INDIA: Of Toy Cars and Jeeps

INDIA: Of Toy Cars and Jeeps

Toy cars and little boys = a magic combination!

piya

Toy cars were no doubt invented as a sanity-restorative for frazzled mothers of demanding toddlers. No, I am not for the world suggesting that we turn material in our pursuits of family fun. But when the cabbage is being coaxed into softness and the aubergine threatens to burn, a 4.5 cm by 2 cm., inexpensive but dinky car can magically transform a wailing child into a cherub.

The droplets of tears begin to dry on the cheeks. The eyes are wide and unblinking while the tiny fingers explore each molded plastic bit of this new entity. Exploratory pushes are hugely successful and now, Abhi, my toddler-of-rainbow-moods, looks up at me with a huge grin, as if to say “thanks, Ma!” Soon, entertainment time gives way to education, as he decides he wants to see how this actually works. Initial tugs at the wheels yield very little. But gradually, the hapless thing succumbs to determined and surprisingly dexterous fingers. “Aha!” thinks Abhi. “Now I will learn more.” But the battered car is a silent sphinx, yielding no more secrets about its magic. With a sigh, Abhi pushes it away. Later, I will try to salvage the once-pristine car and get it in working order. Toddlers have thankfully short memories (or so we like to believe!) and I might put it away for now.

From toy cars onto the real thing. Travelling by car is fun-time for Abhi. He likes all those loud things that move next to his box on wheels, occasionally flashing bright red lights. His immediate response to the brake-lights of the car ahead is a triumphant “aao, aao!” (meaning “aalo”, which in Bengali language means light). He also enjoys fiddling with the louvers of the air-conditioning duct. But the activity that really brings a gleam into his eyes is playing with the gear stick.

Comfortably ensconced in Ma’s lap, he eyes it longingly for a long while, watching it change position under his father’s hands. He decides to try for himself. With a sudden lunge, he grabs the head. Almost. The ever alert Ma pulls him back. She wags an admonishing finger at him. Abhi is ensconced once again in a safe but unexciting lap. How utterly boring! What is life without the gear stick of a moving car? He kicks his legs up and down. Hopefully, these silly, white socks will fall out and off his feet. Why his parents insist on sheathing his feet in goody-goody socks, is yet a mystery to him.

At this point, Ma notices the socks seemingly growing past his toes and, with a chuckle, pulls them back in position. This is too much to take. Abhi’s dignity is definitely hurt. Only the gear stick can change that. He makes a brave attempt, bends forward to grab the tantalizing, black thing and almost succeeds, when…Ma promptly pulls him back. She makes it known in no uncertain terms that the object of desire will have to wait. For several years in fact.

He is indignant. They are doing this to him, their own little precious son?! The corners of his lips droop down and tremble. Ma refuses to be browbeaten and coolly gazes out of the window. He decides to withdraw into a hurt calmness. Gradually, his eyes down their shutters, halfway. What is life? Abhi ponders over this, cars, gear sticks and stubborn parents…

Another day, another time. Abhi is sure that the difference between “p” and “bh” is irrelevant. While gazing out of our tall windows, we spot a passing jeep. I point it out to him and in my best, “child-instruction voice” say “jeep”. Abhi grins at me with a “why are you trying to fool me?” look. He promptly sticks out his little, pink tongue and waggles it to show me what a ‘jeep’ is. Just to make sure I have got the point, he starts a “lo-lo-lo-lo…” chant with the said organ. At which point, I interrupt him to clarify, “This is your Jeebh (Hindi and Bengali for tongue) and that is a Jeep”.

By now, the vehicle in question has vanished. Abhi looks at where my finger is pointing. He sees nothing resembling his tongue, or a vehicle for that matter. He turns to look suspiciously at me. I hurry to retrieve his dog-eared book of vehicles and victoriously point to a picture of the object under dispute. Indisputably, a jeep. He looks surprised and exasperated, as if to ask,”How can you possibly give the same name to two things? Grown-ups, bah!” Catching my frustrated look, he switches to a serene “I know it happens to the best of us” smile and walks away saying “lo-lo-lo-lo…”

What has your child been fascinated with in his toddler-hood continuing into childhood?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Mom, Piya Mukherjee of Mumbai, India.

Photo credit to the author.

NEW JERSEY, USA: The scientific side of motherhood

NEW JERSEY, USA: The scientific side of motherhood

Science can explain everything in a mom’s life. All that nerdy mumbo jumbo is not just about the universe, or the evolution of mankind. Sure, it’s somewhat nice that we are able to send shuttles in space, produce electricity and retrace the origins of mankind. But the true use of science is for moms, to make sense of their day. And here are a few examples where you use science without even knowing it. (more…)

Nadege Nicoll

Nadege Nicoll was born in France but now lives permanently in New Jersey with her family. She stopped working in the corporate world to raise her three children and multiple pets, thus secretly gathering material for her books. She writes humorous fictions for kids aged 8 to 12. She published her first chapter book, “Living with Grown-Ups: Raising Parents” in March 2013. Her second volume in the series just came out in October 2013. “Living with Grown-Ups: Duties and Responsibilities” Both books take an amusing look at parents’ inconsistent behaviors, seen from the perspective of kids. Nadege hopes that with her work, children will embrace reading and adults will re-discover the children side of parenthood. Nadege has a few more volumes ready to print, so watch this space…

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GUEST POST: KENYA – Why Is It So Hard to Find a Black Baby Doll?

GUEST POST: KENYA – Why Is It So Hard to Find a Black Baby Doll?

doll

Today we welcome a guest post from Tara, who is writing from Kenya. You can follow her adventures in parenting at mamamgeni.com, where she blogs about raising her family with one foot in the expat world and the other firmly planted in her husband’s homeland.  As she recently discovered, finding a black doll was no easy task–in either place.

“Mommy, there are three black people and one white person in our family.” My eldest daughter enjoys pointing out the obvious. She’s referring to me (white American), my husband (black Kenyan), and her baby sister (mixed-race, just like she is). She fully identifies as black, and has recently been expressing interest in race and skin color. We want our kids to explore their cultural and racial identities, and we try to ensure our toys and books reflect the richness of both of our cultures.

My youngest recently turned one, and we decided to get her a baby doll for her birthday. More specifically, we wanted to get her a black baby doll. Should be easy, right? We live in Kenya. No, not easy. THERE ARE ALMOST NO BLACK DOLLS HERE. Whenever you see Kenyan kids playing with dolls, they are almost always little white dolls with blonde hair. White baby dolls, white Barbies, white, white, white. You can find some nice black dolls handmade out of cloth, but they tend to be mommy dolls with babies on their backs. I was looking for a realistic baby, something she could cuddle and take care of, a baby of her own.

Since I was having no luck finding what I was looking for in Kenya, I decided to look for a black baby doll while I was in the US on a recent visit. My family lives in a greater metro area that is over 50% African American. I went to a local department store, and sought out the doll section. I expected to see a choice of dolls from different ethnicities (at least black and white dolls, given the racial make-up of the city). I was wrong – there was nothing but white dolls. Row upon row of white dolls. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed white dolls. Dozens of pink boxes with white dolls inside. Not the kind of dolls I was looking for.

Why was this so hard?

In the end, I decided to search online for a black baby doll, and found one that I loved. My daughter loves it too… She walks around the house, patting her baby’s back, swaying back and forth with a big grin on her face. I had some Kenyan colleagues at my house recently, and they asked where I had found our black doll. I told them my story, and together we lamented the fact that there were so few black dolls available in a predominantly black country.

There is a market for this kind of toy here, and someone is missing out on a serious business opportunity!

It is really important to me that my children have dolls and books that reflect who they are. My eldest is always looking for people who have skin like hers, or hair like hers.

She yearns to identify with a group of people. Having black baby dolls and books featuring black characters makes a difference. Dolls may be “just toys,” but they can mean so much more to a young girl who longs to connect and identify with others like her. What are dolls like in the country where you live? Do they reflect how the people look, or are they different in any way?

 This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mama Mgeni of Kenya.

Photo credit to Mama Mgeni. 

Tara Wambugu

Tara Wambugu is a wife, a mother of two, and a Kenya-based lifestyle blogger covering parenting, family life, travel, and more. A former aid worker, Tara has worked in various countries in Europe, Central Asia, Africa, and Central America. She is now a stay-at-home mom living in Nairobi with her husband and their two sassy little girls. You can follow Tara and her family’s adventures on her blog, Mama Mgeni.

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Washington, USA: The Magic Room

Washington, USA: The Magic Room

TheMagicRoomRSIn my home, we have a room that my sons, ages 4 and 8 years old, refer to as “The Magic Room.” It’s probably not what you are thinking. It’s our formal dining room. Truth be told, we didn’t use the room all that much for eating, as we have a kitchen table steps away from where I prepare meals. Still, we occasionally used this formal eating space. It was a treat to gather there for holidays and any other time that a special meal seemed in order. This all changed when my husband introduced my older son to the game Magic, The Gathering. (more…)

Tara B. (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Blog!

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TEXAS, USA: The Court Jester

TEXAS, USA: The Court Jester

CourtJester1Summer break is upon us once again.  With summer, comes sleeping in, summer vacations, and eating sweet watermelon every day. However, there is something else that sneaks its evil little way into summer as well…. (more…)

Meredith (USA)

Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.

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TEXAS, USA:  The Lesson

TEXAS, USA: The Lesson

ChildrenInNigeriaWhen we moved to Nigeria, my children were three and 15 months. My eyes were quickly opened to a world I had only read about in books. I grew up in a regular middle class family, and I don’t remember lacking for anything I ever needed.

The utter desperation and poverty I saw every day in Lagos through the windows in my air conditioned car was many times overwhelming. There were several times I had to wipe tears away. I realized how sheltered I had been from a life so many people on this planet face every day.

During those three years we were there, we took many trips to the beach and gave food and toys we didn’t need any more to the children in the village there.  My son decided to donate one of his soccer balls to a group of children who played soccer in the street barefoot near the church we attended each week. (more…)

Meredith (USA)

Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.

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