Friday, December 18, 2009

Letting go

Being a good parent is all about letting go.

It can be heart-wrenching. But some part of you becomes stronger when you do it successfully.

Only after I became a mother did I understand my mother's apprehensions when allowing us to do something for the first time. Sending me alone to Mysore by bus for the first time. Seeing my sister off at the airport, when she was flying to the US, alone. Sending us to a friend's house, or on a picnic, or on a date, or to a party. Trusting the values they have given us, and trusting a third person to care for us. Each event is a bit of letting go - letting the child take an independent step ahead, to become the unique person s/he is.

With little kids, the instances are very tiny, but significant all the same. The first time I left a sleeping baby Puttachi at home, and went to the doctor for a post-natal checkup. The first time Puttachi stayed overnight away from me - even though I was leaving her at the hands of her loving grandparents, it was a kind of letting go. To relax and know that someone else is looking after her.

Putting her into the hands of someone totally unconnected, like leaving her at a playschool - that was a totally different ball game. But it had to be done, and it was, successfully.

And today, her school took her for a Nature Walk to Lalbagh. I was initially worried. Will they look after her? What if she runs away like toddlers so love to do? But I had seen first hand how the staff in her school look after the children. I knew I could trust them. So when I left her at the gate, and I saw her small figure walking through the gate with her teachers, tears welled up in my eyes. But I was so proud of my little girl, and so happy for her. Her eyes shining, her round face glowing with excitement, she waved at me as she went inside. And I knew that both of us had just taken a very big step.

And I know that this is just one of many, many of them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two and a Half

For all of you who complained that I don't give you enough Puttachi updates:

At 2.5 years, Puttachi is great fun. For one, living with her is like being in a musical. She sings all day long - mostly twisting songs, substituting words to suit the current situation. In effect, she sings parodies all day and laughs at her own jokes. She is constantly clowning around, and jumping around

She has learned this annoying habit of whining when things don't go her way. The only way I can get her to stop it is to pretend that I cannot make out anything she is saying when she is whining. Then, she puts on this artificial smile and asks me "nicely".

Another worrisome habit is that she is sticking to me a lot, protesting hotly when I am not around. I think it is just habit more than real unease.

She loves doing jigsaw puzzles. She did 4-6 pieces with ease, and I thought she was ready to move to bigger puzzles. But they didn't seem to interest her. Just then, S~'s nephew's Disney 24-piece jigsaw puzzle came down to her - and this one has giant pieces. And Puttachi could do it, with a little help at first. She can sit with it all day, making it, breaking it. So I realized that at this age, giant pieces are better.

Puttachi also loves alphabets. More than a year ago, S~ bought refrigerator alphabet magnets - when each alphabet is fitted into a slot on the main piece, it sings out the name of the alphabet, and the sound it makes. Since that was always on the refrigerator, she played with it often. Without our even realizing it, Puttachi started recognizing a few alphabets, and nearly six months ago, made me fall off her chair by recognizing A, B, O and V in the newspaper. She then discovered that my laptop has alphabet keys, and I let her carefully tap the keys and see the results on the monitor. I made her type her name a few times, and voila, she started recognizing all those letters. Now, any printed material she gets, she tries and picks out the letters of her name from it. It is great fun to watch her - and a pleasant surprise too, because it came about by itself.

She loves to play with clay, and she loves books. Oh, and yes, I hadn't been speaking to her much in English before this, but after she started going to the Montessori and picking up English, I have started telling her stories in both English and Kannada, one after the other. I read a sentence in my mind, tell it to her in Kannada, and then read it in English, stopping to explain one word or the other. She is now picking up English so quickly that it surprises me. She supplies the English words for Kannada words without my asking her, and any thing she hears, or any English rhyme that she learns, she comes to me and asks me to explain it to her.

A mandatory visit to the park every evening helps in satisfying her urge to run around, (and my urge to be around people) - and both of us come back happy.

This age, I have realized, is one where they are tremendously curious, and eager to learn. And the more we stimulate them, the happier they are!

Monday, December 07, 2009

At the montessori house

I never thought it would happen - but it did. I drop Puttachi at her Montessori school and she stays there happily, and I pick her up at the end of the day!

Up-side: I get a lot of work done in the morning, I can put my feet up, drink a 10 30 cup of tea...
Down-side: I haven't read a word of any book since Monday!

How the transition happened:

Groundwork: As I had told you before, I had been sitting outside at the school for quite a long time, and I knew for sure that Puttachi was entirely comfortable. I had a talk with the head of the school last Friday, and she agreed with me that it was time to try and leave Puttachi alone at school. She told me that they would try and distract and engage Puttachi if she cried, but warned me that if she became uncontrollable, they would call me back.

After we got back home, last Friday, I casually dropped the idea to Puttachi that I would leave her at school and come home, starting Monday. I used the words "When I leave you at school...." I used it often when speaking to S~ too, in a matter-of-fact tone, until I was certain that Puttachi had understood what was to come. I also told her that I would come back home and make Kesaribhath for her. (She doesn't even like Kesaribhath, she just has a fancy for it.)

Yet, inspite of all this, I had nightmares about Puttachi bawling and me walking away. I wondered if I could go through with it - and I nearly backed out at the last moment.

What happened on Monday: I set out the ingredients of Kesaribhath on the kitchen counter and showed it to Puttachi, telling her htat I would make it after I left her at school, and she accepted it calmly.

While I was locking the door while leaving for school, she said, "Amma, don't leave me!"
I looked at her questioningly, she clarified, "I meant, don't leave me at home and go, but you can leave me at the montessori and come back."

I took it as a good sign. when we got to the school, I opened the gate and started walking in, when she said, "Oh, are you coming inside? I thought you would leave me at the gate." My jaw dropped.

When we went in and I found the teachers, I said, "Ok, Puttachi, bye," as she started going inside. She suddenly stopped and turned. "Wait, Amma!"
"Yes?" I said, thinking, "Uh oh!"
But she said, "I want to hug you!"
She hugged me, kissed me on each cheek, and said, "Ok, bye, thank you, go home, come back later, ok?" And she bounded in without a backward glance.

I could have screamed for joy. We had actually done it without making her cry!

I am hoping that now that she is used to the idea of going to a school, leaving her at the big school will also be easy. If that can also be accomplished without too many tears, nothing like it.

Still to go: Puttachi is not very comfortable with the last activity of the day - sitting in a group and learning songs. Though she loves songs, something about that setup bothers her - she would cry even during the time I was sitting there. And she continues that even now. So I have to go half an hour early, just at the moment that she starts getting jittery.

Let's see how we overcome this little hurdle! :)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Shruthi's law of parenting - 2

Just like in life, nothing is constant in the world of parenting.

Though Puttachi started staying at school by herself from Monday, I resisted telling you about it, wanting to give it some time, making sure that it was indeed working. So I waited until today to put up a post about it.

Two minutes after I clicked on "Publish" on the previous post, I got a call from her school telling me that she was crying uncontrollably, and asking me to pick her up.

It could be because she was sleepy (she woke up very early), but whatever the reason, she did cry.

So there goes my brain again - how will Monday be?
- -