Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Projects We Do For Love

I have been racking my brain for almost a week now. All blog ideas have deserted me and I am completely clueless about what to write.

Not that nothing interesting happened in my life the past week. I connected with my old college friends through Facebook and had some lovely lunch and dinner with them. My  husband survived his third trip to China and came back all safe and sound. ( Though there was a scary moment or two, like when he was served donkey meat for dinner). My parents went back to Kolkata after spending two months with me here. My daughter Ayushi grew up a bit more...despite my best efforts to prolong her childhood.

Not that I want her to be eight forever. I just want her to skip the 10, 12, 14, 16 part and go directly to a responsible 20. I am already dealing with one temperamental teenager and sincerely do not think I can deal with another one.

Another reason why I want to prolong her childhood is because I know what projects will be coming my way as she grows. Digestive system of a frog, a solar cooker, model of a sewage treatment plant and many such  more. The schools these days emphasise a lot on projects. Apparently projects are less traumatic than home work. The child is less stressed. Obviously, as the entire stress is on the parents and they have to think, plan, execute and take the elaborate models to schools on the submission day. The kids meanwhile happily play downstairs with their friends. No stress, no mess.

Last month it was a log cabin. Reams of paper were rolled and stuck. Windows were made of an acetate sheet. A chimney was planned to the minutest detail by the engineer dad ( finally the IIT degree was put to some use) and  the porch and the roof were designed by the architect grandfather. The entire concept and the idea was of course the mother's. The elder sister chipped in with some hard labour and finally, after some 5 hours of gruesome work, the log cabin was ready for submission.

This month, it is Antarctica. So we have been making mountains and oceans, penguins and seals, birds and icebergs. As the model had to be made of eco- friendly material, we had to make sure we did not use thermocol, plastic and toxic paints.( I cheated a bit though and used acrylic paint) I have been given lot of suggestions by well meaning friends, including " Use shaving foam with fevicol to make snow and ice, " to "Bake a huge cake. Cover it with white icing. Bake figures of penguins. Your Antarctica is ready. Whats more, the kidcan have a blast eating it after submission."  Though I do agree the suggestion was fantastic, I did not think the teacher would have appreciated my efforts.

So all of last week, I have been sitting till midnight making penguins and seals with atta( flour) and creating mountains with papier mache. The penguin and seal figures had to be baked in the micro wave individually and let me tell you that there have been some minor disasters in the kitchen. Thank God most Indian flats do not have smoke alarms.

Once, out of sheer frustration, I entertained the thought of just painting the board blue and submitting it. "Ma'am, due to global warming all the ice melted. Just the ocean remains."  But I do not think the teacher would have seen the humour in either global warming or my project. So atta and papier mache it is.

Seriously, what all we do for our children. And all those who think that the child should have done the project herself,  please think again. There would have been mounds of atta and glue on my kitchen counter, there would have been dollops of paints on my floor and that papier mache would have been reduced to some sticky glob of paper, stuck on my sofa. By taking the role of a leader and delegating the little one to be the helper, I made sure this whole process was less painful.

The Antarctica was finally ready 2 nights back. Unfortunately, my sleepy eyes could not focus and hence no final photo was taken. Yesterday, I heard from Ayushi that some boy mutilated the penguins and beheaded them.

 Honestly, I was not bothered. I had done my job. The project was submitted on time. What happened afterwards was not really my concern. I only hope the teacher is considerate enough not to burden the parents with some more projects in February.

Now you know why I did not blog for some time. And why I want the little one to remain little for some more years. I do not think I can handle the  digestive system of a frog.  Or the drainage system of Harappa. Not again, please God.

What has stressed me more  was that I was unable to reply to my comment thread on time for the previous post. When I told Ayushi my concern, she nonchalantly told me " So stop writing interesting blogs. No one will want to read them or want to  post any comments on them and you will not have to reply to them any more." Where did she get her intelligence from? I wonder....


Nupur said...

I have to claim this position ! 1sstt :)

Nupur said...

Made me realize what my parents have gone through for making our projects! You manage to show me the other side :)

Hey but the projects look great A :)

LOL..really where does children these get the intelligence to think so logically !..What Ayushi said is quiet logical,right ? not that I want you to stop writing :)

N said...

Those models are not half bad! Reminds of when my bua used to make them for my cousins. My parents never did it though- they were strictly the you-do-we-help variety and wanted me to learn on my own. So my charts always had just scribbles and squiggles :D

The Panorama said...

Aparna, I so understand you. Sometimes I too run out things to blog about. But this post was really nice. I loved the pictures and you have given me a great idea! My son loves such projects and he is much better than me at it!! Now I know how to drag him away from the computer, play station, TV this post:)

Sakshi said...

You are scaring the hell out of me!! I can't even handle my son's Kindergarten maths problems let alone a whole project like this. I had thought they won't give homework here and was so happy about that...sobs..but good times seems to last only with Kingfisher.

You are an artist too? those projects are lovely..especially the penguins. Btw that cabin looked straight out of the mountains of Vermont here :)

Lolz at Ayushi's logic... I think i will definitely not make dinner for a couple of days if I have to help my son with his future projects coz that will force the husband to roll up his sleeves and take over all the project work till the son goes to college :)

Btw please keep writing and ignore Ayushi's grown up request as we poor bloggers need your regular dose of humour to survive our domestic woes...

SJ said...

OOo I love those penguins! I remember making one with atta and sun-drying it and painting it or something, then my mom threw it out because it had some fungal growth on it :D I prefer doing these projects actually to boring assignments -family time you see :P

Kavita Saharia said...

Wonderful post !!!Loved the brilliant ideas ....the house looks pretty and the penguins too cute.Atta is a great choice ...once i made a monster mask for my project and just the night before the submission of the project one side of the cheek of the model was all eaten up by mouse.Somehow these projects are meant for the mothers...some kind of secret conspiracy against blogger mothers.

Destiny's child... said...

I think you did a great job! Antarctica really looks cool. The post reminded me of the butterflies, clocks, landscapes and houses my parents had made for me when I was a school goer. But after a certain point (may be after I passed class VI-VII) the task was left to me. The teacher had to put up with the digestive system of a frog that looked like a mutilated human brain.....

symphony said...

The first part of your writing made me laugh and the second part to go just wondering how i am goin to handle my future preparations for my daughters works !! sighs..
Was a silent reader till today.Seeing Ayushi's intelligent comment,had a call from within to come,do a shake hand.
Keep is one reader..

anamika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anamika said...

Your project looks gr8 man.I wish my mother could do all these things for me.I had hard time making them on my own.Creative mothers are a blessing:)

Aparna said...

Nu, you do seem to have some magical ability, I see you as the first to post comments on many blogs. What's the secret?
So yes, now you know what the parents went through. Though I admit my parents never helped me to make these things. But I had a wonderful and creative older brother who did every thing for me. And now the poor thing is doing it for his children. Sigh.

Nikita, my parents were the same, though the bro helped a lot!

Panorama, thanks a lot.Actually, the projects can be fun at times as the whole family come together to make something. In my case, it takes me away from mundane work and that makes me happy.

Sakshi, just you wait.You will soon have to scour the internet for project ideas. What will we do without the net?

SJ, the secret lies in baking. If you bake the atta till it hardens and then use acrylic paint, you will not get fungal growth. And even if you do, you can observe the growth under microscope and make it into another science project. Either way you win. You prefer this to home work? I will outsource the next project I think...

Kavita, :D I think I prefer the 'mouse ate my project' to 'the dog ate my home work'!!! You just brace your self. Many projects are coming your way.

Destiny's child, I am waiting for the day both my kids graduate to doing all projects independently. That will happen only when they are in college I think.

Symphony, welcome! I am glad you decided to leave a comment. If you have a school going child, you will no doubt have to prepare yourself for all these interesting things that will come your way. It is only a question of when.

Anamika, I am not really that creative, I just have ample time to do these projects! Thanks :)

BK Chowla, said...

It was such a pleasure. My wife used to make the projects for my daughter and later for the son.
It was a great feeling.

The Holy Lama said...

Please write more about the projects. All of them look quite appealing.Need better ideas to execute projects my kids get assigned to them.

Smita said...

lol!!! I mean am laughing at u wanter her to skip some years of her life so that you can be saved from working on her projects :D though the way you have described the projects I sympathise with you totally!!! :D

I remember my Mom used to say that she never had to worry about my Bro's projects but I always gaver her pain (though I was the creative one in the family ;-))

But seriously schools these days, am sure even they know that kids don't do these projc but I wonder why do they still burdfen them with it!

Anonymous said...

LOL Aparna !!! What all we do for love, including projects !!! :)

But thats lovely - the log cabin and the penguins, the snow mountains - absolutely fantastic !!!

Now, I understand why the school insists that the parents shld be educated !!! An IIT and Architecture certainly helps.

Sandhya said...

I miss doing these things for my children. I enjoyed doing so many school works for them! Yes, they were happily playing with others, when I was shopping and running here and there for the materials. Sometimes I was bribing my friends for giving the ideas!

The story of the 'log cabin' is interesting. Did she get some recognition for that? Did you go to her school during their exhibition? It must have been interesting.

Antartica and the baking stories are funny. Penguins are beautiful, Aparna.

Yes, really, where did she get the idea from?! But what she said is right...we are waiting to read your interesting posts and write post-like long comments!

ZB said...

I am waiting myself for my daughter to growup so that i can be a child again and do her homework. and anything like this is a bonus.

I agree with your daughter about writing a reply to comments. I am sick bored of writing comments in reply of comments, so much that i have cut down on blogging so that i dont have to write them.TC :)

Lazy Pineapple said...

oh wow...all the models look wonderful. I think most of the time the teacher is testing the parent more than the kid.

Wonderful post :) and all the best for future projects. God save your soul.

Tripat "Prerna" said...

wonderful and quite interesting post..lovely effort

Aparna said...

BK Chowla, I am sure I'll miss it too once the kids grow up.

Holy Lama, I suggest you become a net addict. There are some wonderful ideas floating there.

Smita, the schools do realise the parents are doing it. On top of that, these projects carry marks so one can not completely ignore them.

umsreflections,the degrees do help, specially when the children are in school.

Sandhya, the projects will be displayed in February. We have been invited to see our art work being displayed!

ZB, I do not immediately reply to the comments and they pile up. It then starts to overwhelm me. I guess the trick is not to postpone the inevitable.

Lazy Pineapple, thanks. The teachers know who is doing the job. But I guess they do not mind.

Prerna, thank you so much.

Sumandebray said...

Quite amazing...
So the project is for the children or for parents. Reding you post it seems to me that there is somehting seriously wrong with the system!
The project was very well done and you all of you have enjoyed it a lot there is no doubt about that. And probably you did not have to do that when you were at school... either. But something need to change in the system! the education system!

Unknown said...

I think you did a great job Aparnadi! Antartica surely looks good. My mom used to help me with most of my projects in school, but when I came to the VII, I was left alone.

Ayushi's comment is so innocent and I just loved it. A big hug to her :). Btw, please keep writing as we sincerely need your doses of humour in order to survive our domestic woes :).

manju said...

Doesn't seem like you've run out of ideas- this is a very interesting post!

Your penguins are great. So is the log cabin. The school should give grades to parents instead of the children- or at least some prizes to them for best projects!

Razzer said...

Ya, Sometimes one does run out things to blog aka writer's block.

But look around and u will see a 100 topics ready for u to blog about. :-)

Loved ur post. I'll visit again.

sujata sengupta said...

bravo bravo!! I was feeling proud making a hospital model for my boy and here you come up with such stuff and that too in such quick succession! just get the globes and the oscars for both categories..being a super mom and an innovative model maker. Just do one thing save them all and let me take them back with me when I see you next year ok..what are sisters for??

Blunt Edges said...

lol...u actually think kids get responsible at 20? ;)

loved the post n loved ayushi's super-simple comment even more! :D

Samvedna said...

your project seem to be lovely..even i always wondered, why do they give such things to children when even teachers know that all this is done by parents? what purpose they solve?

Aparna said...

Suman, I hope we do not get a project on " Changes required in the Indian education system" :) I will be clueless!

Akshay, thanks, I too intend to help her till she is small. Once she grows up a bit, she can handle things on her own.

Manju, believe me, some projects submitted by the kids are amazing. Mine pale in significance.

Anand, thanks.

Sujata, all projects stored safe and sound in the cupboard for you only. How you take them to Muscat is your problem.

Blunt Edges, 20 is still irresponsible? Damn man, I have to rethink then!

Antarman, True. The teachers know that some are beyond the children and the parents are doing them. But still they give...what's the point.

Gymnast said...

i am 22 and my mom calls me irresponsible every two minutes!!

And wow..nice antartica there, good idea to make them out of dough. You painted them with acrylic paints?

And the log house reminds me of my first year archi days..when every model looked something like that house..

Very cute.

Manish Raj said...

Good one Aparna as always...

You actually don't need any blog can write on anything anytime...

Haddock said...

project work is fun filled with tension.

Aparna said...

All I can say is that your daughters are very lucky!!

And your creativity with your kids' projects are as good as your tell Ayushi, if one has to continue...the other has to!


Ellen said...

Yup, wisdom lols --- " So stop writing interesting blogs. No one will want to read them or want to post any comments on them and you will not have to reply to them any more." :-)

Ramakrishnan said...

This is one of the most wonderful & creative blogs I have read. Congratulations !

Nona said...

Good work, Aparna. The Antarctica is beautiful. :)

Let's hope you get a good break before the next project!

Onkar said...

It is amazing that our teachers expect our little ones to do all this.I wonder, are our children in safe hands?

RGB said...

I dread to think of what's coming my way!

NR said...

Its wonderful ya...amazing!!
Enjoyed coming back to your blog and saw u hav also given it a new look..:))

Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

Most interesting. You can collect such pieces and come out with a book: Travails of a Modern Mom.

We were fortunate; when our children were children, schools were happy with old-fashioned homework.

Aparna said...

Gymnast, I realised poster colours were not suitable for the atta, so used acrylic. Liked the log house? Thanks, a lot of hard labour went into it!

Manish Raj, thanks. Sometimes, writing can be a bit painful, specially when I run out of ideas :)

Haddock, you said it!

APARNA, thank you so much. I love working on my kids' projects, though they can be annoying at times.

Ellen, :D

Ram,thank you.

Nona, I am glad you liked Antarctica, it took me a couple of weeks:)

Onkar, I wonder that too at times.

RGB, all the best :)

Nazish, thank you.

Shantanuda, travails indeed. You were lucky the kids got home work instead of these projects.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm not really an authority on what I'm going to talk about, but it's something I strongly believe...

There could be 2 reasons why the school is handing out such projects :-
1. They want to encourage parents to spend more time with their kids over project work
2. They're seriously messed up in the head and actually expect an 8 year old to do all of that work handed out to them.

My guess is that the latter is true.
In such circumstances, you have to be assured that ALL parents are tired and frustrated of completing their kids' projects. However, ALL parents are paranoid that their child may feel discouraged if his/her submission doesn't stand out among the rest (and thus they lend a helping hand). ALL parents are afraid of going to the faculty and demanding that they stop handing out such projects (and thereby admit that they help).

But frankly, SOMEONE has to take the first step, right?
We're losing track of the fact that the reason there has been a shift from home work to project work is, as you say, to make it less traumatic. However, it's an experiment and clearly, it's failing. SOMEONE has to tell the teachers, right? The model is, as always, being aped from the west. The difference is that in the west, the project work is done in the classroom and the results are brought home. Here, the contrary is happening due to (comparatively) gigantic class-strengths, and because they'd rather do traditional black-board teaching in class.

Doing one's kid's schoolwork can have horrible repercussions in the long run. As they grow older, they'll become more and more reliant on the parent, and subsequently the tutor. As time passes, her schooling will become more of a headache for you.

I've told my own aunt to take up this matter in the PTA (her daughter is going through the same kind of curriculum of never-ending projects) but she's so paranoid about her kid doing well in school that she'd rather put in hours of effort into her silly projects than just take up the matter in school. And in spite of her daughter being a 95%+ scorer, I can very well estimate that her (daughter's) mind is significantly less developed as compared to her peers. Ironic, isn't it? One wonders how much of the effort to score that 95% has come from the child and how much from the mother. And though I shouldn't generalize, going my most trends that I witnessed while growing up, during the academic period that really matters, children who are so reliant on parents and tuition at a young age will simply buckle under pressure in the later years.

At the same time, cousins of mine, who I perceive to be more sensible parents, don't assist their kids in their homework, projects etc. but simply keep themselves aware of their pending schoolwork, draw up a schedule and enforce it. Thereby, the work would get done in time, and there wouldn't be any late nights over schoolwork for the kids or for them.

Anyhow, each school desires greater interaction with the parents, and constant discussion and feedback. But this is only on paper. If the school doesn't enforce it, then you have every right to.

(Sorry for the long comment!)

Rajesh said...

Interesting post. I am not sure why the kids at such early age are given complex work to do. The school very well knows, it is not the kids, but the parents have to do it. I am also going through the same phase.

Swaram said...

Ha ha .. thoroughly enjoyed reading this post ... awesome project, fond memories, ur daughter's smartness, hs all of it :)

Lovely penguins there .. will bookmark for future use ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow! The schools for sure know how to get parents( and grandparents and siblings) to get down to work :)

I think our childhood was much easier on parents - we certainly didnot have projects of this sort - though my mother might beg to differ :)

But I sure like the idea of baking something for my daughter to paint. She loves painting and I am running out of paper to paint :)

Ayushi does seem to have a very logical way of thinking :) btw, I love that name - I wanted to name my daughter that - but too many friends had already taken it :(

DewdropDream said...

Must say, that stuff is beautiful! Love the log cabin :)

And lucky Ayushi for having a creative and dedicated mother.

R. Ramesh said...

aparnaaaa jiiii...nice to c ya though after a long time..hahaha i was laughing after reading kavita's comment: some kind of secret conspiracy against blogger mothers!!!:)

Ranjani said...

wowie my parents never helped me with any of my school projects, sigh I could have been the one with the lovely Antartica model!

Shilpa Garg said...

Wow!! Amazing projects YOU have done!! Really impressive!! Liked the ideas and way you executed them. Cool :)
I dread these projects...coz I am terrible in art and craft business!! :D

Tomz said...

Nice post, but the same issue that you have written on a few posts ago..Even if you have no themes for a new post, I am sure whatever you write will be turned into nice memorable posts.

nsiyer said...

I am many a time faced with such situations of what to write. I think of small daily incidents and just put pen to paper. Nice one.

G S Pillai said...

I think, we were among the last of the generation that just scraped through with writing 'copy' for homework, rather than projects. But I vividly remember how I proudly showed off a still model that I and dad had prepared together (in a 5%- 95% ratio) at the school exhibition. I have always been proud of it, and is definitely one of my best memories of my father.

But of course, no one was breathing down my neck to get it done.

Still, I think your time and effort are properly invested there.

I think its alright if your son plays downstairs, so long as he appreciates and respects your labour.

Unseen India Tours said...

Wow this seems to be a Great Project !! Good Luck !!:)

VJ said...

I really loved the post and the part how we get stressed on theie school projects!

anamika said...

Hi Aparna!!!
I have made a site would like you specially to visit it and give me feedback plzzzz.

Sharmila said...

Gosh! The things mommies have to do! And that's what happenned to those painstakingly made penguins? :-(
I can't resist thinking just how many kids remember Mommy's abilities when they turn out to be an architechture/engineer/ say maybe even a designer one day. :p

Sharmila said...

And oh ... don't listen to Ayushi. What will happen to us humour and wit deprived souls ? :-)

Balvinder Balli said...

That's a nice post (project) :-))Aparna.

Though i have also gone through making all kinds of projects for my kids during their school days, trying to make the models as high tech and realistic by putting lights and sounds attached with invisible battery cells etc., but i sincerely feel that this work should be left to the kids themselves to make them more creative.

As i remember my own school days, my parents never helped me with my project works and once the models of clay, plaster of paris or peppier mashie were ready, they would shower praises and display the models in the house if these were brought back in one piece from the school.

Anonymous said...

The maximum time I have spent on a project is 4 hours.And I was thinking that was too much work for a 5 mark project!!!The ideas and pics are superb.How you coordinated the help and the articles required for them, I am scared to find out. I am bad at this stuff. My creativity flows in only once in a while, and my son complains that I make better projects for my daughter. I have a 10 yr old and a 12 yr old. I seriously would have preferred it if they were twins. At least it would be easier to keep a track of the projects and deadlines. :) :) Loved ur usual brought a smile on my face! Thanks..

Urmi said...

Lovely and interesting post. Your daughter is very lucky that she got such a nice, helpful and sweet mother. I was remembering my school days when my Mom and Grandma used to make all different types of art work.

wanderer said...


Dear I wish I was like you..
spreading my wings as far as possible..


Aparna said...

Unsungpsalm, that was one long but insightful comment. You are right in many ways. We do end up doing the kids' projects for them and it does not help. As these projects carry marks, all of us scared that if the projects are not good enough, our children will not get good marks. However, while doing the projects with my children I've learned many things about my own children. That will perhaps be another blog.
The education system is flawed, we all know that. Things are perhaps getting better than it was when we were children and I am happy for that progress, however small it may be. Thank you for your inputs.

Rajesh, the schools know very well who are doing the hard work. They feel that parents who spend a lot of time with their children, helping them to work on such projects are more likely to produce equally responsible kids. I had a talk with my daughters teacher once on this issue, and that is what I was told.

Swaram, thanks :) There is a lot of stuff you can do with atta, apart from making rotis:D

Wordsanddreams, thank you, I love the name Ayushi too! To be honest, I never did anything like this when I was a child.

Dewdropdream, thank you.

Ramesh, haha, some conspiracy indeed.

Ranjani,trust me, you are doing a more creative job. But may be you could bake that Antarctica cake?

Shilpa Garg, I am not too good, I had to learn on the job:)

Aparna said...

Tomz,thank you for your encouragement.

Nsiyer, yes, incidents from our daily life can be blog worthy. Thank you.

Bluebird, I have spent some amazing moments bonding with my daughters over projects. And yes, these moments will remain in my memory (and hopefully in theirs too)forever.

Unseen Rajasthan,thank you.

Vinoo John,thank you.

Anamika,I will definitely visit.

Sharmila, sad but true, the penguins met with their untimely death. And I am not really listening to Ayushi, but I am pretty low on inspiration these days.

Balvinder Singh, our times were different. These days parents are more into these projects. Children need encouragement and love all the time, thank god our parents realised that.

Jyothi, many times I have wished I had twins as well. I keep calculating, 6 years down the line, I will need to do this again...oh no, such a depressing thought.

Babli,thank you.

Wanderer, thank you.

Nishant said...

wanted me to learn on my own. So my charts always had just scribbles and squiggles :

Work From Home

ani_aset said...

oh god!!! donkey meat :O..terrible..gawd you are doing her projects :((

"Ma'am, due to global warming all the ice melted. Just the ocean remains." LOL awesome this was. ;)..ayushi is damn smart ;)

ani_aset said...

oh helloo that doesn mean you wont write..right?