Friday, August 30, 2013

Give it Back

Here we are again with a story based on a Birbal story when he caught a rich merchant who stole money from a poor oil-seller. 
In today's story, one of the five-year-old, twins finds a suspicious element in the other twin's tall story.
This story is for five and six year old children.

Give it Back

“Su------chi, give it back.” Five-year-old, Soori screamed.
“No way, it’s mine and you took it,” Suchi pointed a pencil at her twin.
“It’s mine.” Soori lunged and grabbed the free end of the pencil.
“Mine.” Suchi said as she held on to the pencil.
The twins continued to hold the peacock blue lead pencil.
The twins’ sister, nine-year-old Sapna entered the room, “If the pencil breaks, you’ll both lose,”
Soori let the pencil go, Suchi stumbled back, pencil held close to her heart.
“Didi, I got that pencil in a goody-bag at my friend’s birthday party,” Suchi whined.
“I was there too, and I am the one who got this color-pencil,” Soori said.
“It’s mine, and it’s peacock blue. You got everything else but this pencil.” Suchi said.
Sapna shifted the pillows, and then took a look under the bed. She said, “Look what I found?” She pulled out a peacock blue pencil from under the bed.
 “My pencil!” Soori said, diving towards Suneeti.
 “Didi, you’re smart like Birbal.” Suchi said.
 “Yep, Birbal solved problems in Emperor Akbar’s kingdom.” Soori said.
“Yeah, Didi, tell us that Akbar-Birbal story about the oil man ’n the rich guy.”
“Okay, only if there’s no screaming and fighting.”
 “We promise.”
Sapna sat cross-legged on the carpet between the two beds.
She got up right away.
“The carpet is sticky. Something spilled on it.” She said.
Suchi shrugged. “Didi, go on with the Birbal story please.”
Soori sprang up from the bed and went to the clothes hamper. She looked into it and fumbled around with some clothes in there. She picked up something and held it at her back. 
Soori came back to the beds, “Suchi, we both wore dresses after shower, why did you change into jeans?”
“I wanted to, that's why.” Suchi frowned.
“Suchi, we were supposed to eat ice cream when Didi and Bhaiya got home. You broke your promise.”
Suchi widened her eyes, “No, I did not.”
“I’ve got the proof; you ate the ice cream all by yourself.” Soori said.
“What proof, Soori?” Sapna asked.
Soori brought out a dress by its collar from her back. It looked just like the one she was wearing.
Suchi got up and said, “So? I like these jeans.”
Soori showed a big sticky stain on the dress, “How did you get this?"
Suchi shrugged, “I was hungry for some ice cream."
“Aha, I knew it.” Soori threw the dress back in the hamper.
“Soori, Birbal used a clue to find the oilman’s culprit, you found a clue on a dress.” Sapna said.
“And Didi, you found the pencil.” Suchi said.
“ Let’s celebrate with some ice cream, while waiting for Bhaiya.” Sapna said.
“Yeah!” The girls screamed as they ran to the kitchen.
“Didi, how did you know that we each had a pencil?” Suchi asked.
Sapna said, “Mom told me that she helped make the goody bags at your friend's house.”

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah 

When I Grow Up


A lifetime ago, I wrote an essay for the finals about women being equal to men for a Public Speaking Class in high school. I recited the essay to the class. Some of the girls patted me on my back; most of my classmates frowned. However, I received an A in the finals.
Today, you do not have to talk about Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem; we see women walking the same paths as men, shoulder to shoulder. Early in life, children need to learn to respect and see women as people---no matter where they work. A woman is the foundation of a family; the more educated and stronger she is, the better will be her children, her family, and the society.

This story has four girls of different races sharing the same love for their dolls and playing together. 

Nine-year-old, Sagar makes five-year-old, Sapna feel better about their stay-at-home mom.  


When I Grow up
bhaiya (Hindi) = brother

One Friday afternoon, six-year-old Mia, Julia, Bonita and five-year-old Sapna were playing at Sapna’s house. After a snack of carrots and peanut butter, they ran to the den and took out their dolls from their school bags.
Sapna’s older brother, nine-year-old Sagar, sat in a corner doing his homework.
Mia said, “This is my favorite doll.”
Julia said, “I like the dress she’s wearing.”
Mia said, “It’s a Japanese Kimono, a special dress from my mom’s home in Japan. Julia, I like your doll’s doctor-dress too.”
Bonita said, “That’s a doctor’s coat. Julia’s Mom is doctor.” Bonita took out the little barrettes from her own hair and put them in her doll’s hair.
Julia said, “Yep, she’s veterinarian.”
Mia said, “Yeah, a veterinarian works with animals and my mom works with kids, she’s a pediatrician.”
Bonita said, “Hey, my mom works with kids too. She is a school principal.”
Sapna brushed her doll’s hair and said, “Well, I’m a vegetarian too. My whole family is vegetarian.”
Julia said, “You may be in the first grade with us, but you don’t know anything. My mom’s a veterinarian, not a vegetarian.”
The three girls burst into laughter. Crestfallen, Sapna looked down and kept quiet.
Mia said, “Sapna, our moms work outside the home just like our dads. Your mom is always at home.”
Bonita said, “Yeah, we always get such tasty treats. I love her cheese dip and chips. Your mom’s a great cook.”
Sapna said, “She works in an office.” She pointed to a room across the den.
Julia said, “Yeah, my mom also checks her emails and talks with my brother on a computer.”
Sapna said, “Uh, but my mom works in her office.”
The girls shrugged.
Mia said, “Hey, let’s teach our dolls the new computer game I got for my birthday.” Mia took out her I-pad from her school bag. Everyone crowded around her.  A doll in their lap, they took turns to play the game.
Soon, it was time to go home. Sapna’s mom came out of her office when the parents came. The girls collected their bags and dolls and left for their homes with their parent. Sapna’s mom went back to her work.
Sapna banged the front door shut, threw her doll on the floor, and ran to her room.
Sapna’s mom looked up from the computer.
Sagar picked up the doll. He came into mom’s office. “Things are under control, mom. May I borrow your scarf?”  Before she could answer, he picked up the scarf from the back of her chair.
On his way to Sapna’s room, Sagar wrapped the scarf like a bandana, around the doll’s head. He knocked on his sister’s door.
“Hey, Sapna, Emperor Akbar and advisor Birbal wish to talk with you.”
Sapna said, “Go away. I don’t want your crazy story of some Emperor from India.”
Sagar said, “At least take a look at your Emperor doll.”
Sapna rushed to the door and threw it open, “Bhaiya, don’t even touch my doll.”
Sagar said, “Kiddo, I found her crying on the den floor.”
 “So? She’s just a doll—she just stays in the house, like mom.”
“Sis, what do you think mom does when she’s in the house?”
“She talks to her friends on the computer, on her cell and cooks.”
“Okay, Sapna, who picks you up from school and who goes with your class on your trips?”
 “Who picked up Bonita from school when she sprained her ankle?”
“Mom. Big deal, so she helps out people. She’s always at home.” Sapna made a face.
“Tell me, why do your friends come to our house after school?”
“I told you Bhaiya, mom is always home, and we have a big house.”
“Yeah, lots of moms stay at home, that's good for their children. Our mom's also always home, and the size of the house does not matter. Your as well as my friends’ parents can count on our mom in an emergency.”
“Count on her?
“Yeah, they know she’ll be there when they need her.”
Sapna kept quiet and fiddled with her hair.
“Have you ever gone in mom’s office?”
“It’s dad’s office.”
“Kiddo, our parents share an office. Our mom went to school just like dad and they run a company that makes computer games for children. Not the scary games, but the fun ones.”
“They do?”
“Yep, our mom and dad come up with ideas for lots of computer games, the educational computer games. They sell these ideas to different companies. These companies make the computer games for children all over the world.”
“Goody, then our mom is not a vegetarian?” Sapna clapped.
“Oh, we are all vegetarian because we don't eat meat of any kind. Even though she was an engineer, just like many moms she stayed home with us for many years and loved it. Then she went back to school and got a degree in education. Now she stays at home to be with her children and does business when we are at school.”
“I want to be an engineer when I grow up. Bhaiya, I want my Emperor doll back.” Sapna smiled and grabbed her doll from Sagar’s hands.

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Prettiest Baby In the World


All children are pretty, cute and lovable. Especially, to their parents. A mother always thinks that her baby's every gesture, every movement is adorable and not seen anywhere in the whole world. 

Today I bring you a story from Hindu mythology by way of the twins, Suchi and Soori. 


                                                    The prettiest Baby In the World

The six-year-old, identical twins, Suchi and Soori, came home from school crying.

“Johnny says his mom loves him the most.” Suchi said as she pushed open the door.

Mom looked up from her book and said, “He’s right, his mom loves him the most.”

“He said that his Mom told him he is the best looking child.” Soori complained.

“Well, sweetheart, she is right. He is the best looking child.”

“But you told us that we are the prettiest kids.”  Suchi whined tearfully.

"You said we are the most loved kids.” Soori said.

“Right again, you are my best loved, prettiest girls.” Mom said.

“But you said Johnny’s mom is right..” Suchi said.

Mom said, “I sure did. Now eat your snack and I’ll tell you a story from ancient India about the 

prettiest child.”

Mom put peanut butter on crackers with slices of oranges on the side. She slid two plates in front of the twins and started the story.

“Once upon a time a king named Indra asked his minister, ‘Narada, who has the prettiest baby?’

Suchi interrupted, “Mom, I know the story. I’ll tell it.”

Mom said, “Okay, we’re listening.”

Suchi said, “Listen up, Soori. There was a king named Indra in India.”

“Why in India and not the United States?” Soori asked.

“’cause, our country has no kings, India had tons of them. Now, please listen. Indra asked Narada to find the prettiest baby in the world."

"Who is Narada?" Soori asked.

"I don't know. He was just there. Narada said, 'That’s hard. I'll give you the answer this evening.'

And he left.

When Narada returned to King Indra, he said, ‘Here’s the mom who knows the answer.' 

Indra glanced at a mama monkey and her baby standing next to Narada,  'Narada, where is the mom and her baby?' 

Narada pointed at the mama monkey and her baby, 'Here they are.'

Indra said, 'Okay, mama monkey, who is the prettiest child in the whole wide world?’

Mama monkey pointed at her own baby and said, ‘Here she is.’

King Indra nodded. ‘Mama monkey, thank you for bringing the prettiest child. I reward you

with ten bananas.’

Mama monkey danced and jumped with her baby. The end.” Suchi said.

“That’s a cool story, Suchi.” Soori said.

Mom said, “All moms have the prettiest and the smartest children.”

Soori said, "How come I didn't know the story?"

Suchi shrugged.

The twins chanted, "We’re the prettiest and the smartest, la---la---la---"

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Winter Walk in Chicago


Montessori method of teaching involves, concrete before abstract. Let a child learn about words by the senses of site, touch, feel and hear and smell. The hands-on experience of learning helps a child retain what he/she has learned. Following that thought, I wrote this story quite a few years ago and used objects to teach counting to my own children. Later, with my  class, I brought "seeing" the objects with my self-illustrations to introduce one to ten, the numerical as well as the ordinal numbers. A little later, the class took its own trip to make their own number book with objects collected. They drew the pictures and I wrote the words. 


A Winter Walk in Chicago

umbroller = a small stroller that folds like an umbrella

Three-year-old, Sagar loved Chicago. He lived on the first floor of a ten story apartment building with his Mom and Dad.
One brrr…winter evening Sagar said, “Mama, let’s go for a walk.”
He put on his flannel shirt, a sweater, a jacket and a long pair of warm pants. He wore a winter hat and gloves. Mama put on her warm clothes, took an umbroller and they stepped out of the apartment.
Sagar counted one snowman in the yard. It was the first snowman he saw that winter.
Sagar walked on with his Mom.
Sagar counted two lost gloves on the sidewalk. One was blue and the second glove was red.
Sagar walked on with his Mom.
Sagar counted three leaves on the sidewalk. Two were brown and the third leaf was green.
Sagar walked on with his Mom.
Sagar counted four houses in a row. Three had smoke coming out of their chimneys, the fourth chimney had no smoke.
Sagar walked on with his Mom.
Sagar counted five trees along the street. Four trees had no leaves and the fifth tree had green pine needles.
Sagar walked on with his Mom.
Sagar counted six children playing in a park. Five were girls and the sixth child was a little boy.
Sagar walked on with his Mom.
Sagar counted seven jackets thrown on the park bench. Six jackets were blue and the seventh jacket was green.
Sagar saw eight black birds sitting on an electric wire high above. Seven sat in a row and the eighth gray bird was sitting at a distance.
When Sagar got tired, his mom put him in his stroller. She walked on.
Sagar counted nine windows in an apartment building. Eight windows had shades and the ninth window had none.
Mom pushed the stroller and she walked on. 
Sagar counted ten street lights on electric poles. Nine shone on beautifully, the tenth street light flickered off and on.
Sagar started to doze off. Mom pushed the stroller home.

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

Friday, August 9, 2013

Finding the Six Nincompoops

This week I am bringing you an Akbar-Birbal story. The parents of siblings, Sagar and Sapna, often used skits to explain a word.
Down the road, in my stories, the older two of the four siblings, make use of little plays and skits to explain a point.
In today's story, Sapna learns the meaning of a word and also shows to her brother, Sagar, that sometimes she can make more sense of his homework than he can. 

Finding the Six Nincompoops
Bhaiya= Brother
 enact = act part
 rummaged = searched, looked

Five-year-old Sapna giggled when she saw her nine-year-old brother, Sagar pull his cheeks and scream in pain.
At the breakfast table, Dad was startled and he looked up from his newspaper.
Sagar mumbled, “What crazy homework. I have to find six parts on the head and face that can touch each other.” Next, he pulled his ears forward.
“Ouch,” he cried.
“You look crazy, like a nincompoop.” Suneeti said.
“Stop it. You don’t even know what a nincompoop is.” Sagar clicked his teeth and made a note.
“I do too, sort of. You and your friends use it all the time.” Sapna shot back.
Sagar said, “Yeah, right.” He turned to his dad and asked, “Dad, do you remember that Akbar-Birbal story about finding six nincompoops?”
Dad folded the newspaper, “Sure, son, I like the Birbal stories.”
Sagar smiled, “How about we enact the story so Sapna will know the meaning of a nincompoop?”
Dad said, “Count me in, anything to keep me from mowing the lawn.”  
Sagar said, “That’s great. Dad, you are Emperor Akbar and I’m his wise and smart adviser, Birbal.”
Sapna clapped, “Yeah, I love Akbar-Birbal stories. You need a crown Dad.”
Sapna rummaged through her school bag and took out a native-American-Indian headband decorated with shiny rocks and feathers.
She put it on Dad’s head.  “There, you are all set, Emperor Akbar.”
Dad-Akbar adjusted the headband, “Thank you, child, for this lovely crown.”
Sagar-Birbal said, “Your Majesty, we need to find six actions that a nincompoop would do.”
Dad, the Emperor, said, “Right you are, Birbal. Will you please tell this little girl to find my bifocals in the den? I remember I took them off in the bedroom.”
Sapna said, “Duh, dear Emperor, if you took them off in the bedroom, how can you find them in the den?”
Dad-Akbar said, “But the bedroom is very dark, and you can see better in the den light.”
Sagar-Birbal said, “Your Majesty, that’s what a nincompoop would do—lose a thing in one place and look for it in a different place.”
Mom spoke loudly form their garage, “Mr. Birbal, I want to find a nincompoop.”  She came into the den. with a stroller full of toys on her arms.
Dad-Akbar said, “Oh, good woman, why don’t you roll the stroller on the floor instead of loading it with toys and then swinging it in your arms?”
Mom, the woman bowed, “Your Majesty, this stroller's has worn out fabric. If I put things in it and roll it on the floor, it will tear even more.”
Sagar-Birbal said, “Lady, the stuffed stroller is already stretching the fabric, and you are making it harder on yourself by carrying it.  It makes no sense.
The Dad-Emperor and Sagar-Birbal smiled at each other and said, “Lady, you are being a nincompoop.”
Mom returned after putting the stroller away in the garage.
Sapna counted on her fingers, “Two nincompoops down and four to go.”
Mom-woman said, “Sapna, I’m sorry our dog chewed up your school bag.”
Sagar-Birbal said, “Lady, I believe it was your cat that tore up the little girl’s school bag.”
Sapna said, “Guys, you both are being silly. We don’t even have a pet and my school bag is right here, with me!”
Sagar-Birbal said, “I see that now little girl. This lady and I make two more nincompoops by talking about the pets that we don’t even have.”
Sapna said, “Got it, two and two make four nincompoops.”
Dad-Akbar said, “Little girl, I’m the fifth nincompoop who’s spent too much time playing this game instead of cutting our overgrown lawn.”
Dad-Birbal said, “And I’m the sixth one who’s left his other homework aside for too long to play this silly game.”
Sapna said, “But Dad, it’s so much fun. And I get it—a nincompoop is a foolish guy. And guess what, Bhaiya, besides the teeth; I know five parts on my face that touch each other.”
Sagar said, “No, you don’t.”
Sapna said, “I do too. Look, I can smack my lips, I can touch my nose with my tongue, my teeth can bite my lips and I can blink my eyes to make my upper-lid lashes touch the lower ones.”
Sagar went around and gave a high five to his sister, “My little sis, you’re alright.” 
Sapna smiled and went back to her breakfast; Sagar made notes in his home work, Mom read the newspaper; and Dad got ready to mow the lawn.

The End   

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I Do Not Like Milk; Do You Have Greek Yogurt?


Education is a must for any child. Whether it is a tiger-mom from China or the mom with a stick from India, we stress education.  

When children are growing up, they need two activities, one to keep your brain calm-something that you enjoy: music, dance, art and another one should be for the body-a physical exercise. 

Find time to do both, a period of twenty minutes if more time is not permitted to do each. The release of endorphin in the brain after a walk, a jog or a game of tennis will keep the brain fresh. A quiet activity will also rest your brain.


I Do Not  Like Milk; Do You Have Greek Yogurt?

A gentle aroma of Jasmine tickled Sagar’s nose and he jumped off his bed, “What? It’s already six ’o clock? I better get moving.”
“Move It” was Sagar’s motto: jumping, walking, jogging, biking were his game.
After a wash, he changed into his school uniform and brushed his black hair. He picked up a six-inch-thick cushion from a chair, Grampa’s car keys from his desk, and a backpack from the floor. He stepped into his shoes and tied the laces.
Tossing the cushion on the driver’s seat, and the backpack on the passenger seat, Sagar jumped into the small two-door car.
Sagar started the car and soon it raced and rattled on the dusty pebbled back roads. Sagar honked; a startled herd of cows scattered along the sides of the narrow road.
In five minutes, he parked the car. He heard the whirring sounds of a helicopter. He jumped over an iron fence and entered an open field.
The helicopter landed on a cement slab, surrounded by long sugarcane stalks.
Unperturbed, a pair of oxen grazed nearby.
The metal door of the helicopter squeaked open. A pilot stepped out, removed her aviator sunglasses and extended a hand, “Hello, young man, I’m Michelle.”
Sameer brought two hands together in an Indian greeting, namaste and offered his hand, “Sameer, Sir, uh, Ma’am.”
She said, “Sameer, I am sorry that your school had so much destruction. I brought something for children in your school.”
“Thank you.” Sameer stretched his neck to see what she had brought.
From the helicopter, she took out two bags packed with books.
Sagar held out his arms to help.
 “Easy, Sagar, the bags are heavy. I have some more bags that we can pick up later.”
even before her words spilled out of her mouth, Sagar dropped to the ground; the bags practically crushed his toes. In one swift move, he got up from the ground.
“Here, Sagar let me carry them.”
Sagar stepped back and murmured, "Okay."
She was strong.
They jumped over the fence and came to the parked car.                                          
“Ma’am, here’s our transport.”
“Wow, what a cute coupe! I’m afraid it may fall apart if I sit in it. And, Sagar, please call me Michelle.”
“Uh, Michelle? Uh, in India, out of respect we add a ‘ji’ at the end of a name. I could call you Michelleji.”
She crinkled her nose, “Michelleji sounds funny.”
“Well, then, Michelle it is.”
“Good. Tell me, Sagar, what does your name mean?”
“Yes, it means an ocean in Sanskrit.”
“Nice. An Ocean, your willingness to help and your friendliness would fill an ocean." 
Sagar smiled. 
She asked, "How far are we going?”
“Oh, 1.1 kilometer.”
“That’s under two miles, I’ll walk.”
“Please give me a minute.” Sagar pulled out a few mangled tubes from his backpack. He twisted and clicked the tubes together, and made it into a bicycle.
He sat on a small seat, one foot on a pedal and the other resting on the ground, he said, “I’m ready to move, let’s go.”
Michelle said, “Cool. My girls would love your blow n’ go backpack bike.”
“I can get you one.”
“Could you really? Thanks, I’d like that.”
Leaving the car at the helipad, they took off for Grammy’s home.
A bag in each hand, Michelle walked while Sagar rode his bike.
“You walk fast, Michelle.”
She laughed, “Only my husband can match my walk. It seems the tornado really created a havoc here, huh?”
“Yes, everywhere here also, like the US, tornado, hurricane, floods.”
“True, all those people who are hurt one way or the other, need help.”
“Oh, How?”
“We can collect things that are needed by the victims.”
“Sure- money, blankets, canned food, toys and such.”
“Hmmm. Here we are at Granny’s.”
Sagar leaned the bicycle against a wooden trellis; they took off their shoes and washed their hands.
Sagar asked, “Are fruits, aloo-parontha and milk okay for breakfast?”
“Uh, I don’t like milk; do you have Greek yogurt, and maybe a slice of ham?”
“Sorry, we are lacto-vegetarian; so paronthas-the whole wheat flat bread stuffed with potatoes, milk or homemade yogurt. Oh, there’s mango pickle and fresh fruits.”
“Blueberries and strawberries?”
Sameer blinked. Michelle was turning into his fussy little sister.
“Well, we have tropical fruits like coconut, papaya, mango, passion fruit, orange, lemon and guava---all from Grammy’s orchard.”
Michelle said, “Ooo, I love mangoes, but no pickles. I guess I should try new foods, yes?”
Sagar nodded.
“Okay, then aloo-parontha, mangoes and yogurt it is.”
They sat cross-legged on floor mats to eat breakfast.
Michelle asked if it was okay to drink water.
“Yep, after the tornado, Grammy boils our drinking water.”
They drank some water, and stepped out the door, put on their shoes. Michelle asked, “Which way?”
Sagar pointed in the direction of his school.
She grabbed the two bags and took off. Sagar sped after her on his bike.
At the school entrance, Michelle put the bags down and shook hands with the principal. A girl welcomed Michelle with a garland of marigolds and a boy gave her a bouquet of roses.
The delighted Principal thanked her for the new books and led her to a library that was in shambles. They talked about the devastation brought on by natural disasters.
A student came in and whispered to Sagar, he turned towards Michelle; but she had walked off to see the rest of the school.
Sagar ran after her, “Michelle, a call from your husband, President Obama! Michelle, Michelle…”
“Sagar, wake up son, Sagar?”
Sagar opened his eyes. “Uh, weird, I mixed up Oklahoma city, India and tornadoes.”
“It was a gigantic tornado, son.”
 “When we return to home, I want to collect canned food and clothes for the tornado victims.”
“I am sure a much needed help of food and clothes will be appreciated; however, today is your special day. Happy 7th Birthday, Sagar!”
Sagar breathed deep, “Thanks. Mmm…yummy blueberry pancakes; my favorite.”
Mom asked, “Who’s Michelle, a friend from school?”
Sagar smiled, “Michelle? Yeah, she’s a friend.”  

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah