Sunday, August 26, 2018

So much!

Extended family celebrations are something young children always look forward to. I guess it’s only as they grow up that they prefer staying away from them! Since both my kids haven’t reached that I want-to-be -left -alone phase as yet (thank God!) and more so, having been blessed with large extended families on both sides... social interaction with relatives has never been a problem with them (at least so far!) 

While our older one has always been comfortable interacting with his first and second cousins, cousins’ cousins, uncles and aunts, grand uncles and grand aunts, grandparents’ siblings, and grandparents’ cousins, (Phew!) ... at religious or social family gatherings or during their visits home,  (though he may not remember exactly how they may be related to us!), it was a pleasant surprise to see our little one  taking in to her extended family circle with ease and even basking in the extra attention she gets for being one of the youngest in the group.

So it was only natural that one of Aadya's all time favourite books has been  "So Much" by Trish Cooke and illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. A chance find at our  erstwhile favourite hang-out, Kutoohala, I have been waiting for the right occasion to feature this book on Onestoryaday! While we had borrowed and returned this book a multiple times at the library, under the trusted assumption that I could always borrow it again and never once did I imagine that there would be a time when this book would become altogether unavailable on account of closure of the library!  I will never forget that day in March at the library's closure sale when I tried to scourge all the sections of the library looking for this book and finally had to leave with a heavy heart, not only as I couldn't find the book but also because, I could never ever go back to Kutoohala which was more than just a library to me, it was my weekly relaxation therapy, a quiet retreat for me to escape into and a haven for books to pick as I'd imagine my toddler would enjoy! So this book "So much" (which I finally bought online) will always be special as it's a throwback to those good old days when I could stop over on the way back from work, to my little happy place of wonderful children's books!

Steering away from my ramblings, I must say that many of our reading sessions  culminate in a grand finale which almost always happens to be the reading of "So much", a book that is also a shout out to diversity and multi-culturalism. Set in a Caribbean Household with a big extended family full of loud and vivacious relatives,  "So much" is centered around a baby who is the apple of everyone's eye, just like all young kids at home. The day happens to be a special occasion as the mom and baby welcome the relatives who arrive one after another, with the doorbell going "DING DONG" announcing the arrival of all the relatives from aunty Biba, uncle Didi, nanny and gran-gran, to cousin Kay-Kay and big cousin Ross, who arrive in their characteristic styles and all of whom want to engage and pamper the baby in their own way- from wanting to squeeze the baby, to kiss the baby, to eat the baby (figuratively of course), and wrestle the baby as they love him "so much"! As the house gets a little too crowded for comfort with all the noisy relatives driving their own agenda, the final ding-dong sounds off....a moment they have all been waiting for ..... to surprise the baby's daddy on his birthday. This book is a joy to read to your little one .............vivid illustrations, this book also  offers plenty of fun read-aloud moments from guess-work to repetitive phrases for your little one to follow through and not to forget mirroring the cuddles and kisses on to your little one whom you love so much! Well....we couldn't have asked for a better book as it also happens to be the Daddy's birthday today.....which we celebrated with our extended family.............. so Happy birthday to our little one's  daddy! ­:-)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Aha! with Aadya!

July has always symbolized the Aha! International Theatre festival for children and it's almost a tradition of sorts for us to catch more than a play or two at Rangashankara! So much so that every time we are in the vicinity of one of our favourite places in J P Nagar, Abhay is always enquiring as when can he walk into the theatre and hear the "Ahahahaha Ahahahaha Ahahahaha song" play ( which is normally played as an interlude just before a feature performance at the festival). So, however busy we may be or howsoever hectic things get or how many ever homework/test assignments Abhay may have .... Aha! is not be missed!!

While Abhay has been a regular at Rangashankara, I was waiting for my little one  to grow up a bit to experience the Aha! magic and was highly disappointed (and had mentioned so) that last year's Aha! festival did not feature any plays for toddlers (as it did the year before when my little one was only just born). So imagine my delight when I discovered this year's edition Aha! international festival of theatre for children to be an exclusive theatre fest for toddlers!

Well, though I'd like believe that my note of disappointment on last year's post on Aha! festival (and as such it was an but an echo of the long standing demand for more quality programs for very young children),  had anything to do it, this year's Aha! festival is a creative product  of a Theatre workshop for very young children at Katkatha, New Delhi conducted by Barbara Kolling in December 2017.

So this year we skipped our naps and packed our baby bag (we still carry those around!) and off we went to "Rangshankra" ( as my little one puts it). As if mommy's enthusiasm was not enough, her school too jumped into the theatre band wagon all the way to Aha! festival as they gathered all their noisy toddlers into one of the featured plays. 

All the plays sought to introduce the little ones into subtle .shades, shapes, sounds, colours and joys of life as they see it..... just as Arundhathi' Nag put it and to rephrase  Children don't need rapid movements or loud and exaggerated sounds.....a quiet soft movement or subtly nuanced presentation is enough to make them sit up and notice. It may be a spider shaped woolen thread hanging from the clothing line in 'Ool" or the exploring how seemingly mundane objects from everyday life and transform into something striking in "Paper Fantasy" or varied colours created out of an assortment of plastic and refraction of light in "Plasticity"  or an endearing hide and seek play between two characters squeaking "Pattichae" (caught you!) in "Chidiya Udd"..... children did seem fascinated! I'm not sure how much of what they see actually sinks in or how much of what is put up is comprehended.....but the shared experience of watching some of best toddlers' theater live and laughing with your little one sitting on your lap is sure to be one of your most memorable moments in the fleeting early years of his or her childhood! As I see my little one waking up from her usual nap and saying "Rangshnkarage hoguva? (Shall we go to Rangashankara?)... I know that she is asking for more and more of such marvels!

While many of our Rangashankara or Aha! moments have made their way into Onestoryaday, all of them have been related to Abhay. This one is special as it's my little one's first Rangashankara experience and that's why I had to put it down even though it's been more than two weeks since the Toddler Theatre festival!  Anyway, the only person disappointed this year with the Toddlers' theatre festival was the eleven year old older brother!:-(

So on the occasion my little one's initiation to theatre at Rangashankara, we re-read one of her favourite board books introducing various sounds  a child might encounter in his or her surroundings....."Cheep Cheep", a Tulika offering for the very young, with pictures by Sowmya Menon. What are the sounds that your little one is fascinated by? Is the sound of "Koo-koo" of Koel or the "cheep cheep" of the sparrow or the "teep-teep-teep" of the water dripping, or cat going surr surr while drinking milk, or the neighbors singing "Sa Re Ga Ma"? ( or the older brother in our case) .........sounds are everywhere, from natural to man made and to machine made.  Inspired from a Marathi rhyme, this book is vivid yet simple and aided with suitable illustrations, and is almost like a cue for taking the concept forward in guessing other sounds subtle and loud, with your little one, from 'tick-tick-tick of the wall clock, "whistle" of the pressure cooker  or man seller greens shouting "soppu" on the road .... the of world of sounds never fails to fascinate our little ones!  Here's to more such lovely outings with your toddler!!!