(S)welled up..

With pride.

The 5 and a half years of motherhood have given me ample and more things to learn, to grow as a mother( have miles to go before I can grow upto be even half as good a mother as my Ma though), to feel blessed. And I can never thank God enough for bringing Namnam into my life for she makes me appreciate this wonderful life as a mother all the more, for I learn a new facet of parenting everyday as I watch her grow. Be it her first smile, her first step, her first word, the first time she said ‘Amma’, be it the first time she said ‘I love you’ and every time after that, be it her first day in school, be it her first stage performance, each chapter in her life has been an overwhelming curve for me as well.

And yesterday was one such moment where my li’l sweetheart made me all teary-eyed and immensely proud like always.

Her school had organized its science exhibition yesterday. Her(rather her parents’) project was to make a volcano. And her teacher called up to tell us that she wanted Namnam to speak a few sentences as well on a certain topic on the given day. Now since R is the craftier one in the family, quite conveniently the task of making the volcano was handed over to him and I volunteered to take up the easier task of prepping Namnam for the talk :).

When the teacher called up to say that she wanted Namnam to speak in front of people, knowing fully well that she was one of those shy kinds who had to be pushed into coming out of the shell, I couldnt help but feel grateful yet again for she was blessed with such attentive and wonderful teachers in this academic session as well. Here was a teacher who knew she was shy and soft-spoken, urging me to prep her to talk a few sentences ‘loudly’- yes she must have mentioned the term loud at least 4-5 times in between our brief conversation :)- so she could come out of her shell and learn to be more confident to face the crowd.

So after all the prepping up, I was all nervous and excited about how the day would fare, while Namnam was plain excited! R & I walked in straight to her class room where the children and teachers had exhibited the projects and were all geared up with their presentations. I wont lie, but I couldnt hold myself still when Namnam finished with her talk. I just wanted to run and hug her tight and point my pride to everyone! But guess what, R beat me to it and ran before me to give her a tight hug and a kiss while I was fiddling with my video :(.  And yes she was  confidently LOUD enough for all the visitors present there to hear :). Although R & I knew she would give us and herself even more moments like this to feel proud of, yet we couldnt stop ourselves from telling her how proud we were of her, the whole day!

And I have no one but her school and teachers to thank for it so evident how much effort and care they had put in to help her bring out her confident self. Its moments like this that reiterate how a good school can be as instrumental in shaping a child and guiding her/him towards becoming a better person. At this moment all I can hope and pray is that Namnam is always blessed with such wonderful teachers to guide in every walk of her life.

Games Our Children Play

Let me ask you something. If your child comes up to you and asks if he/she can play house-house or ghar-ghar with friends, you won’t think even for a fraction of a second before saying ‘yes’, will you? I know I won’t. In fact when I see Namnam pouring ‘tea’ into her little ‘tea-cups’ and serving it to her friends or when she puts on her gloves to take out ‘freshly-baked pizza’ from her ‘oven’ or simply rolls out a dough onto her chakla to make rotis, I go on a nostalgic trip of my own drawing similarities to my own childhood.

I remember for us kids ghar-ghar meant having a kitchen stocked with the usual saucepan, kadhai, glasses, plates, spoons,etc and each of us had a role to play. One of us would be the ‘husband’ who would have a newspaper in his hand while the ‘wife’ would bring tea, make two cups and start complaining to the ‘husband’ about how their children troubled her and didnt ‘study’. And the rest of us acted as ‘children’ either doing our homework or playing marbles or ‘gotiyaan’ as the game was known or just getting reprimanded by ‘our parents for our supposed ‘misdoings’ :D. And on days one of us had our barbie doll set, were the happiest of days. Because we could try out different dresses on her, deck her up and take chances singing lullabies to her and carrying her like a baby.

So today when I hear the term play-house or ghar-ghar, that’s image that conjures up in my mind. Namnam and her friends are combing their respective barbie’s hair, dressing her up, tucking her in bed and I smile and wish to myself that they would never grow out of this innocence.

Having said that, yesterday, when one of my relatives shared a disturbing incident that occured in the school where she teaches, it got me wondering if innocence was indeed at risk and somewhere the parents had a hand in it.

It happened in one of the school buses. A 4 year old kindergartener went up to her friend and asked him to join her in the backseat on the pretext of playing ghar-ghar. To say that I was shocked at hearing what she did next would be an understatement. She took the boy to the backseat, removed her underwear and
told him to lie on top of her. Luckily the conductor caught them just in time and reported them to their parents. The perplexed parents approached the school principal who in turn summoned the girl. And as it turned out, the girl revealed that this was a game which she and a couple of her friends in the class played regularly. Upon being asked from where she learned this game, she replied,’ mere mummy-papa khelte hai'(my mummy-papa play this game).

Now, I understand that children grasp things very fast, but if a 4year old girl asks a boy to lie on top of her then it clearly means that children grasp things much faster and much more than what they are meant to.

So how do we address this issue? Who do we blame here?

  • Do we blame these little children who dont even know what making love is or to put it more bluntly, having sex is? Do they even need to know?
  • Do we blame the TV shows, movies, advertisements, etc. for inflating their curiosity level?
  • Do we blame the living conditions in our country where so many families live in one-room flats giving zero privacy because of which many times children end up seeing things which they are not supposed to?
  • Or do we blame our regressive mentality where ‘SEX‘ is still a taboo subject and any inquisitive query from a child is treated with a snub or a shove?
  • Or is it time that we parents introspected? Will it help in safeguarding our little ones’ innocence if we, parents are a little more cautious and careful? Will it help if we parents are a little more encouraging towards discussing this subject more openly? So that if and when our little inquisitive-minds come up to us with any questions, we are ready and open enough with answers that are appropriate for their age?

This is one happy and grateful mother talking to you!

** The post had been lying in 4 separate drafts for the last two weeks and was taking forever to shape up because of a terrible writers block that I was going through. I feared if I didnt publish it anytime soon, then I’d never get around to doing it. So if at all you find the post incoherent apart from being ridiculously long, forgive me in advance 😀

When I was running around looking for a kindergarten for my child some months back, one of the primary things that I considered, besides the usual educational standards, the premises, the teacher-student ratio, the proximity, etc. was how well the school interacted with its pupils. Because for a shy girl like Namnam, it was very important to me that she went to a school that would help her to come out of her shell and mingle with other children more freely, that would help her become confident enough to handle different situations, that would help her tackle differences, if at all she faced with difficult and ill-mannered children, in the best way possible.

And I’m extremely glad that I chose this particular school for Namnam, because not only did it give her good values and education(and continues to do so), but it also helped her to bridge differences with a girl who had been snubbing her at every given opportunity.

It all started a few months back when Namnam’s teacher, Miss Y mentioned to me about this girl(let me call her RB) who had fiercely scribbled in Namnam’s book ruining the page beyond repair. Needless to say, Namnam was very upset that day and even went ahead and declared RB as a ‘bad girl’.

The teacher however assured me that she had reprimanded RB and that things were under control. But somehow Namnam was not convinced and every day she used to come back and tell me how RB always tried to poke or hit or beat other children. Thankfully whenever I asked her if she had ever been hit or poked by RB, she always said no she hadn’t. But she did point out that RB was always rude to her and even said once that she would ‘slap’ her. And I could make out from her tones that it was something that she was not very pleased with.

So I told her to tell RB sternly that if she didn’t stop being rude to her she would NOT be her friend. And if she still didnt stop then she should go and report RB straight to their teacher.

But Namnam’s stance that ‘RB was a bad girl’ remained unchanged.

Although RB’s behaviour bothered Namnam, I could sense that she was, knowingly or unknowingly starting to get influenced by RB. Which was evident when one day, Namnam,fleetingly remarked to me that if I didnt play with her she would ‘slap’ me! Even though I reprimanded her heavily and made her understand that such expressions will not be tolerated, I knew I had to bring up this issue with her school.

I had a heart to heart talk with Miss Y and I found out that RB behaved the way she did with not just Namnam but also with many other children from her class. Miss Y did assure me though, that she was taking necessary action to handle the situation and that children were under strict instructions not to interact with RB. She was categorically told that she would not be allowed to talk or play with others unless she mended herself.

The school’s method seemed to have had the desired effect because soon after I observed a softening in Namnam’s tone whenever she spoke of RB. She started talking about wanting to make a drawing for RB along with her other friends.

Last week it was RB’s birthday wherein she had got gifts for all the children in her class. And when I went to pick Namnam up from school, a very elated Miss Y told me that RB had declared to everyone that Namnam was her ‘best friend’. Miss Y and I had a good hearty laugh at the absolute change in dynamics!!

Later when we were back home, Namnam told us with a wide smile that RB had said sorry to her :). A very touching gesture by RB, I thought.

Today morning when I was getting Namnam ready for school, she said to me, ‘you know mama, RB was a bad girl but now she is a good girl and always my friend.’ I was immensely happy to see this complete overturn of stance! It was heartening to see a new friendship blooming.

And I have noone but the school to thank for this. The way the school handled the girl and eventually mended her made me realize how important a role, being in the right school, plays in shaping a child. I realized how important it is for schools to recognize the underlying behavioral issues of children which many a times get overlooked. I know this situation could not be clubbed under bullying but if the school had not addressed it in the way they did, it could have turned into a case of bullying which further could have had a negative impact on both RB and Namnam.

I strongly feel that

a school should not just strive to give good education, good manners and values to its children, but also strive towards giving them a secure and safe environment to bloom.

And I pray and hope that my daughter is always blessed with such a school.

The week goneby…

was nothing much to write home about.

First, there was the Madrid open which Federer lost to Nadal taking the latter’s all-time tally of wins against the world no 1 to 14. Fedex has a meager 7 to his credit :(.

Then I saw Swaram flashing her state of mind on Facebook with an ecstatic “Nadal won Nadal won … yay yay yay!” making me sulk even more.

And Sakshi even went a step further by asking me to imagine her having dinner with Federer!

If you have friends like such, you don’t need enemies do you?? 😈

Anyway, as Masood, a fellow manic member of the Federer Fan Club put up on my Facebook page, ‘Come Grand-slams (French Open this month and Wimbledon in June), we’ll have plenty to cheer about’. So here’s looking forward to the coming months with my fingers crossed!!

—–

Next my internet connection came crashing down crippling me for two days. The two days felt like two decades for me! Ok ok that’s a bit too filmy! I get it 😀 . What I mean to say is that those two days did reiterate my belief that internet had become an integral part of my life. It’s hard to imagine a day, a life without its gracious presence!

—–

Then I came across a very tragic and disturbing bit of news. A 4-year-old kindergartener died due to intense heat and asphyxiation after being trapped in her school-bus for more than 4 hours. It was an incident that shook up the entire Indian community here. The parents of school-going children were enraged at the school authorities, the management, the transport company to whom the bus belonged. Everybody was being blamed. And rightfully so.

The bus driver, who has been arrested, should not be the only person to be blamed for failing to check on the bus thoroughly before leaving the school, thereby leaving the poor little girl locked inside the bus. The school has to be held equally responsible for not ensuring the same.

If the schools are charging a certain amount from the parents as ‘bus-fee’, it should not just include a mere pick-up/drop-off of the pupils but should also include the responsibility of ensuring their safe transportation.

Many schools here, reportedly, do not adhere to the guidelines set by the Supreme Education Council. A set of parents have decided to form a committee and hold a meeting with the council to report such schools to them.

I hope these efforts yield some positive results and such tragic incidents never happen.

When I saw the photo of little Sarah, I couldn’t stop crying, because, in her I could see my Namnam.

Next year Namnam will start going to a proper school and I already feel the pangs of anxiety thinking about her safety and well-being.

—–

Finally I bade goodbye to a very dear friend who left Qatar for good to re-base in India. She was my closest friend here and our daughters were the best of friends( I hope they remain so though) .

We gave birth to our daughters around the same time. In fact I remember, when we were in India(she in Kerala, me in Delhi) for our respective deliveries, we would call each other up now and then to talk about our heartburn, nausea, cravings, aversions, baby-kicks, so on and so forth.
When we moved to Doha, it was amazing to see how quickly the girls connected with each other.

I know we will stay in touch, but it will not be the same as living in the same building, knowing there’s a friend living right next door who you can run to for a heart-to-heart talk. Parting is so very hard! I will miss you, J and Namnam will miss O even more :).

—–
This is how my past week has been. I hope the coming week will pass by more favorably and will give lot many moments to cheer about.

So, how have you been?