Jean Karma

My grandfather seems to have understood early on in the journey to parenthood that naming a child was a huge responsibility. He understood clearly that while naming a child, one must choose a name one likes, for one cannot get around the fact that the name shall be bellowed out by the parent in desperation, exasperation, and god-knows-what-a-ration. He was also a pious man. Consequently, his children were named after various gods and goddesses of his fancy. Every time, my grandmother blew a fuse or bust her gasket with tension at her progeny, he would calmly tell her that she was accumulating good karma points by invoking the names of the Gods. I am not sure what my grandmother invoked against her husband in retort to this (some things were hushed up during story telling). Anyway, here is a post on some naming strategies the older generation seems to have used.

A few days ago, I volunteered at the daughter’s school to be a parent chaperone on a field trip to a Science Exploratorium. I strapped myself up with a large bag of goodies, knick knacks and water bottles and hurtled off to take charge of my wards for the trip. I was in-charge of the daughter plus four others. We chatted easily and I did my best to memorize their facial features (it was not helped by the fact that one of them kept tying and untying her hair, one put on her glasses on or not at will. One child I thought I had nailed in the identification department with a mole on her cheek, only to find halfway through the trip that it was a chocolate smudge that was promptly wiped on a white t-shirt). Anyway, the journey to the exploratorium was unremarkable enough.  Things only heated up nicely once inside.

You see, we walked in and saw that it being an Exploratorium, the children were meant to be let loose to explore. There was no point in saying, “Stand behind me in line and every child gets 2 seconds to explore the sound gong wave magnetometer.” That simply would not do, but the problem was not an easy one to solve. It was like taking a couple of butterflies to a meadow swarming with butterflies and saying, “Remember, you are in charge of the yellow butterfly, the blue one and the orange one with red stripes, and of course the rainbow-colored one.” My knees were knobbly. Within minutes, our butterflies had flown to different flower patches and I had no idea how to keep them together.


I turned around in desperation only to find that my fellow chaperones were in a similar state. It was then that one of them had an idea, she plopped herself on a chair in the middle of Area A and took her wards’ snack packs. She proclaimed that was going to be home base and the children would just gather around her every few minutes so she can keep an eye on them. That seemed like a brilliant idea and before you knew it, I had asked everyone to deposit their snack boxes at our feet and let them loose. I was still meandering around them, keeping an eye on them for I am paranoid that way.

It was easy enough to scoop them back and head to the next area. I had asked them all to come to our home base around lunchtime and was waiting patiently for them to come, when I realized one of my butterflies named Jean was not coming. She was mesmerized by some exhibit no doubt and her friends and I went looking for her : JEAN! JEAN! Jean …

We had used the Jean-you-come-here-right-now-young-lady tone

We had used the Jean-honey-please-come-now tone

WE had used the Jean-we-are-really-hungry tone

Jean-where-are-you? Jean-do-you-hear-me? JEAN! JEAN!

Any inflection of Jean you can imagine, we had used. Finally I saw Jean sticking her head into a gong-like thing and hitting the outside to listen to reverberating sounds that echoed through her head. She looked like she had a bubble around her head and was enjoying the experience too. She had spent the past half an hour inside that infernal gong and did not hear 50000 decibel worth of her name being shouted out. Oh well!

I rounded up my remaining butterflies and headed out to lunch, only to find Jean had frittered off to a play structure by herself. When I started calling for Jean again, one lady came up to me and clutched my arm. She was a kindly old thing with a warm, round face and greying curls. “Dear, how many times you have called me today! Every time, I turned to answer you, you were gone. I am Jean. Nice to meet you.”

My grandfather would agree that I attained positive Jean-Karma.

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