Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Son's First Summer Camp


This is my son's first summer camp, with all its first time apprehensions, worries and efforts to learn and unlearn things, is more than just another camp. I realize that it is my son's first independent step toward independence from the tyrant in his life - ME.

Seriously, I have seen Adi's happiness when he is about to enter his summer camp place and it educates me a lot about letting him go the way he wants and not choke him with rules. The camp has a lot of kids and maybe he loves that too. After all, being a kid without siblings, he may really be wanting some company.

Adi has a fine mind too and he doesnt really need my rules to take him forward. Its tough for me to accept it but being responsible comes naturally to my three year old. He has traits that are really ones that grown up have. I am not saying that he is superior at all. I am just trying to understand his strong points. I dont know whether to feel happy or sad that my son's mind is far ahead of mine.

Yes, Adi values the security of my love but he tosses aside my rules. He is quick to question me when he is not happy with my decisions. He leaves me wondering, what happened to old parenting techniques? But of course, I am so glad he is totally loving his summer camp. I noticed that after his summer camps began, the squiggly lines on his drawing and coloring sheets have begun to assume shapes, like flowers, leaves and stems. I see his mind focus on what he is drawing, with better control on the lines that he is drawing.

At the end, he comes up to me with shining eyes and says, "Look, I draw." And that is my moment to look through his drawing, talk about it and encourage him. I know he loves it when I talk to him and ask him questions about his drawings.

Usually I am honest. I tell him, "What is this? I am bad at drawing. Can you tell me what it is? Why did you use this color and not that?" Maybe it sounds dumb to ask these questions but I can see how seriously he thinks about them and responds to me.

His eyes light up when he talks about his first bus ride. He says that he told the bus driver when they reached our building, "This is my home."

He says it with so much pride that I just hug him and say, "Yes, this is your home."

Today morning, my son said that a kid said to him, "Dirty boy" and I was concerned, being the cranky mom that I am. So i said, what did you say.

The cool reply from my three year old was, "I am not a dirty boy, I am a genius like Aamir Khan." That is his favorite Bollywood actor.

I was speechless. What can you possibly say to that?

Sometimes knowing your child's emotions is critical because each child is so different and difficult to predict. You can't really 'set' them in a mould like they are cupcakes. The way parents try hard to 'set' them into a routine can itself lead to giving them a feeling of being trapped by rules. Rules are good but not to suffocate a child's sense of identity and power of discrimination.

A child counselor I met for the first time quite recently told me that my son is a natural decision maker. Making decisions comes naturally to him. She wanted to spend time with him to understand him better. I realize that sometimes I make the mistake of thinking that he is my baby. Others who observe are quick to point out his potential strengths. It makes my heart hurt that I miss a lot of these little details but as soon as I do spot them I talk it over with Adi. I know he loves our long discussions because he is an expressive child.

Not diplomatic but expressive and brutally honest. He doesnt mince words at all. I respect that about him. He doesnt leave me wondering what he is thinking. If he speaks about something, it is crystal clear that he liked or disliked something. His opinions are very strong.

The teachers at his summer camp have good feedback about him. They put him at ease and make him feel comfortable. I can see that it is a safe environment that has been a catalyst of sorts in fostering my son's independence.

True, summer camp is not real life but it exposes children and parents to a gamut of feelings, thoughts and memories that stick to the heart and soul, like feathers to a bird.

By the end of the summer camp, its not just the child who finds the way back home, but the parents too.

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