ME (mentally drawing up a list of things I would have to borrow and buy to get the poppet in costume): Why?
BRAT: He was the leader of ALL the freedom fighters. Hmmm....well, not ALL, but common sense rules that you don't start explaining politics and history to a 5-year-old.
BRAT (continuing with smug, so-there look): And he's on ALL our money. He's the most famous. That's why!" Gen Z knows an opportunity when they see one.
ME: I'll put a stocking on your head...you don't have to shave it off.
BRAT: Gandhi didn't wear a stocking on his head. He didn't have hair. So I can't have hair. Can we go to the barber now?
ME: You'll regret this later, your hair won't grow back for 3 months.
BRAT (arms folded in defiance): What's regret?
List of things to get/do in the next 4 days: dig out 3 clean, white dupattas, buy one pair of seriously old-fashioned Bata slippers, bargain for round glasses from the optician down the road (Rs 275, after M-I-L style haggling), borrow stick handle of old mop from Mum, search for brown sticky tape to make it look like a walking stick, delve through piles of make-up to extract kajal to make a moustache, talcum powder to make the moustache look grey, paper and tape to make a watch, return early from office to make trip to the barber the evening before the event...phew!
1. One hour of listening to introductions, slogans and what-am-I-doing-here looks from 7 Gandhis, 11 Nehrus (the costume is easier), 13 Rani(s) Laxmibai-with-doll-tied-at-the-back, 6 Kittur Rani(s) Chenamma, 4 assorted freedom fighters, and 17 Subhash Chandra Boses (the costume can be hired from just about everywhere.)
2. Consolation prize for the poppet. ("He forgot to say his name during the introduction," informed the teacher. "But you already told everybody who I was!" replied the brat. He had a point, but lost a few anyway and slid down the list.
3. Consolation prize for me too: Freedom from fighting with him to comb his hair early in the morning.
Moral of the Experience: One less squabble a day for the next three months is worth the effort.
(This was originally posted on September 26, 2007 on an earlier blog which has now been deleted.)