22 February, 2008

'Tis camp time once again

(*sigh*) She’s off again. On a weekend camp.

In October/November 2007, Aparna had been on a three day camp from school. Now, this weekend, it is a three day Balvihar camp organized by the Chinmaya Mission.

The first camp that she attended was in her Primary Three year at school. That was just a overnight camp. And even though the girls had a lot of fun at camp that year, the partying and the goofing around then was quite muted as compared to the escapades and anecdotes that she came back with after the Year Four camp from school.

This time around, the school, wanting to make sure that the kids did’t get up to too much of hanky panky, split the students from each class up into different groups. Basically, with eight children sleeping in each one of the dorm rooms, they ensured that there was a maximum of just two children from the same class. Despite all this, the girls were upto a lot of mischief.

A week before they were to go on camp, Aparna was found checking her email box on the school website many number of times everyday. The girls were busy exchanging emails about the camp and what have you. To say that they were excited would have been the understatement of the year !!

During the Year Four school camp, the girls made sure that they used the torches they had carried, very effectively. Once the lights were out, one torch would go on from under one quilt. Quite naturally, one of the teachers would come over to investigate. By then, the torch would have quite naturally been turned off and all the imps would be fast asleep, adorably hugging their soft cuddly toy or their comfort pillow or whatever. Off would go the teacher and a few minutes later, two torches would come on and once again, after the teacher had closed the door and left, the entire room of eight would dissolve into a spate of muted giggles.

And then off course, all those midnight snacks. Some kids had even packed their biscuits and chips in ziplock bags so as to avoid the noise that the normal bag of chips makes when being opened or dug into. My God !! Ingenious creatures, these !!

Remember those Mallory Tower series of books by Enid Blyton. I remember reading those during my childhood years and imagining the fun that the characters in the book had. God !! These girls are living the books :-)

Another thing they’d been on the lookout for during the Year Four camp was sleepwalkers. Mighty disappointment there. “Nobody even sleepwalked” remarked Aparna, once she got back from camp.

“How do the teachers ensure that kids don’t sleepwalk out of their rooms ?” I remember asking her, hypothetically. To which she’d said “They lay out big towels right outside the door of the room and pour water over the towels.” A sleepwalker walking on something wet and cold snaps out of the sleepwalking mode, is the theory behind this wet towel outside the door thingy.

There were also a lot of fun times in the shower stalls with someone forgetting their soap or someone not knowing how to turn the hot water tap on or off. There was this one instance where one girl had got only small towels in her bag and there was no way she could wrap that small towel around her and get to the bathroom and back.

Normally Mommy packs up a waterproof swimming cap for Aparna so that she can wear the cap while going for a shower. That way she does not end up getting her head drenched and chances of catching a cold are minimized. This time around too, carry the cap she did, wear it she did and once back said “I did wear that cap while going in for my shower and I looked ridiculous.”

There were quite a few activities for them to indulge in including wall climbing, rock climbing, roller blading and many more. And in the Year Four camp, Aparna tried her hand at most of the activities, irrespective of the fact that she could not scale the wall completely or that while rockclimbing she managed to get just halfway up the wall or that while roller blading she slipped and landed quite unceremoniously on her backside. She gave it a try and enjoyed the feel of having tried her hand at these new activities.

After the last BalVihar camp, Aparna came back with a Damroo and a Trishul – part of the artwork they’d done at camp as the topic then was Lord Shiva. Wonder what she’s going to come back with this year – the camp topic being Ramayan. Bows and Arrows, maybe ?? If she does come back with bows and arrows, albeit ones made of paper, the nutty siblings are going to create utter mayhem at home once she gets back from camp. But then again, talking of mayhem, what’s new ??!!

To say that we’re going to miss her while she’s away on camp is an understatement. From a quiet, shy person she’s quite a transformed soul nowadays. Has a lifesize sense of humor and she’s getting better and better at performing these standalone comedy shows. Add a poker face to her brand of standup comic performances and it is a killer all the way.
Thanks to Aparna, even the pillow fights that we have quite often before the kids get to bed, are terribly noisy and needless to say, lot more of fun. While she would be extremely conscious of goofing around and making a fool of herself while having pillow fights earlier on, nowadays she’s found hopping and prancing around like uttering rather illegible words. Her favorite is “Kumbaaalaaaya” which will invariably be followed by a “Hoooooo Haaaaaaa” or some such thing and the pillows would fly. The bedroom would soon be reduced to shambles – a mere shadow of the neat beds and pillows that had been laid out for the siblings to sleep on. Mommy did tell her the other day that she would make a good tribal chieftain, what with all the yelling and the Hooo Haaas !!!! The only thing we need to do to complete the picture is use facepaint and draw stripes all over her face.

All in all, she’s notoriously entertaining and a very noisy entertainer at that. The proverbial funny bone in her is definitely making its presence felt and those eyes which used to reflect her rather shy smile, now more often than not, gleam with mischief.

Yet, beneath this jovial exterior, another persona is making its presence felt, very distinctly. The last time I’d met with her teacher during a Parent-Teacher meeting session, she’d remarked that she’d split the class into groups of three and each group had been given a project to do – right from scratch. Aparna had been grouped with two other boys, of which, one was known for throwing a spanner in the works and being rather non-cooperative. Her teacher said she’d been amazed at the manner in which Aparna spearheaded the whole thing, gave the project a direction and made sure that all three of them worked together towards completing the project – all very nicely and softly done. No clashes, no walkouts, no threats – no nothing.

Independent thinking and the ability to delegate work and get it done are among other things that are now coming to the fore. So also the ability to notice even the slightest nuances of change in people. Be it a change in mood or a change in attitude or a change in one’s point of view – she notices. She is turning out to be a very astute observer and has a rather photographic memory. And she needs an explanation for anything she finds out of tack. Until she gets an explanation that makes sense to her logically, she just keeps going at the problem or the person in question.

A pretty volatile mix actually. Something tells us that we have a rebel on our hands, once the pre-teens and teen years hit and all those hormones start to zing in a fashion that can only be described as bizarre. Well, that remains to be seen. Like Vic once said, “We’ll just have to tape up the windows as best as we can when the storm hits.”

Whereas, previously, she would kind of tend to clam up with her troubles or problems, now she talks about it. Somewhere along the way, I did realize that I needed to spend more one-on-one time with Aparna. And invariably, at bedtime, after Abhay had gone off to sleep, we made it a point to talk – about just anything that came to mind. Sometimes it would be just goofy stuff that made us giggle and sometimes it would be rather serious stuff. This has become an "our time" thing now.
She started to get a lot of one-on-one time with Dad too, when they started going on hikes on Sunday mornings. And slowly, steadily realization started to sink in that we were there – for her to talk to whenever anything bothered her or irked her – however small or trivial the problem may seem. And it certainly has worked.

Yesterday night too, after Abhay had gone off to sleep, some doubts, little fears arose about how to deal with bullies, if she does come across any at camp. Or if she came across troublemakers at camp and the like. We spoke about it for a long time and by the end of it all, she had set her doubts aside and that impish look - goofy grin combination was back. :-)

We too, as parents, have realized that it is of utmost importance that channels of communication be built up and maintained and finetuned constantly, through the kids’ growing up years.

There still are reflections of the little child in her thoughts which just make her that much more endearing to one’s heart. A stuffy nose still sends her into a panic in the middle of the night and Mommy invariably has to go over to the other bedroom and get her to calm down and back to sleep. This thought surfaced a couple of days back as Mommy was putting the siblings to bed when she quipped “If my nose gets all stuffy at night while I’m at camp, who’s going to put Mentholatum for me and get me back to bed ? Who’s going to lie down with me until I fall asleep all over again ?”. This was immediately followed by “I’ll put Mentholatum and then go to bed. That way I won’t wake up. Right Mummy ?”.

And this little bundle, all of eight years, is headed off to camp this weekend. To say that she’s going to be missed while she’s away from home is an understatement – a gross underestimation :-).

Both siblings are exhibiting mixed reactions, needless to say. This time around, Abhay is pretty vocal about the fact that he does not want her to go running off to camp for a whole three days. I guess life does get pretty boring without anyone to have a tiff with.

Aparna, on the other hand, is all excited about the idea of going off to camp. She’s quite literally straining at the leash (a figurative leash – not a literal one) and is simply raring to go.

We do hope that this weekend, for Aparna, turns out to be a weekend of fun, knowledge and entertainment – all packed into one.

As I look at her today, one sentiment echoes loud and clear, one feeling, among many others, is extremely strong.

To put it very simply – it is to say
“You’ve come a long way, baby. You’ve come a long way.”

post signature

9 voice(s) said so:

Luke said...

Even you can achieve photographic memory. Just need plenty of practice and useful tips, that can be found at http://www.photographic-memory.org. Great articles and tips to guide you.

Swati said...

Hmm..we get amused to see them grow up ..day by day ..it feels like a dream.

Nat said...

uff you made me choke with this post. You're a great mom. Your posts always make me feel like your arms are around your kids and your see what they see and know they need.
Mui bien.

Neera said...

Lovely!! When I started reading this post, I immediately thought of Mallory Towers and u mentioned it right there :) I can only imagine what fun they'll have - somehow I was never allowed to go on one.
The rest of the post is too beautiful for me to even try to comment, esp with a master of words like urself. I so agree with nat's comment above. Do u ever lose ur patience, I am so curious to know?

2 B's mommy said...

The 'sleepwalking' thing made me smile since my son is a sleepwalker and I was so worried when he went camping last year. Though he has started year 6 now, he is still a quiet and shy boy ( most of the time !). Wish he could be a little more mischievious and more communicative. Bubbles couldn't be more different - there's always a twinkle in her eyes as if she is upto something !!

Great post, and loved that idea of end-of-the-day one-on-one time. Probably I should start doing that too.

choxbox said...

Lovely post Gauri. Resonates big time :)

Preethi said...

oh my Aparna's camp sounds like big time fun and you seem to be a cool cool mom! I really love the one-on-one time.. lovely post!!

Poppins said...

Aww isn't that sweet. I'm so excited for Appu, as if I'm the one going on a camp.
(three days without chores and husband and kids, would that not be fun now? ;)
It's such a bittersweet moment when they grow up and as always I think you're doing a terrific job!

Kowsalya Subramanian said...

the thought that was running through my mind was how you look at everything positively. The lesson I take is to simply enjoy everything. Thanks Gauri