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Make memories with your kids
Zelda Pande |
August 22, 2005
My younger daughter, who is five, has just started taking the school bus. Every morning I drop her to the bus stop at 7.20 am and continue from there to the gym. Quite often, my taxi or car is travelling right behind her shiny, yellow school bus.
She peeps at me with dancing big black eyes from the back of the bus. I always wish I had my camera when I see her excited face and bobbing pigtails, framed by the bus' rear window. Her simple, boundless joy at being able to wave to her mother for an odd kilometre before our routes separate brings an instant, deep spasm of happiness… happiness or warmth that feels like nothing else.
Snapshots of these memorable moments with my two daughters are engraved in my heart. They have a bittersweet edge to them too. They always make me so conscious of the limited time I have with my children before they grow a few years and will be beyond that stage with me. They will have their friends and their adolescence and will be looking outwards for independence, other horizons and new friends.
These precious moments have been carelessly allotted just a tiny corner or slot of time in our humming lives. It is so hard to find time free between play-dates, piano classes, tuitions, school and our busy work schedules for doing simple old-fashioned activities that bring more joy then anything else in the world. Our time is being manipulated more and more, day-by-day practically, by the television, cell phones and computers.
During moments of retrospection, I rue the fact that I am not making a conscious effort to include simple pleasures and activities in our lives before it is too late. That is what memories are made of. They are not made of the times you played Free Cell on your computer or watched Bride And Prejudice on DVD or sorted your Hotmail.
Memories are made of the family dinners together at home (yes, they are rare in my home because it is either dinner with Dad or dinner with Mom, rarely do the kids have dinner with both Mom and Dad). Memories are made of playing cricket with your father. Or baking a cake with your mom. Walking to the ice cream shop. Strolling along the seaside.
The pressures of modern life are robbing our lives of so many sentimental moments, sucking away the Technicolor. They are stealing away our memories before they are even born, making our lives bland and monochromatic like a Palm Pilot screen.
Those thoughts were the inspiration behind a special bit of time planning I did for my daughters and for myself. I consciously drew up a list simple things missing in our lives and am attempting to squeeze them in.
Funnily enough, if you make a conscious effort to pencil them in, you do find the time. Focusing on them actually makes these activities possible.
The result: my daughters are over the moon. And my regrets have lessened.
Let me share my list with you and why don't you try them with your kids and tell me how they work for you?
- Take your child to the park or sea front at least once a week for half an hour and spend time talking to him/ her. Go for a bus or train ride. Take a boat ride.
- Swim or play soccer or cricket with your son or daughter once a week.
- Do gardening with your kids. Every two or three weeks, plant a few seeds in small pots on your windowsill and see what pops out.
- Drop or pick your child up from school or his bus stop. Better still, on certain days, fetch him from his class so he can show you where he sits and what he does.
- Cook, bake and barbecue with your children. Kids love to cook. And they are good at it. Bit by bit, teach them how to do simple kitchen tasks like making cocoa or lemon juice or toast or whipping up cream for strawberries/ mango and cream.
- Read to him when he wakes up and again when he goes to sleep. Even when he is 10 or older.
- Plan special holidays with your kids. Simple, non-hectic holidays where you have time to stroll on the beach for shells or walk in the woods.
- Reserve evenings for special dinner discussions where you can introduce them to a little GK and discuss anything from politics and philosophy to sport.
- Watch a slightly more serious, classical movie with your child. Or a special television programme on National Geographic or Animal Planet.
- Do a craft activity with your child. Help him cut, paste and create baskets or mobiles or hats or bookmarks or whatever strikes his fancy. Teach him to craft his own gifts for his sister or grandmother for Raksha Bandhan, Diwali, Christmas or birthdays.
- Take an extracurricular class with your child. Someone I know learns Spanish with her nine-year-old daughter.
- Teach your child a skill -- carpentry, knitting, photography.
- Take your child to the market to buy vegetables and fruits.
- Plan spontaneous, fun outings… a trip to the pastry shop; an evening at the circus.
- Teach them to write letters and draw cards for their friend's, cousin's, grandparent's birthdays. Make them call and speak to their grandparents once a week.
- At birthdays and festivals make sweets/ Christmas cake/ gingerbread men/ cupcakes with them.
- Do household tasks with your children. Dust, sweep or clean together. Teach them to tidy their toys and books or clothes' cupboards.
- Read the newspaper/ magazines with your child.
- Plan the occasional picnic with your kids.
- From time to time, take the day off to be with your kids.
Zelda Pande's earlier columns
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh