The Children Today
The scene has changed so much since I first teased Most Precious out of her prolonged parallel play period of development, to interest her in studying, upstairs in a pair of large room shared with a dozen less able children, less interested in studies than in moaning, moving, and what’s for lunch.
A pack of colored pens and several oral and drawing/writing challenges relating to herself and our experiences together motivated her in the beginning. Little forays into my purse, singing songs to one another, a very occasional treat, simple story-telling (The Three Bears) led to reviewing Telugu letters, and counting to one hundred. That was last year, twice a week over a two month period, followed by eight months of silence when we were away, in the USA.
This year I’ve seen more progress that indicates MP’s willing-nay, eager-ness to learn.
For two days, she and John have reveled in the manipulation of a handful of pebbles to solve subtraction problems shown on flashcards. For each simple problem, they celebrate the verification of their work, delightedly reading an equation on the reverse side of each card. Yesterday it was just myself and MP, who reverted to the coyness that’s always lurking beneath the surface of her every move, and playing virtual hide-and-seek, in her joy.
Today our little ‘class’ has grown to an unwieldy five: John and his sister Ramya (a sixth grader, who tells me she stands first in her class at school), MP, frequent onlooker Sowjanya, and an older gal whose name eluded me. Awkward, because Ramya plants herself in front of me, and pre-empts all my descriptions, questions, and the other children’s answers in cheerful, competitive tones, punctuated by slaps and mild name-calling when the others fail to measure up. My labored Telugu falters even further as I attempt to share with her what I am trying to do for Most Precious, and how awkward her (Ramya’s) interpolations are making the situation.
Halfway through the hour, which includes a Telugu letter review and an interactive picture book about the life cycle of baby animals, we begin to click. Praise the Lord! Today’s session ends up being an hour and a half, rather than the usual fifty minutes. The children are nonplussed but happy, waving and good-bying as I head to the gate to call an auto rickshaw. They fall silent when I blow a kiss through the air. I think. Hopefully the kids are thinking, too…Ever alert, may they be more aware of their lives, friends, and environment in general. Amen..