On the Saturday morning pre – school sessions at Bookworm, I am known to work from home or creep up the stairs to avoid engagement. Deepali who holds this session does it remarkably well and I considered myself done with little ones.
For years – as far back as I can I have worked with little children. I do this knowing that the formative years matter and thereafter a wise parent will follow through with library attendance, book buying, stimulating conversation and such. But for the past four years of having Deepali on my team, I have cheerfully handed over. No engagement with little ones.
So when I told the team I would hold Lap Time Baby Time for children as young as 24 months and below, it was met with glacial silence, perplexed expressions and a hint of incredulity.
After I had shared my session plan with the team, and I was gathering books and toys, a sense of reality descended on the team.
I arrive on the day to find Stephie and Anandita mopping and shining the floor. We proceeded to wipe down all the surfaces, wipe each individual building block I would use for ‘play’ and put out our freshly laundered softies and books. Shraddha with the fine hand writing sped down stairs with the roller boards and wrote out the song routine we would sing. My memory is no longer sharp, my Bookworm girls are the best scaffold. I know they were determined to give me an opportunity to succeed with what seemed like a really crazy idea.
We were set.
Would anyone come?
I allowed myself to be reminded about why I was doing this. I recollected my conversation with Jane de Souza a young mother of Jacob, a cherub. I told Jane about Baby Time in Bookworm’s past and how important the act of play and rhythm, rhyme, repetition and joy are to young children’s language development. Jane, a well read mother herself did not need any further telling.
“Tell me when”, she said, “I and seven friends will be there. “
And they were.
As I sat upon the mat, parents and little one’s trooped in. It was a room full. We pushed beyond seven, we had twelve! We were hot within a few minutes, necessitating a new fan for the Bookworm room. But while we were there, there was joy.
Every baby, all twelve of them enjoyed the voices of their parents in song. They smiled and gurgled at the rhythm and movement play. They looked at books with their parents for the quiet looking time, listening to the familiar comforting voices of their parents as pictures turned.
The parents (one father amongst eleven mothers!) were sterling. They listened, cooperated, lifted their voices in song, shared their baby routines and had a shine in their eyes which comes from joyful parenting.
Hours later I am still thinking of the babies. Each one unique at ages three months to twenty four but each one responding to a primal stimulus to communicate, to listen, to respond and to learn. It was astounding to be reminded of how naturally children learn and how joyful the process can be.
I felt I passed a small test of young – one – worthiness with my Bookworm team who hung around the side lines to support me if I falter or fall.
It is most imperative however, to remind ourselves that experiences can happen if and only if parents make the time to attend, to participate, to collaborate and to be open. The group at Lap Time Baby Time at Bookworm were all that and more.
We look forward and are honored to rebirth this program at Bookworm.
Every Alternate Thursday from 11. 00 am – 12. 00 noon.