Morning encounters with pink goblins

Thursday and Friday mornings in the Luthra household are not for the faint-hearted. Compared to what the hapless dad has to go through on these two fateful days, Frodo’s journey across Mordor in the ‘Lord of the rings’ was a cakewalk. The invasion of Normandy beach was a stroll in the park. The ascent of Mt. Everest was easy as pie. History needs to be corrected. Each of these and many other similar feats are wrongly lauded as epic achievements, stories of success achieved against insurmountable odds. After I finish this post, I will get to work to correct the Wikipedia entries for each of these so-called achievements to set the record straight once and for all.

The real achievement that should be lauded is for a dad to get a 5 yr old beauty queen ready for kindergarten in the morning. I am not just talking about throwing on some clothes, a jacket, a pair of shoes, stuffing the snack box into a satchel and packing her off. No sir… we are dealing with the reincarnation of Kate moss here. (The perfectionist bean counters out there will immediately retort that Kate Moss is still alive – but they will be missing the point)

The ritual has to start the previous evening. A UN committee meeting is called before bedtime to scan the entire wardrobe and present at least 3 dress options to her highness. The choices need to possess the right mix of eclectic flamboyance, colour co-ordination and panache. You have to foresee the frame of mind that she might be the next morning and will the hues match the aura that will be surrounding her when she arises from her beauty sleep? And if any of your hapless proposals contain any shade of pink, blue, red, green, mauve, beige, purple that she might have touched in the last week – they will be shot down with a nonchalant wave of the hand. This will be carried out while she is focussed on the ‘5 minute princess tales’ and admiring the necklaces and scarves of Rapunzel, Ariel, Snow-white or any of the perfect princesses and mermaids sketched out in their full gleaming glory.

And if you are having a really bad day, one of the princesses’ sketches will be shown to you across the room and you will be asked to choose a skirt that is of the same colour as the Mulan’s bracelet. Mind you – you have to be quick. The picture will be shown to you for exactly 2 nanoseconds from across the room, at an awkward angle, while the book is being waved around. And you don’t get a second look. I guess 2 nanoseconds might be enough for Karl Lagerfeld or Coco Chanel, but certainly not for yours truly. Plus it does not help that the almighty decided to bestow upon me the gift of a slight case of color blindness which ensures the inability to distinguish between certain shades of red and green.

This lethal combination of fleeting image recognition misapprehension and genetic chromatic cognition disability leads to a blue skirt being produced for her highness’s inspection. But the demand was for a light purple one with a hint of mauve. The choice is shot down faster than Billy the kid’s ‘quick-draw, shoot’ ritual. Then comes a sigh – “Ok, I will choose it myself”. The cosy comfort of the bed fluffed with a hundred cushions is temporarily relinquished. The floor is blessed by the touch of her feet as she saunters across to the cupboard with feline grace. In a flash the correct  drawer is smoothly pulled out and the light purple skirt with a hint of mauve is delicately produced and a triumphant proclamation laced with a hint of slight exasperation is announced  “Papa, this was the one I wanted”.

The dad thanks his stars, gives a goodnight peck to the daughter, arranges the chosen clothes neatly, breathes a sigh of relief, turns off the light and walks out the room to join his wife in the living room. ……. But as he walks out, he cannot hear the faint laughter of a million little pink goblins that reside in the bottom shelf of her highness’ cupboard. “The real ordeal awaits him in the morning …. heh, heh, heh….”

The million pink goblins live in this …

pink goblins residing among a million frilly bands, hair clips and other indescribable things

Come the next morning, after the chosen clothes have been adorned, the next gauntlet in thrown. ‘Papa, can you pls choose the right hair clip/band that will match my dress?’

Gingerly, the bottom most drawer is opened by the dad. He stares into it like a hapless to-be victim staring into the eyes of shooting squad. As the dad reaches into this treasure trove containing a million frilly bands, hair clips and other indescribable things, the pink goblins living inside this drawer get to work. They take the matching hair band that will pass her highness’ approval and hide it right at the bottom of this bottomless pit. Try what he might, the dad cannot produce the correct accessory. The pink goblins feast on his helplessness and prolong his fruitless search by continually changing the hiding place of that perfect hair band.

Time ticks on…. the uber-punctual swiss train that dad is supposed to catch to his office thunders towards the station. Desperation starts to creep in and his pulse quickens. With one eye on the clock and the other eye on this bottomless accessory pit … he continues to struggle against the goblins. Because the veins near his temples that are now throbbing at full pressure, he cannot hear the laughter of the pink goblins which has now reached a crescendo. If he had a third eye behind his head, he would notice that her highness is busy browsing through ‘The tales of mermaid Ariel’ to choose the colour of her dress for tomorrow.

As point break approaches, he calls out for help. Her highness drops her book with a sigh, reaches into the accessory pit and in an instant pulls out a light pink frilly hairband adorned with purple and silver stars which will provide the perfect contrast to her skirt and jacket. Dad mutters a quick prayer to all the 27 million Indian gods and a handful of the western ones as well. The pink goblins have been defeated once again. They retreat to their frilly dungeons and plan for the next morning’s assault.

Dad and little Ms. Kate Moss emerge triumphant into to crisp winter air. The daughter, decked up in her full resplendent glory, sashays down the path to her kindergarten while the dad rushes along hoping to get to the station before the train gets there. All is well with the world again.

______________________________________________________________

Today was a thursday and battle was won. As I sit here and write this in the still of the night, I can hear the pink goblins whispering and plotting. I must now go to bed to ensure my energy is conserved, as another epic tussle awaits us in the morning……

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Are you trying to be smart ?

Surely you have heard this phrase before. Most probably when you are trying to pull a fast one, aiming for those perfect last words to show how witty you are really are, trying to be arrogant, or ‘cool’ … or often when you have just a staggeringly stupid act. Usually when one hears these words, the irony is lost on most people. No you were not trying to be smart – you were just being yourself or you really had to prove a point. The reasons usually don’t matter.

But what if you were actually, really smart? And someone came and told you nonchalantly – ‘It’s ok to be smart!’ What would your reaction be – ‘Are you trying to be smart or are you just a plain old chauvinist?’ And is this comment driven by your jealousy because your grey cells aren’t really as grey as the one who you are trying to put down? (At least this is one situation where a shade of grey is better than being black and white) . Again … the reasons usually don’t matter.

But what matters is that there are millions kids out there who are being told this exact thing – ‘It’s ok to be smart!’ This phrase stopped me in my tracks. It was emblazoned in large friendly letters on an educational toy(called brain quest) that we had picked up for our kids during our summer vacation in USA.

Admittedly, it is a reasonably good educational aid with interesting questions, put together in an easily referenced and digestible format to build up the kids’ general knowledge. We have had fun with it and it has been handy on a few long road trips….. but what a way to advertise it! It’s like telling kids – don’t fret, it’s alright if you are more intelligent than the others. If you know more than your friends, no need to feel the odd one out. Your knowledge will not be considered unnatural. You are not a mutant or a nerd and you will not be persecuted. And to top it all, a picture of a small boy wearing large geeky glasses rounds up the message. The message is really complete.

Isn’t it the whole point of school – to learn, to experiment, to grow your knowledge? Talking to a an american friend, a ratification emerged. It seems like the general level of interest in real knowledge is indeed diminishing among a majority of school students. Kids who know more than others are usually made fun of and considered ‘nerds’. All kinds of euphemisms are drawn up and hurled at them. Regardless of this situation, it does seem a fairly convoluted way to promote intelligence and knowledge.

This holds universal truth that extraordinary ability usually stands out and is most often lauded, or in a minority of cases is scoffed at. (Just thinking of this brings Howard Roark from ‘The Fountainhead’ to mind). Imagine telling Einstein this – ‘It’s ok Albert, we don’t really mind you being so brainy. We know why your hair are always standing up. Just trying being quite when you are around people, and don’t think up answers to the scientific mysteries on a daily basis’ .

But the point is – ‘It is really ok to be Smart!’ … you don’t need to justify it or hide it. While we will continue to use ‘brian quest’, but every time I will pick it up in the future, this question will jump up at me again. And my answer will be .. ‘Oh really. thanks for the tip!’

A little trickery and creativity goes a long way!

I have 2 kids, who possess many unique superpowers & (so-far) hidden skills that will undoubtedly make them world famous one day. One of these powers, however is less unique and shared with countless other 4 / 7 yr olds around the world. And that is their ability to sense anything remotely nutritious in their food and run a country mile.

So one day, being charged with the responsibility of feeding them a proper lunch, while my wifey was out gallivanting, I contemplated the dilemma at hand, and a logistical regression backed hypothesis testing led me to the following choices –

  1. The easy way: French fries and chicken nuggets, out of the freezer, into the oven, into their stomachs – job done!
  2. Calvin’s mom’s way:

    calvin and hobbes cartoon about food

  3. The last – most righteous and creative: So the following was conjured up

I and my son are currently obsessed with the fantastic newly acquired Cadence Amaya hybrid electrostatic speakers, and the daughter – surprisingly with cricket. So a quick dash to the fridge, some veggies are unearthed, the Victorinox knife is yielded in precisely controlled motions. Lo and behold – the best salad creations of the whole world are presented to the kids with all the pizzazz and style that rivals the best Parisian brasserie and were devoured in record speed.

salad for kids in shape of cadence amaya speakers original cadence amaya speakers

 

salad in shape of cricket stumps

So now that you know the trick to feed your kids right, exercise your brains to answer the following questions:


The Cat’s away and the Mice can play

The story goes somewhat like this …

It’s a golden autumn evening in a quaint Swiss sub-urban town. Cool crisp air rustles the dried leaves of fiery hues on their wafting journey from the branches down to the sidewalks, illuminated by the amber glow of a setting sun. An Indian family gets together in the evening to do Ganapati pooja (For my non-Indian friends – prayers offered to the Lord Ganesha), consume copius amounts of Lindt chocolates as prasad (sweet offerings after the prayers), and have a relaxed dinner of some lovely toop-bhat (a simple but heavenly combination of steamed rice and plain yellow lentils)….

…. now Mum has to go to her weekly ‘evening sewing club’ to mingle with her swiss friends & practice stitching cute things for kids on those wonderfully precise but hideously expensive swiss made sewing machines (the one that she uses in the club costs more than a goddamned Tata Nano for heaven’s sake!!). Promises are made to mum that kids will be tucked into bed after the evening ablutions. The kids wave cheery goodbyes. As we see mum’s car leave the driveway, Dad turns to to the two hapless kids who are now at his mercy and with an evil glint in his eyes, suggests an altogether different course of action – a far more exciting one than the boring routine of brushing their teeth, reading some cute storybooks and catching forty-winks.

Would the kids like to Rock ?? YEAH!  jump up both of them. Dad runs to the CD rack, reaches for ‘The Clash – London calling’, but Apollo’s providence intervenes and a far more eclectic choice dawns upon him – ‘The School of Rock soundtrack’ … The title track is cued up in the CD player, the volume on the sublime Audio Analogue Puccini amplifier is cranked up and soon the entire house is rocking to Jack Black leading a group of school kids screaming

… and if you wanna be the teacher’s pet,
Well baby you just better forget it,
Rock got no reason,
Rock got no rhyme,
You better get me to school on time ….”

 

The two kids are headbanging and having the time of their life, the otherwise quiet neighbourhood is shaking, the swiss neighbours have never experienced this before – they are ready to believe that all their cows are revolting & invading them with cheese bombs. The 4 yr old daughter thinks that dad is coolest thing on this earth after her cats, pink dresses, princesses, fairy wands and lip glosses!  The music reaches a crescendo and the song ends in a face melting, ear-drum shattering guitar solo……….. phew! the kids slump down breathless, their nerves tingling and eager for ‘The Who’ to kick-up the next track.

But suddenly, sanity prevails on dad, the music is flicked off… decorum must be maintained at all times, he says! The kids protest & beg for more headbanging, but it’s not going to be today. They are reluctantly led to complete the mundane brushing, changing, story reading, getting tucked in bed routine and kissed goodnight.

Mum comes back from her soiree, the house is quiet, the kids are peacefully sleeping (though still rocking in their dreams), she mentally blesses the dad for taking care of the kids so well, not knowing the real deal that has gone on behind her back … heh heh heh.

…yes, yes, yes –  i know. Kids need to be introduced to more cultured things like classical music, jazz, ballet etc. They get their regular dose of those things but a few minutes of pure unadulterated rocking never hurt anyone, did it!