Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cookie Recipe

S and I had to go somewhere where it wouldn't have been wise to take Puttachi along, so we left her at my friend M's place, so that she could play with M's son  Sk, who is her oldest friend.

M happened to be baking cookies, and when we left, Puttachi was already signing up to help M.  She came back home with a box of yummy cookies that she had shaped, and she also told us how to bake cookies.

Then she took a piece of paper and wrote the recipe down.

Read it top to bottom.  If you don't know Kannada, just give up.  If you do, give it a try before reading further. :)

She's written "Hitt togondu, vuttabeku.  Amele volage benne hakbeku, pan togondu benne hachbeku."

Meaning "Take the flour and press it, and put butter into it.  Then take the pan and smear butter on it."

If she completes it, I will give you the rest of the recipe :)

Monday, April 16, 2012


Puttachi and I are learning swimming.

For some reason or the other, I'd never seen how Puttachi is in water.  Sure, she sat in tubs full of water and played with toys for as long as I let her, but never in a proper pool, and only a couple of times at the beach....

So it came as a surprise to me how much at home she is in the water.  As she put it to me after the first couple of days, "Amma, when I am in the pool, I forget everything.  I forget my name, your name,  I forget who I am, and who you are.... that is how much I love being in the pool."

 That glorious feeling of just being!  How lovely!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Story Junkie

Puttachi's story addiction has reached heights I never though possible.  She is insatiable.  She wants new stories all the time.

 And she thrives on telling stories too.  Her stories usually ramble on endlessly, incorporating elements of stories that have recently fascinated her. More significantly, anything she sees or hears or feels when she is telling the story, enters the story.  

"And then Monkeypooh walked and walked in the forest and then Ripsy the Gypsy was with it, and the Monkeypooh whined and said that it wanted to go to the toilet and so Ripsy the Gypsy said where can we get a toilet here, and then..... Amma, I'll go to the toilet and come back and continue, okay?"

Then she comes back and says, "Amma, where was I?"  And then I panic if I hadn't really been listening.....

Then I say, "Puttachi, eat this apple."

Then she starts eating the apple and between mouthfuls, says, "Then Monkeypooh said ok I finished doing susu, now I am feeling hungry, and then Ripsy the Gypsy gave it some apples..."

You get the picture? :)

She collars anybody who shows the slightest interest in her stories, and bores them out of their wits - the stories go on until I say, "Okay, you've got to wind it up, okay?"  and then she really does wind it up in two seconds flat, if necessary.

She makes up the most outrageous names for her characters  - Haalla, Hashalabusha are some I remember.  Monkeypooh and Ripsy the Gypsy are the better of the names.   And sometimes she forgets the name herself in the next minute.

"Once there was a little girl who was born just then.  She got born, then she told her mother, hey amma, I am your daughter, my name is Dakatra, and then her mother was very happy and said, oh my baby I was waiting for you I am so glad you are here... and you have such a sweet name.......... (pause, eyes wide) amma, what was the baby's name?"

People who know Puttachi will know what I mean when I say that she never really throws tantrums about anything.  If she wants something that I can't let her have, she understands my reasoning, and doesn't really protest, though she is unhappy about it.   But the other day, she asked for two bedtime stories, and I gave her a choice between the two, and she chose one.  The moment I finished it, she asked me to tell the other.  I refused, as a matter of principle, and also because I was looking forward to some quiet time.   But she screamed with disappointment and cried so hard that I was stunned - and finally after she calmed down, S felt sorry for her (because her tantrum was for stories and not for anything else!) and stepped in with a book to tell her another small story.  She was lying morose on the bed - the moment she spotted the book in S's hand, she jumped up like a jack-in-the-box.  What a total mood change!  It was hilarious.

 Exhausted by having to supply her constantly with stories, I started telling her the mother of all stories - The Mahabharata, from The Puffin Mahabharata by Namita Gokhale  A great book for children, nice print, interesting illustrations, and very well and simply told.  I am probably enjoying it as much as Puttachi, though I'm having to employ all my ingenuity to modify the incidents that aren't really suitable for a nearly-5-year-old.

I can't wait for her to start reading full books on her own, so that I can leave her with a stack of books and let her discover stories on her own. 

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month

April is Child Sexual Abuse Awareness month.  

My daughter is a very affectionate child and willingly hugs even people that she has met for the first time and spent just an hour with (if she likes them.)  That is something about her that people find very sweet (and I do too.)  But yet, somewhere deep inside, it worries me.  How do I teach her her limits without scaring her off?

And I worry that since she knows that people love it if she hugs them, does she hug them even though she is not comfortable?  Sometimes, we encourage her to hug, because, come on, hugs are beautiful, and there can never be enough of hugging.  But what if she thinks hugging is the norm?  Should we stop encouraging her to hug people she doesn't know too well, even though we know them well, and she's spent time with them with us around? 

I really don't know. I have no idea where to draw the line.  I don't want to throttle her natural desires.  I guess I can only rely on her good sense, and teach her to respect her body, and be firm about not doing anything that she doesn't want to. 

And if at any time she doesn't want something done to her (hugging, kissing, tickling, even if it is by us, her own parents) then we simply must respect her wish and withdraw immediately. 

And if she ever displays discomfort or hesitation when somebody else is pinching her cheeks or kissing her or pulling her towards them (in our presence) we must not chide her, worrying about what the person will think.  We must encourage her to draw away, if that is what she wants.  And if the person is offended, it is up to us to say something like, "Perhaps she doesn't feel like it, let her be."  For our children, we are the ones they can trust unconditionally.  And if they don't find support when they need it, well..... what do I say?  That's one of the worst situations for a child to find itself in.

With this kind of support, she will realize that she has complete right over her own body, and that she has the final say in it.  And that is perhaps the only way she will learn to respect her body.

Am I being too paranoid?  In this issue, there is probably nothing like being too paranoid.  We as parents must be totally aware and alert about everything that there is to know about child sexual Abuse.

Unfortunately, CSA is more common and prevalent than we think it is.  And a child who has been abused can in some instances, be scarred for life.  So what do we do?  How do we handle it?

The site  or this app  has many pointers and lots of information.  I urge you to spend some time there.

But I will collate all the information that I have gleaned from my study.

Teach your child (both girls and boys are at equal risk.  I'm just using "she" here for convenience.)

- Give your child the Good Touch Bad Touch talk. An example website (there are many more)

A Good Touch - is something that makes you feel good, feel happy.
A Bad Touch - is anything that doesn't make you feel comfortable.

- Tell the child about where it is inappropriate to touch and be touched. 

- In an age-appropriate way, the child must be introduced to the private parts, and must be taught that only certain people are allowed to touch those parts, and that too, only to keep it clean and healthy. 

- She must be taught that if someone needlessly asks her to take off her clothes, she mustn't, and if someone takes off their clothes in front of her, that is wrong too.

- If someone touches her inappropriately, she must immediately stop them, or scream, or run away, and not be with them alone, ever again.

- If anything untoward happens, she must tell her parents immediately. 

- Even if the abuser says that it is a game or a secret, she simply must tell her parents, come what may.  No secrets should be kept from parents.  And this should be literally drilled into the child.

For the parents:

- Unfortunately, child abusers are most often known to the family -  known and trusted.  So you have to make the right decisions about whom to leave your child with.  Preferably, not alone with anybody, and if it is inevitable, drop by unannounced from time to time.

- Keep a watch on your child's behaviour - any behavioural change must not be ignored.

- If the child does come and tell you about an incident
  - react with concern, but remain calm.
  - do NOT react with disbelief.  That could be the worst thing you could ever do.
  - Take action immediately.  Apathy is dangerous.

Please share your tips, and spread the awareness. 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The late bloomers

Pride of India, with yellow laburnum below it.

Some better pictures of the Copper Pod - you can see this nearly everywhere now.  The trees are bursting with these little yellow flowers.

Close up of Copper Pod

Pride of India (there are pink versions of these flowers too.)

Pride of India, closeup


Gulmohar trees are now in full blossom.  They are so striking!
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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A fabric-painted baby blanket

Summer is here and with it, lots of activities with Puttachi. 

I draw a lot of inspiration and ideas from the internet, and we've made lots of things together.  So I thought I would start putting up pictures of things I've made, alone or with Puttachi - so that you can get some ideas, maybe....

I made this baby blanket when I was expecting Puttachi.  The simplest kind, really.  Drew simple pictures, and used fabric paint to colour them.   This could have very well been an applique blanket. 
After I finished painting, my mother attached soft flannel cloth underneath it, and sewed it all up with a red-and-white checked border. 

And yes, that is Puttachi's 2-week-old head.

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