The World, As a Toddler Sees It

It’s been a really long, long time since I last talked about Panshul.

So many things just battled for my attention that this blog took a back seat. In the process, I have missed documenting many a wonderful, funny, downright silly moments that Panshul gave us.

I am recollecting two such events that showed me how a 4 year old sees the world. Here goes –

How many Sq.Ft is this table?

A couple of months ago we were making plans to buy a new property. We were checking out property brochures, real estate portals, speaking to brokers and making our own calculations about carpet area, built up area and other pure real estate maths. Naturally, there was a lot of talk about square feet, the standard unit of measurement used in real estate to measure the area of a plot or flat.

By now Panshul, always listening and paying close attention our conversations had picked up a fair bit of real estate lingo.

So, on one Sunday morning when Pavan was busy at his desk with some unfinished office work, Panshul went to him with his ruler. Here’s what happened next:

Panshul: ‘Pappa, remove your hand, I want to measure this table.’

Pavan: ‘Why do you want to measure it now?’ I am working here, can you do it later?’

Panshul: ‘No Pappa, I want to do it now!’

Saying so he removed all of Pavan’s files and papers and started taking his ruler all over the table’s surface and announced confidently: ‘Pappa this table is 100-100 square feet!’

Panshul knew square foot was an unit of measurement and also knew that hundred was a big number. So his calculation of the big table – 100-100 sq. feet!!

Lesson for parents: be very careful when you are having a conversation in front of your child; his sharp brain will pick up each and everything that you say including real estate maths!

Mamma, are there two Suns?

This was just two days ago.

Our apartment building has just two houses on one floor. One house faces East and the other faces West. This means that the distribution of sunlight varies for each house from morning to evening. We live in the East facing house and receive most sunlight in the mornings and our neighbor Meghna and Suresh receive the afternoon sunlight.

And I must add here that Panshul LOVES Meghna, so  much so that he will spend the entire day at her house, even eating and sleeping there. So, on one Monday when Panshul was at home, having skipped school due to allergic cough, he ended up as usual at Meghna’s place. Somewhere in the afternoon at about 3:30 pm he noticed that her house was much brighter than ours (All  the houses in our building are well ventilated with huge windows; we get abundant sunlight making the rooms look as if they were splashed with sunlight) .

Panshul comes running back to me and says:

Panshul: ‘Mamma, is the Sun rising at Meghu’s (that’s how he addresses Meghna) house?

I: ‘No Panna, why?’

Panshul: ‘Meghu’s house is full of sunlight. There is no sunlight (by sunlight he meant sun rays casting their shadow on the floor and walls) in our house.

I: It’s afternoon now Panna, the Sun doesn’t rise in the afternoon’

Panshul: ‘No Amma, I think there are two Suns. One Sun is rising at Meghu’s house, our Sun is sleeping.’

I could only smile at his logic and make a mental note to document his (and I am sure every other toddler’s) way of looking at and understanding things around them.

So yeah, that’s my boy Panshul.

Do you also have a curios little toddler at home? Does her or his ways of thinking, doing things surprises you? I’d be happy to hear about it, please share them with me in the comments below.

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Lessons From A Toddler – This Time In Reading Food Labels!

Till about a couple of months ago, Panshul had this habit of drinking his Horlicks or any other health drink for that matter without stirring the beverage powder with milk. So, Panshul’s glass of Horlicks would always have a small mound of Horlicks powder floating on top of the milk in the glass.This is the way he loved it. Any attempts on my part to stir the powder would result in accusations that I spoiled the drink (while I was only trying to do the opposite) and tantrums and absolute refusal to drink the milk unless it is restored to its original avatar (beverage powder floating like an iceberg atop 200 ml of cold milk!).

Panshul downing that 200 ml of milk was more important to me than how the beverage was prepared, so I let him have his way with it. Still, every now and then I tried to tell him that Horlicks must always be stirred and mixed well with milk before drinking it. First, I tried convincing him with sermons on health benefits of a well mixed drink. I failed horribly at this. By the time I finished telling him the how, what and why of mixing the Horlicks powder with milk, Panshul would empty the glass of milk, scoop the undissolved Horlicks powder at the bottom of the glass and lick the spoon clean. I failed again. Soon, I gave up.

This went on for some time. Now even juice (read Tang) was consumed without stirring and mixing the powder with water. Then one day, when I was preparing a glass of Tang as usual, Panshul was at his curios best. The boy held the juice powder packet in his hand, turned it around, commented something on the strawberries and juice spilling out of the glass picture, read aloud T.A.N.G and other alphabets and finally came to the Directions To Use. It was a pictorial representation which showed a glass of water, three spoonfuls of Tang powder and finally, the all so important, the STIRRING depicted by the spoon half submerged in the glass and two semicircular arrow marks around the spoon instructing that the spoon must be turned in a circular motion to dissolve all the powder.

The curios boy asked me in detail what the pictures were all about. But he was immensely intrigued by the last picture. He wanted to know what the semicircular arrows around the spoon stood for. Thanking my luck, I explained to him that it shows how the juice must be prepared – by stirring the powder and mixing it well with water. Then, I handed Panshul his glass of unstirred or unmixed juice. He didn’t take it. “Stir it and give it to me”, he said. Woohoo! Mission accomplished. My son learnt to drink beverages the right way and he also learnt to read labels!

For some time I was very proud of his achievements and mine too. But I was least prepared for what was to come in the summer.

Bangalore has been extremely hot over the past few days. And Panshul has been drinking more fluids and eating less which means there are unlimited requests and demands for juices throughout the day. On a afternoon, last Friday, Panshul wanted juice for the fourth time that day. I refused. “No, no more juices for today”, I said sternly. Not impressed by my answer and adamant to have his juice, Panshul took the packet of Tang from the refrigerator, brought it me, pointed to the Directions to Use and said, “See here Mamma, there are three spoons here. It says you must ALWAYS drink juice MORE THAN ONE TIME”. Period.

I was totally stumped. I had just learnt what happens when your four year old learns to interpret labels.

Panshul (L) with his best friend, Tamim

The Empathetic Foodie – Part 2

Being with Panshul, as he crossed one milestone after another and blossomed from a sensitive infant into an energetic toddler has not just helped me bond with him very well but also has helped me understand and decipher his every emotion.

Every day, I am witness to his triumphs (stacking all the building blocks one atop the other in a gravity defying mode and ensuring that it remains upright!), his defeats (Struggling hard to write number 5 correctly), his fears (drone of the aeroplanes, lizards), his unbridled joys (getting a new book or toys, chocolates, cupcakes), his deepest sorrows (“Mamma, I don’t want to go to school!”), his anxieties, his curiosity, his creativity, his ability to look at things differently, his obsession with perfection, his tempers and of course his empathy about which I wrote in my last post.

These are events, instances and moments that I would want to cherish through the rest of my life.

So, continuing my last post on how Panshul is an Empathetic Foodie, I will share here his love for good food.

When did Panshul develop this fondness for food?

Very early in infancy itself. He was a very hungry child who needed to breastfeed at regular intervals, nighttime included. At about four months, I started giving him a spoonful of mashed banana or apple or Marie biscuit soaked in milk. Panshul relished these occasional treats. So, I knew very early that this boy has a liking for foods that tasted good.

This belief strengthened further when the boy, some months older now and on semi-solid food cried for a second helping of ragi porridge, dosa or even a banana.

When he graduated to solid food, Panna happily ate adult food, sparing me the trouble to prepare separate child-food. Fish, chicken, chapatti, wholegrain breads, paratha, upma, plain dosa, wheat dosa, Poha (beaten rice) were his favourites. He also loved most fruits and sautéed veggies.

In fact, Panshul’s non-fussy nature made things a lot easier for me. I could take him to a restaurant without having to worry about what to order for him. He could easily eat a Butter Kulcha or a small helping of Chicken Fried Rice. Most importantly, he somehow knew that restaurants were places where he can get “tasty, yummy mumum” and he patiently waited for it. No tantrums. No fuss.

Now, at three and a half years, Panshul is more aware of the different foods that we eat. His palette has also expanded to include spicier foods (We Mangaloreans love spicy food, especially non-vegetarian!). Salads, kebabs, fried fish, eggs, heavy sweets, juices, boiled peas, etc, etc – Panshul appreciates them all. And, of course like any other toddler, chocolates and cakes are irresistible to him (I can’t resist them either!). Devina, are you listening??

How did Panshul develop this love for food, given the fact that most kids his age are fussy, picky eaters?

Well, for one, I think it is hereditary!

My father-in-law is a die-hard foodie who expects his food to be perfect in terms of taste and balance of flavours. My mother-in-law, married to him for the past 36 years, sometimes still struggles to match her husband’s expectations.

My dad loves food too, but isn’t very rigid with the flavors. And my sister is another foodie that I know. So, I guess it runs in the family – this common love for good food.

Also, I’ll take some credit for introducing Panshul to healthy food early in his life. This is crucial to help kids appreciate and enjoy eating healthy foods. I also try to make food fun for him. I constantly change the flavours, let him choose his food (apple or banana/ curd or curry), do not force him to eat and encourage him eat on his own; even if it means a messy table for me to clean.

Panshul’s love for food continues…

Every morning as soon as he is up, I ask Panshul to guess what that day’s breakfast is. It is a game that we play every day without fail. If he guesses it right (which is often) he gets two kisses and a big bear hug. If he doesn’t get it right, he still gets the kisses and the hugs!

In the evenings, as dinner is getting ready and the smell of the cooking food wafts through the house, he’ll come to me and ask eagerly, “Amma, what’s for dinner tonight?”

“I will have fried rice”, he will say if we are making plans to go out for lunch or dinner. He will even go onto recommend restaurants. “Let’s go to Aditya” he will suggest.

Last week I prepared Egg Burji for dinner. Though there were pepper corns in it, Panshul loved it and ate it happily. “Just a little spicy” he declared at the end of the meal. The next morning, at breakfast, the boy remembered the Egg Burji but could not recollect its name. “Mamma, I want that cut-cut omelette that you made yesterday; what do you call it, Mamma?”

The other day, sometime around five in the evening, I smelt something delicious – something like fresh bread being baked. Panshul felt it too. He thought I am cooking and charged into the kitchen saying, “Amma, I can smell something very nice, what are you cooking?” I tell him I am not cooking but I can also smell something very nice.
A little disappointed, the boy tells me, “I want that something nice!”
“I don’t have that something nice Panna. Do you want something else?”
“Yes”
“What do you want – sweet corn, water melon or dosa?”
“I will have sweet corn with butter and pepper”
“Great!”

That’s my boy, Panshul the foodie. Hope he remains one forever.

Panshul helping me to cook one of his favorite dishes - Soya Masala.

Panshul helping me to cook one of his favorite dishes – Soya Masala.

The Empathetic Foodie – Part 1

Yesterday, I came across this wonderful blog called On Board the Mommy Ship by Rituparna Gosh. Like me, Rituparna is also a mother to a young son and she uses her blog to chronicle her experiences as a mother. One of her latest posts was about a contest – the Children’s Day Contest to be precise – which Rituparna is running all November on her blog. All that the readers have to do is tell her that one quality of our children that we would want them to retain all through their life.

This topic got me thinking and I participated in the contest by listing not one but two special qualities of Panna. One is his empathy towards people and animals and the second is his love for food.
The contest had a word limit of 150, so I couldn’t elaborate much on these qualities of Panshul. However, now that I am on my blog, I thought I must explain in detail how Panshul is an empathetic foodie.

From the time he was a tiny baby, Panshul always felt a lot of sympathy towards anyone who was in distress – the wailing and shrieking kids in the park, a crying Nobita (Doraemon’s friend) on TV, a lost baby elephant in his storybook – all of this unsettled him and he often inquired why they were upset. I did my best to give him a convincing answer but always making sure that I didn’t exaggerate the reason for their pain.

Yes, Panshul was and even now is a very sensitive child. He can easily feel others feelings. He can sense when I or his dad is angry and disapproving his actions. He can sense, merely from the tone of our voices, if we are cajoling him or sternly asking him to follow orders. But what’s most touching is that my Panna can quickly understand another person’s needs and feelings.

If his grand dad is going to the shower, Panna would go and hand him his towel without being asked to. If we are heading out, Panna would not only take his slippers and wear it, but also make sure to remove mine from the shoe rack and lay it out neatly near the door for me to wear. When his dad is leaving for office, Panna will inquire, as if it is his duty, if he has taken the bike keys or the office ID.

So, you see this is how Panshul is. And I am proud that my boy is such a nice human being. However, the following incident that I am going to narrate moved me so much that it firmly strengthened my belief that Panshul is caring, loving and understanding way more beyond his years.

It was a Sunday morning and Pavan was just about to go to the market. It is customary for Panshul to accompany his dad on these weekend trips to the market. The boy was wearing his sandals outside, ready to go. Pavan and I were making general small talk about what to buy. Just then Pavan checked his wallet and found that he may be short of cash. Not wanting to make stop at an ATM, he asked me if I had extra cash at home.

I don’t remember what I replied to him because suddenly I saw Panshul come into the house and head straight to the cupboard, open it and sit down near it. Pavan and I stopped our conversation and went to see what Panshul was upto. Just as we neared him, he came to us and handed his dad a hundred rupees note and told him, “Pappa you wanted money no, here, take mine”.

I was in tears. Hearing our conversation about the need for extra money (at that point of time), Panshul decided to lend some from his own piggy bank! I was completely taken aback by his thoughtfulness and touched by his gesture.

Thus, to answer Rituparna’s question once again, if there is one quality that I want my son be reatain life long, then it definitely has to be this – empathy.

I will write about Panshul’s love for food in the next post.

Untill then, tell me, is your child an empathetic foodie too? Write in and share your thoughts with me.

Panna sharing a playful moment with his dad.

Panna sharing a playful moment with his dad.

Where is Virat Maama’s Goggle?

Panshul is growing up fast – both physically, emotionally and intellectually. He is in that wonderful phase in toddler hood when he understands and knows a lot of things around him, yet is curios to discover and explore more. And it is this insatiable cursorily that makes him question pretty much everything about everything. 

“Amma, what is this?”, “Amma what is that?”, “Why Amma?” Panshul goes on and on everyday, every minute. 

“Amma, where does this water go to?” he asked me pointing to the water flwoing into the bathroom drain as I was giving him a bath.

“Amma, is there current in that wire?” he asked pointing to the geyser inlet-outlet pipe.

“Amma, what is that sound Amma?” ” Is that pataki (crackers)?” he asked when he heard the first thunder.

“Amma, why does Pappa go to office?”

“Paper-maama (referring to the kabbadiwala who is shouting paper..eh. paper..eh) wants paper. Shall we give him our newspaper?”

“If I eat four chocolate, will my stomach have abbu? Why will I get abbu?”

And most recent one that had us in splits –

We are watching the RB VS Delhi Daredevils match. Virat Kohli is on the screen in what might have been a two second shot. Out of the blue, Panna asks me, “Amma, where is Virat-maama’s  goggle?”

First of all he refers to Virat Kohli as Virat Maama (No, I am not even remotely related to Virat Kohli. For Panna, all men, other than his dad, are known as Maama) and then he wants to knows where Virat’s goggles are because the stylish Virat had worn it upside down behind his head and that for Panna was a mistake!

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Curios Panna

How Pichkari Became Fish-Fry

Last week there was a picture of a colorful pichkari (water gun) in the newspaper. Holi, the festival of colour, was round the corner and businesses were doing their best to sell their products. This particular pichkari was shaped like an elephant with a raised trunk and was colored bright green, blue and yellow.

Well, Panna had one look at the “elephant-gun” and decided that he wanted one too. To evade the repeated demands, I told Panna to ask Pappa to get one while coming from office. Panna did as told and so a request was placed with Pappa to bring a “Peechkali.”

But, Pappa being Pappa, didn’t get the pichkari. No, he hadn’t forgotten it, but was only too lazy to walk a few steps to the fancy store after alighting from his office bus! As soon as Panna saw his Pappa, he asked, “Pappa, did you bring my peechkali?”

“No Putta, the shops are closed now, we’ll go get it tomorrow morning, ok?”

“Ok Pappa”. (That’s my darling Panna. No tantrum, no questions asked!)

But throughout that evening he kept mentioning the word Pichkari or rather “Peechkali”. Soon, it had begun to sound more like fish-curry than pichkari!! So, everytime Panna said “I want pichkali”, Pappa would ask, “what do you want, fish-curry is it?” 

Fish-curry, pichkari, peechkali all got mixed up in Pann’s brain when he went to bed that night.

The next morning Panna woke up, came to me and said, “Mamma, I want fish-fry!”

For a split second, I didn’t know what was he referring to, but then it struck me immediately that my poor little boy had remembered only the “fish” part of the previous night’s pichkari topic and had forgotten the curry and the actual pichkari.

So, the Panshul’s pichkari had become peechkali first, then fish-curry and now it was fish-fry!!!

Panna’s Bed Time Routine

Panna is sleeping.

I am blogging.

Panna has a sleep time routine. A glass of Bournvita, brushing his teeth, One last visit to the loo and then its story time with Pappa!

Today’s story was Ten In the Bed By Kim Mitzo Thompson, School Specialty Publishing. Its a number story about 10 teddy bears in the bed and tells why they all roll over.

As always, the story got over but Panna didn’t fall asleep. So, Panna’s Pappa had to put him on his stomach and sing him a lullaby. In no time, both Panna and his Pappa are fast asleep!

I’m still at the computer but cannot ignore the beautiful serene sight of Panna sleeping. He is a delight to watch when he is asleep. I’m sure all kids are.

Do you also feel the same watching your kids sleep? What is their bed time routine like? Do share your views in the comments box.