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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Evening the Vampires Came to Play

A Halloween birthday party. That's what my EO had been pestering me for, since January!! And each time he'd start pleading, I'd resolutely put my foot down; after all who knew about Halloween here, really? The EO knows about it from the stories The Bro and I've told him; thanks to those infernal cartoons on TV and most of all, because of this blasted book, "It's Halloween You Fraidy Mouse" (from the Geronimo Stilton series which he just adores and devours any chance he gets!)

When I saw how earnest he was about the whole idea I suggested a Monster's Ball and he LOVED the idea. And that's what we'd been planning for the past few months...or rather, he'd been fantasising his head over and sharing those daydreams with me while I distractedly nodded along to whatever he said!

And soon enough, it was two weeks minus D-Day! Yikes! Invites had to be sent out, costumes had to be made, games planned, return gifts bought, food ordered...!!! Yikes, yikes and yikes some more!

So I started with the planning and buying. I had this vision of a Treasure Hunt for the boys with clues that involved lots of thinking and writing -- hey!...when there's a gang of around twenty 5 to 10 year old boys involved, you have to think up creative ways to restrict the mayhem!

Everything was going according to plan and D-Day arrived soon enough. Like always, I had too much crammed on my job list...making the pasta, sausage stir fry and corn salad; wrapping the last few return gifts (I always buy extra...just in case); and putting the clues for the Treasure Hunt together.

As I was making the envelopes for the clues, the finicky, fussy avtaar of me started yelling in my head. She just wasn't cent percent happy with the clues. She felt they lacked something...and she was right, because I had been fussing about it for days. A link was needed to connect the clues and puzzles together and suddenly, the link appeared as if by magic in my head...I started writing small, funny poems to put along with the game/puzzles. The words started tumbling out of my ears and I scrambled to write them all down before I lost any.

The rush of creative energy felt wonderful, but I knew it meant putting me back a bit time-wise. Oh, well, I could just manage by the skin of my teeth. Sigh...why me? Why does inspiration always strike at the last minute.

So in-between writing clues and stirring pots-and-pans, things were falling into place...when something scary happened. Three hours before the hordes were due to descend, my FIL, who had been feverish for a few days, suddenly turned serious. It was frightening and I won't go into the details, but he had to be rushed to the ICU. Turned out that his sugar levels had crashed to 19!! I was all set to cancel the party, but my MIL very sweetly and very firmly told me that we should have the party as scheduled. The good news was, that my FIL had been admitted at the right time and he was already on the road to stabilising.

Unnerved, I went back to party prepping, but I felt unnerved and off-balance by what we had all witnessed and experience, but also grateful that things were not as fatal as we feared them to be.

The party was madness, mayhem, chaos and noise!! It took me three days to recover, but one little eight-year-old's happy face, made it all worthwhile :-)

The invite that went out, read like this:
Ghostly creatures, come one come all --
There's going to be a Monster's Ball!
I've got news that's pretty great --
'Our EO' is turning eight!
There are gory games in store for you,
Followed by gooey treats that you can chew!
So come on over in your scariest best;
It's a time for partying -- there'll be no rest!

And here are the clues for the Treasure Hunt; the boys were divided into four teams -- Team Vampire (red), Team Wizard (black), Team Ghost (white -- duh!) and Team Mummy (yellow)

1st CLUE :

Your first clue is really a riddle --
Discuss the answer in a monster huddle.
The answer to this question will take you to
An envelope holding clue number two!

"We're black and white
and we're called keys --
We don't open doors,
But we set music free!"

(The most common answer I got was iPad!!)

2nd CLUE :

Piano is right! That's very good!
Your heads are obviously not blocks of wood.
Clue number two I now present to thee --
Solve it quickly for clue number three!
If it takes you too long to solve the rhyme --
You just might run out of time!
After 5 minutes, ask the birthday boy's mother,
For hints that'll help take you along further!

(I wrote an 8 line poem with the last words blank. I wrote two lines in green, then two in black, two in blue and the last two in purple so that they would understand that those lines should rhyme. I knew this could provide tricky, so I had a list of clues set up just in case...I handed those out after they spent some time wracking their brains)

Gorby Ghost is really quite ________ (another word for crazy)
He just doesn't know how to be _______ (the opposite of good)
He has long blue hair growing out of his ________ (at the bottom of your face)
And he smells like he lives in the _______-____ (where you throw rubbish)
He is a friend to all the neighbourhood ________ (dog's enemies)
And together they like to chase down fat ________ (cousins of mice)
Rotten cherries and worms are his favourite ________ (Trick or ??)
And eggs that smell like dirty, smelly _______ (what we use to walk with)

(After each team gave me the completed rhyme, I handed them the next envelope)

3rd CLUE:

You've solved the rhyme! Oh yippee yaaay!
You've all made me so happy today!
It's now time for a little mystery;
Solve the secret code -- go on! Do it quickly!
If you can't figure it out, you might need some clues --
I'll help you a bit and chase away those blues.

(The code was a series of numbered blanks, which when solved would read -- "The next clue is with the birthday vampire's aunt." The code was a simple 1=a, 2=b, 3=c... I didn't tell them that; I wanted to see how many would figure it out on their own. Two teams did! We told the other two teams how to go about it.)

4th CLUE:

Oh me! Oh my! You've cracked the code!
I think I feel like kissing a toad!
But no, I won't, because that's really quite yucky!
I'll give you a clue instead --wow! Aren't you lucky?
It is time now, my friends, for story-time ---
But whoa! It's all mixed up! Can you make it fine?

(I wrote a short paragraph and cut them up at various points, which they had to set in order.)

  • Once upon a time, in a far away land, you've never heard of
  • there lived a gross, stinky and very fat
  • Princess.
  • Her name was Pukerella!
  • All day long she did disgusting things!
  • I can't even tell you because you'll faint and then wake up with your brains all scrambled!
(From the clues so far, you can see that I've been catering to the mirth and merriment of young boys, right? Well, once they had the story in order, I handed them the next envelope)

5th CLUE:

You've sorted the story! My aren't you clever?
Can you unjumble these words and make them sound better?

GNORAD _ _ _ _ _ _ Dragon
REPAMVI _ _ _ _ _ _ _ vAmpire
DRIZWA _ _ _ _ _ _ wizardD

The next clue is with the birthday boy's _ _ _ (DAD -- those three letters were circled and numbered. So once the team handed the MIM their solved word jumbles, he gave them their last clue along with a roll of toilet paper)

6th CLUE:

You're nearing the end!
Oh wow! I'm impressed!
It's now time for you
To get one of your own all dressed.
Let's go back to the land of ancient Egypt;
That they liked their mummies is no big secret!
Gather the things that you will need --
To make a mummy at top speed!!

(Considering that I abhor waste and am a big fan of recycling, my original idea was to use strips of newspaper, but unfortunately, I didn't have the time to make them. So it had to be small rolls of toilet per team. Turned out, there wasn't enough to wrap the little bubs up with, so I had to modify it to an arm and a leg).

TEAM MUMMY won the Treasure Hunt. The reason they did so well was the objective behind the whole exercise -- TEAMWORK! They were brilliant together. The Nephew happened to be in the Team Mummy, but I promise, there wasn't any nepotism involved ;-p They won on their own steam and merit.

The next activity was a Quiz in six rounds. I kept the teams the same and TEAM GHOST won this. The EO, who was in Team Vampire, was crushed because quizzing is really his thing -- he couldn't answer the Sport's Round and that's where they lost. He struggled to fight back tears (yes, he still has to learn to control his temper and his emotions) and said that he needed to have some serious sport-based chats with his dad!

After this, there was a quick game of Passing the Parcel, followed by the cake cutting and then FOOOOOOD! There were two other games I had planned on doing, but for one, the Nerf guns weren't working properly, and the other involved the mothers of which there were only three, so...

But all in all, it was a fun party...which left me partially deaf, totally exhausted and extremely grateful that these things come round only once a year! :-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy 8th Birthday, EO!

My darling EO,

Ah! My darling boy! Another year has passed and as I sit down to write my yearly letter to you, I wonder, just like in that good song, where do I begin?

Well, since I've begun with a line from a song, I may as well start off with music and you. Last year, your Dida gave you a guitar for your birthday and it's been a year since you've started taking lessons. I have blogged about your latent musical talents before, and this passing year has only scratched the surface of what I believe to be a reservoir of creative energy and spirit. Your enthusiasm in all things musical is manna to my soul. Your taste is still love Jon Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson; a good Prem Joshua or Bickram Ghosh number will have you listening to it on endless loop, and you have some patent favourites from Kabiguru's treasure trove as well. There were times I wondered whether you really had 'music in you' or whether it was something of rote that we were forcing upon you. Well, a few months ago, you unknowingly put that doubt to rest; we were in Shantiniketan and we'd carried your guitar along so that you could practice. Well, during one of your practice sessions in the evening, the lights went out, but that didn't stop just continued playing. That's when I knew... Of course you sealed the deal when you wanted to try making up original tunes and when you declared that you wanted to start a rock group when you grew up. You'd even thought of the name -- Vampire Rock! As long as it's not related to death metal and goth, I think I can live with that name :-)Your guitar teacher thinks you are very talented and says it every chance he gets. I just smile, but inside my heart starts beating like a hummingbird on a high!

You LOVE the spotlight! You are born to entertain. The stage is pretty much your most favourite place in the world and you are very, very comfortable on it. Last year, soon after your birthday, you made your debut in the  pada'r natok'er stage (neighbourhood play) for Durga Pujo. It was a dramatised rendition of one of Tagore's well-known, much-loved, epic poems -- "Birpurush". And you my son, were Birpurush. You enthralled everyone...including me. You remembered cues, didn't lose balance when others goofed up, delivered your lines in loud, clear tones and you covered every inch of the stage while acting. You took my breath away and I had to blink back tears of pride when the cheers and thunderous clapping started. That's why I started you off in an after school theatre class run by a good friend of mine. Thankfully, you are loving it and they are loving you. This year, Durga Pujo is two weeks away and rehearsals are on in full swing.  The play...a dramatised production of one of Kobiguru's short stories, "Ichchaapuron" (yes, the same genius again...seriously, where would we be without the man? Well, that's a debate I look forward to having with you in the near future). Now, while you do have one of the leads, I have to remind you every now and then to not get too ahead of yourself, to not direct/correct your peers, to not be so full of yourself. So even though you are doing a wonderful job, I don't say it to you too often, because the last thing I want is for you to grow a swollen head. Vanity is such an unattractive quality...

When you grow up, you'll probably look back on your childhood and think that I was a Tiger Mom of the Amy Chua variety...well, maybe not that demonic, but somewhere in her vicinity. I know I'm kind of hard on you and your brother, but it's mainly where discipline and food are concerned. I hate the very thought of food being wasted (the thought of starving children just numbs me to the core) which is why I prefer you taking smaller helpings and not throwing anything away, rather than piling food onto your plate in heaps and then throwing away half of it. And good manners...yes, I'm a bit of a monster in that department, I'm afraid. The thing is, I hate indiscipline. A friend of mine even called me out on it when we went dining out. "You expect a lot [of good behaviour] from your boys, don't you?" I unapologetically said yes. But later I felt I too hard on you two? But then, whenever someone compliments me on how delightful you two are, or how well-behaved, or what lovely manners you have, or how well I've brought you god, I just swell up with immeasurable pride! I need no greater validation or certification. Now I know these words may well come back to bite me in the butt, but right now, as of this moment, I have to say it -- you are quite the little gemtleman!

You're quite the gourmand, my child! You love experimenting with your palate and are game for new restaurants, new cuisines and new dishes. You still love my pasta to the point that you would rather have that than go out for a meal, but I love the way you enjoy new tastes and experiences. You are eager to help me around the kitchen and sometimes, you even think that you'll be a chef when you grow up.

Books are a firm love. You would rather read than go out in the evenings and kick a football around. Mythology is your favourite genre, but right now, you are also hooked on the Geronimo Stilton series. You read extensively and that's why your vocabulary and language skills are more than pretty darn good. You won 1st place in the inter-class English Elocution competition and I was ready to distribute laddoos! You ask me the meanings of big words and try to use them in sentences which I think is very good, but I also hope it doesn't make you seem precocious to other adults and a show-off to your peers.'s sad, but that is the way that some people will see you and it breaks my heart.

You've discovered a new passion for quizzing and thanks to your bookwormish nature, GK seems to be a subject you're pretty good at. The recently concluded inter-house competition also bears testimony to that.

Of course, it's not all sunshine and laughter with you. You have some flaws which you really need to work on. You can dish it out, but you can't take it. You're a terribly sore loser and you really, really need to learn what the sporting spirit is all about. You have to learn how to play fair and you can't always get your way.

I'm there to guide you into becoming the very best that you can be. You have such a sunshiney spirit and sensitive soul, that I would hate to see you be disliked or unpopular because of your bullish streak. I also worry, very often, that you might be a loner, because I've seen you quite content in your own company. You hear the songs and whispers of hidden voices and I see you lost in your own thoughts, often playing by yourself even when in a playground or room full of your friends, because you have a head full of characters and conversations that have your time and attention. I've been there most of my life sweetheart, and loneliness is a crippling feeling. Embrace life, embrace the people around you, embrace the world...but never let go of your unique individuality. I love your poetic soul and speaks directly to my own soul, from where I dreamed you up and breathed life into you!

To end with a line from another song, you beautiful make my heart sing!

I love you endlessly!

Happy birthday, my big boy!