24 May, 2008

Happy Birthday Abhay !!!

Yet another year has just flown past.
Makes me wonder at times “why does time zip past”. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what time is meant to do.

It was five years ago – Was it really five years ago ???

It was a very warm, humid night – made more miserable by the fact that each and every person in HK had to walk around with a mask every waking minute of the day. Because HK was in the middle of a health crisis, an epidemic called SARS. And so there we were, Aparna, Daddy and Me. We were watching and helping Aparna navigate the Pocahontas CD-ROM and she was giggling away to glory at some of the phrases on the CD-ROM.

And then it happened. You physically announced your intention of making your way out into this world. You took me by surprise actually, not because it was not yet time for you to make your appearance into this world, but because of the rapidness and impatience that you seemed to be exhibiting.

My bag was all packed and ready and while Daddy was pacing the house like a cat on a hot tin roof, like he had pins and needles under both his feet, I was busy taking pains to get my eyeliner right and spent a precious few minutes deciding which perfume to wear. Weird huh ? !! Yeah – but that’s your weird Mommy for you.

I thought Daddy was nervous but that was only until we met our cabbie who was driving us to the hospital. That guy was behaving as though his tail was on fire and his cab was running not on LPG but on rocket fuel. He was scared witless. And he got us to the hospital in absolutely record time.

I remember ever so distinctly the moment you shot into this world – and I remember very very vividly the way you looked. “Oh lord – he looks so cheesed off” was my first thought, for there you were, eyes tightly shut, knees still bent as they would have been in confined space, your little fists balled and shut tight as you screamed your head off. And I remember holding your little fist, running my hand over your head and talking to you and it took my breath away when you quietened immediately. Was it my voice, I wondered ? Or was it that innate sense of security that you felt at that moment ?

No cliches – but this one just cannot be avoided. Time has indeed flown, my dear. It has simply whizzed past right in front of our very eyes and it is with a sense of wonder that I realise that you stand before us today, all of five years old.

This past year has been a rather eventful one for you. It was one in which you saw both – the worst and the best of school life. Both ends of the spectrum. You came across Ms.S, who was and will always remain one of the most important milestones, one of the most impacting personalities in your life. She laid that foundation which taught you to have faith in yourself, to approach confidently any endeavor that may come your way.

The coming year promises to be a very eventful one too. This September, as you start your first year of Primary School we would like to say the same thing to you sweetheart – have faith in yourself and your abilities. Just remember to tell yourself “I can” and you will be surprised yourself as to how much you can accomplish with that mindset.

Whatever you do, whenever it is, wherever it may be, always always remember to have faith in yourself.

You have, of late, been perfecting the art of twisting our heads around like a pretzel. With those questions of yours – a whole galore of questions. Where do so many questions pop into your head from ?, I do wonder, at times. But as you help me grey at a rather alarming and exponential rate with this ability of yours to question anything and everything, my mind does register the fact that this habit of yours is precisely what is making your knowledge base expand rapidly. So keep em coming, sweetheart. My crowning glory still has a long way to go before it turns completely silver !!! :-)

Reading is something you’ve taken to, over the past year – like a fish takes to water. Delightful, is it not ? The world of books ? May this be the beginning of a lifelong friendship with books. It is indeed a delightful world out there, my dear, amongst books. Books that are sure to kindle your imagination and send you on long, winding travels – within your heart of hearts, to your heart’s content.

Charles Eliot once said (and how true this is) :

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends ; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”

There are moments with you when you are so completely exasperating, truth be told. There are many moments when I’ve been on the verge of pulling out the hair on my head out in clumps, all thanks to you. And that is precisely why one of our favorite nicknames for you is Mr.Exasperation. And more often than not, you do that name such sweet justice that it feels as though that term was coined just for you.

All the same, there are moments when you make my heart stop for just that bit of a millisecond, with your thoughtfulness and sensitivity. You are such a sensitive soul and that I guess, makes you so much more receptive to the discomfort of others. You have this uncanny ability to “sense” stress and irritation in the others around you. And your present teacher Ms.S was amazed at this ability of yours too. She said there have been times when, having sensed how stressed up she was, you’ve walked up to her, patted her softly on her hand and said “its OK Ms.S. It’s OK”.
And she’s also told us that you are very caring with your peers too.

May you always retain this sensitivity that you’ve been born with and that natural ability to empathise with the people around you. In the world of today, where things are fast turning mechanical at a dizzying pace, qualities of being a sensitive human being and more importantly, empathy, is a treasure that you could carry with you.

Yet again, it is this very sensitivity of yours, combined with a non-confrontational attitude, that makes me fear. Fear for you. I do so worry for you because it could make you the perfect target for many bullies. Yet again, when I think with my head, I do console myself by saying that both me and Dad were like this when we were kids. And we survived. But again, a lot many times when I look at the situation from the heart. that cold coil of fear, nervousness and restlessness winds itself around my heart and mind. There is still a lot of fear and self-doubt in you, sweetheart, when it comes to situations wherein you need to hold your fort for yourself, by yourself amongst a whole pack of kids. It does make me want to hug you and protect you within my arms but I do realise the importance of having to “let go” and let you find your own ground here. You will, I’m sure of that. You will.

You still love a good cuddle, don’t you ? And your hugs and kisses are still so spontaneous. They come right out of the blue, when I’m least expecting them. Sometimes when I come down to school to fetch you and you come running out and throw your arms around my neck in a bear hug. God ! Those are the moments I love. Those are the moments when my heart stops just that little bit.

And I will forever remember that moment when Aunty L asked you “So tell me – what did you do for Valentine’s Day ?”. All the other aunties thought you were completely foxed by that question because you paused for a few seconds. I still remember you calmly telling Aunty L “I gave my mum a kiss on her cheek”. And my heart walked out – it actually did. Pitter patter pitter patter – right over to you.

And I do hope this stays for as long as it can before those elements of “Hey don’t hug me in front of my friends” takes over. I know it is bound to happen at some time but until then, I’ll take all the hugs and cuddles that I can get :-).

Right from the time you started to smile – which was early, by the way, really really early on in life, that bright smile of yours has been your trademark, your signature. It has always been a smile that has reflected in your eyes and has always been a smile that has warmed many a heart. May you always keep that smile with you, sweetheart, and may you always spread joy, warmth and cheer to everyone around you.

Five, it is often said, is the age, that threshold between being called a “child” and “a little boy”.

And today, as you stand at that very threshold, sweetheart, there is this poem originally penned by Genevieve C. Coulson (which I’ve adapted and altered here below) that comes to my mind.

May you never be afraid to fly
May you always keep the innocence that is innate at this young age
When you are out on a branch and you feel it shake ;
Have faith that it will steady itself again.
Enjoy your uniqueness and never wish for it to change
And when you fly, go in the direction that will take you to your happiness
And do not be distracted by those which will not
May you spread your wings and fly without doubt
We do so hope that you will give yourself the chance,
To let your mind wonder, To show you the way
When you spread your wings and fly
Know that God will always be there flying next to you
Guiding you in the right direction,
Giving you the strength to wait out the storm,
Being the one to steady the branch
Above all else, sweetheart, know that I love you
And that you always have my open wings to fly back to.

Happy Birthday, Dear Heart. I love you more than you could possibly know.

Lots of Love, Hugs and Cuddles,

Maiyya :)

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22 May, 2008

The Birds, The Bees, The Babies !!!!

“Hey ! Really !!!!!” “Yours already had babies ?” “Wow !!” “No. Mine’s not had any babies – yet.” “I really really want mine to have babies too.”

This was what I heard Aparna saying on the phone a few weeks back to one of her friends. I was on my way out of the kitchen when I heard her speaking and telling one of her friends this - trust me – I almost stumbled over my own feet. The earth did stop spinning for a wee moment – atleast inside my head, it did !!! What on earth was going on ? Why were a couple of eight and nine year olds discussing, of all the things, babies ?!!!

“What in the name of God is happening ?” I thought to myself as I kind of rushed over to the ledge where she was perched, completely oblivious to the dizzying pace at which my mind was churning. A complete picture of innocence, she gave me an extremely quizzical look once she’d finished with her phone call. I must have made quite a picture right then – all kinds of wild scenarios and permutations and combinations flashing inside my head and my eyes as wide as saucers all ready to pop out of their sockets and go walking out. Truth be told, now looking back on that moment, I must have looked as though I was high on something.

“What were you talking about sweetie ?” I asked her, with my heart steadily making its way towards my mouth with every passing second.

“About what, when ?” she responded.

Oh !! In case I’ve forgotten to mention, some of Mr.Exasperations absolutely exasperating qualities are rubbing off on the elder sibling – big time !!! And this is one of them – answering a question with a question !!!

“Something I heard on the phone just now. Did someone’s pet have a baby ?” I asked her.

“Oh !! The babies ?” she asked.

“Hmmm. Yeah – what just transpired on the phone just now” I said.

“That’s the same thing I told you about yesterday Mum. Remember I told you that many of the Year 6s in my school are bringing in some small transparent ball-like things to school. And these have to be kept in water otherwise they die” she said.

“Yep. That you did. But where do babies come into the picture from ?” I asked

“See Mum. I’ll tell you all about it.” she said

Ah ! The times we live in !! thought Mommy, as she settled herself next to her eight year old daughter, who was about to impart knowledge about how something was apparently having “babies”.

“See Mum – there are these round jelly like things. They come in many different colors.”

“See Mum – now this is what some of the Year 6s told us. They said that if we put two of the jellies of the same color together in the same box of water and leave them for some time – and after a while they have a baby.”

“They – meaning little round balls of jelly – have a baby ?” queried Mommy.

“I’ve seen it happen. I know how babies happen.” said a very animated Aparna.

“Seen what happen Appu ?” asked Mommy, trying not to let the alarm register on her face. I’m about sure that my heart must have been beating like a locomotive engine right then.

“I’ve seen them have babies” said Appu.

“Ahem ..... you mean those little jelly balls, Appu ?” asked Mommy

“Yeah Mum – those two big jelly balls get stuck together and after a while a small jelly ball of the same color is made”. “You see Mum – that’s because one of the jelly balls is pregnant and then it has a baby.”

Good Lord !!! Exactly how much do these kids know ? wondered Mommy.

“The Human Body” – a book which had been resting on the kids’ bookshelf was quickly summoned to the rescue and bit by bit I did explain to Appu that living beings have babies. And fortunately for me, there were a couple of pages which explained the whole process right from how cell division begins and how it takes nine months for the baby to grow inside mommy. And the illustrations did make the explaining that bit easier.

It is not that one should not talk to ones kids about the human anatomy. Yes – this is definitely a part of life and growing up.

But the dicey part is – how much of information to give out ?

It is an understood fact that sex education is not a one time thing. It is not a single time discussion that one has with one’s kids and then says “hmm that’s all I have to say. The rest is up to you.”
No. That’s not the way it works.

It is an ongoing process and at each stage of their development – physically, mentally and emotionally – the way sex education needs to be approached would be different. The context would differ and so would the content of information handed out to them.

At an age of eight or nine, one definitely cannot paint the whole picture on the canvas. To them, it would probably seem like the whole world is going mad. And to top that, there’s always the “eeeeewwwwww” factor to contend with. For just about anything and everything, the reaction is “eeeeewww. that’s gross”. Imagine how extended that “eeeewww” factor would be with a rather detailed kind of sex education at this age. Simply put, they’d be so totally freaked out !!!

This “jelly baby” turned out to be a false alarm – further discussion revealed that this was nothing but a rumor which the elder Year 6s in school had started spreading. The school immediately took action by sending out a letter to all parents informing that “jelly babies” had been banned from school with immediate effect.

But it did set me thinking.

Are kids growing up at a much faster pace in the world of today ?

How much did we know about babies and related stuff at 8-9 years of age.

Considering the limited amount of knowledge or virtually no knowledge of the subject that we had when we were 8-9 years old, these kids are way way ahead.

And in that instant, my mind just raced down memory lane and I could recollect with distinct clarity when I’d asked my mom “Where do babies come from ?” and her reply, as I guess was the reply most moms would have put forth to sneak out of the situation, was, “You’ll know when you grow up”. And this had just created more question marks inside of my head.

Try that same tack on a child today – “you’ll know when you grow up”. You think they’re going to buy that ? Nah !!!!!!!!! Not a chance. And again, which parent would want to take a chance by beating about the bush. I don’t suspect too many would. They’d rather tell their child about the birds and the bees themselves rather than kindle their curiosity further by giving them vague or no answers.
Simply put, it is much better that the child gets the basic idea from the parents, because as of today, they have exposure to so many different kinds of media and there’s no knowing what kind of information they’re going to gather or glean and from where and exactly how graphic that information is going to be.

And as far as the birds and the bees go, preteens are fairly notorious in the amount of misinformation that they manage to spread or give out. Just that they don’t know the whole story but with a bunch of juniors listening to them with rapt attention, they do sense that they could well be looked upon as the ones that “know it all”. Dicey !!

Take for example this information that the Year 6s were spreading about the jelly babies. I honestly don’t know how clear they themselves are about this whole business of babies being made but the Year 5s to some extent and the Year 4s to a great extent, had fallen hook line and sinker for the explanation given by the Year 6s. Fortunately, there are no children younger than the Year 4s on this campus else it would have been quite a riot. Imagine the Year 6s passing on half baked info to the Year 5s and Year 4s and they, in turn, diluting the information further and adding their own spice to it and passing it on to the much younger Year 3s and Year 2s .... by the time the information filters down to the very young and gullible Year 1s – it would probably turn into something like “you eat seeds and the seeds grow inside your tummy and you have a baby”. Knowing kids of today, a very curious bunch that they are, the little ones would probably start eating the seeds and throwing away the apples !!!!!!

Sure, there are things like Net Nanny and what have you – but there are also many other sites which piggyback onto rather innocuous children based sites. And it is rather common for children – even as young as 6 year olds to come home with the name of a webpage written on a piece of paper. Where do they get it from ? In most cases, it is from a friend in class who has an elder sibling. And with the younger sibling looking up to what they consider their “tech savvy” elder sibling and the elder sibling having very little or many a times absolutely no idea of the dangers that lurk in this vast and ever expanding cyber space, one does have a potentially unpredictable and at times, risky, situation on hand.

What I do is always always check out the site first and the first few times Aparna accesses any such site on the internet, I make it a point to peek in occasionally.

All the same, I find her using the internet quite a lot this year – mainly for her project work (some of which can be done online on the school website) as also for research work – to get information on their current Units of Inquiry. So the internet has indeed become a source that the children frequently use for their work. This cannot be avoided. Which calls for a greater amount of monitoring – because many a times these kids also need to collect images and graphics, relating to their research topics. And when one uses Google Images or Yahoo Images, there’s no saying what image is going to pop up !!

Phew !! Parenting sure is tough, is it not ?
I once remember reading a quote which goes
"Motherhood : If it was going to be easy, it never would have started with something called labor."
Be it motherhood, be it fatherhood, be it parenthood - fact remains that in parenting, parents are always walking a tightrope. A balance always needs to be struck. Be it in matters like the above or be it discipline or be it giving kids a certain amount of freedom and vesting in them your faith – just about the entire concept of parenting – is pretty much a very fine line that needs to be tread on very carefully and with much thought.

There !! The title of a book just popped into my head :

“The Intricacies of Parenting – The Fine Line That We Tread”.

Now all that remains is for me to write a book about it !!!!!!!

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16 May, 2008

Bal Vihar Annual Programme 2008

Bal Vihar classes are conducted all over Hongkong, in many different locations, through the week. And the number of children attending the Bal Vihar classes are nothing short of astounding.

Children learn cultural and mythological stories and imbibe a lot of knowledge about the rich Indian culture. This year, the Chinmaya Mission had also organised a Bhagavad Gita chanting competition. I guess, almost every child who attends the Bal Vihar is now familiar with Chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Gita.

As is the case every year, in the month of May, the children present a variety of programmes at the Annual Bal Vihar Show, comemmorating the birthday of Swami Chinmayananda.

This year, the theme was Ramayana. Through the year too, the Bal Vihar classes have been all about the Ramayana and the lessons that can be learnt from the Ramayana.

The Senior Group from Laguna City, for example, presented a small skit, the underlying theme of which was "She crossed the line". They portrayed the scene wherein Sita crosses the line and is then taken away by Ravana. But to look at the same in the present context, the message sent out was loud and clear - do not cross lines. If you do, there could possibly be trouble waiting for you. A very pertinent message for the pre-teen/teen age groups.

Aparna also had a surprise waiting - in that she'd been named the recipient of the "Best Student Award" for the Laguna City Junior Group.

All in all, the show was enjoyable. Music, dance, skits - it was a wonderful medley. The costumes were vibrantly colorful and the kids and the Sevikas (teachers) had put in their hearts and souls into each and every programme that was presented that day. And it showed.

Swami Chinmayananda once said

"The highest form of grace is silence."

"Temper takes you to Trouble. Pride keeps you there."

"Faith is 'to believe what you do not see', the reward of which is 'you see what you believed'".

"The glory of life is not never falling. The true glory consists in rising each time we fall."

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09 May, 2008

Curious George And The Pizza ......

....... do not go hand in hand as far as logic is concerned, according to who else, but Abhay.

For a while now, the Curious George Books have been missing from the shelves of the library.

And the Curious George series of books have always been a favorite read. Even more so, since he started to read on his own. He manages to read the Curious George books too, most of it, by himself. Figuring out the words, looking at the pictures, putting them together and piecing the story together is something he does enjoy doing. And the Curious George series of books have also familiarised him with conjugated words like "I’ve", "You’re" and the like.

And reading a Curious George book is always accompanied by spates of giggles and at times uncontrollable laughter.

So this time around, when Mommy did find the Curious George books back on the library shelf, she did not hesitate to borrow 2-3 of the books for Abhay to have a go at.

This morning, Abhay picked “Curious George and The Pizza”.

Mommy, in the meanwhile, was having rather pleasant visions of being able to enjoy her morning dose of caffeine – a steaming, piping hot cup of coffee – while Curious George kept Abhay and his imagination busy.

“Oh Lovely”, did I hear you say ?

“Ah !! Wishful thinking”, is what Mommy says.

Little did Mommy know that downing that cup of coffee was going to be a race against time. Little did she know that the vision of Abhay engrossed in the book was soon going to turn into a barrage of questions being thrown at Mommy – questions that were flying fast and furious, questions that were being fired mercilessly.

While Mommy was busy envisioning consuming her cup of coffee in tiny little sips, letting that caffeine kick into the system slowly, Abhay started reading his book. The words flowed, slowly and smoothly – interspersed by little pauses when his eyes took in the picture on the page and his brain registered and put together the picture and the words.

Mommy blissfully took a sip of her steaming coffee when she heard Abhay pipe up “Does a baker make a pizza Mum ?” “Bakers make bread. Bakers make yummy delicious cakes.” “But bakers don’t make pizza” came the statements fast and furious.

“Yes Abhay. They do, sometimes.” “Remember when we go over to the bread shop, there are those mini pizzas there ? Those are made by the bakers in the bread shop” said Mommy.

“But there are no bakers in Pizza Hut Mummy” came the rejoinder.

“There may be Abhay. They would be cooking in the kitchen. We don’t see them because it is the waiter who brings the food to the table” replied Mommy.

“But no one Mummy, nobody in Pizza Hut wears a baker’s hat” came the reply.

“They don’t necessarily need to wear a baker’s hat Abhay” said Mommy.

“But Mum – the doctor always wear a mask. So why bakers always don’t wear bakers hats ?” flew the question.

“Cop out. Cop out” screamed that voice inside of Mommy’s head. But no, penchant for trouble that she has, she went along with this question answer session. Those sips of coffee, by the way, had now turned to swigs of coffee.

“Sometimes the doctor too does not wear a mask Abhay. And just because a baker does not wear a hat does not make him something else. He is still a baker.” said Mommy.

What Mommy got in return was a rather dubious look but phew !!, he decided to go on reading the book.

The reading train chugged along, but not for long. The brakes screeched again – at Page 5. “Why did the baker toss the dough in the air ?” came the question.

“For it to become light and airy” said Mommy “because that way the crust of the pizza will be softer”

“But if the dough become filled with air then it will become a dough balloon and then the balloon will come down and down and down and down and crash on the baker’s head” came the retort, accompanied by a spate of giggles.

The swigs of coffee had now turned into gulps as Mommy desperately tried to get all that much-needed caffeine into her system before the coffee turned cold.

The giggles eventually subsided and on went the reading train – slow, steady, smooth reading. The little finger on the page was hopping from word to word and going along at an even pace when the train suddenly stopped at Page 12.

There it was. A picture of George with four mounds of pizza dough.

“Why George need to pound the dough Mum” asked Abhay with a frown. “If George pound the dough like this (with a virtual demo on the writing table) the dough will get hurt”

“Then what must George do to flatten the dough Abhay ?” asked Mommy

“George can pat the dough Mum – like this” (with another virtual demo on the table)

And then all of a sudden “Eeeeewwwwwww Yuuuccckkkkkkyyyyy” came the loud exclamation.

“What happened ?” queried Mommy

“Look Mum – George is putting his legs on the dough. That’s yucky. Remember, we not supposed to put our legs in the food” came the reply.

God !! One cannot dispute that kind of logic. He was right !!

“Mum look – the book make a mistake” said Abhay, pointing to Page 13 with a quizzical expression on his face.

This says “George have four hands”. “How can George have four hands Mum ?” “George is a monkey. Monkeys have two legs and two hands.” said Abhay

Once again, there was no disputing that logic. I mean, ever heard of a monkey with four hands.

“Yes Abhay. You are right” said Mommy, who, by now, could not help but smile.

He was on a roll here.

The next couple of pages had him go berserk with laughter when he saw the pizza dough falling on many different places. The height of it was when one of the dough pancakes landed smack on the baker’s head. The reading train had temporarily ground to a halt because of all that laughter and giggles. Once he decided to go on with his reading he started and then stopped again.

“Mum – George make four pizza dough. One, Two, Three, Four. One pancake fall on this aunty’s plate, second pancake fall on the music box, third pancake fall on the baker’s head.

Mum – where did the number four pancake fall ? So Mum, where did the number four pancake fall ?

“Why the book peoples make so many mistake ?” asked Abhay.

Why Indeed !! I guess with kids of today, every little detail needs to be examined thoroughly before it is put on print or for that matter, onto any media.

There are many days when such errors or gaps in reasoning would go totally unnoticed and he would just continue reading. But there are some days like today when logic precedes just about everything else. Everything has to have a logical reply.

And speaking of logic, Abhay seems to be exhibiting the very same logical thinking at school too. Because, early on this week, on Monday to be exact, he came back from school with this certificate.

“Whose mind did he twist at school ?” wondered Mommy.

At home, at times, he sure has people all twisted and tied up in knots with his questions !!!!

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06 May, 2008

The Year Fours' Art Gallery ....

....... was what the invitation said. The letter that came in from KJS stressed on the fact that the Year 4 students had been researching on the subject of and working on the theme "Art", over the past 3-4 months.

We, at home too, had seen Aparna busily browsing the web in an attempt to gain more information about artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, Keith Haring as also photographers like Anne Geddes and Tony Howell.

One thing that had always struck us about KJS is the stress that is laid on and the importance that is given to art as a medium of expression. Be is sketches, paintings, clay modelling, music - children are encouraged to express themselves through art right from their Primary One years. Children coming back home with paint stained uniforms do bear testimony to the fact that children do indulge themselves in expression through Art with a rather delightful gusto.

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." ~ Georgia O' Keeffe

Given all this, when the invitation letter did come in, inviting parents to view the Art Gallery that had been created by the Year Four students, it had a kind of pull to it. And true to their word, the Year Four's of KJS had created a rather magical atmosphere at school that day.

The first thing that struck me as I walked onto the balcony which fringes each classroom (yes - they actually have balconies alongside their classrooms) was the atmosphere. It was charged. Charged with excitement, charged with pride, charged with enthusiasm. Each and every Year Four student was on the move, involved and occupied with something or the other. Not one was found idle. There was a very vibrant liveliness to the whole place and best of all, the kids were really enjoying themselves.

Each and every Year Four classroom and the corridor and the balconies had been done up with artwork which had been "created" by the Year Four's. It was a riot of color -at times rich and vibrant, at times subdued and soothing. All the elements were in place.

"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit. ~ John Updike"

Some of the Year Four's were busy walking around interviewing the parents who had come in to view the gallery and were methodically noting down the parents' responses to their questions on a notepad.

Some of the Year Four's were busy encouraging parents and other visitors to have a snack which had been set up in each one of the classrooms. In place of the traditional wine and cheese that is served during viewings at art galleries, the school was serving baby carrots with a cheese dip. Everything had been thought of. The children were helpful, attentive and very solicitous.

What struck me most about the children that day was the sense of belonging that they were exhibiting. "I belong here" was a sentiment that was coming through with distinct clarity and they took immense pride in the fact that they "belonged", that they "fit in" and that they felt "totally at home" in their school surroundings. How amazing is that !! It felt wonderful.

The teachers were walking around with sheets of round, red stickers - which were tagged onto the art which had been bought by people.

I leave you with some of the vibrant pictures that were captured on film ....

No better way to end this post than with these beautiful quotes that I came across on the web. Quotes about Art - made extra-special by the fact that these are the thoughts of some of the children from Los Cerros Middle School.

"Art is the colors and textures of your imagination." ~ Meghan

"Art is your personal diary where you may color your thoughts and emotions on a page." ~ Sarah

"Art is your emotions flowing in a river of imagination" ~ Devin

"Art is an adventure that never seems to end." ~ Jason

"Art is pictures straight from the heart." ~ Ben

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