Monday, June 29, 2009

A ramble and a painting

Last weekend was very special. Every weekend is very special with us, the weekend before we went to the goat farm and then to Sungei Buloh wetland reserve, which both girls loved. But this weekend marks a very special occassion. What is it? You have to wait and read the story.

It started ordinarily enough. On Saturday morning, we went for patti's sloka class. Anjali sits in front while Sophia shuffles between the back of the class and the bed room, eventually falling asleep. Anjali sits in front and really sings some of the simple songs. She comes home and rattles of snippets of shlokas.. Her latest one popped out as

"Dharmasamstapanarthaya Sambhavaami yuge yuge"

Maybe she is the kalki :P

After her afternoon nap, husband got it into his head to go to the nature reserve. Bukit Timah. "Let's take the rock path!", he exclaimed. So we went.

Now, Bukit Timah hill is very near home, and even a peak hour taxi comes up to around six dollars. So we went inside the reserve, and what did we see?


In the plural. They were all over the front of the park, and, funnily, there were about six or seven monkeys sitting on a car. I do hope that the owner of the car has a good sense of humor - the monkeys were not being specially careful with the car.

Then we began to climb, taking the jungle path. Anjali was very excited. "Mowgli madhiri!" she kept exclaiming, as she navigated the steps. The small steps she managed by herself, also getting a hang of navigating through the roots. She even managed many of the big steps herself, holding my hand for support. "I can do this", she says, and then proceeds to do it.

We didnt take the rock path, We must have missed a turning somewhere, and ended up at the cave path instead. No matter, the cave path was fun too. We passed Mowgli's cave and ShereKhan's cave, and spotted a squirrel amongst the trees.

It was getting dark when Sophia began to get restless. She was not familiar with the total darkness off the jungle, so we decided to get back to civilization. Getting on the road, the climb down was easy. But Anjali was tired by this time and wanted to be carried.

"Can I see the monkeys when we go down?"

I glanced at the sky. It was almost black.

"If the monkeys are not sleeping"

We went down. Naturally, the monkeys had gone off to whereever monkeys go in the night.

"I am very sad!!"

So we got on the taxi and went home, with a primose to come and visit the monkeys another day.

We should go another day, probably next Saturday evening. I am sure the kids will love the waterfall.

Incidentally Anjali has made a friend with a rabbit. Someone in the next block has a rabbit that he has kept in a glass cage ouside near the stairs. We stumbled on the rabbit because we are nosy people and we take the stairs once in a while up other blocks and see what people have in front of their doors. Some Indians have Ganesha pictures, others have plants - we found pomegranates and some chillis - some have ornate decorations and it makes very interesting observation.

Why anyone would want to take the responsibility of a rabbit and then leave it outside, I dont know. They clean up the cage regularly, but other than that, the rabbit is hopelessly lonely. It must be pretty hungry too, because on Sautrday, more to amuse Anjali, than anything else, we took a few sticks of carrot for the rabbbit. The rabbit gobbled up the carrot sticks, like it has not seen food for weeks. We probably cant fit into our schedule to go to the rabbit all the time, but we probably can fix it once a day and bring it some carrot or lettuce as a treat.

On Sunday was the IEP retreat. And that made Anjali's day. We had all of her favorite treats - white mud, bubbles, painting, caterpillar story, animal games, Canvas painting and yoga.

Anjali enjoyed all the activities. She showed no sign of sleeping - the camp was from 9 to 5. We went out for dinner afterwards, Sophia's first trip to Annalakshmi. Sophia was tired. She had been out nearly the whole afternoon - patti had brought her to the center at around noon and she was not able to sleep, so she sat on the carrier on my chest while husband ate and vice versa. Anjali on the other hand sat on a high chair, ate idlis and chappatis and water melons and chatted happily about current events.

In the taxi, the kids got into a fight, as Sophia kicked Anjali and Anjali pushed her back.

"You not kicking me!!"

She crashed at 8.30, after we reached home.

Now about the painting. During the kids' craft session, Anjali produced a painting. It was interesting, hues of reds and oranges and browns. There was an aluminium foil in one corner (placed by me), a popscicle stick (placed by me), a glob of glue (spread by Anjali), a ball of cotton soaked in brown paint (placed by Anjali), red glitter on glue (put by Anjali).

After the session, the kids had gone for lunch, and we gathered up all the paintings and put them to dry on the table. After lunch, jayanthy's aunt came to do a session on canvas and acrylic painting with the children. She had gotten some of her own work and displayed it. While the kids were painting and working, she browsed over the paintings on the table.

Of all the paintings, she pulled out one. "This is a really nice painting. Very nice color combination. Who's is it?"

I glanced at it. "I am not sure".

This should not be there though, she said (indicating a piece of aluminium foil). And this (indicating the popscicle stick).

I doubled back. Wait a minute, this looked familiar.

"That's Anjali's!". and a little shamefully "I added the popscicle stick and the foil".

"The rest is beautiful. Its a masterpiece of abstract art. It should be titled Squirrel smoking"


"Can you see the squirrel? This is the pipe" (indicating the ball of paint soaked cotton)


"I am going to go home and see if I can reproduce this. How old is the child?"

"Two years old"

At that point, the professed genius came up, with her dress full of acrylic paint, holding a packet of Milo.

Needless to say, I am extremely proud. That was a professional painter, so she sees beyond what others see. And I guess Anjali's painting must have been really special, because it was pulled out from the midst of several other more colorful paintings. Jayanthy's aunt pointed it out again to the rest of the group during the debrief.

The painting in question currently hangs from the noticeboard in the center, as it was still wet. But, the next time I go to the center, I am going to bring it back, frame it and hang on the wall. 

This is another important lesson in parenting, I guess. I have always been encouraging Anjali to explore materials, concerned when, while other children of her age in Gymboree and elsewhere, splay their paper with color, or even fill the whole paper, my child only makes a few strokes. That is why i keep adding stuff to her painting, aluminium foil, popscicle sticks etc. 

But it seems as thouggh she really knows what she is doing. I have seen her make a few strokes with a brown crayon, pick up a blue crayon, make a couple of strokes and then get up. While I am encouraging her to draw more and fill up the sheet, she simply doesnt want to. I guess that's her drawing. How can I tap on this?

I came back home and told husband what had happened.

"I always told you that Anjali is very creative", came the immediate and totally unsurprised reply.


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