Thursday, May 30, 2013

What's cricket got to do with maths?!

What's cricket got to do with maths?!
Read on to find out....

After our usual cricket match downstairs this evening, Raghav and his friend continued playing upstairs with Lego, while munching on some snacks. Soon, Raghav wanted to have a bath - his first for today, and so asked his friend to come back tomorrow to play.

While I was busy cooking dinner, Raghav was filling water in the tub for his bath. As soon as it was ready, he called out to me and told me that he had a question for me about cricket. While I was expecting a question on some technicalities of cricket related to batting or bowling, or something to do with a batsman or bowler, he flummoxed me with this:

"Amma, do you know what is the minimum number of balls in which one can hit a half century?"
While I got my thinking cap on to calculate this, he very nonchalantly said - "Amma, it is 9!"
"How did you figure that out?! ", I asked.

"The maximum number of runs you can get in one ball is in 2 balls it is 12, in 3 balls it is 18, in 4 balls it is 24, in 5 balls it is 30, in 6 balls it is 36, in 7 balls it is 42, in 8 balls it is 48, and in 9 balls you can get 2 to make 50!"

"...and do you know what is the minimum number of balls in which one can hit a century?"
"It is 17", he said, not even waiting for me to attempt to calculate.

" you want to know how I found out? 2 balls you can get a maximum of 12 runs (six and another six), in 4 balls it is ....twelve and six and six...24 runs, in 6 balls it is....twenty four and six and six...36 15 balls it is 90 runs, in 16 balls it is 96 runs and in 17 balls if you hit another six, you will get 102 or if you hit a four you will get 100!"

"....and do you know what amma? Chris Gayle got the fastest half century in this IPL in 17 balls.....but the fastest century can be got in 17 balls."

While my head was spinning with 6s and 4s and balls being calculated, my son had so very easily calculated this. So while my mind was trying to box this learning into multiplication, addition and so on, I realised once again how actually limited my ideas on learning were; how my mind had unconsciously perhaps decided that only certain things could be learned through playing cricket; and how actually the possibilities to learning are limitless, immeasurable and intangible to a mind that is not confined in anyway.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Experiment with Lego

Raghav was so excited yesterday to wake up and see a new Lego on the dresser, waiting for him to open it. It was a Lego that he had wanted for his birthday this year, but my husband had decided that he would surprise him by getting it for him earlier, through some of our relatives who were visiting from the U.S. The smile that lit up his face last morning, lit up our day too.....making us wonder why we give gifts to one another only on special occasions, when everyday could be a gift and everyday could bring us gifts!

Anyway, Raghav was so excited that he got down to building with his new Lego set immediately! He was talking about how challenging it was (the label on the box said that it was for ages 14+), how he wanted to take on the challenge, how shiny the new blocks were and how they looked like metal and not plastic. He also shared how he was wondering how his friend would react when he saw the new Lego.

And then all of a sudden, he came up to me and said: "Amma, do you see the two buffers on this train? They are actually very powerful magnets. I want to see if this one can pull the other if it is 3cm away. Will you watch while I do it and tell me if that is correct?"

"I will, but if you want a very accurate measurement, then maybe you should use something else", I replied.

"Oh! then I need a long ruler", he said and went on to look for one in his room. When he came back, he was all ready with his new experiment with this short video to find out what he did and how!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Do you love me when I'm angry?

This post is part of an online exchange that I had with two friends some days ago. The question was about how children deal with their dark emotions like sadness - if they are left on their own (without us trying to fix them).

I grew up as a child with a feeling that all dark, negative emotions had to be pushed aside, got out of quickly and not thought about for long. So I really want to share my response (below and now partly edited) to the above question with others and open out this topic for further thinking and discussion, as I feel it is an important one to think about and understand by looking within.

Anger and sadness have been two emotions that have haunted me very intensely since childhood and something I am still coming to terms with - understanding them and loving them.....I have a long way to go .....but I am more aware of these now...

What I find with my son is most often what I find myself trying to get to terms with...and the closer I get to terms with my dark emotions, the less frequent they are in my world through my son.

Raghav has been showing extreme anger over the last few months, and with my husband, I have been living with it for much much longer. After all these years, it is only now that I realised through my son's words, that I have not been loving this part of son asked me a few weeks ago, after a bout of extreme anger: "Amma, do you love me when I am angry?".....That was what made me look deep within and realise that I was not truly loving that part of him....I was reacting to it with fear and not liking what he was actually feeling. That hit home hard....really hard...and I realised for the first time the root of all was all to do with me!

I grew up with a mother, who I saw as overpowering, mostly irritable or angry and authoritative....I was scared of her as a kid....that is how I remember her first experience of anger was through a little kid, it seemed to me sometimes as if she was killing me with words ....and so came the fear of anger and helplessness of not knowing what to do I think, that plagues me till reflex action to anger is to go away from it all because I don't know how to deal with it or feel scared to face it...but today I am at least aware of it, and I know that these displays of anger are actually perhaps lessons for me to learn from and get over it, and start loving it.

So now, thanks to my son, I know what I have to do...I have to start loving is very very hard for me, but I am trying with all my heart each I am at a stage when I am able to deal with it better when it is just the three of us. But when either of them show anger with people outside the house like on the road, or when my son gets very angry after playing with his friend, I am still figuring out what to do....I feel that it is all to do with our own selves actually....not so much with anyone else. Meditation has miraculously helped me change my responses to these situations.

With anger, I feel that when I am at peace with it, it subsides quite magically on its own! I do also feel that we as homeschoolers, have time to sort out every little thing and emotion.....the precious gift of time in this journey that gives us the space to dwell in an emotion for as long as we want to....

My son often wants to be left alone after an explosive situation...and when he is ready, opens the door for us to go and be with him....for some reason, he perhaps likes to discover his own ways of dealing with things, with us around just accepting his darkest I don't do much, and very often do not even know what to do....sometimes, when he is ok, I hug him and kiss him.....other times, just hold the space from afar.....and many times, I just look into myself to understand myself a little more...many a time, a non-verbal form of communication helps most with him.

It is strange, but just a few days ago, while browsing for something online, I found this lovely way of identifying and dealing with anger in kids (especially those who love Angry Birds), and have adapted it to suit our needs.....the two posters on this link brought a smile to my son's words were exchanged at all between us, just these posters.....and he went on his own and stuck them up on his cupboard! So I think he likes it as it is to do with Angry Birds - his favourite game now.

This is the link I found:

Ever since, he has started clarifying for me, which of the Birds he is, when he is angry - the Red Bird, Chuck, Merdita or the Bomb Bird....goes to his Nest (our bedroom) and soon starts smiling after a mini explosion on the bed that destroys pillows! And I have started loving this little Bird and his anger a little more!

The Exploring-friends-o-meter!

Over the past week or so, Raghav has been playing all day almost with his friend from next door, as that little boy has vacations now.

Most of the day is spent with some quiet and some not-so-quiet time playing indoors with his Thomas engines, where each one lines up trains and drives them all over the house, making up stories, creating problems that need to be solved, jobs to be done, disasters (like volcanoes erupting, or tsunamis striking) that happen, rescue missions and so on. It is quite funny that the engines that have been lying idle for so long, ever since Raghav's little cousin brother left in December, are now all over the place, with Raghav playing happily with them, just because his friend likes to play with them. Similarly, his friend who was an avid fan of football, now shows a keen interest in cricket, thanks to Raghav!

The rest of the time is spent playing Angry Birds or the IPL game on the iPad, sharing a snack, or  practising cricketing shots, run-outs, stumping and bowling in "the nets" that is home! (thankfully with a very soft ball and a plastic bat!).....before they go down in the evening to play their "real"cricket match! Amidst all this, I can hear long conversations about the engines, a variety of topics ranging from the engines themselves to Space to cricket matches they watched to favourite things and food. Suddenly, I will also be summoned to sort out misunderstandings or arguments, or to listen to a special part of their story being acted out. It is lovely to be in a space that is bursting with so much enthusiasm and energy!

However, almost every day would end with a fight or an explosive reaction from Raghav, with one of them saying: "I am not going to be your friend anymore!" But the next day, they will begin playing all over again as if nothing like that had ever happened! Yesterday was Raghav's turn to say that as he felt that his friend was not listening to him. "I need a friend who will LISTEN to me!", he said, exploding with anger. While I held the space from afar, acknowledging how he felt and that he wanted someone who would agree with everything he said, and not just listen, Raghav rolled on the bed, kicking and screaming in frustration and then banged the door shut. That means "leave me alone to myself" for a few minutes. A few minutes later, I went in and we sat together talking about what had happened and how he felt.

This has been a great learning experience for him about himself and his friend - a huge challenge for him, as he struggles to understand another point of view and move out of his egocentric space.

Last night, just before going to bed, Raghav was telling me how he liked playing with his friend, and how he did not like some of the things he did. I asked him if he was exploring friends now (like he explored Lego earlier), as he was spending all day with his friend, and this is what he had to say:

"Yes, amma.....I am into exploring friends now...when J is here and we are playing, my Exploring-friends -o-meter goes up like this (making an imaginary needle go up with his hands).....but when J goes home, then my meter goes down like this to zero, because I cannot explore him anymore as he is not there with me!"

This morning, Raghav came up to me and shared this observation: "Amma, you know something? J now loves to play cricket and not football like soon as I call him to play cricket, he jumps up and says ok!" He also came up with his own solution to his problem with his friend - he said that he was going to ask his friend if they could take turns to listen to each other - so one day, his friend should listen to everything that he says, and the next day he would listen to whatever his friend says!

So yes, much like the speedometer in a car, the needle keeps moving up or down, fluctuating all the while......but I guess what's important is that the meter is constantly working, as he explores his friend.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How our day flows.....Meditation, Meteors, Mars, Macaws and more

I love the way most days start....I usually wake up, put away the washed dishes, make myself some black tea, and part of my breakfast - my kanji / porridge, sit down to browse the newspaper and then go into the stillness of meditation listening to Deepak Chopra....yes, I am making this a routine for myself as I can see now what a difference it is making to me and my life....and my son sees it too now - so if he wakes up earlier than usual and sees me with headphones and closed eyes in front of my laptop, then he just goes back quietly into the room and sits with a book or iPad until I finish, and that is something I am truly grateful for - that he understands how much it means to me and how much it has helped me in my responses to him and other things that happen everyday.

After that silence and stillness, sometimes when I am inspired to write something, I start it off, or else just wait for it to trickle slowly inside me through the day, until my cup is full and I share it with others through my writing. I so love the way my day starts these days.....there is so much more peace and balance and energy to it than there was is quite magical when one goes with the flow.

However, most times I feel my day starts truly only when Raghav is that is when I feel that our house comes to life!

Today was another usual day until he woke up, and then for the next half hour or so, there was a non-stop conversation about a host of thing leading to another and another....and learning flowing along that path and in the many spaces in between....All that I can do as a participant in this flow is to be with it and watch it with awareness and wonder.....and enjoy the unfolding as it happens.

I wish to share here the flow that happened this morning.....just another random day in our lives.

Raghav usually likes to just cuddle up with one of us in bed for quite a while until he is ready to get up - sometimes just lying in silence, but most times talking about something. Today, as we were lying down, I reminded him about the video that he said he would watch and hadn't - it was a video sent to him by my cousin, about a wet towel in space. He took out his iPad and made me find the link again and sat down to watch it with me. We laughed together at how the mike was dancing and floating around in space and watched the rest of it keenly. That triggered off a question about what would happen if we sneeze in space :), what a space suit was and why astronauts need to wear them, why we need oxygen in space, spacewalks etc.

While we Googled for some of these things we found a website that had some questions and answers on different things about space. Raghav likes websites with loads of pictures or videos and little text to read at a time, and so this website was something that he loved! Here is the link:

Raghav then explored all the questions there that he liked. These are some of the areas he explored...

He read about meteors and meteor showers.

He described to me how in 1994 a meteorite landed in Antarctica from Mars.

And then a question to me - "How old were you then?". When I told him that I was 24, he said: "So you were born in 1970?"

He told me a story about that meteor - how it must have left the atmosphere of Mars, how it was born in a dust storm on Mars, over a volcano on Mars, how it escaped the atmosphere, came flying fast at 1500km per hour, faster than the Spice Jet plane we went on, and landed on earth; how people must have been there in Antarctica in an igloo, that it must have been dark / night time, and they woke up in the morning to find the meteor at their door, when they went to hunt for food, how they must have had machines to find out things about it....

Then he asked me how I would like to be a meteor? I said yes to which he said: ".. but then would you like to go so fast and then land and get hurt? You must have brakes or landing gear like an aircraft!"

"How would you feel if you were a meteor or an asteroid? Would you like to be flying around?...I would rather be a bird!", he said.

"Can we make a macaw costume? Anyway, I like being a parrot/macaw as I like to flap my hands like wings sometimes when I run".

 "How do we make a macaw costume? What about the tail?....if we make it out of newspaper, then we have to find a way to make it stand out".

"I would love to be a macaw - it is so colourful!"

"I would like to be its perch - I have one - a fold-able one - my hand! Also, I am like a moving chair for I will keep moving around the house while it sits on my whole body would be like its perch!"

He then wanted to know if I would like to have a macaw as a pet. And we moved on to discuss birds, what they eat, what is freedom and bird families.....he thought about how we could have a macaw as a pet and yet allow it to be free, by building a bird house for it where it could come and go as it pleases.

The conversation then flowed on to friendship and how it would be his friend, and then about other pets - what kind of dog he would like as a pet and why, why we cannot have pets in this apartment, his feeling lonely and wanting to have more friends....and the conversation and learning flowed on through the day beyond this half hour or so.....just like any other random day.

I so love the way  the flow is so different each day - the different worlds we explore with our thoughts and imagination... always flowing, always shining....where we happily go with the flow of the moment, not thinking about where we are heading or why we are flowing......but just flowing....because it is so beautiful to just be, the way it is right NOW!