Thursday, December 26, 2013

I need my space

My sister has come down with her family and so most days have been spent with them. My nephew who is almost five, follows Raghav wherever he goes and whatever he does, not leaving him out of his sight even for a single moment! They have had their share of tiffs and showdowns, but have mostly got along really well.

Today however, when I got a call from my sister, asking me what we could do, Raghav told me that he didn't want to spend time with them, and wanted to just be home with me. :) I asked him why and when we got talking, he shared so much more about how and what he was feeling. He said that after spending a whole day with his cousin, he needed a whole day off, to be by himself and feel better. " I need my space amma," he said quietly.

Then, we got talking some more. He came out with some observations of his little brother, which stunned me! He said, "Amma, A does not know how to say that he is bored and does not know how to say that he wants to stop doing something and do something else! So he starts bothering me." I nodded and smiled, thinking about how he had made these astute observations, and yet did not himself know how to tell his cousin brother this, or help him find a better way to express himself. And that is because, Raghav himself  has a difficulty in expressing how he is feeling about some things! :)

While I am astounded by his observations of people, I am also surprised and relieved that he knows what he needs so clearly at this young age, and understands the value of honouring one's own needs and space.  After all, I do believe that it is only when one is honoured and respected for who one is, can one reciprocate that...and only when you honour your needs and your space, can you honour someone else's.

So yes, I did honour his need and stayed home with him. I also was his voice to my sister and had to explain to her why he wanted to be home by himself. And yes, it was perhaps something that she did not expect or appreciate, and was difficult perhaps to understand, but we had to still honour our needs. We did just that.

We hung up on each other with heavy hearts perhaps, but later that afternoon, when the phone rang and I picked it up, it was my sister again asking if R would like to go with them to the light house, and when I asked him, he readily agreed to go along!

I truly believe this yet again, that when you honour your needs and do so without judging yourself or
the other, so many possibilities open up, that you wouldn't even have imagined were possible.
So give yourself some space when you need to, and you will find yourself  making space for the other quite unwittingly!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What I did at a Christmas lunch....

We were out for a Christmas lunch today, with my sister and her family and my parents....and just in case any of you wonder why we celebrate Christmas, here are the reasons - my brother-in-law is half Jew, half Christian, and so every year when they come down to visit us in December, we celebrate Christmas at home by exchanging presents, being with each other and going out for a family lunch. It makes them feel at home and it adds to the festive spirit that Raghav anyway brings and creates at home at this time of the year, as Christmas is one of his favourite festivals! :)

Usually, Raghav takes his iPad with him to restaurants, as he needs to watch or do something on it while eating, and also because he needs something to do while he waits for his food (waiting is hard for him!). Today however, even though we took the iPad along, he didn't ask for it even once! He and his cousin kept themselves busy drawing on the paper place mats....I thought I had to record this historic moment as there were two milestones of sorts that happened today - not asking for the iPad at all, even when his cousin played for a while on his dad's phone, and Raghav DRAWING! - That is a really huge thing and was a wow/ proud mama moment for me!

And when I watched with intent, each drawing came alive with his words as a story - complete with sound effects and details that are invisible to the naked eye :)

Here are his drawings from today....

The Solar System

The view of the earth from space with a hurricane and floating clouds....the International Space Station in the distance....Common Modules (including one re-entering the earth's atmosphere)....rockets being launched....the Hubble Space Telescope... and the moon with its craters :)

 A view of Saturn with its rings....the Cassini probe orbiting Saturn....a comet flying by....and a weird space animal (the part that looks like the sun) that Cassini found :)

 The outer and inner view of a space probe being launched

The intent of a reclusive artist :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How a nine year old saved the day!

Today was a trying day for me and Raghav as there were many outbursts of emotions for him and I had a lot of listening to do, besides a horde of other things with the kids and around the house....that by the evening I was kind of pooped to think straight even.

Raghav needs to watch something while he eats a meal, and my 4 1/2 year old nephew who is here now, wanted to do the same, much against his mother's rules with screen time. After a lot of argument with his mom, he got his way. But R wanted to eat at the same time, and wanted to watch and eat too, like him. The problem however, was that both wanted to watch different DVDs and on the same TV! Neither wanted to arrive at a compromise. Each wanted to have his way. My neighbour's kids were there too and were watching the arguments with keen interest.

I was too tired to think creatively and beyond the usual lines that moms dole out or suggest - about taking turns, or choosing a mutually agreeable DVD to watch and so on. I then suggested that we had three ways in which each of them could watch their DVDs - the  TV, my laptop and R's computer, and that they could choose one of those. Again both of them wanted to watch only on TV! Stalemate again! Phew! It was getting a bit much for me to handle and I wanted to give up....

Just then, my 9 year old neighbour, came to my rescue. She asked my little nephew what was more important to him - watching the movie or watching it on TV. He agreed that he just wanted to watch it. So she suggested that since the TV was the one that was not letting them decide, they should skip that, and instead choose between the two computers, to watch their movies on. Immediately, both chose the respective computers, and the problem that was bearing down on us for so long, was solved! All it took was some logic and creativity from a little nine year old!

I thanked her profusely for the solution that she had come up with and filled my heart with gratitude for little angels like her, who come my way in so many forms, now and then, to guide me and show me the way, when I am tired or lost!

I don't mind learning from a nine year old, or a baby, or anyone for that about you? :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's a LEGO Christmas at home!

LEGO is not just another toy for my son....
It is a passion, a form of expression of all that he lives and learns and internalizes....

So this is what we've been up to over the last week....working with our hands to create "Christmasy" things...
I must say that for Raghav, creating out of anything but Lego, has been a rarity up until now :)....and
this time the inspiration came from him!

A Christmas ornament made from a part of a broken drum :)
Another one

A wreath made of card, sequins and some old gift-wrapping paper

A Hanging Santa made by me, inspired by The Crafty Crow....
Raghav helped with the direction and sticking of the googly eyes :) 

Our little Christmas tree :)
Can you spot a Lego wreath?

A Lego candle
A Lego gift :) 

A little one made by me :)

Can you spot the Lego candy stick?
A Lego stocking door hanger :)
A Lego candy stick door hanger :)

Snowflakes! - This was a team effort by R, me and our young neighbours
who helped with adding the glitter :)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hey, I Shrunk the City!

When Raghav was all inspired to build and create a mini Lego city, the words that came up in my head at first thought were these - "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!" ....and yes, whenever Raghav builds a mini city like this one, both of us sit back and admire it and wish we could shrink, get into it and explore it....I am sure you will too, when you take a look at this little piece of art :)

So here are some of the pictures I took of his mini Lego city, which according to him is a mix of Lisbon in Portugal, Malaysia and Pondicherry :) - a really heady mix that must be!

And yes, when he is finished with his work of art, I become his playmate, as we pretend and weave stories while we decide to explore the Petronas Towers and overcome our fear of heights, look down and marvel at the engineering feat of the double-decker highway from the Maglev train, watch a rocket launch live, take a trip to the lighthouse on the little island off the beach, and sit down for a bite at the little beach cafe on the Promenade...the world of make-believe is filled with adventure and fun! :)

So why don't you take a trip into our little world and stop for a moment to have some fun too? :)

The Mini Lego City!

The airport - can you spot the two planes, the air traffic control, the runway, the airport bus, the tanker and the cargo loader?

The building site - with tower cranes, a mobile crane, and trucks...

The Rocket Launch Station -
with parking area, a rocket that can slide along to the launchpad, and a satellite dish for communication.

A closer look....

The double-decker highway - Can you spot the Maglev train, a long flat-bed truck, a lorry, and some cars on the highway below?

Can you find the Petronas Tower, a block of apartments, a Hotel with a "H" signboard, a garden, row houses and a mail truck?

The beach - with a jetty, beach cafe, ships and a lighthouse on an island...

A tower crane loading a ship, the Promenade with some old heritage buildings, including a clock tower, a police station in blue, a fire station in red...

A cricket stadium with floodlights and a shop with shopping bags as a signboard....

The garden with a banyan tree, a fountain in the middle, row houses and a mail truck!

The fire station with two shiny firetrucks, heritage buildings and a clock tower.

The Police Station and the Promenade....can you spot the cafe on the beach a la Pondicherry? :)

Another view of the city, with a six lane highway and a flyover...with a good view of the Petronas Towers!

The traffic on the highway and a windmill for renewable energy :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snowflakes, Spiders, Tails and Antlers!

This morning I was lazing on the beanbag and listening to Raghav (who had just woken up) talk incessantly without giving himself or me a breather :) I love being privy to these precious conversations that make me come back to the moment....that make me forget all the "shoulds" and "should nots", things to be done and those left undone. Everything else could wait. I hadn't taken a shower and it was almost 11am, there were dishes piled in the sink, I still had to finish some cooking....but all those could wait. Why would I think of those when I could fly with him on his thoughts, into a refreshing world of wonder, story telling and imagination?!

He was asking me what Christmas craft we could do today....yes, he has been enjoying doing little bits of art and craft, to decorate our living room for the Christmas season - somehow Christmas always seems to inspire and excite him more than any other festival. So I reminded him of the paper snowflake he had cut out and made, which he had wanted to decorate with glitter glue. I jokingly told him how it had been lying on the table for more than a week now, and was gathering dust and could even attract spiders!

We went on to wonder about how spiders' webs withstand gusty winds, how they hang from such a thin delicate strand of thread and how they spin their webs for days on end, facing so many obstacles. He recalled what he had read in a book about how a spider spin its web with an organ that is located near its rear and went on to speak about tarantulas and other kinds of spiders.

Perhaps triggered by the word "rear" or "behind", he moved on to talking about "tails"! "What would you do if you had a long tail like a monkey or a squirrel amma?", he asked with a smile. I thought for a moment and then said : " Ah! I can swat mosquitoes with ease, especially those that bother me from behind!" We laughed and laughed thinking about how that would be and feel :) He shared how he could get something from another room with his long tail, without moving an inch! When I asked how he would know where that thing was, without looking there, he said: "Oh! I will stick some googly eyes at the end of my tail!"  :)
"What if you had a small squiggly tail like a pig? What would you do?", he asked. I couldn't think of anything and said I didn't know. "Then why do pigs have tails?" we wondered together....

"What if you had huge horns or antlers like a rhino or a reindeer?", was his next question.
"I can hang all my things on it instead of carrying things in a bag!", I replied with the inner child in me fully awake and about now! And then we both giggled picturing the whole thing.
We then laughed about how we wouldn't be able to lie down and sleep and perhaps had to stand and sleep, if we had huge antlers that kept getting in the way of other people. :)

A funny, imaginative, fun start to yet another wonderful day in our journey!
And I so love the way the thought train stops at all these beautiful places now and then....taking me on a ride that is just too precious to give up for anything else in my life at that moment.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Lying down in the car, feeling sick because of some smell that we could not figure out, Raghav's mind still did not stop what it so loves to do - think, imagine and wonder!

The person driving our car got a mouthful from another car driver, was honked at and shown fingers, while we were making our way through the traffic in Madurai. Everyone in the car was discussing about how if our car had a Tamil Nadu registration (it has a Karnataka one now!), we would be given more respect and not be treated like outsiders.

Raghav listened to all that and asked :"Amma, who is an outsider?"
It was only as I began thinking about ways of telling him the meaning of that word, that I realised what a profound question it  actually was. As I was gathering my thoughts and words, my husband attempted to answer the question by drawing a comparison to family and how people who are outside of  or don't belong to that group are called 'outsiders'. I then added what I felt - that it was all in the minds of the people in the group - what they thought of the others, as to whether the others were outsiders or not. And as I was saying all that, I realised this - that the words that we use, often make up our thoughts and beliefs.

Raghav was lost in thought. I guess he still could not see the point of using a word like "outsider".
"But then, why would someone look at or think of you as an outsider, when cars are built and meant for traveling from one place to another?", he asked. Good question.

For the rest of the time in the car, Raghav pondered over this and asked us more questions -
"Who owns the earth?" was the starting point.....and that led to others like "Who owns the planets, the sun?", and so on. He answered most on his own too, saying that we were living on the earth, which is a part of the sun's family, and that the sun was a part of the Milky Way's family and that was a part of the Universe's family. All discussions like this one often end in only one word in Raghav's dictionary - "The Universe"!

But I like the way he always puts things in perspective for himself and for me. I like the way many or most of our conversations like this one involve looking at ourselves as part of the bigger picture. I like the way he builds a world that is free from beliefs and thoughts tied to words like these. I love these unexpected discussions that open up, often like Jack-in-the-boxes, to hit home a forgotten truth.

So where do we belong really?
Are we outsiders at any point in our lives?
Why do we feel that we are outsiders anyway?
What do we own?

Those are just a few of the many soul-searching questions that we touched upon here. I am sure there will be many more! And I will wait for them to spring up, wake me up and shake me up, in their own time :)