Ask Amma

Archive for the ‘How’ Category

Father, tell me about Kashmir

In How on 23 July 2016 at 11:00 am

A young boy asks his father, “What happened in Kashmir?”

father son sunset

Those of us sheltered from the daily horrors that have become a way of life in far too much of the world may be unprepared to answer honestly when our children ask us questions like this.  How do we reveal much less “explain” the violence in the world, when we don’t quite understand it ourselves?

Fred Rogers said about talking to children about such events – “look for the helpers.”  In any horrible scene (e.g. that you might read in the news) there will also be people who are helping, even if it is only the reporter bringing public attention to it.

Going one step further, one can try to be a helper – even from a distance, as this father tried to do.

“B, We have to go a protest today. Do you want to come too?”
“What is this protest, Acha (Dad in Malayalam)?”
“It is about a place called Kashmir. A lot of people have been killed and blinded there by the police and the army.”
“What happened there?”
“Ok, Let me tell you…..”

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Priceless Birthday Presents

In How on 12 June 2016 at 2:43 pm
As I was sending out invitations for our daughter’s birthday party, the question of gifts crossed my mind.  A long time ago I read in one of Miss Manners’ advice columns that it was bad manners to expect a gift.  Therefore, it followed that it was was not polite to offer any instructions about gifts to give or not give.  Although Miss Manners made a slight concession for children’s birthday parties, I agreed with her logic and simply kept gifts out of our vocabulary when inviting friends for parties.
Her concession, as I recall, was that one could, for example, decorate the invitation with images of say, books or trains, as a hint to parents wondering what to bring as a gift.  From the perspective of a parent of a child attending a birthday party, I can appreciate that it is nice to get such a hint.  But surely we can do better than that?  Can we not take the time to give a gift from the heart?
Also, let’s face it.  It’s 2016.  We know the Story of Stuff.

 

No one wants birthdays to be about accumulating more stuff.  But what is the alternative?

Read the rest of this entry »

Sari Sling in a Jiffy

In Field Notes, How on 14 March 2016 at 6:29 am

Arpitha Shankar, Amma to two daughters, aged 4 and 2, in Bangalore, shares her family’s experience trying out baby wearing using a sari wrapped around baby’s Appa!

Our daughter loves to be carried everywhere… although we used to enjoy it when she was a baby, as she became heavier, carrying her for long periods left us exhausted quickly especially when we used to go for short hikes. Thats when we came across baby wearing. The DIY youtube videos are so simple to follow and a cotton saree is enough to make a comfortable sling to carry her around. The first time around we didnt get her to sit in a deep seated position so that her legs are in M position, but nevertheless, both my daughter and husband were ecstatstic. The best thing was being handsfree and doing the other chores freely with the baby happily in the sling.

Arpitha Shankar sling

Vel and his 4 year-old daughter are ready for a hike!


 

Ask Amma thanks Arpitha, Vel and their daughters for sharing these lovely photos.

Whiteness, Food Colors, and Food Culture

In How on 4 September 2015 at 8:00 am

Food Colors and Food Culture

“No race ever yet ate black bread when it could get white; nor even brown, yellow, or other mulatto tint.”

Dr. Woods Hutchinson in McClure’s magazine, 1906.

In the mass conversion towards refined and processed foods that has swept much of the world over the past few generations, many foods normally occurring in a wide variety of earth tones, became white, as if a formidable fairness cream had descended upon the food industry.   White flour, white sugar, white bread, white spaghetti, white rice, white upma ravva, white urad dal occupied the markets.  At first a status symbol for those who could afford them, refined foods later became a status symbol for those who need not eat the coarser grains because they lived a delicate life and could hire workers to do their heavy lifting for them.  Eventually they themselves became cheaper than their whole grain counterparts, while the nutritious polish and peels were diverted to the livestock industry.

Thirty years ago, Sidney Mintz unpacked the social, economic and political context of food in his seminal work, Sweetness and Power.  The history of whiteness and power with respect to food offers much to explore.   While evolutionary biology may account for our predilection towards the quick calories that processed foods offer, taste and food habits evolve under a variety of influences and cultural messages.  Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Father’s Day

In How on 21 June 2015 at 3:21 am

With best wishes for father’s day, some inspiration from father of thirteen, Leonhard Euler:

Euler claimed that he made some of his greatest mathematical discoveries while holding a baby in his arms with other children playing round his feet….

Euler claimed that he made some of his greatest mathematical discoveries while holding a baby in his arms with other children playing round his feet….

Thanks to J J O’Connor and E F Robertson, School of Mathematics and Statistics, Scotland.

Discipline and Pre-School

In How on 30 March 2015 at 4:23 pm

My son, who is 3.5 years old, has in the last few weeks been having a lot of discipline related issues at preschool. He screams no for everything and yells back at the teachers and his friends and refuses to participate in any group activities. He chooses to cry rather than talk to show his frustrations.  What is making this worse, is that he doesn’t behave like this at home at all.  Dad and I keep getting calls from school about his “bad” behavior.  They want us to control his behavior as they are concerned that the other kids will pick this behavior from him.  I have tried talking to him, explaining to him, bribing him, pretending to be upset with him and nothing seems to work.  There have been no changes in our family or routine. 

– Mama of two in Austin

The frustration you describe reminds me of my own observations of life for a 3.5 year old, which I find to be a time that kids recognize that the world does not make sense and that some questions will not have satisfactory answers.  It is a painful recognition and while we cannot take away the pain, we can be patient listeners.  The intense physical, intellectual and emotional growth of toddlers and youth goes through various spurts.  We may not see any reasons for these changes in behavior but in fact their world is changing every day and they are scrambling to keep up.
shadowtolight

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to read Indian languages

In Books, How on 14 March 2015 at 3:00 am

How can our children learn to read in Indian languages?  Where do we find children’s literature in our native languages?

Many Ask Amma readers who are well-versed in several languages would like their children to grow up with them as well.  As some of us know, being children of multilingual parents, if we live in predominantly monolingual environments there is a risk of losing touch with our multilingual and cultural heritage and with the wit and wisdom expressed in particular languages.  If we speak these languages every day then our children grow up understanding them but what about reading and writing?

Prasanna Rakshasadu (The Peaceful Rakshasa).   Fun topic and font make a difference for beginning readers.

Prasanna Rakshasadu (The Peaceful Rakshasa). Fun topic and font make a difference for beginning readers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Work while baby is awake!

In How on 29 December 2014 at 5:09 pm

Everyone says, “sleep when baby sleeps.”  But how on earth am I supposed to do that?  My parents and in-laws were with us for the first year but now we are on our own.    My wife is an artist and I am an occupational therapist.   We set our hours so that one of is with him at all times.  My wife at least can sleep while feeding him but I don’t have any chores that I can do lying down.   When our son sleeps is the only time I have to get anything done at home!  If I slept I would wake up to piles of laundry, nothing to eat, stacks of unopened mail, and no time to take a shower, let alone read a book or go to the gym. 

Baba of a 1 year old in Ann Arbor

As this was one piece of advice I followed early and often, let me tell you how I did it.  In order to sleep when baby sleeps, you need to work when the baby is awake.  I have talked about this at La Leche League meetings and many people say that they wish they had heard this advice earlier, so I am going to try to spell it out. Read the rest of this entry »

How can I help my baby sleep at night?

In How on 15 November 2014 at 8:00 pm

My baby wakes up 10 times at night, nursing even when she is not hungry.  How can I peacefully help her sleep at night?

Mother of a 10 month old in Chandigarh

As they say with every phase of breastfeeding, این نیز بگذرد‎, or “this too shall pass.” 

Often it is just when we have figured out how to handle a given situation that it passes, leaving us wondering if it would have passed anyway or our efforts made any difference at all.  Sometimes what we thought was a problem was actually a solution to some other problem we did not recognize.  Once solved, it passes. Read the rest of this entry »

Baby-led Weaning

In How on 30 October 2014 at 5:24 am

I want Ragi“What do you think of baby-led weaning?”

I was calmly chopping vegetables with Radhika, a friend and member of Ask Amma today when she asked me this question.  What is baby-led weaning?  I thought.

“What are the possible thoughts about this?”  I asked.

“I mean, should you purée the food?  What about the baby food they sell in the store?”

Hmm … As someone who never bought baby food from the store, and who did not purée food that is not normally puréed, I had to take a few steps back to answer this question. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: