasaysso Land. Sorry for the prolonged absence. I hope to be more regular. See you around :)