Thursday, 6 September 2012

Heads, I win...

Recently i had to work weekends - the night shift no less. Its not something that i do on a regular basis. But at times, duty beckons. So there I was rostering for the night shift. Needless to say this night shift gave HoneyBunch the opportunity to throw tantrums. She not only forbade me from stepping out but also proceeded to tell me what I could do in case the bosses weren’t too happy with my vanishing act. This was how the conversation went:

HB: Mamma, don’t go to work.

Me: Sweetie, we discussed this. If there was a slim chance of me not being needed, I would not have gone. And you know I don’t do this often. But if I am needed, I am needed. There are no two ways about it. So let me go. I will be back before you are up on Sunday morning.

HB: Don’t go. Call your boss and tell him you can’t come.

Me: What will I tell my boss last minute? Why can’t I go? They’ll fire me for the last minute ditch.

HB: Then you leave the job.

Me: And do what?

HB: Work in Pappa’s office. He does not work weekends or go to office at night. His office is better than yours and his boss is also good. So you work in his office.

Me: I will not know what to do in Pappa’s office.

HB: So? You can learn. You join Pappa’s office from tomorrow. He can teach you what to do. Otherwise you become a teacher and teach in my school. Then you can come home with me. And be at home on Saturday and Sunday.

Me: I can’t be a teacher.

HB: Why not?

Me: Can’t baby.

HB: But why?

(This clearly wasn’t working; so I decided to reverse the flow.)

Me: OK, now tell me this. Let’s say your school tells you to come in for an extra class on Sunday. Your teacher tells you “HB, you need to attend an extra class, because it will be good for you. You and four of your best classmates have been asked to attend the class. What will you do? Will you ask me to change your school because of this one extra class Or will you miss the lecture?’

HB: (after taking a full minute to think) I will attend.

Me: Really!! Why?? Why would you go to school on a Sunday?

HB: I’ll go.

Me: But why? What is the reason?

HB: It’s a class, Mamma. And teacher is asking us to attend. It is important. So I will go.

And, before I could say ‘aha!’ HB added ‘But you don’t go. You stay at home today and work in Pappa’s office from tomorrow. I will tell him to teach you what to do in his office.’

...Tails you lose!

Angry Birds and Happy Mom!!

Ranting over the "ill" effects of Angry Birds in an earlier post, I grudgingly admit to have fallen hook, line and sinker for those pesky birds. I take absolute delight in blasting the cheeky pigs. There are so many versions that entice you. Angry Birds – Space/ Seasons/Underwater. It’s like a dream come true.

I wanted something different to do in my rare free time. Something that I do just for myself; For my entertainment. Something as far removed from the tasks on my To DO list as possible. I found all that and more in Angry Birds. It’s my most absorbing passion yet.

It’s not like I don’t have a hobby. I am an avid reader. But off late the books that could hold my interest have been far and few between. So I kind of went easy on the library trips. But now with Angry Birds free times have taken on a whole new meaning. It’s my real stress buster. I am so shamelessly addicted to it that I don’t think twice over arguing with Honeybunch for iphone (read Angry Bird) time. In fact, on one occasion, I was horrid enough to ask Honeybunch to watch TV so that she will let me play in peace!! Delays, wait times don’t annoy me at all. I have downloaded several paid versions and can’t wait to demolish the various pig homes. Not just that I love to better my score and reach new high scores for every game…!! I am done with the "space" version and looking forward to complete the "underwater" too....

Have you tried it yet? Give it a shot... you are guaranteed to get hooked forever...!!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The games people play..

I'm a Dinosaur Mum. Till date i had never ever played Angry Birds! Six year old Honeybunch (with help from Hub) downloaded it on the iphone a long time ago. That was her third level TP (TP as in Time Pass - the first two being TV and laptop respectively).

Yesterday, she was once again playing Angry Birds when i asked her for my phone. She handed me the phone, leaving the game mid way. One peek at the game and i was hooked. I played a few sling shots. Boy, was i pathetic!! I overshot all the time. Sometimes the birds went in the reverse..oh dear shame!! I was quickly turning into an Angry Mom. Honeybunch came back to watch my lousy play. "Mamma, that's not how you play. Let me show you." She proceeded to teach me.

A few minutes later, armed with the tutorial, i resumed play. I got some cool shots that gave me a high score. And with that free time was never the same! All day, even if i had 5 minutes free, it was Angry Birds time.

I even got into arguments with Honerbunch over iphone timeshare. She wanted to play iceAge and guessed it.. Angry Birds. I managed to wrangle the phone away from her and continued with Angry Birds. I kept at it with superb shots making good scores. Every time i destroyed the well set domino like structures, the scores rocked. And I was filled with glee. I played and played, wanting to reach higher levels. Every crash, collapse and collision added thousands to the score. I gloated.

And then out of nowhere came this thought. Wasn't Angry Birds all about destruction? Weren't most games about destruction? Lovely, happy, chirpy birds were used in a sling shot to destroy cool structures. No wonder the birds were angry! And the fact that these birds were being used to blast fattened squeaky pigs probably warrants an intervention from PETA!

Anyways, I wondered some more. Do such games have any effect on kids at all? Is there a research that details the effect of these destructive "games" on fresh, fertile, innocent minds?  Do kids dismiss these games as just that and nothing more? Or is there a seed rooting in the subconscious that destruction is good? As usual, too many questions and no answers. Must browse those psychoanalyst sites that have an answer to everything. Until then, Angry Birds anyone?

On an aside, I have scanned findings that say such games improve the hand eye co-ordination in players. Given the amount of time Honeybunch (and most kids) spend on these phone games, i sure hope that research is right!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Role Reversal???!!

Yesterday we decided to catch a movie. While getting ready, as usual despite having a wardrobe full of clothes, it felt like I had nothing to wear. I tried the skirt top first.  How does it look, Honeybunch?”
(Here I have to mention that while I was scouting for clothes in the wardrobe, Honeybunch had selected the right frock and got dressed and was in the process of brushing her hair when I “troubled” her for an opinion. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have!!)
“It looks nice Mamma. I like the red color. It looks good on you.  Wear it” she replied and went back to getting dressed. But I didn’t think so. So I changed into a pair of jeans and T-shirt. This time I didn’t ask her. Not liking what the mirror showed me, I changed. And this madness went on. Twenty minutes and seven outfits later, I was still undecided and the bed was a mess with all the discarded outfits. At this point Honeybunch was ready, hair brushed, watch strapped and all set to go.  And I hadn’t even decided on the clothes!!!
Gosh!! What nonsense!! Honeybunch turned around and noticed the bed!! “My God, Mamma what is this? How many times will you change? I told you the first dress was looking good. Why did you not listen to me? And now how many more clothes will you try?” Her actions matching her words, she looked genuinely annoyed. Wow!! I was already seething inside. Her response made me madder.  But I held my peace. First the clothes didn’t fit because I’d put on weight. Yeah, that was the real reason why nothing looked good. All those clothes that fit me snugly once upon a time, refused to do so now. And to add to it, here was a 6 year old berating me on the mess I had made in the room!!! Yeah I know at one point kids will start to tell their parents what to do and what not to do, but do they start so soon??  Unbelievable! Sufficiently chastened, I dressed in the next available outfit. Without daring to glimpse in the mirror, I quickly stepped out.

The Project

Honeybunch cried at night…all of sudden … just like that and without warning or provocation!!! Usually just before tucking her into bed, I have these sessions where we discuss each other’s day. Mine will normally be about the endless calls, meetings, mails and what have you. She likes hearing how I spend my day at work and then before you know it she rattles off her day. Starting with the prayers to the time she comes home and has lunch. We both love the insights into each others’ “work” worlds!! While most of my work peeves will be around too many calls, hers will be about some boy at her table being rowdy or questioning her authority as a table monitor!!  So I was surprised by this sudden deluge of tears.
“Mamma, teacher is not giving me project work. Every week a new chart is to be made and put up in the corridor. I keep raising my hand all the time and she still never selects me! She named a few classmates. She only gives them the project work but never me. Today I asked her ‘why she did not give me the project work? Teacher said “Your mamma is working. She goes to office. She will not have time to work on the project. That is why I am not giving you!” My heart sank. Even though I am not exactly ecstatic doing craft / project work, the teacher’s response and Honeybunch’s tears was all that I could remember at the end of that conversation. I was shell shocked and completely at a loss of words. I managed to gather my wits (yes, I was that stumped!!) and asked Honeybunch to go speak with her teacher once again. To tell her teacher, that she had spoken to me about this and that together we would complete the necessary project.” I went on…”See Mamma does all your calendar items, right? I get the clay, the colors, the chart paper, everything. Then why won’t we do the project? Speak with teacher again tomorrow”, I urged!! Knowing that it was the right thing to have said, I was still restless, quite disturbed actually!! Even though I am a full time working mom I manage my time fairly well. Till date, I have never ever missed a school deadline or tasks. I have got all those innumerable chart papers, clays, white paper, colors, and what have you as many times as the school has asked!! I firmly believe that my working has not adversely impacted Honeybunch. I have been working since Honeybunch was 6 months. And to her credit, she has remarkably adjusted to it, touchwood! In the progressing years, she has become very independent and perceptive in her thought processes.  Her decision making skills never cease to astound me, but I digress!!
The next day I decided to go pick her up from school. Usually the class teacher accompanies the kiddos to the gate. So I figured that would be the best way to quickly get in a word with her.
So when the teacher escorted Honeybunch and her class to the gate, I quickly checked with her regarding the project. She said “the project involves a lot of research and labor. It is very time consuming. It will easily take up 5-6 days. We put it up in corridor for a week or so. She described the diverse topics adding “working moms will not be able to give it so much time that is why I give it to the Stay at Home Moms. Mentally, I sighed. The way she said it, I knew she meant it. She truly believed that working moms would not be able to devote that much amount of time to the project work. I didn’t know what to say. I felt a lot of things at that moment. The first thing that occurred to me was that the teacher had really been thoughtful. All said and done, it definitely is a huge task to put together a good descriptive project. One that will put up in the corridors for weeks and used to informally educate the kiddos!! But then again, agreeing with the teacher and convincing Honeybunch otherwise would mean leaving Honeybunch feeling that working moms were a not such a happy thing to have!! 
The teachers’ intentions were good. No doubt about it. In fact a part of me applauded her sensitivity and concern towards working moms. But she had unintentionally managed to hurt a few young impressionable minds. Had made them feel shortchanged. Left them with the feeling that there were things they couldn’t do as they had a Mom who did not stay at home. A mom who was out working and would not have the time to help with things important to them!!! 
I, for sure, did not want Honeybunch to feel like that. Snapping out of my thoughts, I requested the teacher to assign Honeybunch the necessary project work without any hesitation.  Told her that Honeybunch and I together would do it within the stipulated times. I re-asserted having time on my hands; sufficient enough to devote to Honeybunch and activities that mattered to her. She agreed, Honeybunch was good with that deal and all was well again.  Adding “Project Work” as the next item on  in my “to do” list, I took Honeybunch home.
A tiny amusing thought crossed my mind. Had the teacher shared this thought process with the Stay At Home Moms? Did they agree with her thinking? Did they know the real reason their kiddos were being given the project work? I wonder??!!!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Leave it at Good Enough??!! contd....

And while i was debating the pros and cons of the 10 minute Rigor Recap, this happened......

I had to visit the bank for a loan closure formality. It had been pending for a long while. I was in constant touch with the bank’s loan officer but had not been able to go personally to the bank to close the loan. Ultimately, one day I decided to not dilly dally any longer and just do it!! So, intimating the loan officer of my plans, I finally headed to the bank.
I completed the closure formalities. The officer asked me to wait for about 5 minutes until the closure letter was being drafted. I was in no hurry and so was happy to wait in the lounge area. That’s when I noticed 3 small girls in pigtails and school uniform walk into the bank. They would have been Grade 1 or Grade 2 kiddos. I was confused seeing them there as there was no accompanying adult. Also, I couldn’t help notice that they all carried an air of familiarity while in the bank. It did not seem like they were there for the first time. After loitering for a couple of seconds near the door, they retreated into a small reception like area. I was distracted by the lady typing the closure letter and so did not check to see what happened later.
I went back to the loan officer. She said “your letter’s ready. I just need to initial it after making some updates. Would you mind waiting for just 10 minutes more? Actually the thing is my daughter is here. She has two papers today – Mental Math and Dictation!! I just need to do a quick 10 minutes revision with her before she goes to school.  She always does better when I revise with her, even if it is just for 10 minutes…!”
Wow!!! Now where have I heard that one before!!! Sure I said…take your time I am really in no hurry!!! The loan officer went to the reception like area. So her kiddo had come to revise with her and had got two of her friends in tow!!!
The loan officer was back even before the stipulated 10 minutes were up. Revision done, her daughter was off to school ready to tackle mental math and anything else that needed tackling, supremely confident after that 10 min power recap with Mom!! 
I was simultaneously amused and happy. Happy in drawing comfort from the knowledge that I wasn’t the lone ranger believing in the power of Mom’s 10 minute rigor recaps!! I was always sure that there were more Moms like me who did not believe in leaving it at Good Enough; but to have actually witnessed it first hand at the unlikeliest of places was very amusing.
More Power to Rigor Recaps!??!! What say???

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mixed Bag

And while i glorify Kahaani, a leading newspaper publishes this:

Darn disappointing, if true.....Here we are all going gaga over one hell of a movie, the last 20 minutes of which are mind blowing.....and guess most others this one too turns out to be "inspired".

Similar brouhaha with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) .....exhilarating movie. And then there was some murmur about it being inspired by Fandango......again really sad if true!!
ZNMD and Kahaani - two amazing movies that cinema goers relished, heralded their directors as the best of the best...and what do u know...even the best need inspiration!!!

Anyways, while on Kahaani, check out this site.

Someone has taken a huge effort to deep dive into Kahaani and come up with 9 questions that Mr. Sujoy Ghosh needs to answer.....The questions and the answers left in comments are so detailed you almost get exhausted reading........i did and so didn't really read all....but worth a visit!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Mixed Bag

Kahaani…what a movie! Amazing story line and super performances from the entire cast…And Calcutta captured so beautifully. I have never been to Calcutta. But following Vidya Bagchi as she skirts its streets and by lanes, I had a feeling of being in Calcutta all the time while watching the movie.

After being subjected to mindless mish mash in the name of movies, along comes one gem of a movie. Just Google Kahaani and there are reams and reams of praise being heaped on Ms. Balan and the rest of the cast!!! Well deserved IMO. I believe Kahaani has made it to IMDB’s list of Top 50 thrillers!! It’s at position 12 actually!! No mean feat for an Indian movie…!!

And you know what else is truly amazing…even though there are so many reviews of the movie floating around….not one has revealed the end!! Though some reviews have teeny weeny spoilers none have come out with the “mother of all spoilers”. Everyone who has seen the movie is urging everyone who hasn’t to go watch the movie….no one but no one is even hinting towards the real McCoy!! Nice!! Very Nice!! Rarely is a movie made that evokes such enthusiastic sentiments in cinemagoers all over the world!!!

Did you watch Kahaani? If not...go for it...!!

What’s a kiddo supposed to do..??

Honeybunch was completing homework in EVS – Environmental Studies – that teaches the little ones about family roles and responsibilities among other things. In her worksheet, she had to write 3 things that her Dad does for her. Without a thought she wrote: he takes me out on weekends, he gives me toys and he gives me ice creams……all of these were her last weekend’s experiences and none of them were from the book.

While I encourage free thinking especially in subjects like EVS, these answers were nearly too “free” of the real content!! So I reprimanded her. “You need to write from the book, dear!! All this is fine…but what about the things mentioned in your text book?” (which incidentally had listed all the things that an ideal Dad should do!!!  ) I made her re-read the chapter and write the worksheet with the new text book answers.

A month later, as part of the routine revision she got another worksheet. She had to again jot down the things that her father did for her. She wrote down all the things and then started reading them out to me one by one. Have to confess here that I had completely forgotten my “discussion” with her on writing only that which is cited in the book!! I was happy that she had done the entire worksheet on her own and so was fondly listening to her as she called out the items listed….… dad loves me, he buys me clothes, he goes to work and earns money….etc… etc…….at the end of the list she wrote…he takes my studies every night and helps me with homework…I heard that one and went “what….when does Dad help you with homework…I am the one who does that….i help you with studies..and I help you revise…when did Dad help??’ and pat came the reply “Did you not say write from the text book?”

Yes, that....I did say...!!!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Great Expectations….

Honeybunch had Sports Day. The venue was a 45 minute drive from home and the event was to start at 7 am. This meant we had to leave home at 6:15 a.m. Couple this with a planned religious event at home that needed me to be up by 3 a.m., house help’s mini sabbatical and the driver’s vanishing act around the same time frame… (I kid u not…I was in the middle of a domestic staff revamp.)
So when Honeybunch told me that she did not get shortlisted, I wasn’t hugely dejected considering the logistics nightmare that we had succeeded in avoiding!! I comforted her ….about trying harder next year…and promptly forgot about the event. So imagine my surprise when two days prior to the event the sports teacher calls me to inform that Honeybunch has indeed qualified in a race….(what I did not know then was that Honeybunch had already won the said race and was to receive the award at the venue on the Sports Day!!)
On getting the call, I was super irritated, but then looking at the sheer elation on Honeybunch’s face, I resigned myself to the inevitable. On the morning of the Sports day, once we were on our way… in jest I said to Honeybunch….’after all this, I do hope u win a medal’ and the quick negotiator in her retorted ‘What do I get if I win the medal’? “I’ll take u to the toy shop and you get to buy 5 toys of your choice.” I said.
At the venue, the teacher informed us that Honeybunch had already won in the elimination rounds held in school and would need to wait for the award ceremony to commence.
So wait we did. At 11, the awards started….many names were called out and after what seemed forever Honeybunch’s event winners were called out….all of them….but horror of horrors Honeybunch wasn’t called on stage…my heart sank…it wasn’t the effort of getting there…it wasn’t the sadness of not winning the medal….this was about Honeybunch’s hopes being dashed after a sudden happy lift.  And then …. I saw Honeybunch crying…… OMG!! WTH had happened. I frantically signaled Honeybunch and her teacher. Both weren’t responding…instead both signaled ‘All is well’. If all was indeed well, then W(hy)TH was Honeybunch in tears?? After what seemed like some quick discussions, the MC halted the event and announced that they had missed Honeybunch’s name. He then proceeded to call her on stage…Ah… that is what had happened…they had missed announcing her name..!! Honeybunch came on stage and accepted the medal. The principal and teachers graciously clicked a group photo with her….Honeybunch joyously ran back to me.
While we were leaving someone asked Honeybunch why she cried. To which she replies ‘Coz Mamma would not have brought me the 5 toys’ Oh….heck!!!! I was the cause of tears???!!! I thought it was missing the medal that had bought on the drama!!!Oh Man!
That got me wondering…. When kids don’t rise to our expectations does the ‘not matching up to expectation’ make them sadder than not coveting the real win???? If yes, then heartbreaking indeed!! So Honeybunch cried because I had set her some expectations and she had not been able to match them and not because she missed a medal that was rightfully hers!
Darn, why did I have to throw in the toy thing??? Why did I have to goad her about winning?
But then again… it really wrong to set an expectation or two???? Especially when the kiddo has the potential and does rise up to the challenge and wins….!! 

To Spank or Not To Spank!!

What’s wrong with a spank or two if it takes kiddo from mediocre to top of the class? Especially when the lesson stays with her forever and she enjoys the accolades!!???
I invite thoughts from all Moms on this topic – To spank or Not to spank. Tell me what you think, why you think the way you do. And those who do favor spanking please do highlight the occasions that warrant a spanking!!
Small post this one!! But I bet the comments would be anything but…..promise to do a good long post on this topic if I receive worthy feedback.
And with that…Let the debate begin..!!

Should one leave it at Good Enough??!!

School tells me that Honeybunch is going to have annual exams!!  Spanning the entire year’s curriculum! (Duh! what else would annual exams be all about?!!!!) The school has weekly tests for evaluating the kiddos. So, I had not expected the annual gradation. 
Honeybunch is good at studies. I also have a tuition teacher help her thru the week with her routine revision and homework. So post the annual exam breaking news, I informed Honeybunch’s tuition teacher (and may the Lord Bless Her!!!) about the exam and its syllabus. And she meticulously got down to the task of revising the entire portion. 
And now for the core question….!
Despite Honeybunch’s time with the tuition teacher, I still revise with her. There are times when I feel it may be an overkill….…but there is this….if studying with the tuition teacher gets her the As, just an additional 10 minutes of daily studies with me gets her the A-stars!! And that’s all it takes. 10-15 minutes of a recap with me and her output increases amazingly. With just the tuition lessons, she could get may be a two or three words (usually out of a list of 15 words) incorrect in her next dictation. But if I recap with her for just 10 minutes, everyday, she unerringly tops the class and gets the stars!!!! So Hubs and I think that her recap time with me is good. I only revise with her. I don’t introduce any new chapters or concepts. I leave that to the school and the tuition teacher….
Now the only flip side to this happy scenario is when she chooses to be flippant about the study at hand. Honeybunch tends to be less focused unless I pull the strict card with her. Only when she knows that Momma means business, will she straighten out, get her act together and in all seriousness, give it her “bestest” focus. And that usually means she has cracked the problem at hand for good. Post this “eureka” moment, the lesson stays with her for a long, happy while!
In the absence of this ‘rigor recap’, she just lingers at ‘good enough’.  So the question is should I leave it at ‘good enough’ OR have her stretch just a wee bit (which is well within her easy reach) and achieve excellence??
Should I be satisfied with the 8/10 knowing fully well that with a little nudge she will score a 10/10?? 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Career Vs Job

So this isn’t the standard question of SAHM Vs WM…..This is more like a Career Vs a Job question….
Before Honeybunch, I was a complete career person….Working for one of the top companies, I put in long hours at work, travelled out of the country on projects, et al. Loved what I was doing and did it with a sense of ownership…..then baby - Honeybunch - happened. After a year’s break, I resumed office. I was bitten by the career growth bug and so changed jobs.  I was super lucky in that my new job was not only a step up from my previous role, but it was a hop away from my home. So I came home during lunch to check on baby, superbly managed meetings and pediatrician visits and eventually as Honeybunch started pre-school, even managed to drop and pick her up at times…all the while the career thingy alive and kicking in me…..Then I changed jobs again.
This time coz the company I worked for was planning to shut shop. I got to work for a super duper firm. But somehow around the same time I noticed a complete erosion of my career gene!! I was no longer interested in doing the high visibility jobs just for the sake of getting visibility, I was not into the “me too” group, had no qualms about being left out of the high profile offsite. All I wanted was to complete my day’s work and head home. That’s all. I was in the office at the dot of 9 and did all that I was supposed too….gave my best to every task that I did….and left as soon as I got done for the day. On good days, I left for home at 7 pm and on bad days…well…whenever I was done salvaging the day. But once shut down for the day, I was out of the door.  No last minute reporting, discussions, light talk, nada….straight out head for home. I had somehow settled into the “Job” mode and “Career” had taken a backseat. I am still in the same job. Haven’t switched….….yet!! I do occasionally browse job posts and reach out to head hunters…but am not super active!
A debate rages internally….Career Vs Job….The Mom in me does not want to lose out on Honeybunch time because of the innumerable work demands that usually accompany a high profile job. So every time there is a wonderful offer on the anvil, I come clean on my “can’t dos”….one “can’t do” actually….travel!! I can’t travel… all. And that pretty much rules out a lot of high profile jobs. Most senior positions in top firms come with the unwritten requirement of “travel”. The travel can range from less than 5 days for a quick exhibition to a 15 day tour of established accounts to account set up engagements that could run into a couple of months. While it is not mandatory for every senior person to travel, just by virtue of having travelled and stretched well beyond the routine gets one the accolades and the most coveted assignments, promotions and bonus!!! While travel may not be mandatory, it definitely acts as an escalator to the upper echelons……and must admit, in most cases, rightly so!!
So I am often torn between staying where I am…which is very cushy too…..and going for a high profile upper management job….…..I have now hit upon a middle path…I aim to scout for jobs in companies that service domestic customers. That way I cut down the travel need and yet manage to be in a crème de la crème job!! May the force be with me on this job hunt..!!