Thursday, April 10, 2014

Understanding the Shine

Recently, we were at a mall to watch The Lego Movie. We had lunch there afterwards. Raghav was as usual watching something on his iPad while eating. Suddenly, a man with two little kids and wife, who was hovering around, probably in search for a place to sit down and eat, came up to us and angrily and said:" This is a place to eat you know, not a place to play games!" Before I could think of what to say to him and how, my husband had already finished reacting with anger. The man smiled, perhaps glad to have made his point, and moved away.

I felt trapped between how I was feeling for my husband and that man. I could understand the space from where both were coming. One was feeling angry perhaps because his space was being intruded upon and he was being told what to do. The other was feeling angry perhaps because he was with two hungry kids and could not wait to get a seat to sit down and eat. I was contemplating on whether I should get Raghav to get up and give our place to them, as those kids were really little and hungry. But that would have been next to impossible with Raghav's difficulties with transition and understanding another's point of view. While I was still processing all this, it was all over with. That family got a place to sit within a few minutes.

I have felt responsible for defending my child and his needs, as his mother. I think that until he is ready to set out into the world on his own and fend for himself emotionally and physically, I need to be there with him. And I know that my child and the Universe will let me know when he is ready for that. This issue with gadgets is something that I constantly face and have to deal with, both with my immediately family and friends. Sometimes I stand up and speak for us as a family and for my son. Sometimes I just get tired of explaining over and over again. But what I know is that it is coming up again and again for me because I need to get more grounded in my belief that all is well as it is. I know I will reach a point when I will not have to speak up for us and him, and when I won't have to defend a choice that we have made, because it is what we believe in. I will get there, and until then I will just have to keep following my heart and go with the flow.

Raghav has told us many a time before, when we openly discussed my fear that these gadgets would become an obsession, that he needs them, and that it is not just a want. We have had many a discussion on needs and wants. I have come to trust that he knows the difference, just like I trust he knows what he wants to learn and how. It is a deep feeling that grows with time and by living together, by being real and alive to whatever comes up for us each moment.

Raghav has this need to watch something while he is eating.  He has made it clear to us that it makes him "eat better". What I think he means by that is he is more mindful of his eating. It can be hard to understand how that could possibly be mindful eating, when he is doing two things at a time. It was hard for me to understand too, until I was able to see the process of eating, through his eyes. With his extreme, and often unpredictable sensitivities and challenges in processing some of those, a visual stimulant like the iPad or TV, probably makes it easier for him to process all the sensory inputs he gets while going through a complex task such as eating. I think it calms him down, so that he can process what he is eating and how. I have noticed that he is able to tell me more about the taste, texture, smell and if he likes the food or not, when he is calm and enjoying his food. He has often explained how his tongue and teeth work while he is chewing, and about the function of the epiglottis and breath, while he is eating in this way. This sounded very similar to what a young person with autism told us about being able to concentrate better on his lessons or someone speaking, when he was listening to the music of his choice, at the volume most comfortable to him, and using headphones. In fact, he even took his State level exams, with his music and headphones on, after getting special permission.

To me, my understanding of sensory processing has helped me understand my child better. It is like this - to understand it, I had to get into the box and explore it fully from within and from all sides...and then, I wanted to get out of the confined freedom of that box quickly, so that I didn't get stuck in it, and could look beyond. Today, I understand my son's challenges, through his shine. These "quirks" (for want of a better word) are his shine - who he truly is. I see them as pointers for me to not take anything, however simple it may seem, for granted. I see them as stepping stones to question and let go of my long-standing beliefs and fears. I see them as the unique cuts that make my precious diamond bring forth his own radiant shine into this beautiful world.


  1. We face this all the times and i remember reading a line from Chetan Bhagat's book that all these years our elders kept telling us to see the Television from a distance or else we shall spoil our eyes, and have we ever heard of anyone till today spoiling the eyes because of Television.
    We are OK with our both kids with having gadgets with them and at times we feel these are the guys who are lucky to be born in this era. We were obsessed with marbles and kites maybe and mango trees since we didn't have these gadgets to rely on. We would have loved it though.
    Nice write up Priya. I am sharing it on fb and google
    Here's a link to my blog ... do read it and give your views as well.

  2. Thank you Nozzer (sorry if that is the wrong way to address you!) :)
    You are most welcome to share it. I would love to go through your blog....I love the name! So beautiful!
    For me, this write up was not so much about whether it is good or not to have gadgets for kids, but to look at kids as individuals with their own unique look a little beyond what we see now with our look at and understand WHY a child is doing something that we are perhaps not too comfortable with....could there be another reason for that which we are not seeing?


Your thoughts are please do share them....