The Art and Science of Language - At Home

Driti is very interested in the 'art of writing'. Ok, she's interested in holding the pen and writing some words, and we're thrilled that the focus is slowly moving from princesses, castles and fairies... and PINK to something, we can relate to.

Few sentences down and she realizes - under is 'UN' der and wonder is w'ON'der.  

She hates that Monday is M'ON'day not M'UN'DAY. 

"English is a funny language, Driti", we try weakly. "There are a lot of words that will confuse you"

"Are all languages like that?" she asks. 

"No, baby. Hindi's not like that" Ady says with an expanded chest. 

"Even Tamil", I add. She needs to know a thing or two about my mother tongue too!

"Hindi?" Driti asks surprised. "Hindi's also a funny language papa"

"Why do you say that?" Ady asks visibly upset. 

"Well, yesterday is called 'kal' and tomorrow is called 'kal' too"

Yeah, we didn't have a response. 

"Hindi ain't as scientific as Tamil" I chuckle at Ady later. 

"I guess you're right" Ady admits.

"You agree?" I'm shocked. Really? How did this happen? He's accepted defeat? Is age catching up with him? Is he giving up arguing with me? Have I finally won?

"Yes. I agree" and then he adds "Badmaja"  reminding me of the limited number of letters in the Tamil script and the interchangeable usage of the same letters. Ba for Pa in this case.

So much for teaching the 'science' of a language.  

Explaining Karva Chauth - An Amateurish Take

Today is Karva Chauth and in our attempt to keep  Driti aware of all things Indian, I tried explaining the meaning of the festival and why we do it. 

But, my timing was bad (I realized it was Karva Chauth today in the morning, thanks to m-i-l's phone call), so all the discussion happened in the car. 

It's basically from the fear that if I do not share the significance of our rituals and culture at the appropriate time, she'll be left with no sense of identity or connection with her home land. On the other hand, I wasn't sure I was fully prepared to have the discussion with her, because of the spate of follow up questions that would follow. If you don't do your homework, you'll always get into trouble.

So, here's what I tried with her : 

Me:  "Driti, today is Karva Chauth, it is a special festival when husbands pray for  the well being of wives and wives pray for husbands" 
D:    "What about children?"
Me:  "And children pray for their parents"
D:    "What about the children's friends?"
Me:  "The children can pray for whoever they want"
D:     "Ok, I want to pray for my friends" and as an after thought "and my parents"
Me:   "Great. So usually, the wife and the husband do not eat for the..." I bit my tongue. This is not what I want her to take away.
D:    "Then why do I have to eat? I am not going to eat" she said dropping her sandwich.
Me:   "No Driti, we eat. We just don't eat chicken"
Ady:  "Tread carefully. I don't want her to stop eating chicken"
D:     "But why only chicken?"
Me:  "Well, you can eat whatever you want, because you're like Krishna. All children are like Gods. So they can eat whatever they want. Remember the little naughty Krishna"
D:    "Then if I am God, why should I pray to God?"

Yes. I should've accepted defeat at this point. 

Me:   "You are like God, baby. And so you pray for other people, not just yourself"
D:   "Why?"

I was now free falling into a bottomless pit. Need to change the strategy - and now!

Me:  "And you know what we do in the evening, when we're praying?" I changed the topic.
D:    "What?"
Me:  "We dress up. Girls wear beautiful clothes and bangles and jewelry and pray.."
D:    "And papa?"
Me:  "Papa will wear pant shirt or salwar suit." I was able to successfully divert the topic.
D:     "Poor boys, they can only wear pant shirt or salwar suit"
Ady : "Tread carefully......" 

 I bit my tongue. I knew what was coming and I couldn't do anything about it, well not now anyway...

D:     "Then why do you make me wear pants? I am not going to wear pants anymore..."

"School Driti! School! Yay! We've reached school, wonderful school! Let's see how many steps till we reach the door" 

"Yay, Mamma!"

Time for me to read up about Karva Chauth, Gods and clothing - My homework.

Role Playing

As men and women, dads and moms we have our strengths and 'developmental opportunities'. We could as well be Supermen and Superwomen in our own imagination and our mighty self-image may not let us see the aptly named 'blind spot', but our better halves make sure we're aware of it, even if don't really want to know. 

It takes 45 mins for Ady to get Driti ready in the morning. 

A: "Driti, time to get up" 
D: "You can't just tell me, papa, you need to ask if I am ready"
A: "OK.Are you ready to get up Driti?"

A series of exchanges later, it's really late, and if we have any intentions of reaching office and her school before lunch, we need to get off now!

Enter, Wonder woman, aka yours truly. 
Me: "D, do you want to pick the clothes you want to wear for school or should I?"
D: "I want to Mamma"
Me:"If you don't get up in the next minute, you don't get to"
D is up and in the bathroom brushing her teeth.
Me to Ady: "And that's how it's done!" 

On the way back, me to Ady "You know what, I always pick her up. Today you should go"

A: "But will you be able to move the car in case there's traffic?"
Me: "What traffic? We're on the side of the road and parked"
A: "Yeah, but it's a 30 min load unload zone. And it says this is until 6. It's 5:55"
Me: "Yeah, I think I can handle 5 mins"
A: "Ok. I'll go get her"
30 secs later Ady calls me on my phone.
A: "There's a parking enforcement car that I can see, can you move the car into the parking garage?"
Me:" What? where?" and I see the car and panic. "NO, you come. Now!" I yell on the phone. Ady's just across the road.
A: "It may not be a problem actually,...."
Me: "No, you come, now!"
A: "You don't have to panic so much, we haven't..."
Me: "No, come now. I'll die of a heart attack"
Ady crosses the road and jumps into the driver's seat, and parks the car in the garage in under a minute.
A to Me: "And that's how it's done"

As I said, the spouse will always show you the blind spot!