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What does a 5 year old boy want?

A 5-year-old wants to be hilarious, he likes to laugh and be laughed at.
A 5-year-old wants to fit in, wants to be cool, be liked by his friends, appreciated by his teachers and loved by his siblings.
A 5-year-old wants dignity, wants to be treated as a person
A 5-year-old wants power, power to be his own person, power to command respect
A 5-year-old wants to cooperate because he sees the benefit of it
A 5-year-old wants to defy and challenge because he sees the limitations of it
A 5-year-old wants to grow up and confront this seemingly complicated world
A 5-year-old wants to slow down and be little once in a while.
A 5-year-old needs control, he needs to know what’s ahead, where is the next stop
A 5-year-old wants to know what it feels like to blatantly lie
A 5-year-old wants to dig his nose without inhibitions
A 5-year-old wants adults to know, that in his world promises (even a ‘maybe’ or a ‘We’ll see’ or a ‘hmmm’ is a promise!) are never forgotten
A 5-year-old wants juice – all times of the day!
A 5-year-old wants to never be asked ‘what did you do in school today?’
A 5-year-old wants to know about his past and thinks about his future
A 5-year-old wants to fix without asking for help

2

What’s in a name?

Source: planetofquotes.com

Source: planetofquotes.com

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” quoted Shakespeare famously in his play about the star-crossed lovers. What was untold to preserve the aesthetics of this dialogue was that this dictum can only be applied to common nouns and to things, as opposed to people. For a person his name becomes him. Sometimes a name carries on a legacy long after a person is dead (think Hitler or Gandhi). A name is like DNA carrying in it information about a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, nationality and sometimes social standing.

A few of my friends are expecting and a common topic of conversation is the name of the baby. The significance of a spending a good deal of time researching the name is diluted by the weariness of the pregnancy itself. Expecting parents are the worst candidates for choosing the best possible names for their kids, but routinely bear the onus to do so. Some of my foresightful friends thought of one even before they get pregnant, only to be subject to familial plagiarism!

I remember being 10 or 11 when I first questioned my parents about my name, and whether they had any others shortlisted. Not usually the one to offer unsolicited advice, I can’t resist this one – please don’t tell your children the name they almost had! Both me and my brother had almost-names, and we often wondered what frame of mind our parents were in to choose our current names over those.

I have never met a namesake. And if the internet population is anything to go by, there is no one who shares my full maiden name. It’s a privilege I wished away. And yes, I have a fake Starbucks name.

I have hauled my name along all my life. Often it’s been unwieldy and ineffectual. It taunted me with disloyalty. I trudged it along, bearing it until the burden eased and I no longer felt its constant presence. Occasionally it prods me, but is mostly happy with my concession.

It’s not just a cosmetic problem. Numerous studies have found name bias in play, where an unusual sounding name can affect your prospects of employment, housing and even education.

When naming our kids we choose simple but unique names. I knew I would be questioned about them, what I didn’t realise is how soon it would happen. My then 4-year old asked me one day how he was named – did he come out of tummy and announce “Hi, I’m Ayaan!”, or came with a label? If only it was that easy! It troubled him greatly that choosing his name was a pretty random affair, but being 4 he couldn’t articulate it. Clearly, he inherited the ‘I-don’t-like-this-naming-business gene from me. We spoke about it again recently, just after his 5th birthday. This time he asked me if we had considered other names for him, and why did we finally decide on Ayaan – “why not Charlie or Alex?” Sigh!

The next time I may have to be ready with better answers – we put in a lot of names in the fishbowl and drew out this one! Or it was assigned by the government, specifically the Ministry of Names. Or we conducted a poll on Facebook (this is actually true for some people!)

Do you like the name given to you?

Some interesting links

Simon M. Laham, Peter Koval, Adam L. Alter. The name-pronunciation effect: Why people like Mr. Smith more than Mr. Colquhoun. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48 (2012)

Newman EJ, Sanson M, Miller EK, Quigley-McBride A, Foster JL, et al. (2014) People with Easier to Pronounce Names Promote Truthiness of Claims. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88671. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088671

Saku Aura & Gregory D. Hess, 2010. “What’s In A Name?,” Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 214-227, 01.

Swedish study confirms foreign name CV bias

5

The Tanka of Love

I decided to take up the Daily Post’s writing challenge, my first one! Can’t say it was an easy one. I have amateurly attempted Haiku before but never Tanka. Below I write about one of those ordinary days as I head back home from work to reunite with my two boys.

A long day at work

Rain pounding on the windshield

Yet a silent heart

Silver light sieved distances

A double helix of love awaits

Traditional tanka contain five lines instead of haiku’s three, and 31 syllables instead of 17. The structure is that of a haiku followed by two additional lines of seven syllables each: 5-7-5-7-7.

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Happy 3rd Birthday Rehan!

Source: freeallimages.com

Source: freeallimages.com

Rehan, Rehan, Rehan! Happy birthday baby! What a year this has been, full of contradictions! You’ve been carefree yet so attached. Dramatic yet so calm. Loud yet so serene. Energetic yet so blasé. Difficult yet so compliant. Secure yet so vulnerable. Shy yet so cheeky. Relishing life with your contagious exuberance, you are a picture of joie de vivre, taking absolute delight in just being.

Puss in Boots cute expressionThis year you graduated from the College of Utmost Cuteness with Honors! Oh how you can charm the pants of anyone, talking so earnestly in that cute lispy baby way. You can pull of the Puss in Boots look faultlessly to your advantage, leaving us feeling warm and fuzzy but always with a nagging feeling that we are in some way being manipulated by this charm. You negotiate an extra cookie with simple but heart-warming comments like ‘but you’re my favourite girl!’, how can I say no to anything after that!

You’re allergic to taking showers, loud noises and snotty-nosed babies. You are very single-minded and willful about your notions of how things should and shouldn’t be. Pajamas should be worn precisely 5 minutes before bedtime. Toothbrush should be placed in the right holder. Broken crackers shouldn’t be handed to kids. Sometimes I wonder where you get these qualities that make you so stubborn and unyielding. Who am I kidding, of course it’s your dad’s genes! Just to detail how much effort goes into keeping you happy here is a sample of your dislikes – t-shirts with pockets, sand in shoes (interestingly sand in hair, nose and mouth is OK), other people’s towels, yellow cups, a single drop of water on your shorts, warm food, jam sandwich folded up, jam sandwich not folded up, bruised bananas, waiting for food at the restaurant, cold swimming pools, the list goes on and on.

Despite all this need of a sense of order and cleanliness, you are awfully clumsy. This clumsiness however, for reasons unknown, is solely for my benefit and I can’t say I am flattered. Playing with you means having to regularly shield myself from your unintended blows, head-butts, elbow jabs, knee rams and eye pokes. It seems being around me has a magical effect on your spine, it becomes all squidgy with your body just flopping over me. I have suspicion you think of yourself as being lighter than air. Either that or you see me as invincible, someone who has successfully birth two babies can’t possible get hurt right?

You have a favourite everything – number, letter, animal, part of the body, side of the bed, corner for pooping, planet, superhero, song, book. For the better part of the year, your favourite colour was orange. You granted yourself exclusive rights over it. Not only did we have to deal with you only wearing orange t-shirts, eating only orange-looking fruits with orange cutlery but also with random orange objects mysteriously appearing in the house. It took a long time for the understanding that the ‘if it’s my favourite it’s mine’ rule is not a socially acceptable norm, but we’re finally there!

official-age-warning-logoYou have intermittent love affairs with your toys, devoting yourself completely to one for days only to ruthlessly dump it in favour of another. With so many exciting toys, how can you be expected to stay committed to one? Like a true blue playboy (a boy who plays!) you sleep with whatever toy you fancy on any particular day. You’ve also laugh in the face of this sign here, almost exclusively choosing toys with lethal levels of choking hazards. What can I say, you are thrill seeker like that.

Occasionally, you get so involved in play that you go on an acknowledgement strike, combined with selective mutism. I would have mistaken your lack of response to assume you have mastered the Buddhist Zen state of awareness of the present moment, if you hadn’t so miserably failed the keyword test. This ingenious test involves throwing in some keywords while trying to have a conversation with your toddler – nothing fancy, just simple words like ‘ice cream’, ‘lollipop’, ‘candy’, etc. Yeah, that was no Zen state!

Self-preservation is very high on your agenda. You’re not one to get into trouble, test gravity or expend too much energy. The tiniest bruise will be a cause of much distress and also an excuse to not shower for days! If given a choice, you’d rather spend all your time at home just being silly with your brother or playing with your Legos or Octonaut toys, than go out. Is it any surprise then that you belong to the I-don’t-want-to-go-to-school club?

You don’t like the idea of growing up and vehemently deny being a ‘big boy’. I don’t like it either and sometimes find myself wishing I had the power to freeze time just for a bit. For what it’s worth, you will always be the baby of the house.

PS- Sorry about the terrible haircuts I gave you this year! And yes sweetheart, bread and chocolate bread rhymes 🙂