Keeping ‘Little Human Beings’ busy…the Ira way
March 24th to June 7th, 2017 will always be a historic summer for us. Ira’s first summer holidays. As parents, this phase involves a multitude of emotions.
Some thoughts that bring relief- Mornings may be a little less rushed next few weeks, no pondering what to pack for the multiple little boxes, how to keep cold and fever at bay for your little one when every other kid has a runny nose or a stuffy nose, a cough or a sneeze or just that irritating bug.
The primary summer concern- How to keep the active, excited, non-stop chattering little human being occupied for the next 75 days! I like to make plans, make lists and strategize. We do believe in unstructured play but I did vehemently plan play dates. We wanted her to do her own thing but we also wanted her to be a part of the summer camps and experience something new. Ira is an early riser and we did hope that she sleeps in longer during these days.
Summer Camp and Party Time
This decision was very easy and yet, a bit hard. While listening to moms talking about how this is a real break, kids must just play at home or visit family or do nothing, a part of me began tripping on the guilt path. I am currently a freelance consultant, working primarily from home. However, the busy days can be real hard. I knew the summer camp choice was for two reasons- 1. We get those few hours to work while she is at the camp 2. Summer camp promises to be a fun learning experience for her. P and I decided to send her for all of them. The themes were sea creatures, space and earth. She absolutely loved the first one. We conclude going by the loot of things she brought home on the last day of the camp, post the party and excitedly showed us. Otherwise, every day when we asked what she did, a stoic silence or nothing was the reply. The second one she attended the first day before coming down with a nasty bug that lasted over a week. She did return to the third camp all smiles and learnt about earth.
· Ira had fun
· She learnt a lot of new things. She learnt about submarines, lighthouse, germination, earth and more
· She made new friends
· She finally took to the water play
· She was excited every morning to go to the camp, most excited about the party day
· It was a decision well taken
· Happiness guaranteed when you listen to your little one constantly sing, “Big blue whale, big blue whale…s(w)imming in the water…”
Chores and Activities galore
Ira quite likes the outdoors. She loves the parks and play areas. This summer, she also got a pretty good hang of her balance bike and now all our friends who visit are shown her biking skills. While we did some crafts activities, did vegetable painting, finger painting, block prints, glue and paper activities, these would last for a few minutes to maximum half an hour. However, they often set the momentum for the day and the excitement to show her papa what she did that day when he came home from work. Ira ofcourse took on the task of sweeping and swobbing every other day, post Usha (our house help) finishing her work. She helped us cut veggies (under parental guidance only) and even stirred the alu bhaja in the kadai. The idea is to make the chores fun and ensure the activities don’t seem like chores. We have always spoken to Ira like she is an adult and we followed the same dictum with getting her involved in the activities. So, she sprayed water on the car and cleaned the surface, we used the veggies she cut and we also ate the veggies she stirred on the kadai. Activities give them a sense of independence and is a great source of encouragement. While some days are creative and some days, we just sat and watched a movie. Even mamma feeling lazy had its perks.
· Kids like to be involved in home chores
· Chores to be carried out under parental guidance only
· Mix and Match the activities- building blocks, painting and craft, car washing. Assured of happy times.
· What works today may not work tomorrow, to keep them occupied. Kids are smart, can think of a thousand things to do. Eg. Watering a concrete wall, cleaning the jhaadu strands. The list is endless.
1. Can I slackline on the window?
2. Can I make carrot soup(imaginary) for you?
3. Can I take one photo in your phone?
4. Can I work on my small lappot (laptop)?
5. Can I go down by myself in the lift?
Pretend play, Unstructured play and no play becomes the norm some days. Replicating our conversations with either Bonnie or Leo or Snowy, while is entertaining for us, is serious business for Ira. We once in a while gave her the phone to take that one pic. The result would be burst shorts, gallery full of pics and a happy little human being. While we are quite strict about electronics and gadget usage, we gave her with limited time and some ground rules. She of course plays a surfer game and makes cakes in the pebble bay with elan now.
· Sometimes let the child be and discover all the things they can be- astronaut, dinosaur, doctor, teacher, dancer, story teller, chef, photographer, movie buff.
We love People
Summer holidays also meant she spent ample time with her Dadu-Dida and Joy, her Ajji and also her Mashidida, Meshodadu and Rony. While she went shopping with them, bought veggies and her favorite fruits, she also demanded that elusive lollypop. Grandparents are a child’s best friend because they never say No! While Ira discovered how to make their world turn around her, we realised how with her, they rediscover the child within. We also planned some play dates and met a lot of babies (says Ira). Having friends over and busy weekends drove home the point again that today as most of us live in nuclear setups, children naturally crave for people around them. Like P often jokes that she must be at times bored of just seeing us.
· Play dates meant chaos, fun and ‘learning to share toys’.
· Play dates are a great way for the mommies and daddies to get to know the other mommies and daddies
· Being and introduced as Ira’s mom or Ira’s dad becomes the norm
· Summer break is a boon for the grandparents
· The little human beings absorb all the love around, it can never be enough
· Learning to express love though a hug or a peck is a big step for their little feet
On the last day of her holiday, while playing with kinder blocks, Ira made a car in which she was going to school and mamma was saying bye. The eyes moisten at this moment because you realise that your baby is now a ‘little girl’. Please note that now Ira likes to be referred to as a little girl as she feels she is no more a baby. What seemed like so many days, are now gone past and we are left with memories of her first summer break to recount, write and talk about. Summer holiday also seems like a growth spurt time, literally. The kids seem taller and there is a tremendous increase in vocabulary. Must be the summer sunshine effect. Like Ira would say, “First of all guys, that’s my logic”.