first words

The AL-PHA-BE-T

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It is often said that teaching is an art. My mother is a teacher, and if her students are to be believed, she's excellent at what she does. And I tend to agree. Why, she even teaches English to  one of the local Sheikh's kids. And we all know how Arab Sheikhs always HAVE to get the best of everything. So going by that "belief", I might even go on to say that she's the best English teacher there is, in her city.

But here's the problem. She's never ever taught me or the class that I've been in. Yes, she did teach in the same school for years. But for some strange reason, she went out of her way to request that she never be given my class to teach. Now I know we were an unruly bunch, but deep down I think it’s just because she didn’t want to get into the “politics” of teaching. Even though it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn (which by the way, I totally am), English has always been one of my stronger subjects. I mean, it’s probably the one class that I’ve always looked forward to, right from Pre-KG to the first year of engineering. (No, I have no clue why we were taught English as one of the modules during our first year in engineering). So I suppose, had she taught my class and I ended up getting top marks in English, people would talk. We are a bunch of gossip-mongers after all.

Anyway, long story short - Teaching is really tough business. It is an art form that requires  immense levels of patience. So it should come as no surprise to hear that, we (as in my wife Janaki & I) had decided that teaching our son Rishi would primarily be her responsibility. Though this had more to do with the fact that she is much more patient that I am, her being a University rank holder during Engineering did tip the scales in her favour. Also I suck at teaching (Yes, I used the S word!)  Don’t trust me? Ask any of my classmates or even my fellow core teammates from Project 365. I am impatient, child-like and incredibly short-tempered. And trust me when I say - None of these are qualities you want when you are trying to teach your child something new, especially when you are trying to make him understand phonetics and words.

Of course, there's another reason why I knew it would always be my wife, who would be responsible for my son's education. I've been told that as a child, I'd often had trouble strumming letters together to make meaningful words. So for "Cat", I would often say "shat" (which by the way is completely different to cat, though it rhymes pretty well). And for 'car', I would often say "bar" (which come to think of it,  might explain my fondness for alcohol). But here’s the thing. I wasn’t the only one. My cousin sister (who for the record is technically the same blood as me, since her father is my dad’s elder brother and her mother, is my mom’s elder sister - yes, confused the hell out of me too! Kind of reminded me like one of  those family-drama-sitcom kind of situation there for a moment!) also had trouble with certain words. Like no matter how much her mom tried teaching her the world “SWING”, she would say “Ting”. I even have an audio cassette which plays this fun moment over and over again. Ah, nice memories.

Ever since Rishi started talking, we’ve been trying to get him to say words like Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, GOOGLE (come on, he needs to know that word!) and the likes. Needless to say, he says “Mumma” exceptionally well, and “Papa” when he wants something from me. All other times, he refers to everyone else as “Hey!” (The kid’s got quite an attitude, I tell you!). But now that he’s turned two, he has started to say some words a bit more clearly. So Janaki’s teaching skills are finally being put to good use. Or that’s what we liked to believe, until the following happened.

Yesterday’s word of the day was “Banana” - Because B for Ball is so old-fashioned, and we’re proud to give Rishi his literary five-a-day. After all he was born in England, the land of enunciation.

Here's a sneak peek in to how the "Banana" episode unfolded.

Janaki : Rishi, today’s word is B for ….. Banana Rishi : (excited) B…B…B…B…… Janaki: Yes Rishi. B for Banana Rishi: (Continues to say) B…b..b…b…b..

This continues for a few minutes, after which Janaki tries a different approach.

Janaki: Rishi, BA - NA - NA Rishi :(smiles cutely) “Ishi….Baby!” Janaki : Yes, Rishi. B is also for Baby, but today we are learning ba-na-na Rishi: (Turns his head a little bit and babbles something) Janaki: Rishi, say BA Rishi : “Ba” Janaki: Good boy Rishi. Say NA Rishi:(Thinks for a little while and says) “NA” Janaki: Excellent. Now say NA …again…NA Rishi:(visibly excited since he thinks this is a game, says) NA Janaki :Brilliant job, Rishi. Now let’s try saying it all together. BANANA Rishi:(Looks at her confused and pouts his lips downwards.Doesn't utter a word) Janaki : Look, it’s easy. Let’s try saying it separately once again.

And then she starts from the beginning again. Amused, I sit there thinking that it's kind of like the “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” process that you see advertised on shampoo bottles.

Janaki: Let’s say it together BA-NA-NA Rishi: Pa-pa-pa (to the tune of Janaki’s Ba-na-na, sticks out his tongue and blows a raspberry, complete with surround sound and salival rain)

Janaki sighs loudly and says, "It's like Phoebe trying to teach Joey french!", as she walks away.

Well so much for patience. Mom, if you are reading this, it's time to come home. Your grandson needs a teacher :)

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I reckon he's just pretending to read. Thank you Sakshi Nanda for the amazing books.
And for those of you who aren't familiar with the "Phoebe and Joey incident", here it is: Phoebe teaches Joey French

(Warning: IF you haven't seen this clip before, or even if you have, it's hilarious. May cause bellyache from all the laughing)