Right from her birth till today, I’ve eagerly observed to understand how she learns – my baby, Sufiana. Actually, it was not just my own curiosity that made me take notice. It was a lot about the nature of her learning that made me marvel, wonder and gasp at her spirit. She’s been a very, very passionate, committed and tenacious learner. I’ve seen her stick around despite failing again and again. I’ve seen her cry and kick and yell – so she could take her tiny thumb in her mouth. Her desperate struggle at day 5, day 6, day 7 and many more days and months after her birth – to put that dear thumb in her mouth to suckle at, was heart breaking for me. Sometimes, I felt compelled to show her how to do it. Other times, I thought it apt that she should try and figure out herself. Who am I to steal from her her zeal, her purpose. How can I not allow her the joy that’s truly her own when she figures it out. All through, I was just dazed with wonder at her persistence.
How long was the longest letter you’ve written to someone? Mine was 16-page (A4) long. I wrote it to my brother who was studying Engineering in another town. I missed my one-on-one conversations with him so much, I would write each and every thought in those letters. And, the best part was – he was a snail-mail/writing-enthusiast too. So, we wrote epic letters to each other. In the middle of all this, our postman was the one who enjoyed the show the most. He would at times take the liberty to ask me what I wrote, what reply did I receive, how do I find the time to write so many letters when I have academic books to study and homework to take care of.
We don’t have a cable connection at home, which means no television programmes for us. Not that we never watched television before. We used to. But, for the past one year or so, we’ve disconnected cable. We still have a television set (and a DVD player) which we use to watch movies. A lot of movies. And, all sorts of movies. Hindi, English, Regional, World movies, Documentary movies.
Into the 5000 years old Pandava caves going over the stories from the Mahabharata; in the flea market examining old coins, spices, antique furniture, carved wooden blocks; at the wholesale vegetable market admiring tiny Chinese oranges, at an ancient church over a hill-top watching the sea-scape hundreds of feet below, in an oldest Portuguese house listening to the 80-years old lady narrating stories from the bygone era, in a stream of fresh water floating dry leaves, by a lake-side watching migratory birds and wild flowers….
I’m listening to a song right now and my heart is warming and melting with nostalgia, love, truth and light. But, more than that, couple of lines in the middle of the song struck a chord with me instantly. Of all things, it focused on the truth about “stories”. What! Isn’t this what I’ve been pondering on since yesterday evening? Synchronicity, ha! I’ll share those lines (in Hindi/Urdu) with you and then share the meaning in English too. You’ll then know what I’m talking about…
Ek baar waqt se lamha gira kahin,
Wahan daastaan mili, lamha kahin nahin.
Once, a ‘moment’ fell somewhere from the lap of time,
There, stories were found, the moment – nowhere in sight.
(waqt = time , lamha = moment, daastaan = story)
Since morning, my thoughts have been revolving around this word, “stories”, in more ways than one. And once my mind made a note of it, the whole day I kept bumping (not intentional) into things – an article (by Peter Gray that says how stories make us relate to life), a song (that says stories remain, moments fade), some pictures (from my Delhi collection) – that kept reinforcing my original thought about “stories”.
So, I was thinking about the significance of stories in our lives. Stories, that we share using words. Words that can weave magic and create pictures and scenes in the minds of the readers. The stories crafted using the apt words, tones and expressions can leave a lasting imprint on its listeners.
Pictures are powerful, all right. They say, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, can we ever over-estimate the power of stories created using words, without a single picture to support? Surely, words are more than just words. Aren’t they?
By being with Sufiana and trying to understand her with awareness, I’m getting to understand more and more what enriches her mind, heart and soul. And, day after day, my conviction that babies don’t want to be stimulated (distracted?) with toys, artificial sounds and sights, a fake, pretend world, is becoming clearer and crisper.
No matter how colourful the toys, no matter how animated the sounds from the battery-operated gadgets, she moves away from these within a matter of minutes.
A small home with a real large space (yard space) to grow my own food – this is what I’m dreaming of right now. In the meantime, we’re doing what we can with the space/soil in the yard we have. Trying to grow in the Goan monsoons (July, Aug, Sept, Oct) was a steep learning curve. The rocky soil, the soil erosion, the pests (the joy and comedy of living right next to the paddy fields and ponds!), the stormy winds, and the time we got in bits and pieces with a baby – all put together – it almost eroded our enthusiasm and energy. Until this past month.
(a story related to this dead butterfly on the beach is on Pari’s blog)
I’ve often written about the Learning Connections we make in (and, due to) our unschooling life. But, rarely have I written about the unique human connections (lets call it UHC) we make in our unschooling life and all that we do as part of it. Yes, the unique human connections – you may call it ‘socializing’ – that we make when we go on nature walks, when traveling out of town, on railways stations, when sending post-cards and letters, when walking into neighbours’ homes to surprise them with Diwali/Birthday sweets, when cycling on the beach, when stopping by to chat with the fruit/vegetable vendor, when visiting Grandparents’ farmhouse. And, when blogging – and connecting with all YOU beautiful, thinking and thoughtful people around the world.
But then, I’ll write more about UHC in another article. I’m bringing it up here today as a context to the main article that you’ll read in a bit. And, the main article is not written by me! Woohoo! Now, that’s a BIG change here at Mommy Labs, isn’t it? It’s by a reader of my blog. Her name is Sunita Halasz.
I can still feel the softness of my baby on my body! I’ve just now come and sat at my laptop to write this article – after cozying her into sleep. I nursed her first and then carried her in both my arms with her body close to my chest and my face touching hers. She likes my cheeks against hers. And, I relish her feel. That feeling of holding your baby so close – so very close that you can melt into her warmth and softness, this emotion is beyond the realm of words and expression. Yet, you know what I’m saying…
Some days she likes to sleep by being carried in my arms, other times she just wants me to tuck her into the bed while I sit close or lay near her. There are no rules out here. But, mostly, she loves my touch, the warmth of my voice (“mamma is here” or a song or mantra) as she drifts into sleep.
Having experienced such close contact with my babies – first Pari and now Sufiana, I can’t fathom how babies feel and thrive when they are carried in those container-like things – those basket-like hand-held carriers dangling at knee level. Or, babies snapped into a stroller, almost completely draped with a blanket, being pushed around in isolation. No contact, no touch, no interaction. My heart really shrinks at such sights.
On the other hand, a baby in arms or in a sling/carrier – snuggled with the mother – the mother nursing the baby or talking to him/her, the baby feeling secure due to the touch, the warmth – I resonate with that.
So, this blog post today is unique. Because, this topic is close to my heart. And, there’s something for you and your baby to win. There’s a giveaway! A ring sling for all you mammas and papas (and, would-be parents) from the beautiful mamma of two – Chinmayie of Soul Ring Slings. It’s a worldwide giveaway. So, don’t hesitate to enter – no matter which part of the world you live in.
There was no cake, no candles; nothing else that might be testimony to a first birthday. Yet, it was a beautiful birthday celebration for Sufiana, who turned one on November 2. Avie, Pari and I discussed a few ideas for how to make her day special and then we all agreed – unanimously – given the curious, observant, aware, nature-loving and water-loving being that she is, the best birthday celebration and the best gift for her would be a day out in the nature. Nature would be her perfect play-mate showering her with curious finds, playful moments and wild fun.