Thursday, October 28, 2010
This is one of the most frequent questions parents find asking themselves once their little ones step out of the safe nest and go out into the world. With babies leaving home and entering playgroups as early as one-year, it is a common concern parents share. Some places begin proper schooling at three, some even a little earlier, and in none of these age-groups are the little ones grown up enough to share their fears and thoughts at a level that can be deciphered easily.
As parents, it is always our job to understand those unsaid words of our little ones. This age, when they are just beginning school, and the environment, of a new phase in life, new people and place, can be too confusing and overwhelming for them. Many parents would agree that kids this age are still not able to differentiate between truth and the imagined world, they frequently lose track of what they were doing or saying the moment there is another new distraction. So it is really not their fault when they start saying something and it eventually turns out to be a completely made-up accusation....
Dont scold or tell them to stop talking like this. It will only make them begin to keep things to themselves, things that are best shared with an understanding and caring parent.
My daughter is three and she always comes home with a scratch or a small wound. Though I am still tempted everyday to pick up the phone and blast everyone at the school, I have learned to understand that sometimes it is best to let kids handle certain 'problems'. Many times my daughter has come back home with tales of how she has been hit by her classmate. And in reality when I checked the mark, it turned out to be a simple insect bite. I dont deny sometimes she is actually hit by her friends, which kid hasn't ever been? And sometimes she herself has hit back...
The point here is, while dealing with toddlers or very young kids, we, as parents, must be fair and practical. Not every scratch can be fought back by calling the school. And it is not fair to ignore the marks either. Observe your child properly, you are the best judge of your little one's moods and behaviour. If there is a sudden change in behaviour, loss of appetite, lack of sleep or too much of it, if your child is not talking to you as much as he/she used to, if there is a sudden dislike for school or going out to meet friends, get in touch with your child's teacher. Have a word, visit the class and find out what has been going on. Tell your little one you love them and that you are always there with them, for them. Build the trust and confidence so that your baby can come to mommy or papa anytime with anything to discuss, let them know you are always interested in their life and that you are always their best friend. And the most important thing, let them know that your love for them comes with no conditions....that you will always love them...no matter what....
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Bumped into a friend yesterday at the market. Talked about this and that and the chat slowly shifted to kids and how they were doing in their new life in school. I told her my daughter was having a lovely time, that she wants to go to school even on a weekend. My friend looked at me and shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know what to do now.He (referring to her three-year-old son) will just not listen to what the teacher says. He has never sat still in one place and now I am always being told by the teacher how he is so indisciplined. And how I am I supposed to teach him so many things all of a sudden?"
"So many things? What do you mean? What do you have to teach him all of a sudden?" I asked.
"Oh, the numbers, counting, reading and writing, and alphabets and birds and sentences and shapes and this and that and everything. Whats the point of sending him to school if I have to teach him everything?"
I realised where the discussion was headed. After some more talking and sharing we parted ways.
Thankfully, I have not had to go through this tough situation my friend has landed herself in.I understand her predicament. It is indeed difficult to suddenly sit down with a three-year-old and teach him, as my friend put it, 'everything'.
But what if that 'everything' is just a part of play? What if you don't need to teach it to your child, but instead, your little one loves it on her own and asks you to do more of it?
There are so many ways we can teach the essentials to our children. Times have changed.Earlier, school began much later.Today, the age limit has shrunk, but the expectations and the standard of teaching and learning has only gone up.
I remember when my daughter was born I had got a whole set of baby books for her, all those soft cloth ones that we would sit and read together, of course I read them to her. She did not understand any of it at that age,but the one thing she learned was that listening to someone read is fun.And as she was growing, her interest in books began to grow as well.It was soon a routine to see her sitting in one place and go through books,admiring the pictures and running her fingers over the alphabets just as she had seen mommy do.No wonder her next curiosity was to know what these alphabets were.So followed the game of A B C.We played this game many times,while playing ball, we would toss the ball to each other and I would sing the alphabet song.As she grew I would say A and she would say B and we would go all the way till Z.
Similarly we played the number game.Whenever we came on a staircase my daughter would hold my hand and hop and I would go 1 2 3..now she is 3 and can count till 50.
The garden was a place she loved to go and I had a chance to show her the plants and birds.We learned the shapes together with toys - a round ball, a heart locket, a rectangle carpet, an oval egg, a square box...the shapes got more interesting as she discovered new objects to name.
The conversation game happened all the time...we talked and talked about anything and everything, and still do.We played with the dolls,putting them in make-believe situations and talking about things.
She learned the world of colours through everyday things that came her way - a blue bib, a white bottle, a pink cap, a red frock, black shoes, green ball, purple sketchpen, golden sun, silver moon.
And the kitchen was the best place to learn her vegetables and fruits.
Thankfully, I did not have a tough time teaching her any of this. It was more of a game for her and even for me, and more than I enjoyed teaching her, she loved learning all the new things of the big wide world.
It is really easy to teach our little ones about these basics in education by using the simplest and most interesting ways, available to us right in our homes, every single day.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
It is the time of the biggest Bengali festival – Durga Puja - and like all years, I am celebrating it with all the proper rituals and taking part in most ceremonies. But this year, it is a little more special than all the previous years – this year my daughter has taken part along with me, and enjoyed, (which is most important), a tradition that is so special to my heart.
I am a Bengali, and even though I was born and brought up outside ‘Bengal’ and have never really lived in the ‘city of joy’, I still identify myself with the culture and richness of my heritage – I am proud of it and there is no other way I would have preferred to be.
My husband is from the northern part of India, and though he is originally a UP-ite and though he has never lived in his origin state, he too is aware of the rituals and festivities that are a part of where he comes from.
Our daughter is a child of the world – and we are glad that these days we have the opportunity of exposing our children to the goodness of various cultures and traditions. With the advent of television, internet and other channels of media and the mixing of races and castes and cultures, the world is now a big flowing pot of culture, you just need to put in a ladle and bring it up to the surface, and each time you will have a different culture on your plate.
My parents had shifted to a different state after their marriage, where later I was born. When I was young, my parents took care that I follow the customs and traditions of the place I was growing up in, but they also made sure to introduce me to the culture of the place where I originally came from, they made it a point to make me understand and appreciate the richness of that culture which was miles away from my child’s mind right then. So in a way I was lucky that I had more festivals to celebrate than my friends. Not only did I celebrate and enjoy their festivals, I also had the chance to celebrate the added festivals that came from my parents’ side.
My daughter is luckier. Not only does she have the two different cultures from her parents’ side, she also has a third culture – that of the place she was born and lives in – and of course the culture and festivals of the ‘west’ that is now a global culture.
So we have a big New Year bash each year (the Western New Year), my daughter especially loves the music and dances away till the wee hours of morning, her tiny feet never stopping for a moment, even when her mommy sits down occasionally to ask her if she needs a rest. Then again, on Bengali New Year, I inevitably have something sweet at home and make it a special day. We have a wonderful time playing with colours during Holi, we have fun and celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with pomp and participate in all the competitions and concerts. At Eid she gets delicious 'sevayin' from our Mohammedan friends. We celebrate Durga Pujo with my husband and daughter all dressed up in traditional wear, digging in to the mouth-watering Bengali fare, looking in awe at the majestic Durga, my daughter dancing to the beat of the dhaak (the big drums played in Durga Pujo). We celebrate Navratri, joining our hands together with all others and chanting the prayers and the shlokas. We dance to the beats of dandiya. Diwali is a special time when thousands of little lights and diyas deck up each part of the house. My daughter and I get down together to make Diwali patterns and light the diya each morning and evening. I am not fond of crackers and my daughter too seems to love the lights much more than she likes the crackers and the noise. Christmas is special too, as our home gets a Christmas tree and my daughter gets to create snow!!!! She loves putting up the candies and the bells and balls and gift boxes and stars and santa and the number of tiny objects on the tree. She sits near the tree for days and talks to it, or simply stares at it with fascination and love. Christmas is also the time when there are many events lined up, what with New Year being just round the corner and invariably my daughter ends up taking part in those cute little baby shows and has a fun time. And in between there are some more events and celebrations that keep happening each year.
My daughter is growing up with a taste for all cultures and with an understanding that all this is hers – she does not restrict her emotions and liking to a Bengali, or a north-Indian or a UP culture, she does not let her love for festivals stop at just the Indian ones, as long as there is participation and a chance for her to do something at the festival, she will be happy and look forward to it. She is too young to differentiate yet, and it is our responsibility as parents to ensure she is introduced to all that is good and interesting for her little mind, as well as all that will give her the tools to embrace the world in a more loving manner.
Both my husband and I believe that each culture has its own good and richness and that exposing your child to all the positives from an early age will let her develop a sense of understanding and tolerance towards those who don’t necessarily share the same heritage or cultural background as hers. Exposing her to many cultures and letting her participate in events and festivals will erase any cultural boundaries that a child might otherwise have. The more they know about each others’ culture and ritual and religion, the more they will open up to the world, sharing each others’ goodness, and eventually turning the world into one big family – the way it was originally intended to be by that person who is supposedly sitting up there somewhere……..
So let her know all the flavours and cultures there are in this world to explore – it is her own world after all, let her make it her home too.
And like I always say and believe in:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ
- Debolina Raja Gupta
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Its really really hot these days......all of us are reeling under the heat....hiding behind curtains and ACs and anything that will provide even a little promise of a respite.
So these days when I wait for my daughter's school bus to bring her home in the afternoon, I always make it a point to carry something cool and hydrating for her. She loves the juice or even the cool glucose drinks....
She came home yesterday and after finishing the bottle, started playing....that is when she noticed her 'happy plant' standing quietly in the heat, and along with that the bowl of water for the birds. She went to her bottle, but when she found there was nothing inside, she went to the kitchen and poured some juice in the bottle. Then she came out to the balcony and poured it in the plant and the bowl.
I asked her what she was doing. "I am giving nice juice to my happy plant and the pigeons" she smiled.
I was touched. I explained to her that plants and pigeons love to have water and that they dont really like juice that much, so maybe next time on she can just give them water. "They will have fever if they dont drink juice also." - this came because I tell her that if she wont eat and sleep properly, she will get ill (which for her means fever) and then we will have to take her to hospital where the nurse will give her an injection.
"Ok, you can start by giving it water, and mamma will make sure that happy plant and the pigeons dont not get sick. Okay?"
She was happy that her happy plant and her pigeon friends would be taken care of and gave me a big hug.
Encourage your child to share with all of nature.....let them place a bowl of water outside in the heat, so that birds can come and have a sip. Bring home a plant and let your child water it once a day. These are some simple and practical ways of teaching your child responsibility and letting them develop a feeling of sharing and caring for others.
After all, it is we parents who will eventually shape up our little ones into the kind of humans they grow up to be.... happy parenting !!!
Monday, October 4, 2010
Just another hectic week went by, the weekend came and went and it all vanished in a wink even before I had a chance to sit down, take a break and enjoy the luxury of two days without work or anything important on my mind..... what I really needed and wanted was two FULL days to chill out, to sit with my darling little one and to have a nice chat with my hubby over steaming cups of ginger tea, looking out at the sea lying calm and beautiful outside my home.
But that is exactly what you call 'Wishful Thinking', isnt it?
I always admire mothers who manage to continue work without neglecting their kids. Well, everyone has their own way of managing the situation at home. Some have family at home, mostly grandparents, who look after the child in the absence of parents who are out on work. Some have full-time maids at home who look after the child when mummy and daddy aren't home. Some do a mix-n-match of family and maids. Some take the help of a professional carer, nanny, some sort out the expertise of a day-care centre or a creche.
I have always been a work-work kind of person and initially it was very difficult for me to give up my job after marriage and just sit at home....Of course I hated it...not that I have something against women who choose to be at home after marriage, but just that it was not what I wanted, it was not my ambition in life. My dream was to have a happy married life, to be a loving and caring mother and to raise a child who would be happy and healthy and most important of all, a good human being. And my dream was also to manage work while I worked towards the rest of my dream.
My daughter was born very soon after my marriage, just after we celebrated our first marriage anniversary...it was not planned, but like they say, the greatest gifts of life are never planned....and so started my identity as a mother....
The first few years after marriage it was not possible for me to work, as I did not have a family support where I lived and there was really no one who could care for my baby if I went out. I absolutely do not trust maids and hence that was not an option. And both me and my husband were very apprehensive of leaving her in a day-care the whole day while we were out. It was something we mutually decided and I was content being the mother to my darling baby.
Now things have changed. She is three and surprisingly, suddenly she is all grown up!!! I can see she is observant and mature in many ways. And now that I have started working again, I can see that she too has started to adjust to mommy's new routine.
The first few days and weeks were of course difficult on the little one. She hated my laptop, so much so that the moment I would leave it behind she would slam the screen shut and would come running to me, always with some or the other demand of play or story-time or simply a hug. I could understand then that she was getting insecure. I would pick her up and take her in the room and she would show me the laptop. And I would tell her that mommy was not going to work for some time now, that I would spend the next hour with ONLY her....that would always cheer her up.
Since it is difficult for me to arrange for someone on a daily basis who would look after my baby, I try and wrap up most of my work while she is in school. If I have a meeting on a weekday (when my hubby is in office) I try to keep them near home, that way I can always be back by the time her school bus arrives. I am always there to take her in my arms and give her a kiss and a hug and tell her how much I love her and she loves to tell me about her day in school right from when I get her off the bus!!! I would never want to miss that part of the day for anything...
On occasions when there is absolutely strict deadlines to be met I am always working on the weekends on most cases, she understand now that mommy has work, so she spends most of the day playing with her father and spending the day with him. But we do have our together time and we make the most of it. There is so much we do together, story time, tub bath with lots of bubble bath, playtime, dance and song time, movie time, bike riding, drives, visiting a bookstore, crafts and so many more things, anything that she loves to do at that moment.
Some times its really tough to concentrate on work while she is around, the best solution I have for that is the tonnes of kiddie DVDs we have collected over the years. I put that on and she will spend the next hour or so dancing and singing along with the characters and mesmerised in the stories. Some days I pull out a hidden toy-set and set it up. The whole evening can be utilised in work :)) On other occasions I have simply spread a newspaper in front of her and given her a paint brush and a set of water colours. She is happy being the master-painter and I make it a point to sit near her and finish my work.
Some days when I am putting her to sleep (this is a ritual only mommy is allowed and she wont have it any other way) she will tell me to hold her hand and tell her a story...she drifts off to sleep after 2-3 stories... on other nights she wants me to not work at all and just be sitting next to her while she talks and talks about school and tells me everything that happened...I love these sweet and innocent chats I share with her...... on other days, she tells me it is okay for me to work and tells me to sit beside her and work, while she closes her eyes and drifts off to fairyland...
I am blessed to have such an understanding baby. I know it is a big change for her too, but I believe our little ones are really capable of understanding about the adult world, given that we talk to them in a sensible way. If we share our feelings and concerns with them, most of the time our babies always revert back in a way we didn't expect they were capable of.
But thats how it is......keep talking to your child and sharing parts of your own grown-up world with them...you'll be amazed at the understanding and intelligence they possess...and of course, not to mention the unconditional love and innocence...
To all the parents out there...happy parenting !!!