Ask Amma

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Something sensational to read on the train

In Why on 13 May 2015 at 1:18 pm

191vgo8sulvv5jpg“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

Even before my daughter could write I suggested that she keep a diary.  I was her amanuensis.  I remember on the first day when she asked me what she should say for me to write in her diary, I replied, “anything you did, or said, or thought, or wished.”  Since then for several years I wrote as she spoke.   Eventually she took over the writing herself but still sometimes asked me to take dictation so that she was not slowed down by her own hand.

It has been eight years now since that first day and we love to read passages from over the years.  Though many people now remember their younger days through photographs, the diary will capture what a thousand pictures cannot.  Especially if those thousand pictures remain in memory cards in serial numbered folders.  The diary on the other hand is ready and welcoming anytime, and will not oblige you to smile. 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 »

Are you writing this down?

In How on 10 October 2012 at 6:56 pm

What parent hasn’t shared stories about what their kids do and say?  And what parent hasn’t been asked, Are you writing this down?  (Or taking audio/video/photo, if one is so deft as to unobtrusively capture the moments.) And what parent has not thought, this is a tiny fraction of all the momentous, insightful and often incredible things that we see and hear from our little one.


Writing while standing

I kept a pretty detailed journal in the early years of motherhood, but later I found it harder and harder to keep up.  Partly because the most attractive feature of the diary, the quiet place where I could be alone with my thoughts and which I could carry around like a book, was also its weakness.  Why?  I rarely had my diary and a decent pen on hand when I had something exciting to write.

I should confess that once I select a blank journal to be my diary, I use only good pens to pour my thoughts onto the page.  I also like to have a place to sit for a nice long time but have had to adjust my expectations.

Typing, in contrast, is not burdened with aesthetic expectations.  I found that if I thought of something I wanted to keep, I could type in whatever window was open on my computer at the time.  I could dash off an email – maybe to my parents, or to my sister or sister-in-law.  Sometimes I would never finish the mail and it would just sit in saved drafts.  Or I would not even send it to anyone, just keep saving notepad files with names like may10_tmp.

Then I found a way to turn these various emails, drafts, notepad files and other scraps of text into a diary, all in once place.   WordPress!  If you sign up for a blog, wordpress allows you to update by email.  Just send a email to the unique email id that it assigns you (bcc when writing to family / friends, or their reply-all messages will get posted to the blog as well).  The body of the mail appears as a blog post, with your subject line as the title.  You can attach pictures and they will appear as part of the post.  No need to login!  You can set your blog to private if it helps you not to worry about dotting your Is and crossing your Ts.  In any case from experience, I can assure you that blogs get no visitors unless you keep publicizing them.   (Hint – please let your friends know about askamma!) When you have time you can login and improve the look and feel of the blog – categories, tags, themes etc.   You can change the dates of the post to reflect when things actually happened as opposed to when you got around to writing about them. I still have my diaries and pens, and I find my thoughts flow differently when I write on paper.  That flow is very dear to me and I try to write as often as I can.


How do I make my daughter write?

In How on 9 May 2012 at 3:37 am

My baby is [age].  A week ago she started to learn to write … but she doesn’t want to write and refuses to hold the pencil.  Otherwise she loves to scribble on the wall but doesn’t want to write letters and she starts to cry.  Please help me –  how do I make her write?

– from Mothering.

Can you tape a large paper to the wall, at the height accessible to her?  Then she can scribble freely.    I have visited homes of parents who paint one wall black and keep chalk available for children and visitors – of all ages.

My guess is that she does not want to write letters designed by others because she is busy exploring the pencil and its possibilities.  Imagine that you have arrived at a beautiful mountain and are being asked to sit and study a particular rock.  Your limbs yearn to wander about the mountain.  Even if you stay and study the rock, your mind is wandering.  On the other hand, after running about to your heart’s content, if you then study the rock, you may actually be more curious and whatever you learn will stay with you as you continue exploring.

As babbling is a valuable stage of experimentation with language, so is scribbling a valuable exercise – making lines and curves and shapes appear, as if no one had ever done it before.  It will lead to writing, but it is also valuable in itself, and should not be rushed or cut short.

Writing in the sand

In Uncategorized on 17 October 2010 at 4:02 am

Answering questions on parenting has made be recognize one Occupational Hazard:

Once I share an insight from my experience, a later experience questions that insight. In light of this we might hesitate to "speak too soon." It may be too soon to etch in stone, but it is not too soon write in the sand. Thus our insight grows in depth and nuance.

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