Ummmm….so…like..are reading this blog?

I check Sahana’s email randomly. She knows she shouldn’t have any expectations of privacy in social media till she is 18. Her journal, on the other hand, is her own, private sanctity, safe from her mother’s prying eyes. I respect her privacy in her journal completely. To be truthful, I am afraid to look at it, since she vents her anger in her journal and that anger, frustration is generally directed at me!

Anyway, one of her friends wrote ‘Ummmmm…so…like….why can’t you come on so and so date?’ I had heard Sahana and her peers talk that way, but to be writing like that? Isn’t that more typing? Who likes to type in today’s world of ‘idk’ and ‘ikr’ ‘omg’ and ‘rofl’? While we are talking about typing. I have seen Sahana delete the word “the” to replace it with “da”. Intrigued, I asked her the reason for doing that extra work. Her response was friends would think she had gone all “propah” on them!

I have spoken to other mothers, too many ‘like’s ‘ummmmmm’s, irritate them to no end. Why do they need to say so many ‘like’ s! Strangely enough, I find this kind of talk endearing and very age specific. Yes, I know, I may be the only one! I have seen most of them use such language with each other, but when they talk to grown ups, or give a presentation in class or in debate seminars they talk like we do…I was going to use the word normally, but as Sahana always points out ‘normal is relative’! The point is, this lingo is more of a bond between teenagers. By speaking this way they conform, belong and feel close to peers  ‘I get you, bromie (bro and homie, in case you were wondering) even if the world doesn’t! I talk like you, I think LMFAO, Nicki Minaj and others of the same ilk are totally cool, even if the parents frown upon the lyrics!’ They will probably speak this way at age 12, 13 maybe 14 and then move on to becoming young women and men of grace and poise. Too much?

I am exactly where my mother was about twenty years ago.(I am becoming my mother, help!) She looked on indulgently as I used words which were ‘in’ those days. Through me she stayed connected with the happening lingo, fashion, music, cinema. She, in a way, made fun of certain words I used, my attitude, my long earrings, my elaborate bindis but I could tell she was slightly in awe of the young woman who I had become from the little girl who she held hands with, not too long ago. I was becoming a person in my own rights and while she missed her baby girl, there was the admiration and wonder in her eyes of the metamorphosis. I understand her now.

I joke around with Sahana about how she and her friends talk, the music she listens to, the gossip of celebrity that she brings home, yet in my mind I am in awe of this young woman I see emerging from my curly-haired baby girl. Already she teaches me how to write documents on google doc, she recommends books that I might like, discusses Pride and Prejudice, talks to her friends in a very teen agey way which is a desperate but cute attempt to sound mature and grown up!

Recently, I made a huge faux pas on Oscar night when I called the famous band Coldplay, Cole Slaw. My very hip and happening contemporaries shook their heads in despair and proclaimed that it is because of people like me our generation is getting a bad rep. After being duly chastised by my daughter and my friends I embarked on a journey to hip dom by listening to Sahana’s favorite songs on you tube. But the lyrics! Oh, the lyrics! I didn’t understand half the things I heard, the other half that I did understand made my face go red! The good thing that came out of all this is my reverence for my daughter’s ability to decipher the undecipherable music that blares from the radio – the raps, the computer generated/modified songs. I try to focus on the lyrics but all I hear is a human voice speaking gibberish. ‘What was that? What did he say?’ Sahana starts singing/rapping/howling along, enunciating each word for her mother’s benefit.

I cannot mask my admiration for my darling child, ‘How do you understand what they say?’

She answers back ‘How do you NOT?’


There is police ahead….

I almost get teary eyed any time a car flashes its light at me to warn me of a predator police car lurking ahead to catch the speedsters. First when I see the lights flashing, my fingers automatically go to see if my highbeams are on. Nope! Then I do a mental check on all the things I am doing, am I too close to the lane line, are my headlights not on etc. Finally when I am satisfied that I am doing nothing wrong, I get angry at the car for flashing its light at me for no reason! Man, how rude! And then I spot the snout of the police car. Oh, all mushy gushy and emotional at the good Samaritan! A little guilty too, for my misdirected anger! I am not a speedster, mind you! I am such a rule follower, I do not sleep well at night if I go 45 at a 35 miles per hour zone, so I am generally not worried when I see a police car. But I am overwhelmed with good thoughts like the innate goodness in humans, the kindness people have, the world is still a beautiful place to live, no matter what people say and such like for the warning the fellow driver gave me. Sean tells me ‘My dear, that’s an etiquette, that’s just what people do!’ That doesn’t stop me from feeling all warm and fuzzy about mankind! To pay it forward, I flash my lights at the traffic coming from the other way. Who knows I start the same chain reaction…Checking high beams, doing mental check, then anger and finally gratitude!

I go all warm and fuzzy again when somebody raises a hand in thanks when I signal them to go by. I inevitably say, ‘Awwww, how nice! The lady thanked me!’ If somebody waves me on, I raise my hand way high to show how much that gesture meant to me. I would have raised both hands, if I could, but that would be dangerous and I have precious┬ácargo, so I don’t. My children, specially the older one, has started giving me strange looks but she is a tween, all the looks she gives me are strange, so that doesn’t count!

Oh, one more thing, when I am stopped at a red light, and I see through my rear view mirror that the lady behind me is putting mascara on while rolling to a stop, I have this uncanny feeling that I will be rear ended. If the children are to be believed, I, supposedly, say out loud “What the heck, she is going to hit me! Pay attention, don’t hit me girl, don’t hit me!” “Mom, you are talking to yourself again!” an exasperated voice reminds me. Do any of you ever do that?

Do I get mad sometimes? Of course! And I curse. The other night, Ryan, the tell-tale, was complaining to Sean that ‘Mommy used a bad word while driving!’ Sean gave me a look which meant ‘Do I dare ask what you said?’ Well, it turned out he didn’t need to ask! Ryan was in a mood to tell on mom! ‘Dad, mommy said ‘what an idiot’ to a boy who ran across the road in front of the car!’ Phew! I show my frustration at an erratic driver by saying ‘Come on! Really?’ I do believe I roll my eyes too! But when I get really, truly mad! Watch out! I say a ‘bad word’, I say ‘What an IDIOT!’ For that, I get told on!

Please watch his eye and the curt nod of his head….please?

My mode of transportation in Kolkata, India was an auto rickshaw. It is a motorized, 3 wheeler scooter which was built to accommodate 3 to 4 people but in reality, it carried 6. I hailed one with a flick of my hand, jumped in, glared at my fellow passenger if he was trying to get closer than necessary and promptly immersed in my own thoughts, whatever was important at that time – classes, exams, job interviews, crushes. Never noticed the weaving of the auto, never paid attention to the distance of my auto, or the lack of it, from the vehicle in front.

Last year, I went back and discovered that I have turned into a complete wuss! What happened to that intrepid girl who stopped on coming traffic by boldly stepping off the curb to cross the street, who just looked at the cars, raised her hand and the traffic either stopped or weaved around her to let her cross, the girl who could non chalantly get on and off a running bus! I clutched my children’s hand, stepped off the curb and stepped back up quickly as the cars came without reducing speed with the hope they would run the red light without getting caught. It was a hilarious two-step dance. I finally yelled at the traffic police to stop the traffic so we could cross the street. The traffic police completely ignored me and continued to listen to cricket scores. Within a week, however, the old me came back to do exactly what I did fifteen years ago, stopped the traffic with a look, crossed the street while weaving around moving cars.

I go to India primarily to eat. Oh, and visit family and friends, of course. What? Did I say something different??? Since I eat a substantial amount I feel the need to join a gym, mainly for my peace of mind. Every morning, while going to the gym in auto rickshaws, I made two important observations. One was that the decorum of sitting amongst men and women in those vehicles had changed. In my days, when a woman stopped an auto, the male passengers, if seated at the back of the vehicle, got out and went to the front to let the woman passenger take the safer seat, as a show of courtesy. This time I noticed men didn’t bother to get out, they just opened their newspapers wider and continued reading or glanced at the women passenger and continued talking on their cellphones. The sweet act of chivalry had disappeared. Since I believe in women being treated equally everywhere, this didn’t bother me….too much. I protested against this when I was young, but when I saw the absence of this kind gesture I admit I felt the loss of something good and beautiful!

I also discovered the unspoken code of conduct among the Kolkata drivers. There is that special look, when one comes to an intersection, that slightest nod of the head which determines who has the right of way. Most veteran drivers knew the code and followed it. Some new ones waited too long and was awarded with a yell and a choice expletive, ‘Arreh, jaabi to saala, dariye aache dekho song er moto!’ The literal translation, ‘Yo, will you go, beep, or stand there like a clown.’ Few polite ones said ‘Arreh jaa na!’ (just go) without the expletive, but that was rare! At the beginning, I sat at the edge of the seat holding on to the guard rail white knuckled. Then I noticed this silent communication between my auto drivers and the other drivers on the street. There is a reason to this madness after all. After that, I sat back, relaxed, enjoyed conversation with the drivers. Life was good….till I met one who certainly possessed a death wish and weaved around big buses like someone…..possessed. I did croak once in a while, “Bhai (little brother) drive carefully!” My brother would reassure me with a bright smile, “Didi (big sister), don’t you worry! You are in good hands!”

I always hugged my children a little tighter when I made it home safe on those particular days and thanked the universe immensely for keeping me alive to see another sunrise…er, let’s make that ‘another sunset’ as my supportive spouse just pointed out I am fast asleep when the sun actually rises, so I shouldn’t lie in my blog!!!

The green and yellow - a very familiar sight in Kolkata.

Visiting my university with the children.

On our trips back to India, I believe both my kids rediscover their mother, or at least they look at me with a new eye. They get to hear stories of their mother when she was their age! ‘Mom!!!! Our age???’ Here, at home, mom is an entity, looking after them, scolding them, constantly reminding them to pick up their book bags, behave well in school, clean their rooms, taking them to practices and play dates, kissing their hurts away, holding them close in a sudden bear hug. I don’t think they regard me as a separate individual, I am more of an extension of them. I am taken for granted, except, maybe on Mother’s Day! But when we go back, they actually pause a bit to look at me, as a separate person with a life where they didn’t belong for a while. That thought is a little unreal for them. They see my baby pictures, my school certificates, my college photos, several memories of the girl – me, the young me that my parents have saved like cherished treasures. Just like I save my children’s baby teeth, their little hand prints, their pre school artwork, with the hope that I will hold on to their babyhood, at least in my memories and relive these days when they are grown and gone! My parents even saved my kindergarten artwork, much to my children’s amusement!

It was a very hot summer morning in Kolkata. Sahana couldn’t wait to get going. We were going to visit my university. She wanted to see my university and I needed to get my transcripts so I decided to take her. The trip started inauspiciously, as we witnessed a relatively harmless auto accident. I could tell she was shaken up a bit. It was a short bus ride to the college yet the girl was drenched in sweat and red in the face. We got off and entered the gate! I was immediately transported back twenty years. It was almost surreal that I was there  at my alma mater  not as an eighteen year old but as a mother! I could almost see the twenty year old me with dangling earrings, long hair tied in a plait, maroon t-shirt, blue jeans sitting on the steps with  friends contemplating whether it was alright to cut the next class and go to the canteen instead! The young people going around us in groups talking, laughing, teasing each other was us, about twenty years ago!

To be honest, I was so lost in my memories, didn’t pay attention to the fact that Sahana was very quiet. I started showing her where I hung out with friends, our building, the grounds, the bridges, the canteens, the pond the library, the auditorium. I was oblivious that she didn’t utter a single word still but just walked next to me and kept up. Finally, I asked her what she thought. She stayed silent for a few more seconds and said, ‘It’s…..nice, mom!’ My sweet, polite girl! I then looked around and saw my school through her eyes. She had seen the campuses of Harvard and Tufts University, her father being from Tufts and aunt from Harvard. My campus, I don’t think, quite measured up.

I could tell the heat was getting to her. We sat under a tree in the shade and looked at the huge field, where some stray dogs were gambolling around in the shimmering heat. Men and women walked by us, so young and full of hope and promise. There, I told her stories. Stories of when I first crossed the threshold of the huge campus, my nervous heart beating fast, leaving behind my sheltered life at an all girl’s school, my dreams and aspirations as an eighteen year old, stories of the laughter I shared, my fears that I faced, the mistakes I made, the thoughts that I learnt to think, the books that I read, the friends that I found and kept for life. I showed her the building where her grandfather, my father, came to study Engineering, as a young man. He walked the same paths as I did, frequented the same canteens as I, made friends, laughed a bit, gave his heart, got his heart-broken, just like I did. My ten-year old listened quietly. There was no impatience, no eye rolls, no exasperated sighs. It was a beautiful moment of bonding between us. I think the place became meaningful to her as her  eyes swept through the moldy yet grand buildings, the greenish brown fields with burnt grass, the mangy stray dogs and the trash littered across.

I finished my work at the office and we took an auto home, but not before she took my camera and shot pictures of me in front of places which she heard were meaningful to me in the stories I told her.

Best of all, last year when we went back, she asked her six-year-old brother to come along to see mommy’s school. The brother was excited. He, too, like his sister, was melting in the heat on our way. He walked along with us, playing with the toy soldier he had in his hand. Never paid any attention to anything I said, or any building I pointed out. He only looked up with interest at some boys playing soccer on a field and showed some enthusiasm when I pointed out where his grand father played cricket. I think he was trying to visualize his heavy-set grand father, as an athletic young man, playing a sport. The circle of life.

I didn’t think the experience could be complete without riding a rickety public bus back home. Sahana feared that every time the bus rattled the floor would give away. Ryan noticed, with obvious glee, that he could see the road underneath through the floor of the bus. They were fantastic and uncomplaining about the heat, the dust, the walk, the bus. We treated ourselves to ice cream before going home!

Sculpture in front of the library.
A rickshaw in the campus.
Melting in the heat on a public bus.
The reward.

I was a library grandparent once.

I was at our local library talking to the volunteer coordinator about my volunteer application. She looked at it and turned to me and said, ‘We need a few library grandparents, would you be interested in something like that?’

‘What exactly does a library grandparent do?’ I asked, bewildered.

‘You will read to the children!’

Yes, I would love to read to the children but being a library grandparent didn’t seem that grand to me. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be a grandparent….one day! Maybe, twenty years from now! Sahana, are you reading this? Anyway, to show I wasn’t really that old, I said, ‘I can only volunteer during the morning hours since that is the time my son is in PRESCHOOL!

Lady, my son goes to preschool, I am the mother of a preschooler, don’t make me a library grandparent!!! The sweet woman was very accommodating. She figured out a time that fit my schedule, smiled, thanked me for being a library grandparent and sent me on my way.

That evening at dinner table I proudly told the family that I will be volunteering at the library once a week. They said awesome, what will I be doing. ‘I am a library grandparent!’ ‘You are what??? Hahahahaha! A grandparent?’

The day I went to volunteer, the coordinator took me to the librarian in the children’s section and introduced me as ‘This is Piyali, she is our new library grandparent!’ The children’s librarian looked at me, chuckled and said, ‘She doesn’t look like a grandparent to me, may be we should call her something else?’ Thank you!!! But the coordinator had better things to do than get into the nitty-gritty of names. What’s in a name anyway? So there I was, serving the community as a library grandparent for two years.

I loved being the reader in the library. I took my book and read quietly on a rocking chair till I felt a little presence by my side. It was fun to watch the different personalities of children. There were the outgoing ones who brought the books of their choice to me and wanted me to read them, then there were the shy ones, who wanted to hear a story yet didn’t want to make the first move. At first, I asked them if they wanted to listen to a story, some said yes and came to me, others said no, yet stayed close by. I picked up a book from the table turned the pages and started a soliloquy about the illustrations, characters, words, colors. Slowly, I felt the little body sliding closer to me, I didn’t make eye contact but kept looking at the pictures and talking about them, when the child was next to me looking at the pictures, I went to the first page and started reading the story, he or she stayed. The parents gave me a grateful smile and wandered around looking for books or sat nearby, taking a break.

The biggest perk of being the library grandparent was bumping into my library grandchildren in stores and supermarkets. Familiar faces came up to me to say hello. I, of course, with my swiss cheese brain couldn’t place the faces till they reminded me I read to their children. It definitely made standing at the check out counter in the supermarket a little sweeter when people came up and told me that their child would like to come back for more book reading, which day did I  read at the library.

Now I work (read volunteer) behind the scenes in our new, swanky library. For company, I have a staff member and a scary, loud machine that spits books into different bins to be sorted and interfiled. It often shrieks “System Jammed” in a mechanical voice (oh, yes, it is a machine) till somebody flicks a switch. I am surrounded by books and the smell of books, I get the first pick as well. This job has its own perks. I am learning a new skill and developing a renewed respect for librarians. I had no idea so much work goes in to provide us with shelves full of lovely, wonderful books. Love that. But I do miss my library grandchildren.

Eventually they changed my name or designation from “Library grandparent” to Guest reader. How boring!

Can’t end this post without a bow to my man, Ben Franklin. Ben, you are “The man!” Thank you for creating the first free libraries in the U S of A. I fell in love the day I walked into the Enoch Pratt free library in Charm city and the love saga continues!

No honor to be had around here…

I was browsing through the work of the first graders pinned on the wall, while waiting to meet Ryan’s teacher for a conference. One project caught my attention, the children had written who they ‘honored’ and why. They were all very entertaining reads. I read all the writings and colorful illustrations with a smile while searching for the one written by my son. I was curious to find out who he had honored.

There was only one which had no name on it, and I knew that was Ryan’s by the curl of the tail of lower case ‘g’! That is his idea of writing in cursive, by curling the tail of g artistically. He had honored Zach! I admit, I was slightly crestfallen. There was a secret hope/desire that I would find him honoring his mother for feeding him (that has to come first, he loves his food), taking him to sports and practices( he loves sports next). I would get all misty eyed, go ‘awwww’ and make that my Facebook status update. But there it was, ‘I honor Zach because he is a great basketball player and he tries very hard.’ First I couldn’t even remember who Zach was, after racking my brain for a while and fearing that I was slowly losing my mind, I remembered Zach. He was a fellow teammate at Ryan’s basketball clinic whom Ryan had met only six weeks ago. He, indeed, was a good player, but Ryan and Zach were certainly not tight. They probably high-fived each other after a basket, but the camaraderie ended there.

Well, maybe their bond goes deeper than I thought. Still puzzled, I attended the conference, came home and forgot all about it. Today, at lunch I remembered my slight at not being honored. Who was this Zach who usurped my place in my boy’s heart, and wanted to get at the bottom of it. I laughingly asked Ryan why did he honor Zach, his other friends had written they honored their moms, dads, friends, army, military, firemen, astronauts etc, etc and he honored Zach, who he hardly knew??? He heard my spiel with a slight smile and said ‘Did you see the alphabet at the corner of the paper?’ I did see an alphabet, yes. He said, ‘I got to think of someone who I honored whose name began with the letter Z. At first, all I could think of was zebra, so I wrote I honored zebra because they are fast. But that didn’t sound good to me. So I thought some more and remembered Zach! His name begins with a Z and so I honored him. I wanted to honor you but I didn’t get the letter M!’

Seriously? Honor someone whose name begins with one of the most difficult alphabets in English language? Who would I have thought of? Emile Zola? Zachary Taylor? Of course, Mark Zuckerberg? Oh wait, we are talking of first grade, here!

Get out of my hair!

I grew up with the usual insecurities that girls grow up with, my looks, height, skin tone, body mass etc, but not my hair! Oh no! I was born with a head of luxurious, full-bodied, bluish black, shiny hair. My mother decided to increase the volume and beauty of it by shaving off my head five times in my childhood. I had no say, of course, but had to suffer in silence in school when girls teased me about my shining, bald head! But I did have the utmost satisfaction of informing her, as I got older and wiser that shaving heads did nothing to grow one’s hair any thicker! Don’t fight me on that one, I am not going to hear it!

My mother was very proud of my hair. She would tell anyone who listened how people crowded around me in hair salons complimenting the thickness of it and how they wished they had hair like mine. I said in my mind, ‘You can have it! Take it all!’ I, the black-haired Rapunzel, was not happy with my headful of hair at all. I had to wash it, brush it, detangle it….and I have already mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that I am inherently lazy!

I kept my hair long because even the thought of cutting it short was somewhat sacrilegious in my extended family, ‘What? You want to cut off that beautiful hair! People would die to get hair like you!’ So I kept it long in a careless topknot on my head!

I met my husband and quite predictably, he loved the hair despite my exaggerated eye rolls and long sighs. When my daughter was born, she liked to clamp her little fists around my long earrings and pull with all her might. I got rid of earrings. Then she targeted my long hair! Finally, I found a credible reason to get rid of it. Don’t want the baby to put my hair in her mouth now, do I? On a whim, I went and chopped it all off. I will never forget Sean’s face when he saw me that day! He recovered quickly and said I looked great, whatever I wanted to do with my hair was simply fantastic. I look gorgeous either way! What can I say, I got a good one!

I asked him to back me up when I faced my mother with the new do. As soon as my mother saw me, her face fell. She couldn’t talk for a few seconds. Good thing I was an adult, a married woman and a new mother, or else I would have been grounded till kingdom come. When she got her speech back she turned to her baby granddaughter and said, ‘Now you have two daddies!’ Interestingly enough, my mother sports a very stylish page-boy hairstyle. Sean, my knight in shining armor, came to my rescue as usual. He gave this classic line to my mom, ‘She loves your look so much, she wanted to look just like you!’ I gave him a gratified look which said, ‘I knew there was a reason why I married you!’

I visited Kolkata with my super short haircut, only to be reprimanded severely by my uncles, aunts, grandparents. In india, long hair is a sign of beauty and I did away with that! In fact, a well meaning neighbor while lamenting my decision came right out,’Why did you do this? That was your only sign of beauty!’ Sean and I laughed so hard and appreciated the lady’s forthrightness!

We were living in India then, and I couldn’t withstand the pressure any longer. I let my hair grow back. Life got busy, I didn’t have much time to take care of it, it was either pulled in a ponytail or tied it on top of my head while I raised kids and held the fort. Then I started noticing long strands of gray! And that was the last straw! I was not going to go around with long salt and pepper hair. Some women carry it off well, unfortunately, I am not one of them!

I turned forty and made a momentous decision. I will wear my hair short for the rest of my life! I did just that and this time my husband declared that he loved my short hairstyle. What else could he do, poor guy! That was all I needed. My mother, miraculously, came around and said I looked fine with short hair! Oh, the joy! I feel liberated and free from the long tresses which I had to carry around unwillingly for a major part of my life. Friends from India still try to exert pressure by saying long hair gave me a softer look, short hair makes me look ‘stern’! Or “You looked so much better with long hair, please grow it back!”I always threaten them that if they don’t back off, I will write a blog on my hair and make them read it. I have done good on my threat. So there….

I will give you four pennies if you give me ten dollars.

I often ‘borrow’ money from my children. I am always out of change for lunch money or snack money. So I tell them ‘Just take it out of your money jar, I will pay you back!’ I keep a mental count on how much I owe them and pay them back with a little interest…..most of the times. Sahana has smartened up lately, she puts all her money in a bank account and keeps nothing at home. Young Ryan loves his money jar and he can be seen, often times, sitting in a corner, counting his pennies and nickels. I look at him and think ‘Shylock’ in my head!

Recently, I took three dollars from the above mentioned, precious money jar and asked Sean to pay him back. Since we vowed to take care of each other at our marriage, we fulfil our promise. I take care of his nourishment, his laundry, our children, he takes care of me in tricky situations, like when I have to repay my debt!

The following conversation is a result of my eavesdropping. And I am recording this because I want Ryan to read this write-up when he is doing his Major in Math at Harvard!

Before Ryan’s bedtime, Sean went to return the three dollars and decided to make it a teaching moment as well.

‘Ryan, how much is 10 minus 7?’

‘3! Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, all the way to Japaneze!’

‘Right, big guy! So I am giving you $10 and taking $7!’

A moment of silence, then a cry of desperation,


‘But I am giving you $10 and taking $7! So you get back your $3! Remember you said 10 minus 7 is 3! So 7 plus 3 is 10! You had 7, now I am giving you 10 but taking away your 7! So you see, you have the $3 back that mommy took from you.’

At this point, I believe Sean proceeded to take his $7 back.


‘NO! NO! DON’T TAKE MY $7! I will give you four pennies if you give me that $10!’

More math. More teaching, a few moments of silence and then desperate pleading.

‘Take four pennies dad, for that $10! Not $7…..!’ Sniffles added at this point!

Sean said they will talk about it the next day and left it at that!

The next morning, when Ryan woke up for school, he rubbed his eyes, sat right up on the bed and said in a groggy, morning voice, ‘Can I have my $10 dollars, dad?’

We will talk about it tonight!’ I think Sean was scared to broach the subject…. understandably. He decided to break the ten at a store and give the boy 3 one dollar bills. He also thought of using poker chips or something of lesser value than $10 to teach this complex math fact!

Once, when Ryan was about four, I was trying to teach him subtraction. I made the mistake of saying, ‘Ry, if you have 5 candies and you give 3 candies to Sahana, how many candies will you have left?’ Without missing a beat, he said, ‘I don’t want to give ANY candies to Sahana!’ I debated which lesson to teach him at that moment! The lesson of sharing or subtraction! Decided to go with math, just had Sahana give her candies to Ryan. Things went smoothly from then on!

Tonight, before going to bed, I found Ryan standing quietly in front of Sean’s bedside table.

‘What are you doing here, buddy?’ I asked.

‘Trying to see where daddy put MY $10 dollars!’

Sean and I both looked at each other and then the letter proudly stuck on our refrigerator, saying, ‘Your child, Ryan Callahan has been invited to a first grade Math instructional seminar in school….’ It is an early form of Gifted and Talented program in Math!

Doing math?