Last week V completed a month-long summer camp at Maple Bear. He moved from being a 20 month old toddler to a month older and was one of the youngest in the class. I can’t say about him, but I definitely learnt a lot of things and grew up as a parent in the last one month.
Don’t get me wrong. I am the last one in the world who will push her child towards academics and look at ‘teaching’ him just when he has barely learnt to say a few words. Much of my family cringed at the thought of sending him to ‘school’. But I was clear in my head… I wanted V to go and spend ‘quality time’ with other kids. And by default, with me!
Getting back to work has been a struggle. Not for me, but for our relationship. Over the past few months I have seen V grow from a happy child to an irritable, angstsy toddler with visible signs of anger. In an earlier post I had mentioned that I considered these to be ‘teenage’ symptoms and so began a process of diverting his attention and energy towards positive results. The summer camp was one such distraction.
A month-long ritual of going to ‘play’, mother, son and nanny, we had a joint activity that we looked forward to five days a week. In the process, were broken a few misconceptions, many lessons learnt and some friends earned. Not to forget the ideas that I came back with!
Knowing V, I imagined him to be really happy to be with kids. After all, he wants to play with older kids in the park. But in the school, I soon realised that he is no better than the time when he was in the nursery right after he was born. To my horror, I realised that crying has a dominoes effect on kids. One starts crying and the other follows. Much of our time was spent sorting out the crying babies.
Kids love discipline and routine – that’s another thing that I had read. Yes, kids love a routine and they feel their lives are in control if they do things in a pattern. But, what I also learnt is that indiscipline and throwing a fit at being forced is also okay. It is okay, if I am singing the rhymes and dancing along while he topples the chairs every day. It is okay if I have to lure him to the ‘activity of the day’ to have him spend just a nanosecond at it and then to complete it myself. There will be many activities to finish for him down the years! I also believed that I don’t like craft! To my utter surprise… I love craft!
Plenty! I learnt that I cannot coax V into submitting. He has to be genuinely interested that an activity is ‘fun’ for him to be involved. With an attention span of a teaspoon, I learnt that there is only ‘this much’ that he can and wants to do at one point of time. He doesn’t like to share. And kids his age don’t like to share. They want the same toy, same bike and same paint. I learnt that sharing cannot be taught in a month. However, it is a sizeable amount of time to teach him to be tolerant. On some days I managed to do that. I learnt that he likes to be challenged to do small tasks. And I realised that these same tasks can help us bond and have fun! I have also learnt that repetition works. Singing the same song, doing the actions before him is enough for him to copy me. Today when V does ‘Wheels on the Bus’ while I sing along, I would be lying if I don’t say that I am secretly very happy.
This is the best part of going back to school! While V negotiated his way during play and learnt to be patient and accommodating (I wish!), we bonded… the mothers, I mean! The last 3 weeks were more fun as I met and befriended mothers. Motherhood can be a tad lonely. Especially, if you have a traveling husband and tend to share the bulk of parenting responsibilities. In such a situation, having a ‘mommy-friend’ is the best thing that can happen to you. We shared our baby stories, parenting tricks, motherhood woes and challenges. I was the only (full-time) working mother and so I envied the WAHM-ies. Now that the camp is over, we hope to keep our friendship and plan activities for the kids.
As a working mother, one of my biggest challenges is time management. And within that, finding enough time for V. I see myself as a hands-on mother and I want us to have enough time in the day to have fun, play and cuddle! So while the summer camp was a great excuse to be with him for a few hours, I also realised that I must sustain the tempo and not lose it. And so has begun a whole new journey of ideating and forming games and activities for V, one’s that are hand crafted and tailored for his age and those that he will enjoy even when Mum-um is not at home.
P.S: I am sharing a couple of Father’s Day gifts that V made. He (read: we) made the photo frame in school and the wall hanging was a home craft. 🙂 My favourite moment of making these with V was when he took them to his father and he asked, “Did you make these Vihaan?” The boy shrug his shoulder and tilted his head… that’s how he says ‘You’re Welcome’! 🙂
The TV junkie is back into the idiot box. Besides pretending to be a superwoman between work and family, Rituparna also dreams of flying free as an entrepreneur! Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.