Thursday, September 22, 2011


Did you read "The Wonder Years With My Kids 1"?

Ten years later the boy wonder arrived. Click here if you didn't read Part 1. He was so special and we wanted him to be that way. So I experimented by like, playing the guitar and singing for him when he was still in mom's womb. He loved my music pre-natal and knew me so well.

Even after he was born he was a great music lover. He needed Jimmy Cliff or Beatles to sleep. He listened to them till the audio cassettes shredded.

I think the experiments were a success. Now we find him to be special as expected. He is so good at multi-tasking, he can watch TV while sketching or painting a picture or while working on a toy boat. He would dismantle a toy or anything unattended. Still he absorbs everything said on TV without missing anything.
We didn't restrict TV again, because he had to know the good and bad both. The bad words were named "Van Damme Words"by him, because he discovered Jean Claude Van Damme says them so often on movies. For a long time to come they were referred to as “Van Damme”, words.

One day I took him to my school (In Sri Lanka, Colombo) on a holiday as we had planned a staff trip to Muthurajawela wetlands along the Dutch canal and  mangrove swamp. As we entered the school premises he saw the security watch hut and asked' "Whose kennel is that?".   It says a lot about the naiive  view of a kid about the working conditions of a security guard, doesn’t it?

He started reading at a very young age, just like his sister and…. hmm the whole family. While the others in his age were reading Nursery books with big color pictures he was reading "Goose Bumps" and "Shivers".  At school here they were given a supplementary reader which he had finished reading several times over in the first few weeks. The class teacher had given him “N” grade which meant "Needs Improvement". Flabbergasted we met the teacher to know how come she makes such a stupid and poor judgment. "He can't read this", the teacher said. We suppressed out laughter and looked at the boy enquiringly, who blurted out, “I know this stuff by heart. I don't want to do any parrot reading."

When he was in grade one, he was getting ready to go to school. The dude and I used the same cologne. Usually mom is the one who sprays it on his collar. As usual she sprayed a bit on one side of his collar. He said “Spray on the other side, too, ‘cos the class teacher approaches from both the sides."

Do you know there is a little scoop like tool to clean the earwax? It's actually taboo as it can cause ear damage and ENT dudes frown upon even at the mere idea of it.
Well I used one anyway, but  very secretly. I never allowed the young one to see me using it nor ever have access to its location for very obvious reasons.
So I was 100% sure that I had never used it in his presence nor he had ever seen this incriminating gadget, until one day we visited this friend of mine in  Nittambuwa, Sri Lanka, who had no babies. My son surprised me by picking up a ear scooper from my friend’s coffee table and saying, “Thaththa, here look, he also uses a ear scoop just like you do.”  I was stunned.

When we shop in the cities whether  in Sri Lanka or even here we walk a lot. The boy never complained or asked to be carried. We realized how difficult this should have been for him when one day he sat on a shop stool and rested his feet. We wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable or guilty if he harassed us as any other boy.
The year we left for overseas jobs, Sri Lanka has a severe drought and there were scheduled power cuts. Full uninterrupted power was given only on Poya Days. We arrived in this country in the night flight and were waiting at the airport lobby ablaze with lights till morning to be picked up, the little one asked, “Is it Poya Day here today?” Several other Sri Lankans who heard this and saw the irony were so amused at this they became instant friends.

This story is not funny at all. We hadn’t brought much cash with us when we arrived here. And everything was unexpectedly, artificially and ridiculously expensive. What we had we had to spend so carefully till we got our first month’s salaries.  The little one who had a roomful of toys at home (both his and his sister’s) was fingering the toys in the shops here and but never asked for them. We gritted our teeth and prayed for the salary.

This actually sank our hearts. Specially this unusual attitude from a four year old.He must have heard our discussions about money.

The final blow came when we got out first salaries. He asked in his baby voice, “Now do you have money to show my tooth to the dentist? This was hurting for days.”
Actually he never told us and I felt the lump in my throat and turned my face away to hide the tears welled up in y eyes and streamed down my face. It didn’t work and I ran to the bathroom and cried in the shower.

Go to "The Wonder Years With My Kids 1

Sunday, September 4, 2011

16. The Wonder Years With My Kids -1

Our elder kid Hiruni, a girl, had to grow up alone for 10 years because both of us are employed. Being a nuclear family, we didn’t have much help bringing her up.  So the first kid almost cost my wife her job.

She was five. We were moving back home after completing difficult area service. We were in the front of the truck. We stopped somewhere in Kandy and bought take away fried rice from a Chinese restaurant. She’s been sleeping all the time. When we parked and gave her the pack of fried rice she stared at mixed up fried rice sleepily and asked,
“What’s this? Cat food?”
We used to mix up all the left over rice and feed the stray cats.

We didn’t have many restrictions on watching TV, so she watched a lot of TV. It gave a lot of exposure and also acted as an effective babysitter under supervision. Even otherwise we didn’t have much choice. There were a lot of commercials she liked, too. Actually she enjoyed some commercials as much as or perhaps even more than the regular programs

One morning we woke her up to go to school. She mumbled sleepily,
 “Wait a minute till this commercial break is over…okay?”
Then we realized even her dreams had commercial breaks.

I still remember the day she rode wobbling when I removed both the guide wheels off her little mountain bike. She used to add accessories to this bike from time to time. She once bought a ta-ta hand, a yellow plastic hand fitted at the end of a metal rod that swung from side to side as the bike moved.  After practicing in the front yard she was eventually promoted to ride on the country road while my wife and I were riding ahead on the motor bike. And we had made the crash helmet mandatory for her. Once, while riding downhill mom yelled  
“Wait wait she’s not there.”

I stopped to see that she was not there to be seen actually. Then from the ditch appeared a blue helmet, followed by a small figure slightly scratched but generally unharmed. Then we pulled both child and the bike out of the ditch. She was fuming with rage. Later we found out the reason.  
“It’s okay falling down. That’s not the problem. This stupid ta-ta hand was saying ta-ta ta-ta all the time while I was fallen in the ditch.”

When she was a first grader I had to meet her class teacher one day to listen to her complaint that my kid had walked on the piano keyboard playing with feet creating a new genre of music.

She also had trouble with bullies. When all the complains fell into deaf ears and she was bullied behind the teachers’ backs, as a last resort I taught her some karate in self defense. (This had worked for me when I was bullied at school- a mixed type of street fighting) A few weeks later I was called again because she had assaulted the bullies not only with kicks and punches but also with her motorcycle crash helmet.

I just wondered how lonely she must be when one day I heard her bursting into the living room and blurting out,
“You are under arrest. Put your hand in the air!”
I whirled around to find her dressed in her commando kit pointing a toy revolver at her own chest with one hand, with the other hand in the air raised in surrender. She has been playing army and the rebels both.

Finally she played her trump card. The Principal who was a very kind lady and a well renowned author, had left a message for me to see her in her office. I tapped on her door expecting more trouble

“Hiruni came to meet me today Mr. Blogwalker,” she said, “… and she wants me to tell you as her principal that she needs a brother to play with.” 
I felt a lump in my throat.

Next: The Wonder Years With My Kids 2