Letting go in bits and pieces…


The excitement at home is palpable. My son is scurrying about, double-checking, triple-checking and quadruple-checking with me; ensuring that all the items on the checklist given by his school have been packed.

He is going away on a three-day school trip, the longest he has been away from home and from all of us.

We have to drop him early tomorrow, so we try to get him to sleep early. He checks his big backpack, and a smaller backpack, one last time, before he hits the bed.

His excitement is contagious; we are also caught up in it all.

As his mom, I hope he will be fine, and able to manage on his own. Above everything, I want him to have fun.

His elder sister, who has been on many such trips, gives him a few tips. He is after all the youngest, and it is time to let him go!

The next morning flies by in a flurry of last minute checking, and driving to school. Many children and parents are already there. In what seems like a jiffy, the children board the coaches, and with a few waves and yells, they are off.

Picture courtesy – wikiclipart

I head back home. It is like any other school day, when the kids are not around, but the house seems a tad emptier. I go around the house picking up stuff. On my son’s table are some eraser shavings, a half-done sketch of an animal, and a pencil. Suddenly, it hits me that a bundle of energy will not rush into the house at 4 pm, for the next two days. There will be no non-stop chatter about the school day or animals, or the cats in the neighbourhood.

Soon, when I check my phone, I realize there are some photo updates from school. Lovely photos of the kids and their activities; what fun experiences they seem to be having.

I zoom in, and eagerly scan the innocent faces for my son. There he is, smiling, with his friends, looking happy and cheerful.

Soon, the day’s chores catch up with me, and my daughter and I also take some time out together, catching up on some mom-daughter time.

The three days fly away, and my son is back home, enriched by his experiences, and bubbling with stories about the trip.

As I hug my little one, I realize that he has taken an important first step in his life. The first of many such experiences and challenges he will face in this journey called life.

As his parents, my husband and I hope we have equipped him to do just that!

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A pair of black ribbons


Like most of my friends, who lived in our small town in the hills, I studied from kindergarten to higher secondary in the same school. 14 years in the same school and then straight to university.

I used to love our school uniform. The school required girls to have their hair done up in two braids, with black ribbons to keep the braids in place.

At the beginning of each school year my mom would buy us each a pair of black ribbons, nice shiny ones. It was an unspoken rule that we had to keep these ribbons carefully, so that they would last the year.

Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com
Sigh! That never happened, however much we tried. There was a constant battle with my siblings if any ribbon went missing.

Necessity being the mother of invention and all, if we lost a ribbon, we would cut the other ribbon in half. This helped for a while. The halves then became quarters sometimes, and when we reached the ‘quarter-size’ ribbon, we would cut the ribbon horizontally. We were innovators, the best ribbon innovators ever.

Our mom would watch us snip and cut, but would not say a word. We were expected to take care of our things and make them last.

However, when our ribbons completely vanished or when they shrunk to the size of threads, my mom would give us a brand new pair of ribbons. We never knew where she kept her stock. All that we knew was that my mom had a box secreted away in the kitchen, which had a supply of safety pins, hair pins, shiny black ribbons and rubber bands.

We took the new pairs with relief. We placed a lot of value on our possessions. Nothing was taken for granted, and we were taught to appreciate what we had. 

We learnt many valuable lessons, in addition to being superlative ribbon innovators!

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.

Boring is ‘cool’


I am rushing home from the supermarket, my hands loaded with plastic bags. Just as I enter my apartment complex, a school bus drops off a group of kids.

All of them look tired after the long day, as they slowly amble home.

Two boys, probably between 10 and 12 years of age, walk ahead of me. 

Can’t help overhearing their conversation.

Boy 1: Come on, say yes. It will be fun.

Boy 2: Hmmm….not sure. Have to think about it.

Boy 1: I think you are very boring.

Boy 2: …..(walks quietly)

Boy 1: You know what? Your brother also feels that you are boring.

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           Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

I feel a small frisson of anger.

Boy 2 says: You know what? I think my brother and you are both right. I am a bit of a bore….

Boy 1: (Looks surprised and grins)…You’re cool, man.

I grin and walk home.

Moms & Snack boxes


I don’t know about all you moms out there, but when my kids were in kindergarten and primary school, it was a big challenge to decide what to pack for their recess snack boxes and lunch boxes.

Some years, the teachers made it easy by giving a list of snack food categories for the week like Monday – fruit, Tuesday – salad etc.

But when the teachers did not give this list, I racked my brains. I am a fairly good cook but my kids would constantly come back and tell me that their boxes and meals were boring, and that their friends brought fun stuff.

So, once a week I would give them some potato wafers or Indian savouries for their snack boxes, to crank up the ‘cool-mom factor’ a few notches.

There have been times, when I have been asked to call their friends’ moms for certain recipes. They were happy when I made those dishes, but still felt it was not like their friends’ moms cooking. Phew!

I learned a lot of new recipes, and have evolved and innovated over the years. Time has flown, and the kids’ tastes have changed.

Now each time I pack their snack boxes, my teenager says, “Could you just give me fruit and salad. Don’t want any junk. I want to eat healthy.”

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Courtesy – en.wikipedia.org

Hmmmm…so it is back to square one. Monday – fruit, Tuesday – salad….maybe I should just pull out the nursery teacher’s schedule.

How soon time flies…and how soon the kids grow up!

Of little girls and little boys


A couple of days ago, when I was at my son’s school to pick him up after school, I met a very sweet girl, who was part of my group in a community project last summer. 

The girl and my son study in the same class.

When she saw me at school, she came running to me and hugged me. She said, “I miss you a lot.”

“I miss you too,” I said, hugging her. “Why don’t you come home some time? You can play with my son. You know each other, right?”

Pat came the reply, “Play with him? No…no, he is a boy.”

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   Image courtesy – http://www.pinterest.com

I smiled.

Then she said, “You have a daughter right? I will come and play with her.”

“But she’s much older,” I said.

“Oh, that’s ok. But I can’t play with boys,” she said, with that typical grimace that little girls have when they talk about boys.

I came home and told my son about meeting his classmate.

“I can’t believe you asked her to come home TO PLAY WITH ME. Mom, how could you?”

Hmmm…!

Contemplation – A short story


Veronica woke up with a mild headache. Her head felt heavy, and she  wanted to hop right back into bed. Sadly, that was not an option.

She worked at a primary school, and taught Grades 1 and 2. The headache only got worse as the day progressed. She popped a couple of tablets before she entered the Grade 2 class.

Twenty, bright-eyed six and seven year olds looked at her, some smiling, some lost and some grinning.

Today’s lesson was on the basic food groups and healthy diets. As she settled the class down, and gave out the worksheets, she heard a sudden snort of laughter. When she looked in the direction that the sound came from, many innocent faces met her eye.

In a few minutes, stifled laughter that could not be contained anymore, erupted. The laughter came from a little imp named Aarav, whose eyes crinkled in mirth. He held his stomach, as his body shook with this sudden laughing bout.

The headache was shaking Veronica’s insides, and with barely concealed irritation she asked Aarav to explain what he found funny.

The little boy pointed to a cartoon on the worksheet, which showed an elephant seated in a restaurant, with a plate before him that contained just one apple slice. A bubble next to the elephant read, “You call this a healthy diet?”

“So what’s so funny in this cartoon?” asked Veronica.

The laughter continued unabated. A few other shoulders shook silently.

Veronica said, “Aarav, I want you to go to the ‘Thinking Corner’ and contemplate your actions.

So Aarav went to the said Corner, and sat in the chair that faced away from the class.

Veronica’s headache got a little better.  The class went on. Veronica watched Aarav. She saw his shoulders shaking from time to time.  After a while, he seemed to have settled down.

She called out to him, “Aarav, you can come back to your seat. Have you thought about what you did?”

Aarav replied, “I did Ms.Rodrigues, but I still find it very funny.”

And the laughter started all over again. The laughter was contagious. Soon the whole class was laughing.

Veronica smiled and joined in. It was just one of those days!