Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I cannot believe that there was a time when Puttachi did not understand stories. The days now are so filled with stories for every occasion that it makes my head go round. She demands stories during mealtime, bedtime.. and err.. even pottytime.

There is no dearth of stories in the world. But there is a major problem. She cannot bear songs and rhymes and stories in which something unpleasant happens to the characters. Humpty Dumpty, for example, makes her cry. Now tell me, what choice do I have? All our mythological tales and Panchatantra and Jataka and even fairy tales have stories of beings eating each other up or hurting or killing or mauling or lying or cheating - I had never realized how much violence there is in children's tales.

So I usually give her a sanitized version of everything. For example, the story of Three Little Pigs doesn't have the Big Bad Wolf falling into the boiling cauldron at the end. In my story, the wolf just gives up and runs away.

But how long can I shield her from harsh realities? I plunged into the story of the Ramayana - and there is enough killing and mutilating there for starters! After the first time I told her the entire story, the only thing she remembered in the end was, "Shoorpanakha is a bad Rakshasi and her nose and ears got cut off!"

But she doesn't care too much about the Ramayana. All she wants are "Pooh" stories. Which means that I have to make up stories with Pooh as the central character. This works for both of us. I can insert little suggestions into the stories like "Pooh ate his food without any fuss, and that is why he is so strong" or "Pooh went to the dentist with toothache and the dentist told Pooh to brush twice a day like Puttachi - see how strong and clean her teeth are!"

So Pooh stories suit me, and that is the only way to get her undivided attention during mealtimes. But of course the problem with made up stories is that when you repeat the story, you unconsciously change some details, and the child catches you immediately, berating you for not remembering the story. And oh, it is lovely to hear her tell the story in her own words. She narrates it with expressions in her face and voice, employing a sad face and voice for "Ayyooo my ball fell into the lake" and a happy face and voice for "Yay! Thank you, crocodile, for getting my ball back from the lake!"

The other category of stories she likes are "Stories of Puttachi when she was a baby." My baby has grown so much that I am already telling her stories of her babyhood!


Raj said...

Shruthi, I am sure that your mother is wondering that her baby has grown up so much to have a baby of her own old enough to tell stories of her babyhood. Mothers!

Unknown said...

puttachi is adorable! lil p is not too much into stories yet :( ..
But making up pooh stories really helps :) In our house its micky mouse or rabbit. they have to be central characters. Love to read abt puttachi!

Lively said...

I was so waiting for a Puttachi post and here it comes. Even for us, this sounds so like a dream. I imagine Puttachi to be a babbling and crawling little bundle of energy. But I guess now she walks and talks properly. Sigh.
You need to keep us more updated about her :P

PeeVee said...

haha, i like "the wolf just gives up and goes away" :Ds

Jaanamari's appa said...

I was going through a big colorful book on Aesop's fables recently - and man its really cut throught A rated violence in each and every story. I told one and then the next and then I started leafing through it page after a page reading by myself while my boy got bored and wandered off, and it was nothing but hopeless level of cruelty and some absolutely irrational 'morals' at the end of each story, like "a bad turn deserves another" which was among the milder ones!

I just closed it and wondered... considering Aesop's Fables are so popular, am I having any incomplete opinion here?

Are such stories supposed to expose children to harsh realities of the world and make them street smart?

Somehow even if that was true to a certain extent I felt that it was definitely an overdose :))

Sanjay M said...

oops throught = throat

rajk said...

Totally agree with you on the 'so much violence in kids' stories/mythology' part. I too hadn't noticed till I started reading to my son. I thought it was the effect of my living in politically correct US for so long; good to know others feel that way too. Would love to get more ideas on 'sanitizing' such gore, or not!

Anonymous said...

Puttachi's not liking the hurtful parts of the story just goes to say how much of a sweet loving,kind human being she is growing into :)

Imagining her telling those expressive stories ..I soo want to plant a tight kiss on her cheek!

Manish'sMom said...

My tongue cleaves with stories of Thomas train & friends! And that too just 2 stories read over and over and over again. Its "Blue Train Green train" & "Go train Go"!!! Read before having the morning milk, lunch, before the afternoon nap, before the evening outing, at dinner, before sleeping at night!!!!

Lively said...

Hey Shruti, there s something for you on my blog :)

praneshachar said...

Pooh stories are gr8 it is very difficult to tell so many stories and u have to fine tune or create one to meet puttachis requirements
great going so far Njoy
nice to see u back after a break

Shruthi said...

Hahaha@ “wolf just gives up and goes away” .

huh! I never realized there was so much brutality in these stories. What were the writers thinking?
But glad Puttachi does not like them. Atleast till sometime she need not know we live in this cruel world. Till then Pooh is all we care about :D

Anonymous said...

AW! your daughter is the sweetest! I should visit your blog more often!
I've been seeing my 2 year old niece and I know how they are! But she loves her rhymes and insists on watching a DVD that her school has give 24/7! :D

Sunil said...

Hi there,
This is my first time over here & I really enjoyed reading your blog.

puttachi is really sweet. And we sometimes underestimate the questionioning power of a child and this is the major thing missing in us adults.

Thank You!

Diwakar Sinha said...

this post made me relive my memories :)

Nagesh.MVS said...

Nice post.

Work From Home

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Mangala said...

Here's a very interesting essay I found on the subject by GK Chesterton:

"Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon." Read the rest of the article at http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/20719/

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