Yesterday when we were at the Drama Academy (yes, these days we are into drama, I shall write about it soon), a mom asked me a good question; 'Then, what do you do at home?'
It so happened that while into an activity, she asked TV to 'imagine' something, 'like Barney says.'
TV, otherwise responsive, just stared blankly at her.
'Don't you watch Barney?' the mom asked
'No,' I answered, 'not yet.'
'Barney ride!' I heard TV mumble. Apparently, she loves to ride a barney car when we are at the mall. And that's her only interaction with the popular cartoon character, at least so far.
'So what are her favorite cartoons,' the mom quizzed me. 'Does she like Dora?'
'Well ...no,' I managed to say. 'She just watches Mickey Mouse once in a while and sometimes a Hi-5.'
'once in a while?' the lady seemed curious.
'umm may be twice a week,' I replied, 'or even lesser sometimes.'
It seemed, from her wide open eyes and mouth (though not wide open), that the lady was in a shock. This was not new to me though. I have shocked a couple of moms earlier on the same response.
The first time I saw this reaction, I was shocked too ... I mean, did I say something wrong? something outrageous? But then, I soon discovered that Barney and Dora are the most popular characters amongst the babies and just-in-tots. So whoever watched TV (television) watched these. And watching TV was the most followed ritual in a baby's or tot's day - as much as a meal - more so because in many cases, having meals and watching TV always happened together.
Anyway, so the lady further asked me, 'so is she always out of the house?'
'Sorry?' I could'nt really understand what she meant.
'Do you always bring her out?'
'No, only mornings and evenings,' I paused and then quickly added (now knowing her interest in specifics), 'about 3-4 hours a day. Rest of the time we are at home.'
'so you have a large family?' the lady again.
In my memory, I've only been quizzed like this for my interviews.
'No just us - the 3 of us - TV, my husband and I. And its just TV and I during the day, when my husband is off to work.'
'Then, what does she do at home?' came the real big question.
For a moment I was in a haze. Really, what does she do at home?
Just then another activity began in the class and we got busy in there. But the question echoed in my mind. And I decided to answer it to myself. Following is my observation of TV's schedule.
7 to 7:30 am - wakes up
then until 9 am - the morning rituals. She's a part of our morning activities like;
breakfast - we try to have the breakfast together,
newspaper browsing - she flips through the papers, watches photographs tries to copy the expressions if it's an amusing one or spots and tells what she knows like 'monkey' 'car' 'blue' and these days looks for the alphabet 'O' - chotta o, big O
dad's getting ready to office - she actually helps him - passing his wallet, shirt to him as he gets ready. Then follows him till the lobby and gets back in after an elaborate bye bye.
9 to 10 is generally our getting ready time, when I also do some of my lunch cooking.
10 is generally the time when we go out, if we go out that is. I take her with me for my badminton once a week. Then we go to drama class once a week. Then sometimes it's shopping or to a park, or swimming and playing in our condo. Weekends is when we generally go to people's places or have them over or go on picincs or siteseeing or events.
When we don't go out in the mornings, I like to cook an elaborate meal, with music in the background. TV gets involved - passing the peppers or using her toy kitchen or simply moving to the music, getting me to join the dance ocassionally.
12 noon is our lunch time (minus Television) and that's an elaborate one. We talk during lunch, about food, what we are eating, the colors on our plate. We sing some rhymes. At times, when I see TV finding it difficult to sit at one place and have her food, then I get her involved with a story. But as a rule, she would get up from her seat only when she's done. When she gets up in between, I assume she's done.
Then while I am doing the dishes or cleaning up, TV is either with her chotta broom or exploring the cabinets or busy with her toys or board books or simply talking or singing. She can now actually entertain herself for at least 40-50 minutes at a stretch (good for me).
By the time we are done, it's 2 pm. That's when we retire to our bedroom - for a nap. Now this is the process (putting her to sleep) that get's the best of me - creativity, patience and perseverance. (Nap she must, else she starts getting tired by 5). Or sometimes it's my reward time, when I get to nap while TV is busy with her antics (generally, reading books aloud or singing - in half gibberish). But what she really finds engaging is sorting her clothes, or trying to fold a kerchief - I leave a couple of her clothes and a napkin/ kerchief on the bed. After the 'going to nap' process, TV actually falls asleep sometime between 3 to 3:30 and after a quick nap, is up before 5.
Evenings on weekdays is generally papa-TV time when they either go out or we go out or they just play together at home. Then we have some evening rituals (which we try to follow regularly) like saying prayers (TV can now say 'shubham karotu' herself) dining together, reading books or telling stories before going to bed (which is generally between 10 to 10:30 for TV - much earlier for dad)
Well, that's what we generally do at home. Of course then there's always some music running in the background and at times TV and I dancing to the music, or humming some rhymes or making some ourselves, doing household chores - in a fun way, meeting friends, playdates, just going for strolls, watching the gardener or cleaners at work, or just watching birds, ants, snail, squirrels, butterflies in the garden.