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…Oh but they can; and if you read the book by that name it will beautifully show you how Giraffes CAN dance.
I don’t know about my children but it is one of MY favourite bedtime books to read to the children. They maybe too young to understand the many many layers of meaning implied by the simple words essayed in the book ‘We can all dance when we find music that we love’* but I think overtime they will come to appreciate its undertone. Already Peanut playfully changes the title to’ Giraffe’s can dance’ and then I get to hear “But Mama the giraffe IS dancing, so why does the book say that the giraffe cannot?” Maybe , just maybe he’s getting the drift.
Peanutloves books and is often seen attempting to read an encyclopedia. He is super duper creative and yet so logical. He is as comfortable in his own skin as he is with a bunch of friends. He can literally dance alone if he likes the song. BUT. There is always a ‘but’ :), ‘Mama, Iam scared... I cannot go so fast... My legs are hurting...’. I get to hear all this and more from a very exasperated Peanut when I ask him to walk 2 steps or ask him to take his cycle across a teeny tiny speed breaker.
Peanut- my first-born is a wonderful kid (yup, mom talking :)) but he’s not at all athletically inclined. I should have understood this when as a 1.5 year old he refused to walk. He could and had shown us a glimpse of that amidst much fan fare but thereafter he didn’t walk till it became absolutely necessary to walk. Even now he will not move a finger until there is no choice. What this means is that he has no sports inclination and when children were whizzing past on their cycles, Peanut would be grudgingly moving at a pace slower than a snail. Being fairly active myself, this was just not going down well with me and I succumbed to the norm of what children ‘should’ be doing. I pushed and put pressure for him to learn skills of cycling, running and kicking a ball. He was unhappy and pressured. I was unhappy but unrelenting.
All this changed when we took him on a nature trek up a steep hill. Hubby and self were skeptical and mentally preparing ourselves to piggyback two kiddos up that hill. But from the word go Peanut was sprinting up, leaving us breathless in the trail. We were completely taken aback at this enthusiasm and stamina (stamina that we didn’t know existed in him) to trek for over an hour uphill, happily and not pressured. He would stop to admire a curious looking insect or a different shaped flower.
Then he would ask us a question, get a response and sprint up again. Other times he would listen very patiently as we explained some new phenomenon he was experiencing in Mother Nature, all the while walking up, up and away. The magic that existed in nature (touch-me-not ferns) completely enthralled him. Finally he sprinted away and when we got to the top of the hill moments later, he was jumping excitedly that he had reached first and was shouting in his characteristically loud booming voice ‘look Mama, look at that river flowing down there’. He showed no signs of being tired or exhausted. It was quite the opposite actually. Peanut was brimming with joy and a contagious energy never seen before.
The only thing we could fathom that had changed was the scenery and the live exploration. Peanut is a complete nature boy. He is fondly called 'Cave Man' for his love for the basics in nature. This was HIS ‘song’ and he was unabashedly and merrily dancing to its tunes.
Now we make a conscious effort to try and take Peanut out on such treks and walks where the wonders of nature hum a tune that he can appreciate.
There is no more pressure to run or cycle or swim. He is enrolled in some basic activity classes but there is no pressure to be the best or the fastest or the strongest. To avoid any undue pressure, I try and sit out during these classes.
Now when someone says that he runs funny or slow, I smile. I smile knowing that ‘…sometimes when you are different you just need a different song’* and I am grateful that he has found his song.
These are the simple joys of childhood- growing up carefree, with heaps of imagination, being confident in one’s self, exploring uninhibitedly with lots of playful happy moments. And the parent can give all this and more by being their child's buddy and helping them discover their own unique songs. That is a true Khuljaye Bachpan experience.
* Lines taken from the book - 'Giraffes Cant Dance' by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker- Rees