I think for a long time, before D was born, I was under a misconception that staying all day at home could never ever be simulating, would be boring and it is for lazy people.
But D has shown me otherwise in more ways than one. For one – our home and neighborhood is all that she needs to stay happy, healthy and occupied round the clock! The half-km radius around our house is enough for her and me to find our fulfillment in so many ways and we keep discovering newer ones everyday.
We travel quite a bit for pleasure or work or to visit people. And we love doing that. But coming back to home has its own charm.That feeling of comfort and freedom our home offers is paralleled to none. Especially after being away for a considerable amount of time.
Since we have been quite particular that D leads her own path in life and in learning, we have not stopped her from going to school (as much as sometimes I feel like), when she decided that, that was what she wanted to do. The school is right in front of our house, so she goes and comes as her instinct dictates.
We have a park down the street, about two minutes away, which is a very important part of our lives. I go there to reflect on my day to day life, take a walk, listen to audio books or just to watch children play. D loves spending almost a couple of hours everyday with her friends. They have their own imaginative games of cooking and feeding every child in the park, whooshing down the slides while screaming on top of their voices. Adjusting the speed of the merry-go-round to suit everyone’s needs. Hanging and swinging from the parallel bars. Reverse swinging and forward swinging on the swings. The experiments go on- can I slide backwards, or can I climb the slide and jump down the steps? Can two of us slide down at the same time? Can we meet and sit midway between the slide? Can we form a train on the slide? Everyday is a day for some new discovery or invention- some noticed by me or other visitors to the park (who either have a smile, or sometimes a frown). Yesterday, they discovered some berries fallen from a tree and made fish curry with it. D’s friend slept on a big leaf, pretending it was his bed. They walk along the stones lining the pathways, trying to balance on them.
During the day, D loves to make dosas in the morning- we try out different shapes and her current favorite is “train” dosa. She makes dosas for her appa, her masi (aunt) and herself. Sometimes for me too. She feels important when I ask her help in cutting vegetables for lunch and often shows us how to cut them. Many a times she runs off midway to do something else, like write ABCD in her book or just scribble or play. At times, she tells us how to cook a particular dish. Helping us with chores at home or shopping for food is on her radar mostly, that is if she is not busy with something else.
Often times when she back from school, she pretends to be at school. Every inanimate object turns into a student while she is the teacher. Sometimes we play along and become her students. She sings every song and rhyme , sang at school, many a times adding her own gibberish words to substitute for the lyrics she does not know.
She can be found dabbling with paints or trying to figure out different sounds on the keyboard, blowing air into the harmonica, eating, watching an animated movie on the laptop, staring out of the window in our living room. She likes to narrate stories which are often gory- they involve someone getting hurt and a lot of blood. The same story keeps changing every time she says it. Her appa is usually the one reading books to her. We usually translate English books in our head and narrate the story either in Kannada or Tamil. Lately, she has started taking the books we are reading and read them herself.
The other day our friend came home to do some filming for her TV show. We gathered all the kids from the neighborhood into our home and read them a story about a rakshasa who shared his beautiful features with all his friends to make them all happy, and in turn ended up being happy and unique himself. Then they all took turns answering what made them unique and beautiful for the camera. It was so fun! They wanted to do more than answer questions on the camera, they sang songs, danced. Oh yes! Dancing! How can I even forget about that? It forms such an integral parts of our lives. We just break into a jig for no reason, music or no music. Its such a stress buster.
We had friends who are from a theater ensemble stay with us most of December. We were surrounded by music, voice practices, dance and drama rehearsals. D grew quite fond of imitating their clown act and it was interspersed with her own acts. When we went on walks in the neighborhood, D would lead us all into singing and dancing on the road! We would be stuck at some place for almost half an hour and would have to prompt D to move forward so that we could all reach home -sometime at least in the next couple of hours!
One of favorite hang out places is the tender coconut anna. D has named the road side shop as anna-nee (neeru in Kannada means water) which is a five min walk from our home. We usually end up going there everyday. There is a big building next to the coconuts and we sit on the steps, sip the water and eat the coconut (yummy). If we go with D’s friends, then they all run up and down the steps many, many times. Recently we started playing a game where I catch someone who comes down the stairs. So they all run up the stairs and when I pretend to look away, come down, only to run back up when I go to catch them.
There are days when we have to leave our homes to go attend meetings or meet friends. D always looks forward to coming back home, especially to her friends. If we have friends or family visiting, D often takes us along to play with her friends or in the school ground in front of our house.
We try to balance what each one of us wants to do. It can get challenging when we are outside. But if we are at home, we can just carry on with our jobs as D has her own things to do, independently. And we are secure in the knowledge that she is safe and happy, which of course makes us happy.
This article first appeared in AskAmma