Sufiana (will be four in Nov.) got out from the bed, while I was still asleep. This is how it normally is. She says, “I’ll go downstairs to Papa” and walks out closing the door after her. Avie usually wakes up an hour before me. He never lets go of his morning rhythm that constitute oil-pulling, drinking a glass of warm water with lemon juice, yoga, acupressure, playing with Sufiana in between and then both having some fruits together. (I do some of these health-related activities every day but not all!)
How I wish I would get up early too. I mean, really early. I’m a night person – I feel in sync with the depth of the night – makes me feel and think better. Hence, most of my writing, reading, listening to music happens after the world has gone off to sleep. But then, I also love early mornings. Although, I hardly wake up that early to gaze at the sky in all its divine hues of dawn, I earnestly feel that’s the best time to be one with nature and her creator.
So, like every morning, Sufiana sprawled on the sofa enjoying her quiet time, staring endlessly into nothing. We’ve noticed how she’s at her slowest and deep-thinking, meditative mode at this hour as compared to rest of the day, when she’s upbeat, active, energetic and always up to something adventurous. Looking at her at this time, I often wonder how kids her age, even smaller, are pushed and shoved into the rush hour of the morning – brush, bathe, dress up, pick your lunch box, bag, water bottle and hurry out the gate. The school bus/cab/car would be waiting. No matter rain or chill, there’s no time for a lazy sprawl, no time to look endlessly into nothing, into the infinite; not an extra minute to play that favourite game with your dad before he leaves for office.
And, bath times! O boy the bathroom. In our home, as I’m sure in your homes too, it’s a place of great happiness as well as distress. There’s distress over not wanting to bathe, and then there’s distress over not wanting to get out once you’re there! All in all, bath times are special. And, if a person, a kid especially, is robbed of that time to dream, play, mess around, go on a tangent in his/her mind, it’s a pity. It’s a loss . Of childhood and innocence. Of creativity and curiosity.
Pari takes at least 30 minutes to bathe. The first thing that accompanies her into the bathroom is her music. And then, another 45 minutes to an hour dressing up in her room. It’s not the dressing up that takes time. It’s the other things that go hand in hand – lost in her thoughts with the music on, dancing to the beats, often times pretending as though she’s explaining the whole process on camera. Yes, she does proper commentary with a live video camera in hand, explaining how to organize your wardrobe, take clothes out without messing other stuff, how to put on the Tee with ease. To her, all this seems like 15 minutes. And here I am yelling from the ground floor to hurry because she’s got a dance class at 2:30 PM!
Honestly, I cannot fathom how I could get my kids to jump through the various morning hoops to get going at 8 Am or so. Every. Single. Day. Well, it’s not like they won’t do it. It’s not as though they’re extra special or more ordinary. It’s not even like they’re spoilt. The reality is, I can’t have them go through this. It’d feel gruesome.
The truth – for me – is, I cannot comprehend how kids have to go through the rigmarole every single day.
Coming back to Sufiana, for the past many days, she’s not been wanting to have bath at all. She feels tired of the idea of drying her body up after it’s gotten all wet. I’ve found a few ways to meet her needs. And, yet it’s not been easy.
Today morning when I got up – an hour after her – she was going into the bathroom. As she spotted me, she declares, “Don’t come, don’t come, I’ll have bath all by myself.” I said, “Great, I won’t. You enjoy your bath. Have fun, baby.” Before that she’d brushed her teeth. Without any help.
Nearly 25 minutes later, Sufiana came out, wrapped up in towel. She said she’d cleaned herself thoroughly – her head, face, “bummy”, “shushupush” (vagina), neck, feet, tummy (in that order). Then she insisted we shouldn’t come after her to dry her body or provide her help with clothes.
She went right into the room, chose her clothes (which she always does) and wore them (she wears by herself mostly).
Starting from cleaning her teeth to having bath and dressing up – she’d done everything without an iota of help. More importantly, coaxing. On her own accord. Because, SHE wanted to.
As for Pari, she doesn’t usually wake up before 10 Am. Once she’s up, these days she drinks a glass of warm water with lemon juice, takes psyllium husk (for colon cleansing) and looks forward to playing with Sufiana. They have some unique talks and games that only the two of them can comprehend. Now, I cherish this part the most – the fact that these two sisters who are eight years apart are able to spend so much time with each other. With school and homework and exams, Pari would have been mindlessly busy to be able to spend not just quality but also ‘quantity’ time with her little sister. Such precious years these are….
So, together they bond and fight, baby talk or yell at each other. Pari then gets onto the laptop where they listen to music together or browse her etsy shop (she sells her art online). Often, she’ll dive bang into the leftover project/activity from previous night. But lately, she’s become besotted with vegan cooking and is constantly looking for new ideas to convert that milk-based cheese or cheese dip or chocolate mousse into a vegan version.
Today morning, with an idea brewing in her head, she headed straight off to the kitchen and started asking for an array of ingredients. She was delighted that I had every single thing that she could make that vegan cheese dip with.
In less than an hour, she’d made the best-tasting cheese dip on this earth. Seriously! Made without milk or any milk-based item, this was as close to an authentic, high quality cheese dip as can be.
My point is, if she was in school at that time, I’m so not sure she’d have paid any attention to the lessons. I’m sure she’d have been absent-minded the whole time, eager and impatient to get home so she could make her vegan cheese dip!
What’s true for Pari is true for most kids. Poor teachers, I empathize with them. They’re trying hard to get the students to focus, so they can learn.
But, is it in their power really – to make somebody learn, who’s not quite engaged?
But then, you can’t blame the students for disinterest or inattentiveness.
All they want to do is pursue their own delight – emerging from their incessantly curious minds and hearts. They are fully attentive – to their own instinct. Now, since when is that wrong? I thought that’s the sign of budding creativity, individuality, entrepreneurship, scientific thinking.
In that case, is there anything much schools can do – to facilitate learning?
Yes, I think they can.
They can give back the precious time to the children. The time they’re so deprived of. The free time, which must be their own. When no body else is telling them to do this, follow that. They can give this time so the kids can remain true to themselves. Listen to their inner voice. Follow their own instinct.
As much we all need fresh air, clean water and wholesome food for a healthy mind and body, we also need – and children more so – ample free time – to think, imagine, dream, and do, all that we want to, in the way that appeals to us – for a creatively and spiritually enriching life.
If we’d just stop rushing them through a galaxy of tasks and to-dos, activities and instructions, and instead gave them the gift of time, to do what they actually want to do, when they want to do and in the manner that suits them, they’d turn out perfectly fine.
Like stars shining in the moonlit night – each carrying its own light and power; none trying to outdo and dull the other. Together, the children, they’ll light up this world with their inner glow that comes from listening to their own inner voice and believing in themselves.
Because, we the adults – the parents, the grand-parents, the teachers, the community – believed in them.
You may want to watch this movie – beautifully made. Poignant message – how creativity is lost in the rigmarole of life. Why we need to give kids the time to stop and smell the roses….
If you like this article, please share widely in your circle. Thank you for spreading the message of #freetimeforchildren
I need help sustaining this blog…
Dear blog readers – It’s been exactly eight years now that I’ve been writing on this blog! Yes, eight long years and hundreds of articles. From art, creativity and learning; to food, health, gardening, travel, sustainable and mindful living, natural birth. In our un-schooling life, as we go on introspecting, questioning and evolving, I’ve strived to share our stories and experiences with as much honesty, care and sincerity as possible.
I spend hours writing an article – and often write and rewrite many times before it rings true to me and sounds worthy of your time to read.
The most important thing for me is to keep this blogging endeavour authentic and true to my values. This blog has been my sacred space to express, share, feel empowered and contribute. Hence, I do not like to support businesses that don’t align with my values. So far, I’ve rarely taken sponsorship from brands and companies. I haven’t placed any ads on my blog, though there have been multiple offers.
Infact, I’d like to keep this blog ad free unless something truly meaningful comes across.
Yet, there’s a cost to running this blog. The basic cost of keeping the domain alive, and hosting all this content on. I spend roughly INR 10,000 (USD 173) just to keep this blog up and running. So, I need to cover this cost. Plus, it’d be nice to bring in some income for our family of four. And, this is where I request your support.
If you find my articles and stories useful or inspiring at some level, please help me sustain. Starting from 1 dollar or 100 rupees to whatever you can, do consider donating for the content I share; for my intention and the time and effort I put. Your support will go a long way in keeping this blog (of 8+ years) sparkling with stories for many more years to come. Thank you, dear ones. I’ll value what you’ll gift with love and kindness. :-)
International readers: Donate using PayPal
Readers in India: Donate here