Magic words


A few days ago, I was looking for a story for one of my son’s school projects, when I chanced upon a collection of stories from The Arabian Nights. As I flipped through its pages, I saw the story of Alibaba and the forty thieves.

It brought a smile to my face, as I recalled a funny incident from when my son had just moved to Grade 1 from kindergarten.  

During an activity class in Grade 1, the children were asked to answer a picture quiz. My son gave his answers. 

When he got back in the evening, he told me about the picture quiz and then asked me, “Mom, what were the magic words that Alibaba uttered to open the magic cave?”

Courtesy – http://www.cartoonstock.com

I replied, “Open sesame.”

He smiled and said, “Oh no! I got that wrong.”

I asked him, “What did you write?”

He said, “I wrote that the magic words were PLEASE and THANK YOU.”

I couldn’t help laughing. He looked quite hurt. 

He said, “In kindergarten we were taught that the two magic words are – say ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’. So I thought that Alibaba had used these same magic words to open the cave.”

I was in splits. I tried to imagine Alibaba standing in front of the cave and saying, “Hello cave, Open please. Thank you!”

My son sees the joke now…and laughs with me when we remember it.

When the Tiger Mom Froze


Truth be told, there is a Tiger Mom lurking inside me, that manifests now and then, when my children have school deadlines or competitions.

A couple of years ago, my son made it to the finals of a quiz contest.  The Tiger Mom in me surfaced as I helped my son prepare. We had lists and sub-lists. During this time, we traveled the world looking at pictures of monuments, memorized dates, learnt about animal record-holders from the biggest eyeball, to the longest tongue to the shortest lifespan.

We developed techniques to remember country flags, and famous personalities. We learnt nursery rhymes and studied picture clues.  And finally, finally, I felt my little cub was ready for the contest.  Phew!

A couple of days before the contest, when he came back from school, I pestered him with questions about quiz-preparations they had done at school that day.

He briefed me on the topics his team had revised and then asked me, “Do you know what IAS stands for?”

I froze.  

We had not prepared for three letter acronyms.  Was this a new topic? My brain was in a whirl, as I wondered what acronyms I could teach him in two days?  UN, WHO, UNICEF, IAS (Indian Administrative Service), what else ?

I said to myself, “List time.”

When I looked at my son, he smiled and said, “Don’t worry mom, I know what IAS stands for, it stands for I Am Starving – IAS.”

I laughed at the joke, but more from sheer relief!