Saturday, December 25, 2010

Is Santa Real?

Raghav loves Christmas! - because of the gifts! I wonder why none of our Hindu festivals are like this - there is no concept of giving or sharing things in any of them, except maybe Deepavali - and I think even that must be a new custom - to give gifts or sweets to friends and family.

Anyway, Raghav saw a Santa at a mall we went to 2 days ago, and that Santa gave him a small gift. So he was very worried whether Santa would come home and give him the gift he had asked for! And then he reassured himself saying "Amma, this is not a real Santa! Real Santa will come home and give me the Lego that I have asked him for no?"
I had never heard a kid ask this before and so this was new to me! I guess he was wondering how there could be so many Santas everywhere!

This thought was bothering him I guess, as he kept asking me if Santa would come home and leave his gift under the little tree we had decorated. A few weeks ago, he had typed out a note for Santa on the computer and done a painting on the computer. It was a beautiful rainbow painting - because Santa would like rainbow colours!

Well, as most parents would, we put him to sleep last night and then packed his gift and left it under the tree with a special note. In the morning, when he woke up, he went straight to the the tree to see if the gift was there.....and the look on his face when he read the note was indescribable! But then, after he had opened it and built the new Lego racing jeeps that were his gift, he said something which took me by surprise! It was a reminder to me to look into details a little more.....
"Amma, do you know that Santa used the same paper that we used to wrap the gifts I made for Aditya, Andrew and Radhika!" (My sister and her family!) Gosh! I had never thought of that! And I told myself to take care next time, to be more careful and not do anything that would shatter the image that a little kid has of Santa!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Santa Claus comes to town!

It was the time of day when Raghav and I usually get out of the house - most often he cycles around the block, or else plays in the play area, but many a time, we just spend some quiet time enjoying the cool breeze, watching people and other kids, or just the clouds drifting along in the sky....

And this story is for all my concerned friends who kept asking me (and sometimes still do!) or Srinath about how our homeschooling decision would impact Raghav's social interactions. "Would he have friends?", "He needs kids to learn from" many concerned questions....My answer - When kids need kids, they will seek them out! Read on and find out....

Well, to Raghav, it doesn't so much matter as to what he does at that time of day downstairs.....but he just has to be there! He just wants to be around other kids - that is his need. Playing with them or interacting with them is only when he wants to. And like all of us adults, who want a break from things, these things too are part of a cycle of wanting to be with kids to moving away and wanting to be with oneself alone. And that I believe is ok. After all, we all need our space, and the little "my" time, don't we??

So it was one of those points in the cycle, where he wanted to do something to be wanted or noticed. Suddenly one day, he told me he wanted to dress up as Santa Claus and go down to play. We had just found the Santa cap a few days ago, while we were looking for something else. So in five minutes we had to dress up as Santa with gifts et al and be down in time for the kids to arrive! He promptly got dressed - wore a red t shirt, and the red cap, and wanted me to make him an impromptu beard! So we drew out a beard on plain white paper, he cut it out and then stuck it on his face with two bits of sticky tape! He then wanted a red bag and something to give as gifts for all the children. The only thing I had lots of that day were some sweets. So he put them into the bag and went down to cycle. There was a little Santa on a cycle that day at our apartment complex! It took a while, but his plan worked. Soon, as he was cycling around, many kids started noticing him, stopped by to ask if he was Santa, and then what he had brought for them. He happily distributed the sweets and there was a little ad-man in the making! Very soon, these kids went and brought their friends to him, only because he had sweets to give free! But that was okay! He had achieved his purpose - he got noticed and everyone stopped to talk to him! At one point he looked like Pied Piper - cycling around with a group of kids running behind him! What a novel idea to start getting to know people! I would never have thought of something like this!

Then, a day later, he wanted to dress up and go again as Santa. I immediately tried to dissuade him, but he was insistent. But this time, we discussed what we could give the kids, and he decided to give them some bookmarks he had made sometime ago. So he went again dressed as Santa with his cap, beard and bag of gifts! But this time, although all the kids came and spoke to him a bit more and recognised him, some did not want the bookmark as it did not interest them. But that did not deter him or his spirit. He still went around looking for older kids to give it to, who would use them more.

The third day too he wanted to do the same thing. Now this time I was a bit stressed out as to what to give and I was worried it was becoming a habit! As usual, he out-smarted me! He said - "amma, this time, don't worry, we won't give them anything!" When I told him that no one might come then, he said" it's ok. We will play a trick on them this time! When they ask me what I have for them in the bag, I will say NOTHING!!" He is just too smart and seems to know human psychology! This time too, his idea worked! Many kids were amused at his new idea and smiled or laughed and went away! But by this time, they all knew his name, which block and flat he lived in and that he did not go to school, but was homeschooling! What a simple and wonderful way to advertise yourself! Kids are really amazing!

More than all these events, what surprised me and humbled me the most was our discussion after all this........

Me: "Raghav, how come you want to dress up as Santa and give gifts to all the kids?"

R: "Amma, I want to give gifts because I see my friends and God inside me"

Me:" Then how come sometimes you don't like to share most of your things when your friends come home?"

R:(without batting an eyelid or thinking twice)" Amma, there are two Gods inside me - a Happy God and an Angry God! Now, the Happy God is coming out and telling me to give these gifts to my friends! But when they come home, the Angry God comes out and tells me not to share my toys!"

Me: "So which God do you like better?"

R (again without thinking) :" I like both Gods!"

That was the most remarkable story of God I have heard till date. To me, that was the essence of all the Vedas and Scriptures and anything else we look up to! - Accepting oneself and understanding or knowing all sides / facets of oneself is the first step towards realising God. And it was a truly humbling experience for me as a mother... as I myself, after 41 years of my life and existence, am not able to accept some facets of myself as a person! And here was a 5 year old doing it with so much ease! I am a proud and happy mom today!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Raghav's theories

I was reading a book that we had got from the library - Geography and Maps for kids - this seems to be Raghav's area of interest now by the way - and Raghav chose a question as to why and how typhoons / storms occur. The entire book is like a "Tell me Why / How" book, but has loads of visuals and some cartoons and stuff that makes it great fun! Raghav loves this book!

We were talking about warm, moist air and dry, cool air and how one rises up and the other one takes its place.......he immediately internalised it and organised this information by talking about the AC room he sleeps in and how if we leave the door open when the AC is on, the room would not get cool and so on....Then, we spoke about spiralling wind, fast speed wind and he drew a similarity to the water spinning around in a bucket of water, when he moved his hand fast in the water round and round.....creating a funnel shape / spiral...and suddenly he said this - "amma, do you know why the Earth spins around? It is because the wind moves so fast!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I buried the ant!

Raghav came hurriedly to me this morning and said, "amma, you know....I was pushing my car on the floor and by mistake I went over an ant. The ant died......I am very sad........and then I buried it."

I asked him why he had buried it and he promptly said, "amma.....if something dies we bury it no? That is why I buried it"

"How did you bury it and where?", I asked.

"Right here amma! I took a piece of cellotape and stuck the ant to the floor!"

Children really do think of the weirdest of things and in most unexpected ways!

Well, anyway, following this was a serious discussion on what different people of different faiths do to the dead and why and so on.....and I realised how I had never questioned so many customs through all those years of growing up, but now I had to and also read up more on this to find a satisfactory answer for him!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Raghav's creations

Another story on a spider......

Big Bug

Big bug was a spider. He lived in a little cottage which was a hole! He went to the forest nearby and found other insects to eat, smaller than him. One day, when he went out into the forest, he found a bigger insect than him. It was a big cockroach! So, that very day, he made a tiny cobweb to catch the cockroach. Then he went off into the jungle again to find more food. The cockroach got stuck in the cobweb. The spider came back and ate him up!

September 17th 2010


We caught a small spider and put it into his bug box because Raghav wanted to look at it closely. He then drew this picture after looking through into the bug box and then came up with this story.....

Raghav's story - Big Bird

The Big Bird

One Day Big Bird went out to the meadow. Then, the biggest and most colourful mouse came along. Big Bird went to the mouse and gave it a kiss because she liked the mouse. The chick came and played near her mother. Then a little car came along and took everyone for a ride. But the chick was very naughty in the car. The Big Bird didn’t think it was fun at all to play in the car.

There was another little animal in the car. Who was that little animal? It was a cat! The cat bit the chick’s leg and the chick saw a scratch on her leg. Then she started crying. Then Big Bird said, “I think you have to go to the hospital.” So she went to the hospital. The doctor took a big injection and pushed it into her body. Then the doctor pushed the scratch out and it became okay.

Then Big Bird took the chick to a village. Big Bird said, “Please be careful and watch out for a house. We can gop and eat there.” Then they found a house and ate there. They ate lots of leaves. The Big Bird then took the chick back to the car. The car went to Neelangarai and they got off there.

some random comments from Raghav

"Amma, the eye is like a camera – when it sees something, it takes a picture.....inside the eye, the picture comes upside down, then the brain corrects it!" - this was after he had internalized what I had read to him about the eye from a book on the human body - just once!


Srinath: " Thatha thinks that you should learn a language called Sanskrit....will you learn it?"

Raghav's prompt reply: "Appa, why doesn’t anyone talk Sanskrit? If you and amma talk Sanskrit I will learn!"


"I don’t like teachers because they always say that I have to do a particular thing at a particular time."


Monday, August 30, 2010

Random questions and conversations

"Amma why does the kangaroo have a pouch? Will it not pain for the kangaroo because the skin in stretched so much? Does blood come out from there because the skin is open?"


"Explain to me how whatever I build in lego (using the online digital lego designer) comes out exactly the same when I take a print out? What is the internet? How does the drawing that I do, go through the computer and to the person I send it to?"


"Amma, it's ok if I spill a little bit of food on the's food for ants!Let them come and eat it!"


"Even though this Santa in Lifestyle gave me a gift, I know that the real Santa will come home and give me what I asked him for Christmas"


October 2011

"Amma why do you light a lamp everyday in the puja room when you tell me that God is everywhere?

"Why is it that all the Gods in these stories that you tell me kill people, or steal things, or get angry?"


On Diwali day, the sky thundered and there was a burst of rain......
Raghav looked up at the sky asked me: "Amma, are they celebrating Diwali up there??!"
Why do we burst crackers on Diwali?
How are crackers made?
If crackers are so dangerous, why do we have to burst them?


Why does that white smoke come from the fridge when we open it?

December 2011

Me: Raghav, why is it that you will only do things your way and when you want? Even when you have actually finished something and I ask you "have you finished?", you will say no to me and then when I am going away, you will call out to me and say "amma I have finished!"

Raghav: Yes, I am like that. God made me like that.

Me: Who is God?

Raghav: He is everywhere and in you, in me, in this cupboard, in the poochis.....
He only made everything.

Me: If God is everywhere,, then why should you be scared at all? Of darkness, insects and so on...?

Raghav: Because they look scary, even if God is there. But actually you should not be scared because God is there.

Me: So even if I am scared when I go up to a high place and look down, I should not feel that way?

Raghav: Yes, actually when we are scared of something, we should not be scared because God is there.


Raghav said this to me just before he slept one night :"Amma! you have the cutest face! You are as if you are one year old!"


After building the lego Taj Mahal, that had 5792 pieces Raghav had this to say:
Ämma, now I learnt that I have the patience to build the Taj Mahal. I thought I would not have the patience, but I did!"


Raghav and I had been to the aquarium a few days ago. Today he built a clown fish with his LEGO blocks. He was showing this to me and I was telling how well he had built it and how he could perhaps try and build a sea anemone too with his blocks. He immediately said : "Amma that is impossible!"
I told him that nothing was impossible in this world to which he promptly replied:" Amma, you cannot say that. Some things are just not possible........see - can you make all the fish in this world go away right now?" I had no answer but a smile for what he had just revealed to me!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Raghav's first brush with death

Today we went down to play as usual in the evening. Raghav was busy riding his cycle and chatting up with some of his friends while I was sitting and enjoying the fresh air and watching the kids. That is my favourite pastime! I love watching the kids play and chat – I have learnt so much from these observations! The place we stay in is a huge apartment complex with 4 blocks of flats – about 150 - 200 families I think! So one gets to see and interact with different age groups of kids and that is really nice as these little interactions tell me so much about what they think, how they think and so on. Today there was a small gang that was biking and suddenly they all stopped and peered down at the ground. There was a small grey mass on the ground and a few crows were cawing loudly. One of the boys screamed “ hey, it is a dead crow…..a baby!” Immediately Raghav stopped biking and came to me and asked me what happened. I told him that it was a baby bird that had just died as it had been killed by the crows. He immediately hugged me and had tears in his eyes – “amma! I don’t want the baby bird to die! I don’t want the crows to peck at it! I don’t like it!” I hugged him and could feel all the pain he was feeling…….so much sensitivity these little kids have! How much of that do we all have left inside ourselves? How much of it do we brush aside and attribute to immaturity? How often do we feel ashamed to show this kind of feeling? I could understand what he felt instantly, because I too am like that I guess. However, the mother in me took over and felt he needed comforting and some explanations. So I explained to him how crows were and what they do and how the bird had already died.
He finally mustered up enough courage to go near it and see it. He listened intently to the other boys talking. And then, he came and told me that it was a baby pigeon, that there was a hole and blood was coming out and that the crows had pecked it. It was interesting to see how each kid reacted to death – some showed disgust and made a face saying “yuck!”, some just walked past with indifference, some said “ yeah man! That’s the way it is…..why are you stopping the crows from eating it?”, some showed fear and kept a distance – peering from above, some stood close by and talked matter-of-factly about whether the pigeon had a heart, one boy went to the office and asked someone to come and remove it, another sat down and peered closely at it. Myriad reactions to an ordinary event that everyone goes through.
But this was Raghav’s first brush with death. And my son, well what did he do??! He stood guard there with his cycle, ringing the bell now and then! And do you know why? Because he saw that when there was no one around, the crows were swooping down and trying to move the pigeon with their beaks and he didn’t want them to hurt it! every time he saw a crow, he would come charging down with his bike and shoo it away!
(26th August 2010)

Raghav's dream

Today I asked Raghav about the dream he said he had the night before last about God, and at the end of it, I had tears in my eyes…..tears of joy! many more surprises is this little son of mine going to give me I wonder! He described to me whatever he had visualized in great detail…….this is what he had to say…….
“Amma I dreamt that God was making me!”…..”How did he look Raghav? What did he make you with?” I asked. “ He looked like me amma! And he was making me with a machine……putting me into a shape just like me!”….”a mould like you use with your play dough?” I asked. “Yes amma!....he was putting me into that and making me as I am”…..”and then what did he do?”, I was curious to know. “He became very small and then put me inside you amma – my gift! are my gift amma!” he said with a big smile on his lips! There was a lump in my throat……I didn’t expect that reply at all……I could not hold back my tears…..I hugged him tight and said how much I loved him – that was all I could manage…….I have always told him that he was our special gift from God…..but I never thought he would think about it so much and like this! Kids amaze you with unexpected acts that show clarity of thought and affection that is completely unconditional. They teach you how to live each day fully and joyfully, with mindfulness.
(26th August 2010)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Clean -up what? The cobwebs in our minds?!

I have made many adjustments to our homeschooling lifestyle, but there is one thing that I have not been able to let go off completely as yet.....and that is a messy house! But I must say that I have come a long way in this too.......I am able to tolerate most of the things now, simply because I have learnt to look at it from my son's point of view and respect him and his feelings about things. After all, it is his house and his space too! And it has taken me 7-8 months of making a genuine effort to "listen" to him every single time he wants me to, making those little sacrifices of time - giving him time when HE wants me to, going out of my way to do things for him sometimes when he refuses to understand my standpoint....and it has paid me huge dividends I must say!

When you give of yourself, you get back more than what you give. When you respect your child, he learns to respect you. When you listen to your child, he learns to listen to you. That is what i have learnt. Most often than not, we tend to look at things OUR way......we want them to clean up their room or toys because it looks neat, because it is easier for us, and because they just HAVE TO listen to us! But have we stopped to think about how those little things that they created, built or played with are PRECIOUS, SPECIAL and HUGE for them? It is after all their world, and how many times we destroy it with our hands! - simply because we look at it from our point of view, not theirs. And I must say, it makes a world of difference if you look at it through their eyes.

So, when will they learn to clean-up? I think they will when they are ready......just like I believe that you need a certain readiness for everything need a certain readiness for this too. Raghav cleans up when he makes it a game and fun like pretending to drive his digger and picking things up, or when he understands that we need to do something in that place which cannot be done elsewhere. He is still learning to understand that it is easier for him to find things if he puts things back in their respective places. We have done loads of talking about that, and spent loads of time searching for things that he wants to play with, but that has not changed things. So all I do now, is to ASK him what is okay to be cleaned up and just do it myself. He helps when he wants to. And I DON'T clean up what he doesn't want me to! But overall, it is so much more peaceful now that I respect his feelings - there are no ego clashes, no more arguments and fights.......there is a lot more mutual understanding and trust.

So in our house these days, the dining table becomes a racing track, just because it is oval in shape! cars go zooming as Raghav counts the number of laps, stops them for pit-stops, creates problems and finds his own solutions. Or, his room becomes a city with buildings, houses, vehicles, bridges and many other creations. And we don't move these things for days sometimes.....because he has painstakingly arranged them or simply because it is a "real" race track for him! So many times, we just have dinner sitting around with plates in our hands or cram up everything in less than half the space! But because we have respected his feelings and him, today he agrees to make place for us sometimes and clean up or make adjustments.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Town Planner and Architect

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Well, when you have a 5 year old town planner in your midst, you can forget about cleaning up your house! This room in our house has been like this for the last 5 days and I have a mammoth task everyday of cleaning up without disturbing any of the creations! But it is marvellous to watch the architect in action, building one little thing at a time every day, so painstakingly planning where what should go and how it should look.......well, here is the result!

This is the park that Raghav built with children on the different play equipment doing different things......there is a station near the park, so children could be picked up and dropped off by train!

The yellow tower with the person on top, is the tallest tower in the park that you can climb. If you climb it you can reach the clouds he says! He also says that it has a spring - so when you reach the top and press a button, the spring works and shoots you up into the clouds! and there is another spring that brings you back to the ground! And when I ask him what happens when you go onto the cloud, he says - "amma it will be fun! you can just go on it for a ride and then it will bring you back to the same place!.....yes, it knows its way!" Wow, I would love to live in a town like this for sure! wouldn't you?

This is one part of the has a pyramid, three stations, tunnel, bridge, railway tracks, road, a park.....

The digger was built by Raghav with lego blocks (did it completely on his own by looking at the book) and is now busy doing work in the city!

The fire truck and tow truck too were built by him in the same way.....The firemen he says, are having a picnic in town! - the toolkit becomes the picnic basket!.....and the tow truck is busy towing away a car!

The last photo is that of a ticket counter near the station, built with lego - complete with benches for people to sit and wait and the transparent lego blocks are the windows at the counters! He says that in this station people put the garbage in the bins and there are lots of brooms to sweep and keep the station clean......hear ye officials - this looks like a hint to them about the MRTS!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to avoid train accidents! - a 5 yr old's perspective

Raghav and I were discussing the recent train crash in West Bengal and I was explaining what happened, what was in the papers and so on......he came up with this theory - "amma, do you know why this accident happened?'s because there are no changing tracks for the trains......on the road, cars can move from left to right and right to left and avoid dashing into each other!.....if they had built changing tracks for trains, this would not have happened!" Hear ye.......Railway Minister!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Houses of the future?!

Round House - It is built with round bricks, it has round windows, everything is round.....there are no corners!

Sun House - It is near the sun in space! You can live in is not hot there, because it is built with special spongy bricks that have a special liquid like water in them that never dries up!

Raghav's first mind-map and story

The Little Cloud and Her Friends

One day there was a little cloud. She was white and soft. She loved to play hide and seek with her other friend clouds, the sun and the moon. She floated in the sky and had a big smile on her face. She loved her friends and herself. She was very kind, careful and never hurt anybody else.

The little cloud was in another country where it rained every day. Everyday her friend - the wind pushed her into the water gently. The cloud sucked up all the water from the sea, and the wind under the cloud pushed her up into the sky. And then the water came lashing down as rain! The cloud danced and laughed and said “I made everything wet!” She laughed so much that people could not hear what she was saying.

Then there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky. The little cloud went behind the rainbow, hugged and kissed her. She smiled at the rainbow and the rainbow smiled back. The little cloud loved her so much and they became good friends.

Thatha and Raghav go into Space

One day Raghav and Thatha called the Magic Carpet. They got onto the magic carpet with some food and some yummy, “rummy” snacks. Then they told the magic carpet – “You go into space! Aam…..eeem….oom…..go into space and shoot off! When we reach space we will all build a space station and then we can live there for 100 weeks!”
They went to the shop and got two rocket boosters for the carpet to shoot off. Then they got onto the magic carpet, wore their astronaut suits and shot off into space. They saw clouds, the sun and the moon on the way. They did not see other planets as they went another way. It was very dark in space, but they saw lots of light. The light came from all the stars.
Then they reached the moon. There they built a space station and lived there. They did lots of work at the space station. When they were hungry, they took the dry and wet food like icecream and snacks, added a little water and ate them.
They stretched their hands out and jumped and walked on the moon. They were very happy.
Then, they did not want to live there anymore. So, they came back to the earth on their magic carpet.

"FLYING FLU!" - How current events shape play!

Raghav was busy with his lego blocks creating an array of he was building a "magic trailer" - that was what he called it! He built a tall structure on the base of the trailer and then added wings on either side..."Amma, it has wings....whenever the driver wants to, he will press a button and the wings will come out...and he can fly wherever he wants to..." "and this tall building has rooms for people to stay.....they can live on the trailer if they like"....."and this is the driver....he has 'flying flu'!....he has a very bad cold and cough..."

I was shocked when he said that and corrected him: "It's not 'flying flu' is 'swine flu'!" He insisted on the former name! Anybody wonder why?

Who is God?

Raghav and I had a discussion about God today.......who he is, where he is and so on. I shared with him both my beliefs on God and some others that I knew of. The discussion touched on religions, prayer, respect, love and so many more things. I was telling him that I believed that God was everywhere - in him, in me, in all the things around us, in nature and so on.....he promptly turned around and said "amma! then God is in the iPod!". I said "yes!" and then he said "amma.....then if one of my toys is flat and God is in there, then he would be flat!" I was in splits! and then he went on to talk about "tall", "thin", "round", "fat" Gods! I never ever imagined God to be like that!