Celebrating 'Freedom', the Ira-way
It has been a while since I have written a letter to you. It is also a year since I first wrote to you about our Independence Day and the meaning of 'Freedom'.
Papa also shared his thoughts on freedom with you and urged you to 'fight' for it.
A year now and while the fundamental thought remains the same, the boundaries of the definition somehow has expanded. You turned three recently and with it we also discovered new emotions that you now feel, that you now express quite vehemently and new actions that you display.
1. Freedom to Express
We always strive to give you the freedom to express what you feel. As parents, traversing the so called moral pathway, while we need to ensure that you are polite, we also encourage you to say what's on your mind. This is essential for you and every little and big human being around. So, when you say you don't love us in a moment of despair at the refused toy or you call Papa a 'monster', we feel happy because you are blatantly expressing what you feel. We are living in times when this freedom of expression is being challenged and we hope it doesn't get any worse in the times to come.
2. Freedom to Say No and Protest
The last few months have been an eye opening experience, because you have begun to say no and protest and how! The protest is often accompanied by a loud cry, a few moments when no reason works and kinaesthetic expressions rise. You protest when we say no to an extra muffin or at times insist that you wind your work up. Always remember that we may or may not agree to you on several things as you grow up. You may feel the urge to protest, to reason , to state your stance and you must know today, that you will always have the freedom to say no and protest. While the parent in us may be annoyed, worried and disappointed, always remember that 'to protest is your choice and your right'. Always remember that your consent is yours and no one can take it away from you. The entire aspect of consent is more complex and warranties a complete post someday; for now, just remember that, "It is fine to say no to your parents and the world".
3. Freedom to Choose
You now make choices- big and small. What to wear, what you would like to take for snacks to school (only condition being fruits), whether the hairband or the clip as an accessory that day, which book to read, which activity to do at home, whether you want 'alu bhaja' or 'alu bhate' (potato fry or mashed potato), whether you decide to wear a 'normal' dress on a day when the school wants traditional attire, whether you want to go down and play in the evenings or not. As you assert your freedom to choose, it is a big lesson for us to learn to step back and let you be. So, the world doesn't end if you wear uncoordinated clothes to school, if you want muskmelon three days a week, if you choose to stay at home and play by self, if you go down to the apartment play space and choose not to speak a word to anyone, if you choose to wear 3-4 clips and a hairband the same day. These may seem small choices but these help you take the initiative and help you assert your freedom. As enthusiastic parents, we like to sometimes control and create that perfect FB pic, but we all know how many shots that usually takes :)
4. Freedom to Express Love the way you want to
Papa or Mamma: "Why do you want this Ira?"
Ira: "Because I love it"
The 'It' could be anything- animate, inanimate, food, toy, books, the limited screen time.
Papa or Mamma: "I love you Ira"
Ira, some days...: "I love you too"
Ira, most days...: No response. Stoic silence
The freedom to love and the freedom to express it is important. Prashant and I have always encouraged hugs, kisses and expressions of love. Ira, you are very expressive, albeit in your comfort zones and with some people. There are days when multiple hugs and group hugs happen and there are days when you refuse to hug. We are particular to let you know that you have the choice to hug or not to hug. It is beyond annoying when a child is forced to hug, because we at that split second are disrespecting their freedom and their physical space. What we have discovered is that your greatest way to express love is when you share the 'mishit doi' (sweet curd) with us. Love cant get more simple and sweet.
5. Freedom to 'Be'
All choices and notions of freedom will fade into oblivion if we don't let you be. So, this overrides everything. You some days choose to be a baby as you wake up and want more cuddles. Some days,you are the brave little girl who gets up from a fall, says ,"This is jujube" and moves on. Some days, you are supergirl, with all the superpowers in the world and some days, you are the little one we brought home, wondering how you have changed us forever.
So, as India celebrates her birthday today, let us celebrate another year of discovering the myriad notions of freedom.
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