How I am making sure that my kids do not miss out on their "Wonder Years"
I barely see any kids, allowing their hands to get dirty, or enjoying the first showers of rain, or running barefoot.
There is a general hush surrounding me. A sense of quietude I haven’t felt since long. I cherish this moment of solace, to unravel and plan the day ahead.
It’s the wee hours of the morning and I sight a milkman letting out a slow whistle while taking sharp turns on his bicycle. Two giant milk cans hang on either side of his rickety bicycle as he makes his way onto the stumbling roads.
Most part of the city is still sleepy at this hour. An aura of orange and golden specks slowly starts filling up the morning sky. If not for my morning chores, I would have easily sat at the window sill for an hour or two allowing time to drift along with my random observations.
I spend a good fifteen minutes trying to locate a little bird which has a distinctly pointed yellow beak. Hopping from one branch to the other, it is well camouflaged between the brown and yellow wilting leaves of the peepul tree.
A school bus below honks incessantly. I observe young fathers and mothers, some of them dressed in their gym attire, holding overbearing satchels of their half sleepy kids as they drag them to the bus stop.
Before I decide to move away, I notice a group of young boys and girls may be in their early teens, gathered in a huddle at a roundabout corner. None of them have their heads raised. I try hard and narrow my eyes to get a better view. A slow realization dawns on me that they are all neck deep into their smartphones.
The joy and the bubble of happy emotion I had felt a couple of minutes ago, swooshes out, leaving me feeling all pricked and deflated.
When I was a child...
When I was a child, I remember, kids of my age indulging in a whole lot of outdoor activities. My early phase in life was spent more in exploring the outside world and especially nature.
During monsoons, there used to be this bare patch in our building that had wild grass growing rampantly which was at least a foot long.
My best moments were of sitting on a rundown bench with my closest friend surrounded with the same unkempt grass and squatting away flies in general and seeing yellow butterflies flit by.
Occasionally we would spot mammoth butterflies that had a splash of colors circled all over their wings and our hearts would fill up with immense rapture just by watching them.
Summers called for a different story. The season was nuanced with light mischief, carefree holidays without the burden of studies and generally idling away our time as we friends would venture out for long rides on rented bicycles.
Summers also meant for climbing onto guava trees and stealthily plucking out the ripest ones from the neighbor’s plot, or playing Gilli Danda; a game involving sticks and a stone played between two teams
Those were days, when kids created a whole rumble of noise, and mothers including mine would come out screeching at us to go easy.
Now that I have my own kids...
Today, when I venture outside, I barely see any kids, allowing their hands to get dirty, or enjoying the first showers of rain, or running barefoot.
I too have teenage kids at home who are no different. There are days when they are glued to their phones. But there are also those magical days, when they insist that we all leave our phones behind when we step out for an occasional family dinner.
I recall a particular evening when I was present in my kids’ room along with them. All of a sudden we happened to hear this huge commotion outside. When we rushed to the window, we could see the leaves of the almond tree located outside our building rustle wildly.
It was the time of twilight and the sky was slowly turning a natural purple.
What grabbed our attention then was a pair of huge fruit bats, noted to be the world's largest bats. Since these bats typically feed on nectar or any other source of fruit, we saw them digging into the seeds of the lemon-sized almond fruits. The tree stood nice and tall with its flat, broad leaves spreading like a green canopy all over.
My son kept us engrossed with his rapid commentary in the background enlightening us on the history of fruit bats. I will always cherish this moment for a long time.
Every day needn't be a moment of glory
But yes, every day needn’t be a moment of glory. There are going to be days when you snap at the kids, especially for working mothers when you are slumped and weary after a hard day’s commute or bearing your boss’s brunt at work.
To add to it, for working mothers there is always a hammer of guilt knocking over their heads on how much should they indulge with their kids and how much should they hold back.
Basis experience, I have listed out a few rules and fun chores that one can indulge with kids classified between the age group of early teens and for kids who are under ten-year-olds
- Have a phone detox day planned along with switching off phones and computers everyday post 9 pm
- Make most of the monsoons by tugging them along for a trek
- Your kids are precious
- Listen listen listen to them all the time
- Talk talk talk to them all the time not just by glorifying your own worth and preaching advice to them all throughout but indulging them in meaningful conversations
- Bake a cake. If you don’t trust your baking prowess, get a ready cake mix from the market and bake one. Invite your tiny tots to decorate the cake. Nothing fancy, buy few packets of gems and allow them to fix the colorful dots in no particular order and see their faces light up with wonder
- For slightly older kids help them to write a letter or a postcard to their grandparents, It will be sheer source of delight to both parties
- Get them to develop a habit of reading when they are young
- If circumstances allow, keep a pet. No other source of joy for single growing up kids to bond with animals. The best stress buster
- If nothing else works, take your kids to a seashore and make them listen to the conch shell:)
While there are no specific mantras for raising children in the correct manner, I believe it is all about efforts, patience and channelizing their energies in the right direction.
Moreover, it is important to make certain house rules and ensuring the entire family sticks by to those rules. My kids today are a case of constant work in progress but so are we as parents, gently unfolding layer by layer, learning and unlearning all along the way.