Update on time-out


Today, I tried time-out again.

But this time, he was very hesitant to get on the chair. I forced him to sit on it.

Sitting close by, I held him by his shoulders to prevent him from getting up.

After a few seconds, he said tearfully, “I don’t want to sit…”

“Will you be a good boy and behave yourself?” I asked sternly.

“Yes…” he replied

“Will you eat your lunch without a fuss?” I demanded.

“Yes…” he replied.

After many such promises, I said, “OK, You can get down now. And if you misbehave or disobey me in any way, I’ll put you back in this chair and its time out for you, alright?”

“OK.” He agreed meekly.

I turned back to go into the kitchen.

I heard a sudden crash.

The time-out chair had landed a few paces behind me, while a very angry young man stood, giving me a menacing look…

Just in case this time-out business had given me the impression of being the one in charge…

So there…


Discipline and me…


I’m not a very strict mother. Often I do things that helps ease the situation for me and suits my convenience or buys peace immediately even if it means bending the rule or ignoring the rule book. Sometimes I do a lot of things which makes things easier for me than what is good for the child, much to my better half’s chagrin!. And once in a while I get panic attacks when my son totally misbehaves.

But I’m not without self doubts. Yesterday I shared my worry about my son turning into a spoilt little rascal due to my laid-back attitude with  my friend, who’s a mother of teenagers. And she’s undoubtedly the best mom around. I’ve watched her interact with them for many years and she never ceases to amaze me. She’s loving & supportive most of the time and strict where she has to be. The kids have grown up to be responsible, obedient, independent, non-fussy, adjusting, the works.

After listening to me she said, “Now he’s old enough to know his limits. Start giving him ‘time-outs’ when he’s unruly. He has to sit in a chair facing the wall for a given period of time. It’ll be very difficult the first few times. You’ll have to hold him down forcefully. Start with 5 minutes and later increase it to whatever you feel is appropriate”.

Today I had a chance to carry this out. The little imp was cranky on the way back from school. He refused to share a toy with a friend in the car, screamed for no reason and once home, refused to take a bath, but insisted on eating chocolate with his filthy hands. My first impulse was to whack him and drag him to the bathroom, kicking and screaming (what I usually do), ‘but wait!’ my friend’s voice told me in my head. ‘Try time-out’.

So I calmly told him ‘it’s time out for you’ and made him sit on chair facing a wall. “Nobody’s going to talk to you and I don’t want any noise from you either’ I thundered. “Just sit quietly” I stood nearby, so I can force him to sit down if he rebels.

But to my surprise, he complied and sat quietly. So I turned to some pending work at my comp.

After a bit of quiet, I turned to look at him. He was playing with the strings of the blinds. “No!” I bellowed. “No playing” He sat back again looking serious. “This works!” I thought triumphantly. How foolish I was shouting and getting my BP high all these days when I could’ve handled it so coolly!

After a few minutes of silence, he started singing. “No singing!” I said. He tried to tell me something. “No talking!” I told him sternly. He lowered his eyes, then tried to smile at me. I glared back. He turned away, but was looking really pleased. I looked at the clock. “5 minutes up” I told him, moving towards him. “Time-out over!”

“No!” he protested. What? I looked at him. “I want Time-out! I like Time-out!! I want to sit!!!”

I was totally gobsmacked.

Finally I had to drag him kicking & screaming to the bathroom away from the time-out chair…

I know there’s some lesson for me somewhere in this, but I just cannot figure it out…


Long time, no blog…

I’ve been tied up with work for a while and the school has been closed too. So there has been absolutely no time to blog for the past two weeks. Nontheless, I’ve been reading, rather hurrying along all the blogs on my roll…


I just started on a book of short stories by Ranjit Lal. The first story is a must-read for women like me who yearns for a pencil-thin figure! Its called ‘The caterpillar who went on a diet’. Lal is a great story teller, and almost all his stories are about animals. But with remarkably human characteristics. The last book I read of his is ‘The life and times of Altu Faltu’. Its about a monkey called Altu Faltu, a son of a Brigadier monkey who regularly scavenges for cough syrup bottles in the dustbin, gets stoned all day .. His life takes a dramatic turn when he meets his ladylove. The book was hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Coming back to ‘The caterpillar…’, the story is about a caterpillar called Nimbu who gets brainwashed by Ms. Twiggy, a stick insect to lose weight. Twiggy advices Nimbu to eat less and even start an aerobic programme. After a while, another caterpillar enlightens Nimbu about Ms. Twiggy’s ulterior motive. To cripple Nimbu while she becomes a butterfly, so that she can eat her up without a chase.

Though it sounded like a fairy tale, the story had a deeper meaning for me. Why am I obsessed with being as thin I was years ago? I’ll just accept the fact that I’ve gained weight as I’ve grown older. I’m not that virginal 20 year old anymore. Marriage and motherhood has given me a few kilos, so what? Maybe the extra fat is to cushion me from all the crises the men in my life’ll keep throwing my way!!

I will keep up with my gym & yoga for health reasons, more stamina, etc. But will not lament about my weight-gain anymore! I’ll just buy my clothes 2 sizes larger!!!

Changing times

Recently, I bought a choppu set for a friend’s daughter. Delightedly, she ran away to her room to start playing. After a while, she came back to us, looking puzzled.

“Amma, what’s this?” she asked, holding up a kal-ural. “Its something in which you grind mavu for idli” My friend explained. “But how?” the little girl demanded. We gave her a demo of pretend-grinding.

After she left us alone, my friend and me looked at each other. “She’s never seen one!” my friend exclaimed. “We grew up with these things. Imagine a whole new generation is growing up without knowing a kalloral, ammi or the other stuff used for dry grinding” (my own grand mom used to refer to it as aarikkal, but none of my friends in Chennai seem to have heard of them!) we mused.

It really got me thinking.

Just imagine, my son, for instance would have never seen a washing stone.

35317255.jpg For those who don’t know what it is, a washing stone is a cement platform on which a rough granite or sandstone is mounted. Its easy to stand over, spread a piece of cloth to apply soap and then holding one end, beat the cloth on the stone many times, before rinsing it and wringing it dry. I still don’t know the thought-process behind beating it on the stone!

Of course in an apartment there’s absolutely no space for ammi or ural. And with the maids and washing machines, nobody needs to know what a washing stone is.

9770814.jpg I remember the two washing stones in the backyard of my grandmother’s. Because the house was always full-up, it was really handy to have two. I don’t remember the maid washing any clothes over there. They only washed the non-paththu pathrams in the evenings, and swept & mopped the house. The major vessels were washed by an aunt or an older cousin in the backyard.

Every one washed their own clothes. A visiting daughter like my mom used to wash hers & her kids’. Wash-times were always fun for us. It was normally done in the mornings, just before people went in for their baths. It was a sort of communal thingy.

I remember vividly how us kids used to pass time in the backyard, either picking fruit or flowers are something equally idyllic. While our mothers and uncles washing their clothes and having their gossip-sessions. While someone drew water from the well, two others would be at the washing stones. Someone else would be wringing the clothes and hanging them dry and some one else would be at the back verandah combing her hair to get ready for office. My grandmother would probably be putting up her feet in the same verandah, drinking her second cup of coffee while taking part in the morning banter.

It all seems light years away! Now who has that kind of time? I always wake up late, do everything in a mad rush before locking up the house to go to school!

If only we still did all these things, we’ll never need a gym!

One of the books I read on healing says that the process of grinding and cooking before the machines took over was very therapeutic. The rythm of grinding, the smell of spices, inhaling the aromas of cooking are all very soothing for a woman, the author claims. I tend to agree, because I feel so de-stressed while I cook.

Maybe we really had something going for a healthy living those days.

Right from eating on a banana leaf to sleeping soon after sunset, we had such close commune with nature.

And we were so eco-friendly too!

There must be some way to reclaim all that while still enjoying our mobile phones and plasma screens!



I recently read an interview where celebrities spoke of their plans for the New Years. One of them (I just cannot seem to remember who) had said that he does not believe in celebrating New Years because he felt it was a western concept and is hyped up in India by greeting card companies to promote sales.

He went on to say that our regional cultures have their own New Years according to their respective calendars and he likes to celebrate that in the traditional way.

Point taken, but I do have something to say in defence of the rest of the masses who like celebrating the New years the western way.

While I agree with him that its a bit too much for us to celebrate mothers’ day, fathers’ day, brothers’ day & sisters’ day over here, I see no harm in celebrating New Years.

Come on, we’re talking about coming together of all cultures in a global village!

We’re no longer cut off from various other cultures across the world, thanks to our tecnological advancements. And what’s wrong in joining the rest of the world in celebrating the birth of a New Year according to the most popular calendar in the world?

There’s a lot of happiness and goodwill going around the world and we’re just joining the band wagon to feel some of the cheer.

We do celebrate New Year according to our own culture too. But I must say our celebrations are subdued compared to this. What exactly do we do on a Tamil New year or Ugadhi? Make payasam, go to the temple, eat bitter-sweet pachchidi and get on with our lives. So why can’t we do that and have a more boisterous New Year on Dec 31st as well?

These days its all about being open to good ideas from other cultures. Its totally hypocritical to look down on something, just because it was not in our culture before.

If the so-called culture police is so against western stuff, why do they take off on Sundays? The weekend concept is western. In traditional Indian culture, people rested on Tuesdays, since its inauspicious to do any work that day.

Why don’t they stick to Veshtis instead of trousers and shirts?

These are the days of restaurants serving Chinese, Lebonese and Italian food along side authentic chettinad fare.

We have multiplexes, food-courts and shopping malls which are as good as any we can find abroad.

But we still value our culture and observe all our traditional practices.

My point is they adapt western ways when its convenient to them. But all of a sudden they go gung-ho opposing something as harmless as having fun in on the New Years day!

And for the greeting card manufacturers, most of them are hitting rock-bottom, thanks to the e-cards and group sms-es!!!