Sunday, August 31, 2014

Observations from the book club

Last week was the fourth meeting of the Book Club. And so it's been a month I'm still at it, that makes me pretty happy. The children had been asking when they would get to act out a sequence and so I thought it would be a good idea to do a bit from Swami and Friends during the Book Club Meeting. Since it was the first time and I didn't want to disappoint any of the kids, I made up 7 speaking parts. Don't even ask how difficult that was. However, as I was to find out, that turned out to be the easy bit.

Chaos reigned..

...as none of the kids, except the one playing Swami, were happy with their parts. They argued and argued and argued. The most unhappy were H and N. N couldn't fathom why, when it was her mum giving out the parts, she couldn't have the lead. H wanted to be the sole narrator. Uff... it was crazy. Finally, after much changing and exchanging, a whole lot of appeasement and a few tears too we had our cast in place. And then the fun began.

They really are an acting, dancing, singing bunch. The bits where they had to raise 'Quit India' slogans were the most fun. It still puzzles me why kids revel in so much noise! They sang 'Sare jahan se achchha' with gusto and refused to stop after one stanza each time we practised. Despite the tears and the disagreement it turned out to be a fun meeting.

Learnings for next time:

- A chat with H and N on not expecting special treatment (Promises to be a tough one since I still have no clue how to go about it. Suggestions are so welcome!)
- Ask for volunteers for each part and draw chits.
- Since I'm no playwrite I'd hardly done a good job with the dialogues. They need to be shorter and simpler. I could let the kids go extempore with a few guidelines and leave them to improvise.

An observation

What I thought was a personal problem with H and N seems to be a pretty universal phenomenon - most kids lack listening skills. They are too impatient, too excited, too curious about too many things to give their total attention to one thing.

And so this week...

... we started off with a game that would encourage listening as well as creativity - a story spinning game. I started off a story and each child took turns taking it forward. Since we didn't follow an order and any child could be asked to take up the story, they paid attention. Happily enough, they also questioned the improbable bits and built up the characters pretty well.

Also, the two boys in the club had asked for adventurous stories so the poor Happy Prince was put on hold (yet again) and I picked a Russian folk tale for this week - Ivan Tsarevich and the Grey Wolf with a firebird thrown in for good measure. It was a personal childhood favourite and the kids seemed to like it too.

We also practiced saying 'Thank You' in various languages including Russian. That was super fun. For a change I didn't have to remind the kids to say a 'thank you' to me, which I always have to otherwise, but that's another post.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

12 most intriguing mom-types

Once I was obsessivemom. I outgrew it.

I think I did. I sure hope I did. The thing is you never know.

I do however, remain, a 'mom' observer. They're interesting, believe me. Being a mom changes you in a way you would never have imagined. It makes you a new, different person, sometimes unrecognisable by your old self. A lot of these moms below live inside me.

1. 'My child best' mom: She's easy to spot. She wears her child like a medal. Nope, God didn't make any other child as wonderful as hers. No one can dance like her, sing like her, write or speak or jump or run or even walk as gracefully, as athletically as hers.

2. Know it all mom: Yeah she knows it all. A stomach ache? She has the cure. A dance class? She knows the best one. Fancy dress, super recipes, parenting styles - she knows all. Have a suggestion? Well keep your mouth shut!

3. 'Go get it' mom: She's the ultimate motivator. She'll push and she'll prod and she'll push some more till she has her child on that victory stand. She won't pause, she won't stop. Not even to check if her child wants to be there at all.

4. The co-curricular mom: She's the one you're most likely to bump into in elevators. A Hi! and  Bye! and she's gone, kids in tow - one class to the next. Her kids need to learn everything. From chess to ballet, piano to Spanish, basketball to the drum, she has it all covered.

5. Food fanatic mom: She's the gajar ka halwa, the garam garam roti mom - the one who spends hours whipping up the perfect recipe. She revels in the fact that she makes her own ketchups and jams, that her pizza is better than Dominoes and her burger better than Mc Donalds.

6. The psychology professor mom: She's Ms Analysis. Every action of hers and her child's is examined and cross examined, analysed and cross analysed. "I yelled at him. Will it scar him for life?" "He scored badly in his tests, will he go into a depression?"

7. Academic mom: She's the one who lives one unit test to the next. Exam times see her at her peak. She will obsesses about each quarter mark lost and will keep track of her child's ranking like Shylock counted his gold.

8. Cleanliness freak mom: That can of sanitiser will give her away. Open her bag and you'll find dry tissues, wet tissues, tissue rolls, soap strips and napkins. She covers her mouth when she steps on the road. She sanitises her kids' hands every five minutes and wipes glasses and plates in restaurants before food is served.

9. 'I'm your friend' mom: This ones not quite a mom at all. She's a friend, a pal. She dresses like her daughter and shares her makeup. She uses slang like her kids and hangs out with their friends on FB. 

10. The 'Awww' mom: She's the one who cannot get over how wonderful her kids are. She tears up at every smiley her child gets at school and cries over every 'I love you note' from her child. She can't talk without a 'sweety' or a 'honey' and is always found hugging, petting and cuddling her 'baby'.

11. 'My kids are my life' mom: Her life begins and ends with her kids. Her conversation never strays from them. Suggest a coffee date and she'll fix you with an incredulous stare, "What? Without the kids?".. and you'll slink away feeling a mean and selfish mom. As for me time... what's that? she asks.

12. The perfect mom: She's the toughest to define. Um.. actually she's the easiest to define for aren't all moms just perfect?

Oh they can be annoying, intriguing and so so different, but they don't deserve to be judged. They all, yes all, love their children and are trying really hard to do the best they can.

This post was done for Write Tribe. For more '12 most...' entries go here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Independence Day at The Book Club

I missed updating about the last book club meeting and as Saturday is here I don't want to have two meetings on my conscience, so here I am.

Remember, the weekend before Independence Day I had been awaiting my package from Amazon? Well they did oblige and I got my copy of We the children of India by Leila Seth just in time for our meeting. It is an amazing book for kids 8 years and above and a wonderful way to acquaint them with the constitution and the preamble. We had a great time reading it. I wish I could have handed out a copy to each of the kids but a photocopy of an excerpt had to suffice. We were so engrossed in reading it that we had no time left for an activity.

So then last week we started off with a craft activity. We made these super cute book readers. Check them out. The kids drew their favourite book cover and pasted them on. 

We read an excerpt from Swami and Friends by RK Narayan; the bit when he throws his cap in the fire. It's a wonderfully warm story of a child's first taste of the war for independence. The idea was as hazy in Swami's head as in the kids of today. I hope they do imbibe his enthusiasm and love for his country.
This week we intend to act out the passage. I'm ready with the dialogues. It was quite a challenge to make sure all the kids have almost the same number of dialogues.

Before I sign off let me show off these covers too which we did for the kids' Book Club Files.

They get to fill in details and colours to personalise them while retaining some bit of uniformity.

The story for the coming week will be, finally, The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde again. However I have a feeling in today's session we'll not manage much reading. The play acting's going to be too much fun. Looking forward to a happy session.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Too much to do, too little time

You know why we need friends? To kick our backsides when we really need to get going. I have spoken about my dear friend Shailaja and how she pushed me to take up the April A to Z Challenge. Well she's done it again. It's not a challenge this time - she pushed me into doing a guest post for her amazing, award winning blog momdiary.blogspot.com. 

My friend Google threw this up. How appropriate, isn't it?
I am barely managing to post once a week on my own blog, not even updating my book club meetings which, by the way, are getting ever more fun every week. What's worse I am posting the guest post update full two days after it was published on hers. Yes I should die of shame.

The bright side, though, is that I did manage the post for her blog. Speaks volumes of her capacity as a motivator. Thanks Shailaja for hosting me. So if you haven't read my take on Sibling Rivalry at Shailaja's and have a pair of constantly quibbling kids, do hop over and take a look.

Here's the link.


The thing is, of late I have taken up an assignment, a minor one but an assignment nonetheless. Plus there's the book club. Each time I'm free I find myself reaching for the iPad and googling "Short stories for kids". And there's been a barrage of activity at home - birthdays, festivals, socialising. Not being one of those flamboyant kind of people, I feel overwhelmed with too much activity. I like my routine. A once-in-a-week upset works; more than that and I'm thrown out of gear.

However, the moral of the story is that I can make time if I try really hard. So here's one post and another one coming up shortly.


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