By the time she turned two, she had popped out of my cuddling arms, and learnt to balance herself on foot. Her bunny jumps on our black-brown sofa has a deep dent on it. We've left it behind without mend as a hint of her mischief. She could chuckle by now, mimic her grandpa snoring and babble a rhyme or two. She could feed herself by a cup, but by no means was a neat or willing eater. She loved tender hugs and basked in the joy of being pampered. And she always needed me for her company through nights.
Her regular watch at height and weight tells us she’s tad below the normal range. But then she’s been that way since her birth. She’s now a hyper active kid of age three, in an age ripe for a child to be schooled they say. We pulled it this long home-schooling her elementary basics, avoiding so far any methodical training that would culminate her freedom to enjoy learning or push her to any orderly duress. As a quick learner she’s been way ahead of her peers. She can be friend with you quickly, can walk you through a dozen of nursery rhymes with ease, sing A-Z in phonic rhythms confidently and catch your misreckoning for your count on 1 to 10, pretty much putting many to surprise.
She needs a bit of seasoning though. She loves adults for her company and at times behaves like one. In company of other children, she is timid and demure. For long, she has been around with big folks, growing up in lack of company of children belonging to her age group. She speaks a ton that could tire anyone. Her mind is constantly bustling with dozens of questions every minute; the why-s, where’s, what’s, in constant need to be answered. She gets bored and cranky at the busyness of house and its people. She loves having someone around her every minute to play and keep her busy. As demanding as she sounds, she is a very happy child in company.
Last week, after much forethought, we placed her admissions with a nearby school. So she could wean away from comforts of being winged under parents and grandparents all the time; and find new friends for herself. To make friends with kids of her age group and discover joy in childhood and friendship. So that her curious mind would be busy with fun filled activities and play, instead of grown-up conversations. It’s a charming little place amid the bustling traffic ridden cross roads of Bangalore. With an artificial turf, bracing landscape, couple of outdoor and indoor games for play, and responsive teachers around, there’s enough there to keep her safe, busy and creative.
I was a bundle of nerves on the first day of her school. Worried as I was, several frantic calls went to my parents to know if she was doing ok or if the school had summoned them to pick her before time. In my mind I had expected her to cry her throat out, more in the company of thorough strangers and alien classmates whom she had never known. She came back home dancing happy feet instead. Certainly a joyous news for me. On day two, I accompanied her to drop at school; walking hand in hand, she, ideating about her dress and the matching shoes, and waving a cheerful bye-bye to me. A majority of her schoolmates were seen wailing, as their parents, grandparents, and aayas came to see them off. I expected she would cry for me. Instead she was still a happy child like the day before. It was a big proud moment, a revelation that my little one was adaptable and loved her time at school. Over the past two weeks, she has walked through her nestling period with no tears shed or anxious moments to deal with, making good progress at school. She is slowing getting accustomed to the company of other children, but has certainly got into good books of her teachers, gaining their confidence of being a good child. Soon someday she will wean away from tête-à-tête approach and come back to us with stories, games, learning and activities from her friends at school. She will soon grow up with an aura of her own. An individual with an independent mind who may not require her mommy or grandparents around for her being. A girl with definite thoughts, empathy and strong opinions of her own. I hope this is what good schooling will instil in her.
My little girl now carries a mid-morning snack for her school breaks. Her snack box that has healthy titbits like cut fruits, a piece of sandwich, bites of khakra or paratha wedges excites her, and each day she looks forward to what's being packed in her dabba. Mid-morning snacking was customary to her even during the time we were vacationing in US. That was the time, my little girl and I spent most of our mid-mornings together in the kitchen either chopping vegetables for lunch, baking a quick snack or whipping up berry smoothies to quench our thirsts. She would sit perched on the kitchen counter, while I stayed on my foot near the blender. She would peel bananas and I would slice them for her. The tall blender jar could nearly consume a quarter her height. Yet, she would unyielding adjust them neatly between her tiny legs and throw in ingredients by the order I said, all in for a game when it came to identifying colors and fruits.
This Banana Berry Smoothie was our all time favorite mid morning drink. I could say more deary hers. She has a penchant for bananas. We would gulp tall glasses of it in a single go, sometimes go for seconds. Add in some oats while blitzing and it makes up for a breakfast too. Thick and luscious. Sincerely healthy. And vegan to boot.
Vegan Banana Berry Smoothie
1 cup orange juice, cold
1 big banana
A dash of honey / maple syrup, optional
Wash and clean all the berries thoroughly. Peel and chop the banana to rounds. Blitz them together along with orange juice and a dash of honey or maple syrup. Serve in tall glasses.
Note: You may use frozen berries for a cold drink. Frozen bananas work well too. I used chilled orange juice here since the drink was served for a child and was about the right temperature for a toddler.