Category Archives: play

Reflections of a almost five year old on Fairy Tales

I have recently introduced Migu to popular fairy tales and now our bed time reading as well as meal time stories are generally Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

As I have blogged in the past,here and here  Migu does not like to consume stories in a docile way. She has to constantly comment or critique a story. So this is how our story telling session on Snow White went.

Snow White had a step mother who had a magic mirror.

Migu : Wow step mother and magic. Is she like the fairy godmother? Will she wave her want?

Me : Well, no step mother and fairy godmother are different, sort of very opposite to each other. Will you let me continue?

As I continue we come to the bit about the mirror.

Me : The step mother asked the mirror, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

Migu : Wait, wait, I am the mirror, you are step mother, now ask me.

Me: Ok, Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

Migu : Goldilocks

Me : Not Goldilocks, Snow White.

Migu : But that day you told me Golilocks was also beautiful.

Me : Never minds, its another story. Can we continue.

After some time, as we come to the bit about Snow White falling after eating the apple

Me : How do you think she revived?

Migu : How? How?

Me : A handsome prince came and saw Beautiful Snow Whites Body. When he kissed her, she revived.

Migu : Thats not fair. Thats what happened to Sleeping Beauty. You are simply saying this.

Me : No that is the story.

Migu : Why is it always the prince?

Me : I dont know, can I continue?

Migu : Ok

Me : The prince and Snow White got married and lived in a castle

Migu : No, that is what happened to Rapunzel

Me : So its a different prince, and it was perfectly OK for him to marry Snow White.

Migu : Getting irritated, there is always a prince (She said it in Tamil, so all who follow Tamil can truly understand the impact of a line like Eppopathalum Prince, Eppopathalum Prince.

After some time,

Migu : I dont like these stories, I only like Red Riding Hood.

Me : Why

Migu : There is no prince, only a wolf.

The Feminist in Me : You go girl, yes you dont need a prince.

Like I have written before, I didnt really question any story while growing up. I dont not always fantasize about a life similar to the one which I was reading about, but I accepted it and never thought to challenge their choices. I am glad Migu is growing up, questioning stories, and maybe unconsiously breaking stereotypes and challenging possibilities and choices.

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A To Z Blogging Challenge : P is for play and learning

A to Z Blogging Challenge Apr 18 P

 

Just today I visited my daughters’ soon to be school (she will start in two months) and was stuck by a chart out there. I cant remember the exact words, but it said something like Trust me I was not made to sit still and listen to someone, I need to engage with the world with all my body and trust me I am learning. SO let me play.

 

I really appreciate the sentiments of the school, because trust me some parents concerns about how kindergarten children are performing in school and what they have learnt is quite disconcerting. Today morning, within the school itself I heard two parents swap notes on whether the child was identifying fruits, vegetables and colors. I mean why does it even matter.

 

But when I thought of play, I started wondering about how we have ended up instrumentalizing even play for a larger learning agenda. Any toy shop you go to, toys come labelled with what skills they help the child develop. I know children are supposed to learn while playing, but can we actually sort of not think about the learning all the time while playing. John Holt says it is dishonest to think of teaching the child while playing, because play must always have its inherent value, and an adult cannot impose a larger learning agenda and rob the child’s right to play. I am paraphrasing, but that is pretty much what he meant. When I read it, I thought he was overreacting and there is nothing wrong with us using play as a learning tool. But now when I see schools go out of their way to emphasize that we teach through playing and parents continue to swap stories about how well their three year old can identify fruits and vegetables, I really wonder.

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A to Z Blogging Challenge : C is for commuting to work and getting some guilt free ‘me’ time

A to Z Blogging Challenge : Apr 3 C
Over the last five years, I have had the dubious pleasure of not having to commute to work at all. I work from home, or in a workspace which is abt two minutes walk from my home. The walk is picturesque campus. My daughter’s day care is on the way, so I drop her off while leaving for work and pick her up when I am coming back.

Now, considering how crowded and congested most major Indian cities are, isnt this a big blessing. Well I assumed so for a long time. Especially in the initial days, when I had just moved to Ahmedabad, and was fresh from long two wheeler rides to my workplace through the congested streets of Bangalore.

But very soon this began to pall. On those ocassions when I had to go to Bangalore and commute to work, I started enjoying it. My workplace was now further away, and I had to take public transport to reach it, but I would say this added to my enjoyment. I borrowed books from friends and colleagues. I would load books onto my kindle and read it on the way. Planning for what I would read during the long bus ride was an activity in itself.

Looking back, I think what I really liked about this time was the fact that it was totally ‘me’ time and I didnt need to give an excuse to anybody, least of all myself, to claim that time for me, to pursue my hobbies. I feel women who are trying to balance household as well as jobs are on a constant guilt trip on how they are underperforming in one of these roles, or perhaps both, and so even if they have time for leisure that is clouded by guilt. But when I sat on a bus to go to work, I was free from all that. No household work is expected of me while I commute (though many women in the local trains of Mumbai manage that as well), no office work is expected of me either. So I could read to my hearts content.

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30 Day Blogging Challenge : Day 1 : Five ways to your heart

I have accepted the thirty day blogging challenge, and so this blog will be busy for the next thirty days, and I will be writing on stuff, which I would never otherwise write about, definitely not on a blog.

This is going to be a random blogging vacation for me, where I push the boundaries of what I allow myself to write. Readers who will start wondering if the old Divya will be back, hold on, she will. Or possibly, this vacation will alter me so significantly that she wont.

 

Five ways into my heart

I think I have been married for so long, that I have forgotten how or why I fell in love with my husband in the first place 🙂 I remember long conversations, many cups of coffee and a shared tendency to continuously analyse things. And things have changed so much these days, we have no time for long conversations, neither of us have stepped into a coffee day for years and years, and the analysis paralysis frame of mind we get into is the trigger for some of our most intense fights. Yeah, things which seemed romantic to a young girl of 24 can seem like a waste of time for a harried mother of 31. But anyway here is a list of five things, which my husband can do to get into my heart. With a few variations this is probably a list which every harried mother will make.

 

1. Plan and execute a weekend outing, with no inputs or prompting from me, which is simultaneously interesting for two adults and a child of one and a half, and plan it in such a way that the child’s eating and sleeping schedule is not significantly disrupted.

2.  Coming up with ways to engage a child while eating, for long enough to ensure that she completes the meal (TV not allowed. The toys should be such that they are easy to play with while the child sits in one place and eats).

3. Random post dinner snacks, an ice cream, masala coke, frozen paan or anything unexpected

4. Willingness to spend sundays in a random way, playing in the garden with my child and the birds. Finding a way to overcome the sunday evening blues, which being anticipatory in nature are even worse than monday morning blues.

 

5.  Conversation on yoga and appreciation for the new asanas I am picking up 🙂

I thought when I started writing this list that almost all the things will now be about my daughter rather than me. But I realize that almost all the items on the list is actually about me and what I continue to enjoy. So yes, while motherhood has consumed me, I am still retaining a sense of self, of things which I enjoy. Three cheers to myself.

 

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You dont need to be correct all the time

Mrignayanee’s (my daughter)  adventures  with her shape sorter toy has been quite interesting.

For those of you who dont know what a shape sorter is, it consists of different pieces in different shapes (cube, pyramid etc) along with a receptacle with a lid which has shapes to match the pieces. The kid is supposed to figure out where to put which piece.

Now, Mirgnayanee tried doing it the conventional way a couple of times. Her trials were random. Then she decided there was no need for a lid to be on the receptacle at all. She removed it, freely put the pieces in and out, and was very happy with herself. The point that the rule of the game did not allow her to remove the lid was immaterial to her. She probably saw no need to adhere to a rule, when her primary purpose was to simply put and remove things from the receptacle.

There are two ways I can take this. I can feel happy that my daughter is a lateral thinker who sets her own rules. Or I can feel bothered that she is not paying attention and not getting it right, like other kids her age. I have now chosen to do the former, but  I think my natural inclination was to do the latter. I had to fight hard not to force her to play it the right way. I had to fight hard not to manipulate her into putting it in the ‘right’ way. I was so anxious she should get it right, I almost made sure she would put it in the right hole, by placing the correct hole at the most accessible location.  I had to  let go of my anxiety that my daughter is not doing something ‘correct’.

Similarly with her vocabulary. She is now at a babbling stage. SHe loves dogs and animals, and in general she chooses to call all animals ‘bow wow’. Her logic I presume is, if there are four feet and a tail, its a bow wow. She uses this consistently. In a friends house, she picked up a soft toy of a tiger, called it ‘bow wow’ and petted it. The other day, I pointed a camel to her, she stared at it for two minutes, before turning around and confirming this was also a ‘bow wow’. I had to tell myself for her to have made this abstract thinking that creatures with four legs and a tail is a bow wow is itself a great feat, and I dont need her to recognize every animal in the planet ‘correctly’.

I was greatly influenced by some of the thoughts of John Holt and read his work extensively, before Mrignayanee came. I really appreciate his point that children are largely self taught, and if we resist from hurrying up and trying to teach them things, they will learn from their natural curiosity. I decided this is how I will be as a parent. But trust me its easier said than done. We are each of us and so obsessed with getting things right that we cant help but pass on this anxiety to our children. Trying to let go of this anxiety may be the hardest thing I do as a mother. And yet, it may be the best present I can give my daughter, because I set her free to figure things out her own way.

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