Because it’s been a while since we talked about the Brat

The OA, Brat and Bean are reading Dr Seuss. The OA points to a picture and says, ‘This is ham.”

Bean: No, that’s a fish

OA: It’s ham

Bean: No, it’s fish.

OA: I said it’s ham and ham it is.

Bean: No no no. It’s fish.

OA: Who is reading the book here? You or me?

Finally a pained Brat  intervenes: That’s enough both of you. If you can’t read a book peacefully, then don’t read it!

Classic Bean – sticks to her guns. Classic Brat – aims for peace.


The Discovery Channel is on and the Brat who has his nose in a book looks up and says Is that a Columbian mammoth or a woolly Mammoth or a… ?”

I stare at him in utter confusion. I have no clue.

This is the kind of thing that drives the OA to despair. Our little chubby cheeked son goes down to the playground and while other kids are discussing the finer points of RipJaw and Omnitrix, he wants to talk to you about Servals and Caracals. The kids listen to him for a minute and they drift away. He is forced to drop his topic of interest and join in the game of football. There are fathers out there telling their sons that real men don’t cry when they fall and scrape a knee. The way we mould our children is so vastly different even though we live in a complex full of couples with similar socio-economic backgrounds, that last common denominator. The forced alpha male bravado. The insistence on femininity. The girls don’t join in the football and the boys don’t sit by the sidewalk chatting. How much of this is real and how much of it is social conditioning? What if my son wants to do neither?

“He’s going to be a loner,” says his very social father. The OA is a charmer. He smiles easily and genuinely. He doesn’t get into controversies. When last night I snapped at an extremely rude yuppie type and walked away, he stayed on to smooth ruffled feathers and later gave me a conciliatory smile too. He watches his son lie on the ground and observe a dragonfly. Yes, my green thumb has filled up my little balcony in dusty gurgaon and we have a profusion of sparrows, pigeons, butterflies and dragonflies fluttering around, filling the little garden with the sounds of nature.

The OA observes again – “What social skills are we helping him develop? He walks up to other kids and right after hello, he says, ‘Do you know the different kinds of bears? I’ll tell you. There are pandas and grizzlies and american black bears and…’. Which kids are going to like that?” I have no answers. I don’t know. But I do know that he is happy. That he is earnest. That his school report card says he shows an unbelievable connect with nature. That he stopped a bunch of boys from killing a grasshopper.. “Don’t do that. We’re giants compared to the grasshopper. He is scared just by our size. Why do you want to kill him? Is he bothering you?”  I am touched that the school noted down the anecdote. That they appreciate my little gentle child with the soul of a dreamer and his love of nature. I am grateful he isn’t growing up in my small town of UP where a kid like him would be beaten up and broken down.

Everyday I thank God for something new. Today I thank Him for this child being born into this home. That he was not born into a home where it would be whacked out of him. That he was not born in a home where he’d not get the opportunity to nurture it. But most of all I thank Him for giving me this child with a beautiful soul. And for giving us the opportunity to learn from him and to keep the gentleness intact. For giving us this child who will strive to preserve the connection man and nature are losing. Two of God’s beings, working to maintain the balance.

56 thoughts on “Because it’s been a while since we talked about the Brat

  1. I think I have pointed earlier … want to point out again, Brat will grow up to be a wild life photograher or some profession where he is in close touch with nature.
    Yes, OA is right … most kids his age are not so tuned with nature like the Brat … but as long as Brat is bothered in expressing his thoughts (even after a couple of turn downs from other kids) … he should be fine.

  2. That is tough. My niece is like that. She was upset about the other kids tromping ona mushroom. She said they were for the fairies. She loves nature and what not. My sis enrolled her into Waldorf school and she is surviving there..:)

    I hope the brat will find a gang of kids who will share his interest.

  3. so many of your anecdotes about bringing up children reminds me of the way my parents have brought my sister and me up 🙂 and its really heart-warming..because i honestly only really began to appreciate and realize the difference only much later in life, and im sure, like me, the brat and the bean will one day look back on the 25 years of their life past and think wow i have the worlds best parents!

  4. ‘This child with a beautiful soul’ – how beautifully you put it! Don’t you wish you could sometimes bubble wrap the Brat, just to let him keep this gentleness, this softness about him, intact, all his life? You know, the Brat is the kind of baby who makes your chest hurt with all that loving (I know they say parents feel that way about their kids, but I am talking abt how I feel when I think of him :D). I’ve been trying to come up with the right word for him and that phrase is what suits him best.
    Oh, and I googled up the Condor bird, a species I learnt of, frm the Brat!

    And ummm, The OA is a charmer? That is such an understatement. Sigh! 🙂

    • 🙂 you caught him working so he was distracted. he’s worse when he really turns it on and decides to go out and make friends at a party….
      thank you for the lovely things you say about the brat. its always nice to get validation because you’re never sure if you’re just a crazy mother who imagines it all…

      • A friend once told me that a soul chooses who they get born to before they are born. So as soon as I read that last paragraph that was the first thought that came to my mind.

  5. awwww such a cute post again 🙂
    I love the way you write about the Brat. Such a gentle, kind soul. Hope he finds a bunch of kids who are like-minded souls. 🙂

  6. 🙂

    but you also write about how seamlessly he plays footfall with other kids too! no?! 🙂

    he will always have a l’il trouble finding the perfect friends, but he will find them for sure. and once he does, they will stay for life. i say that after seeing my brother. the poor kid was bullied for what seemed liked forver because he didnt like rough games or talk about latest thing on TV. least brat can take care of himself.

    but once he found his friend cioircle, man, are they thick or what?! 🙂 so no, he wont be a loner for sure. not with the kind of gentle charm he seems to have! 🙂

    M worries endlessly about Cub. he says look at him, he sucks at sports juts like me. people will laugh at him. and he is so sweet and giving. they will take advantage of him. but then each one of us has a place and a nature. hopefully we make the best of it! 🙂


  7. You spoke my mind in the last paragraph. I always think that I am so thankful that my son is born in my house too. He is special needs and I can’t imagine how it would have been in a small town in India. He would be looked down and made fun of. I don’t know if he would even be considered special needs. He would just be pushed harder and harder by the teachers and parents and made his life a hell. The teachers and other kids are comparitively gentle over here in the US.

  8. Isn’t ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ great ? My kids loved it too !
    On stereotypes you are so right ,the girls on the sidewalk chatting thing is so true…my girls play football but they are clearly in a minority…most of the girls here in our building in Juhu, come down to ‘play’, in beautifully color coordinated clothes – often with a little handbag too !

    • ha ha! complex living has its own set of joys, huh? I can see that happening to the bean at the rate we’re going. She was until now, beating up the boys but yesterday wanted pink shoes to match her pink shoes

    • Oh I can so relate to that…these girls in my building all of 10 and act 30! the way they dress when they come down to play 😦 I know its really none of my business..but you really cant play when you were heel shoes and tight skirts na!

  9. MM, you and I need to have a little chat. Only then will you believe that your friend, who now has more pals than the rest of her friends put together, was a girl version of the Brat in social situations. He will be absolutely fine, I assure you. And valued too. Like-minded friends may not be available to him at age 5, but he will find them later, (like I did). And his gentle soul will be valued and the Lord WILL bubble-wrap it in her own way. Think of my Dad to know what I mean. Life is not always the demon we expect her to be. God bless Brattie. And thank heavens he was born to you and the OA.

  10. Everytime u write about the Brat i think = “you may say i am a dreamer but i am not the only one”.

    Thank god for children who can stand up for others (grass-hopppers included) it makes one feel better abt the future, it makes me feel better about having kids…esp when what u generally see are other brats who hold discourses on Ben-10, ninja hatodi and the likes!

  11. MM,
    I am sure the Brat will find friends who enjoy the same things that he does… Or, at any rate, want to learn about the things that the Brat knows.. These things have a marvelous way of working out 🙂

    I was so touched by the way the school/the brat’s teachers noticed and mentioned the little anecdote about the grasshopper. I think what the Brat did showed, apart from his compassion, his strong influencing skills. He did get those little boys to not kill the grasshopper, right? 🙂 And isn’t influencing one of the big leadership traits? 🙂 See, the Brat is going to be just fine. 🙂

  12. oh he is soo cute. the monster also loves nature and animals and quotes random nature facts but i dont think she is so compassionate.. he is such a darling…

  13. Hi MM,

    That was beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes and I just had to de-lurk!

    My 5 year old son is also more interested in nature than in a football game! Maybe we should get them to hang out sometime.

    Btw, how old is the Bean?

  14. Sweet sweet sweet! I love the Brat!

    And of course as always your anecdotes about the two of them – esp “stick to her guns, aims for peace” is so like my two kids. EVen this morning KB said – can you guys please just make this day peaceful?! The other day he pointed to a man fishing and said to me – I am going to tell him not to trick the fish by pretending to give them a worm for food…things like that. When boys he plays with at school act mean he is so perplexed – why do they want to be mean – that kind of puzzled look….
    These two are so alike!

  15. What men, making people get all teary-eyed and sniffy like this!

    And what OJ says is true. Till the time Brat finds friends who appreciate who he truly is, he needs people who will nurture that spark in him … which he does have around him, so he should be fine 🙂

    So glad his teachers are so attentive.

  16. MM….social skills are many times overrated. I find that I am happiest when I am by myself. I know we want our kids to be well rounded and have a bit of everything. And I have never met the Brat or spoken to him, but I don’t think he will end up being a not-social child. We all find our means and ways to connect with our fellow beings. You are right in letting the magic in him live and be the sweetest part of him. God bless this little love!

  17. Others have said it, but it bears repeating – he will find friends on his own terms, so don’t worry. My son was similar in having esoteric interests, now at age 10, he still has those interests, but is also majorly into sports, which is always a crowd-pleaser with boys…so he is never short of playmates. And he doesn’t seem to need the kind of one-on-one friendships my daughter does.


  18. So interesting. The conflicts and issues you mention about parenting in India are, in a sense, micro-images of issues first-generation immigrants face when raising kids in another culture. Substitute ice-hockey for football, and this could be an Indo-Canadian tale of competing priorities and insistent peer pressures. There’s a universality about kids who don’t (care to) conform to the lamestream mainstream, and it cheers me to think that their tribe is growing stronger and bigger each day.

  19. Did you hear Taylor Swift’s never grow up. Please don’t oust me from the blog. It’s just plain sappy sentimentality but a dart right to a mother’s heart. Makes me want to run back home and lock myself in a room with my baby….oh for about 25 years. You’re doing a great job of letting the Brat be who is, as vulnerable as he is to the world with his gentle sensibilities.

  20. A very touching post. Such loving souls don’t come into the world often. You are blessed!
    On another note – How does he get to know all this? The ‘spark’ that created the interst in him? I think it is your garden, your love of plants that has made him a nature lover. God bless him!

  21. dont worry MM…if his gentle soul fails to win him friends (which i highly highly doubt), his good looks sure will…:-)))
    just wait and watch…..
    you and OA may want get a bazooka to keep his crazy admirers at bay;-)

  22. He is a Big heart with little kiddie legs that take him where he is happy. As Tharini is so overrated. I mean I understand the perils of being alone in school, but any kid who at this age knows how to entertain himself will live an absolutely happy life. He will always have the bean and his cousins around right.. My best friends are my cousins and I am happy..BTW Couldn’t the bean scare a couple of guys to become friends with her bhaiyya 😀

  23. Good God…I shud have been the Brat’s soulmate. Documentaries were my thing too. Lemme tell you something if you havent already guessed it. The boy will confuse sincerity with love at some point. Or at the very least think sincerity and love are the same thing. I hope he wisens up before that I truly do.

  24. The Brat is a different child from most children his age and thru’ this post I can feel the pride and fear you feel as a mother for the Brat. N IF at all this world does pose a challenge for him to be himself..I’m sure you , the OA and the Bean will help him and teach him to face that challenge and hold onto what is only his..his personality. That the people who truly care for him will love him and respect him for who he is and the way he is.

  25. Hey, we used to worry about chubbocks being anti-social when he was younger. He was not into violence, didn’t watch the same cartoons, was into reading, dinosaurs, factoids of weird kinds and was super-sensitive. You know what – today he’s still the same, but he has a large group of friends, and his super-strict teacher( scares me!) said something about his gentle nature earning him respect from teachers and peers!!! Your son and mine – they’ll do just fine!

  26. chillax madi… it is so easy to pass judgement and put people ( read kids ) and situations in to pre-defined stereotypical slots.
    jia was in all of class one or two i think when that %&*&(& of his teacher had the nerve to recommend that he be held back a year.. due to his supposed lack of ” social skills ! ” and this after he has performed well academically ! and in the shri ram school vasant vihar some ten odd years ago when things had not yet become what they have now. where the school took great pride in letting kids be and develop at their own pace.
    jia today is amongst the most popular kids in his class. his buddies ( more of girls than guys ! ) adore him. i don’t recall jia having an interest in anything as specific as the brat does… but the point here is.. don’t worry. let him be. it is all going to be okay. easier said than done. but we need to try and only then will it happen.
    and on the knee.. you need to connect with me for that non-conventional healing i mentioned once. lemee know. huggz and love.

  27. Dude! He is six – let him be! And yes, whilst I agree that kids that are different have it difficult, he is still figuring things out. And that is borne out by the fact that he drops the discussion on mammoths and starts chasing a ball. As long as you both let him be comfortable in his own skin, he will grow up to be so.
    I am a social person but my brother is an introvert. Guess who has more friends today and a roaring social life?
    It will all pan out in the end and for now, here is a super massive hig for Brattie. And tell him that he and P can prattle about dinosaurs and what nots till the cows come home.

  28. (ps- dont publish the earlier comment- the lines got duplicated i think)

    “The way we mould our children is so vastly different even though we live in a complex full of couples with similar socio-economic backgrounds, that last common denominator.”

    The last and the lowest common denominator – thank god you will be the wall he can lean on- on his own terms! He will care a damn for the comments of others!!!
    People with similar socio-economic backgrounds are increasingly narrow, intolerant, and scary in their imagination of the world. We are so indulgent to children throwing tantrums, breaking guns, trucks and demanding bigger cars, it will take some unlearning to appreciate a child who is mindful of a dragonfly lurking in the shadow.

  29. MM, One of my blogger friends had mentioned an old Chinese belief that children look down from heaven and choose the mom they want to be born of. I’m not superstitious and I don’t really believe much in heaven, but those lines there had given me goosebumps (and the thought had scared the beej8ez0$ out of me, because the pressure was now on me(!!). The point here is, he’ll be fine. He has you.

    On the other issue, that of how the rest of the world chooses to raise their kids, I have given up in defeat. If you think it’s hard to find one decent (desi) family to be friends with back in India, let me tell you it’s so much worse out here….the desi’s I’ve met here take the cake. One gentleman does the “nod” when he’s introduced to my husband the first time:

    “love marriage uh?” (apparently that is all his wife chose to tell him about their new neighbors.)

    Another’s kid walks into our home and asks where the Wii is. On being told we don’t have any video games, he proclaims “we have a bigger TV than yours”. Way to go junior—apne parents ka naam khoob roshan karoge beta. Another lady talks incessently about why her kids go to “kumon”, and how well they do in school. Never mind that her kid is a bully, and shows signs of turning into a sociopath down the line…..

    I could go on (sorry, the comment is taking on the form of a post here—yes, I need to get my own “room”) 🙂 )….but there’s no end. I’ve resigned myself to being the “loner” family (we have some “local” friends) but that’s about it. I’d give an arm and a leg for just one decent desi family to hang out with. Is that asking for too much? You listening up there god? bas ek.

    Sorry for the saopbox, MM.

  30. Dear Mad Mamma ,
    This is the first time I come to your blog . And I know I am hooked . I can completely relate to you . My son is the same . He speaks of things which no other boys of his age is interested in .
    He seldom looks up from his books on nature and space . And carries all of them to school like a porter . I seriously doubt how many of his friends would want to go into the details . Yet , I don’t question him . 🙂
    I will catch up soon with OA, bean and brat and you Mad Momma 😀

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