2nd February 2012
Almost everyday I am amazed at how much can be learnt with no formal teaching at all! When you just go with the flow of life and what it has to offer you everyday, everything just happens the way it is destined to. Many may read this as having a fatalistic attitude to life........I don't know what to call it, though I know that I am not fatalistic. When you live each day with an almost unshakeable belief in the universe and God and stop worrying about the future, I guess the surrender or acceptance or understanding allows one to experience everything fully - the way it was meant to be.
Strangely though, both Srinath and I have no worries at all about Raghav today.......and it has taken us two years of being with him 24x7 and allowing him to teach us everything about life from scratch from his perspective, that has made us this way today I think. It does not worry us as to what he is going to do later on, whether he will go to school or not, how we will teach him, what he will learn, whether he will be sociable or like to be by himself......none of that worries us today. And I used to think so much about the very same things a few years ago! :)
Today, we live everyday as it comes....we do what we want to do that moment........nothing is pre-defined or planned, unless it comes from Raghav himself. Believe me, it was not easy at all to be like this in the beginning, and even now, I oscillate between wanting to do something together to just letting things be......but the variations are not so frequent anymore! I have learnt to enjoy every event to the fullest and take time without hurrying and suddenly it seems like we are learning so much about each other and life! There is this post which is long overdue that talks about what we have learnt and how and what different days are like for us.......but that is another story.....another post!
Of late, Raghav has been showing this great interest in chemicals, harmful chemicals in food, nutritious food and so on. So today, he told me that he wanted me to write down what I was going to cook everyday for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, so that he could read it on his own and match it with the food pyramid. So he wanted to also make a poster on the food pyramid.
He was telling me how we was going to do it and I asked him if he would like to write and draw everything or if he would prefer to look up images on the internet, cut and paste and so on. He said: "Amma, if I draw and write everything, it will not come out correctly and perfectly, so it is better I do it on the computer." I immediately asked him what he meant by correct and perfect and then we had a long and interesting discussion on how there is nothing that is perfect or 100 percent correct; how each one draws or writes in a different way; how even the computer comes up with so many images when you search for one thing and so on.
On more probing, he finally shared with me what he had never talked about at all in these two years.....his experience with writing and drawing at his old school. And that is when I understood how much he had been affected by what had happened there. His hatred for writing and not feeling good about his work were so deep-rooted.
He told me finally that the aunties there always asked all the children to write neatly and that every letter had to be exactly the same on each line. He asked me:"Amma, how is that possible?" When I asked if he had asked them what they meant by neat or correct, he said that he was too scared to ask because "Sometimes they even told some children that they would put them in a dark room if they did not write properly"and that he just kept quiet or tried his best, but it never came out that way, no matter how hard he tried."Once they asked me to draw a bus and then when I finished they said that it did not look like a bus." I hugged him and acknowledged his feelings while visions of the book "The Little Prince"flashed across my mind. ( A must read book for anyone dealing with kids I think!)
And then he told me this: "Amma, I now know that I can do some things very well like LEGO, but some things I am not so good at - like writing....I need to do it more often maybe...." That was the moment I had waited for......the moment when he openly expressed his awareness of his strengths and his difficulties......I knew long ago from when he was a baby, that he was very self-aware, he knew what he could do and what he could not and would not even try something that he could not do...but for some reason, there was this veil he was taking refuge in.......or maybe it was that he was pushed to this understanding of himself in that environment and that is what he disliked.....maybe some day he will be able to tell me about that and heal those scars..... but I was happy today as a mother...these two years of unschooling and unlearning had finally managed to lift the veil and expose what was true and deep within - an understanding of oneself on one's own. And that I think is the most important learning.
For the last two years, I had never ever forced him to sit down and attempt to write. We wrote only when he wanted to like helping me with shopping lists, writing on greeting cards, which was once a month or more. As a teacher I always thought that better writing comes with regular practice. But I can tell you that I was proved wrong once again. For today, Raghav wrote me his first letter and it was so beautiful, heart-wrenching and very "well-written" - like never before!
"Amma,I love you very much!
You are my gift
I cannot live without you
The letters were formed correctly, all were of the same size in a word, he never once asked for help with spellings and there was good spacing between the words. But the most important thing about it was how he did it - with love - and that is what he told and taught me today. While I was telling him how he never wrote often for the last two years and still managed to do all these things on his own today, he told me this: "Amma, that is because I did it with love!"
"So what is love?"I asked him quite unconsciously; to which he replied instantly:"Amma, Love is doing something with happiness". So simple. So profound. I was astounded.
So then, do we need to practise writing everyday? As an unschooling parent today I would vehemently say "No!" If writing is done with love, and when one is truly okay within, I think it comes as naturally as feeding oneself. Today I have yet another definition of my favourite word and my motto in life- Shraddha!