Behind the stars …
from Uma, Nanna of almost 3-year-old Yogya in Vijayawada
A cow on the street religiously comes in the morning. Yogya and I feed the cow daily. She loves touching the cow. I take her around and show where more cows are. She loves touching the దూడ / calf.
The other day a cow gave birth to a calf in our street. Yogya spent so much time playing with the దూడ (calf). She kept calling the దూడ to come and play with her and when she came, Yogya stroked her neck. I took her to Goshala and show hundreds of cows to her. We took her to the zoo last time when we went to Tirumala and showed her all the animals she has toys of at home. She keeps saying “నేనుపట్టుకొంటాను” (I will hold) for not just cow, but every animal (she wanted to touch the lion and the giraffe as well).
Inside our house, I play Hide and Seek, arrange stairs for her with the sofa pillows, arrange blocks for her, try to spark her curiosity by introducing new things and new experiences.
I prefer being with Yogya in nature rather than indoors. I wait till she gets up to water the plants. I ask her to pluck flowers in the garden (regardless of whether she plucks the flower or the stem, sometimes she just plucks leaves and puts in my flower basket). When weather is good, I take her to the park or somewhere outside, but not regularly (my schedules).
Yogya likes playing in the sand and hence I sieved a whole bag of sand for her. Swapna and I spread the sand over a large plastic cloth and made a forest for her by putting all small animal figurines in it and this we used for her బొమ్మల కొలువు (doll display*). She also wets the sand and builds castles with it, something she learned by herself after one beach outing.
We answer every question of hers and do not tell her any fake things like there is a బుచ్చాడు (bogeyman) in the dark, etc.. We get involved in activities even if they might sound childish to others only to understand with her the beauty of the world.
Last night, I took her to the top floor and spread a mat and we both just lay down and watched the stars and the నెలవంక (crescent moon). I showed her the brightest star and told her that it is lakhs of kilometers away. I don’t care how much she understands. My job is to answer her every question. She knows that to reach her uncle in USA, she has to go through a plane in the sky.
We have the Amar Chitra Katha story on Kalpana Chawla, and have read and looked at the pictures together. Yogya remembers everything from the picture where Kalpana as a child doesn’t like oil being put in her hair to when she goes into space in a rocket. She knows that Kalpana Chawla went up once, came down, went up again and stayed there only and never came back. If you ask her where Kalpana is, she will say that she is behind the stars.
She likes to bathe in her tub. We take her to the river bank, show her people bathing, take her to the Durga temple on the hill and on the boat on the river Krishna. We go to the beach as well. I was telling her the thirsty crow story when I realized I could easily show it to her. I brought a round cup, poured water just to half and then brought those stones which we would use in a acquarium. She put the stones in the cup and the water came up. She shows anyone who comes to our house that this is how the crow drank water and went away.
Her granddad or I take her to the shop to fetch groceries or vegetables and she picks her chocolates. She is also expert in picking vegetables from the trays. I give her a cover and ask her to fill in tomatoes or beans or potatoes or onion. She does it till she gets bored and moves to the next item. I don’t care whether the vegetables she picked are good or not. I just get them billed. For me , it is important now to respect her independence. I will worry later about teaching her what is a good tomato and what is a bad one. I learnt again that from experience. When I tried to teach her once, she just gave the bag to me and said “Nanna, నాన్న, నువ్వు తీసుకో (Nanna, you pick them). I let her pick the apples, the pomegranates, the chips, etc., She knows the vegetables names more by playing with them.
I schedule my breakfast, lunch and dinner to her food timing. Lunch many a time I miss, but breakfast and dinner, I try my maximum to be with her.
* బొమ్మల కొలువు (bommala koluvu) is a doll display traditionally set up in during the festival of Sankranti