December 19th 2011
Raghav has a way of saying the most profound things to me when I am in the least frame of mind to pen it down! He always catches me when I am sleepy or tired to utter these profanities and I have a hard time trying to jog my mind and remember every word that he said! Today has been no different.
Raghav was seeing his cousin brother (2 yrs and 9 months) Aditya after exactly a year now. He is my sister's son and hero worships Raghav. The last time they met was a terrific experience for me as I just could not do very much in helping Raghav understand himself and his brother - or atleast I thought so! Ultimately, it was getting so difficult and traumatic for him, that I had to be assertive and limit the time they had with each other in order that it was a short and pleasant experience for both of them and us. Today, after a year, my son told me in not so many words, that my not doing anything was probably the best I could have done then for him! And I am thankful to him for letting me know that.
Just before they arrived this time, I was preparing Raghav and was scared at the back of my mind as to how things would shape up between the two this time. Raghav very confidently told me as if he was reading my mind: "Amma, this time I can handle him.....don't worry.....I know how to handle babies now."
I asked him with a bit of apprehension: "Oh, how do you know?" (the teacher in me yelling out loud that to learn a skill, you need to experience or do it and then practice it often and that he had had none or very little interaction with babies to learn this) to which he replied very matter-of-factly :"Amma.....the last time, I learnt". While I was trying hard to understand how this could have happened as that experience had been so chaotic and turbulent, he said (again as if he was reading my mind) :"Amma, yes....I learnt how to handle Aditya from the last time he was here! I can handle him now!"
I had tears in my eyes...here was my 6 year old giving me one of the most important lessons in life - to use stumbling blocks as stepping stones....everytime you fail you actually learn something. Here I was doubting myself and his confidence, while he had learnt something so important that he was waiting to try out this time! Perhaps the best thing I had done the last time was nothing, other than just being his voice to the rest of the world and letting go of my ego to tell my sister that he needed his space and thereby respect his feelings and him. I am glad I did what I did. It was not one bit easy then, but I had to do it for him. And I can tell you that the understanding for me and my sister too did not come then, but rather, with time and just allowing things to be.
Today while we were discussing how the day had been with Aditya, he told me how he found it difficult to handle him. He first said: "Amma I was quite angry with him for getting up and coming behind me every second while he was eating. Why did he do that?"and then he corrected himself "Amma, no I was actually not angry, but a little upset". This clarity has come now I think because of constantly mirroring his emotions to him and discussing the subtle differences between them, through real life experiences.
He then recalled another thing that happened today. Aditya and he were playing in the sand pit with spades and a dumptruck. Raghav had parted with this favourite dump truck and allowed him to play with it. Later, while Aditya was busy playing something else, Raghav started playing with it. Aditya immediately came and asked for it and Raghav refused to give it to him saying that now he wanted to play and did not want to share it. Aditya would not get distracted by anything else that my sister did. He was insistent that he wanted to play with only that. I kept mirroring both the kids feelings, acknowledging them both, but it was heading nowhere and so we decided to go home and get Aditya something else to play with, which they agreed to. At the end of the day, Raghav analysed this event himself and had this to say:
"Amma, I think Aditya really wanted to play with that dump truck. I think he did not understand when I told him that I was playing with it now. Actually his turn was over and now it was my turn. I think he did not understand that. I also did not tell him that.....And you know, actually he must have thought that I stole the dump truck - because he was crying so much - I think he must have thought that because I took it away when he was not looking....he did not know that I took it and suddenly when he looked, he saw me playing with his dump truck. I should have asked him, but I forgot!"
I did not understand completely and asked :"But why should you ask? The dump truck was yours right?" to which he replied:"No amma, it was actually his then because just before that, he was playing with it. I should have asked him if I could play with it."
I was shocked. Here I was being a typical adult - my perspective to the littlest of things clouded with my prior conditionings. I just could not understand the situation in that way, until my son put it all in perspective for me! I am really thankful to this experience of unschooling that is opening up my mind and helping me look at learning, understanding, sharing and so many other things in a new, different and beautiful light!