Monday, September 01, 2008

Puttachi in the Mysore Park

We were in Mysore for the greater part of a month, and naturally, a park visit in the evenings was a must for Puttachi. The park visit is very important because it serves to dissipate the little terror's excess energy, which would otherwise be spent in destructive activity. Of course, it also helps that the activities in the park give her a better appetite and tires her out enough to go to bed early and stay in bed :D

There is a park very close to my grandparents' place, one that we used to go to when we were kids. Some of the monkey ladders that we used to play on still exist. Repaired, patched, mended, painted, but still there. A quarter of a century old at least. There are new ones too, and the park has been spruced up, but it still remains the same old park.

As usual, Puttachi made friends with everybody in a couple of days, and went around waving hi and bye like British Royalty. I even had to fend off paparazzi on her behalf. (Seriously. Young girls trying to get her snap on their mobile phones. Frightening.)

The first few days, Puttachi ran around (when excited to find open space after a period of confinement, she walks around like she is drunk, in a state of euphoria), she played on the slide, and she climbed monkey ladders with minimum help from me. Then I decided to introduce her to the wonders of sand, as the play area had loads of sand. In preparation, I had even brought to Mysore, her sand implements, which consisted of a couple of spades, a cup, a sand truck, and some moulds.

So, the next day, we set out with her sand set, and after her constitutional, I plonked her down on the sand and gave her the sand playthings. She was delighted. She explored the sand with her fingers, and then was content to just pick up sand with a spade, load it into the truck, and then empty the truck, and start all over again. [I hadn't let her play with sand until now mainly because she put everything, and just everything into her mouth. She still does it, but she is better now.]

As I sat watching her, I noticed that the colourful playthings had attracted many kids. They stood around and watched. Slowly, a couple of them started playing with those things that Puttachi was not using. I welcomed this, as I felt that Puttachi would like company. But kids of her age don't yet know how to play "with" other kids, but they just play "alongside" the others. Puttachi did not even seem to notice the other kids, she was in her own world.

The kids kept looking at me to see if I would prevent them from playing, and some kids even tried to butter me up by telling me that "Puttachi was the cutest kid in the world, can they play with the truck please?" Kids, I tell you - they know how to get things done. Since I obviously seemed to welcome them, they got more adventurous, other kids joined, until there was a lot of pushing and shoving and sand flying all over the place. Some of it landed in Puttachi's eye, and I gave the kids a warning. "She is a small kid, please be careful." They piped down for two minutes, before they were at it again. I just removed Puttachi from the vicinity, and she continued playing. But she took the truck with her, and the kids followed the truck. Soon they were snatching the playthings from Puttachi's hands. Puttachi, who until then, was totally oblivious to the others, now looked up and appealed to me. "Ask for it", I told her. "Taa, taa", she said politely to the boisterous crowd, but her voice was totally drowned in the cacophony. She looked pleadingly at me again. I told the boy who had snatched the toy from her to give it back to her. He did give it back without any fuss. Then she wanted the truck which was lost in the sand amidst the crowd of kids. She stood up unsteadily, walked right into the middle of the ring of kids, picked up the truck, and walked back to me, and resumed playing nonchalantly. The kids just stared, not knowing what to do. Just then, one of the boys shouted to another, "Oye!" Puttachi, of course, had to imitate that sound. But as it happened, she said a loud "Oye" just as another boy was trying to snatch a spade from her. Thinking that it was meant for him, he dropped the spade in alarm and backed off. It had me giggling helplessly. Puttachi had absolutely no idea what she had just done!

The next day, I didn't want this whole unruly episode to repeat itself, with sand in Puttachi's hair and eyes, and so I just took along one spade and one cup, enough for her to play on her own. Understandably, the crowd was much thinner than the previous day, though a couple of kids did try to take over the toys. But my little cousin V was with us that day, and he, fiercely protective of his beloved niece, established firm boundaries that stayed for the rest of our visits.

I still don't know how to handle a crowd of kids. I don't want to discourage them, because I don't want to give Puttachi the message that she shouldn't share her toys. At the same time, I don't want her to be overpowered by kids older than herself, so much that she doesn't get to do what she wants to. What do I do? My instinct tells me that things will just take care of themseleves, and that Puttachi will learn how to handle such situations by herself, and that I should just sit back and relax.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a couple of images.

Puttachi playing by herself during one of the quieter moments.

Commander-in-chief of the Wooden Cavalry of Channapatna.

- Hotel Indradhanush, near Maddur, Bangalore-Mysore highway (on our way back to Bangalore).
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Gauri said...

It is a very fine line Shruthi - something I guess just about every parent battles with. How to help one's child deal with a whole bunch of kids, some of them quite unruly !

When they grow up a bit it gets to the question of handling bullies.

I'm going thru those jitters myself all over again as Abhay just started Primary School. It is such a haven for bullies !

But Puttachi seemed to have done quite well - albeit unknowingly.

End of the day, whatever we tell them or dont, however we teach them to deal with such things or dont - it is upto them to find their own equations in dealing with situations. Cos of the simple fact that we are not always going to be with them and around them to rise to their defence. :)

Not very easy to digest, I know - but it is a fact !

SloganMurugan said...

"Commander-in-chief of the Wooden Cavalry of Channapatna"
Love it.

Shyam said...

You brilliant person, Shruthi :-) Come and collect yours at my blog, wont you?

snippetsnscribbles said...

Come pick up an award from my blog :)

~nm said...

Didn't she get a bit surprised when you let her play with the sand and all? Which we usually tell them no to when we are home?

Loved the blue dress of hers!

Veena Shivanna said...

Prof, I think you were worrying more than required is what I felt for the first time. I don't know how I would reach when it happens to my son ! he he :-)

travel plaza said...

Seriously, That is the cutest baby girl you have there:) It is really hard to figure out when to come to your child's rescue and when to back off and let them handle it on their own. My older one is in high school now and I'm still fiercely protective of him.But he knows how to handle people and takes good care of himself(crossing my fingers)I've tried to give him space but also be there for him when he needs it.My younger one is 9 and in his case its harder because he is a very friendly kid and people take advantage of that. I'm always torn between telling him what to do and letting him figure things out by himself. You'll figure things out,you'll see. Your instinct is the way to go, if you ask me.

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your encouragement. I'll be trying to write more now:)

travel plaza said...

And oh!!I almost forgot to tell you that my younger son was born in Mysore:))So I have a lot of special memories in Mysore.

Manasa said...

puttachi enjoying childhood. I want to meet Puttachi :)

Anonymous said...

One brilliant award from me too :)


Kadalabal said...

nice gesture by you towards kids to teach puttchi about sharing things in life. you are a wonderful mom for a wonder kid. nice photos and u hv park nearby where ever u go great keep going

Bhupi said...

one who falls will learn to walk quicker than others.In my opinion if you let kids face tough situations early in chldhood then they will be ready to face anything later...

Mama - Mia said...


i would agree with Gauri. i mean we possibly cant be everywhere! all we can do is build confidence in them to deal with such situations!

she is absolutely adorable!! hope to see her someday!! :)



Vidooshak said...

she is such a cutie pie, even in the "backstage" pose. lovely post. how old is Puttachi? (what does the name mean? oh, i guess i must go back to post #1 for that answer)

glad u let her play in the sand. that's what childhood is for!

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