The Commune: Children & the new normal

Dear friends,

We are mid-way through August and with the end of this month it will be five months since the first lockdown came into place in India and social distancing became the ‘new normal’.

When I chat with my nephews on the phone, they tell me that they have barely left home through this period of time. The 10 year old tells me conspiratorially how once this is all over he will come for a long holiday to meet me and his grandparents. He is missing petting dogs and he often wonders if he can have one of his own. He jumps on a tiny trampoline to work off his excess energies and echoes sometimes the frustration of many children when he wonders: when will this get over? I find myself trying to soothe him. I tell him, soon. I tell him, we have to be patient. I tell him, that we are lucky that we are secure and well, fed and taken care of.

Yet truth be told, I wonder at the authenticity of my responses. I don’t really know when the ‘normal’ that he craves for, the one where he could run out every evening to see his friends, where he could sit dreamily outside and pet his favorite cat for hours on end, will return. Even as he ponders his immediate future, I worry what this experience of being constrained within the walls of their apartment, day in and out, with no respite or change of scenery means in the long-term for his young body and mind. This is the shape and form of the dilemma and concern that all families with children are faced with currently. In the face of such massive uncertainty and constraint, how do we raise our children?

As a child I remember spotting this heavily thumbed copy of ‘Baby & Childcare’ by the most famous pediatrician of all times, Dr. Benjamin Spock, on my mother’s shelf. Even though it was first published in 1946, its opening chapter titled ‘Trust yourself and your children’ and its first line, ‘You know more than you think you do’ – still ring true to me. So it seems fitting that in episode 16, ‘Children & the New Normal‘ we begin the process of teasing apart this dilemma with the help of people who know it best – the children and their parents – and begin to put together the wisdom emerging from their experiences. An ardent advocate of play TCC family member, Divya Badami-Rao, writes about why play is vital as a tool for coping for children and gives us ways and means in which we can enhance experiences of play with simple items within our homes in these current times.

Meanwhile, we hope you had a chance to listen to our extra with Kavitha Krishnamoorthy, founder of the NGO Kilikili on ‘Creating Space for Play’. We also have an exciting conversation with Jehanzeb Baldiwala (Director Mental Health Services at Ummeed Child Development Centre) coming up alongside our online campaign – so do keep in touch with our social media spaces!

We hope you continue to stay safe and healthy!

(Team TCC)

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