Morning walks with Yog have now transformed from “Learning to Walk” exercise, to “Learning about his World” exercise. We walk less, but stoop more to pick up things from the road. He feels almost every fallen item on the road to explore its colour and texture. If there is something very interesting (usually a stone or a shiny wrapper), he decides to sit down on the road or on the mud alongside the road to give the item its full attention. In the initial days, I used to worry about hygiene and infections, but I figured the amount of learning involved for him in this whole exercise is much more than the possibility of him contracting an infection. Nonetheless, to keep my mother’s anxiety at bay, we have timed his baths to just after his walks, so we can scrub him off all the germs that he has so lovingly explored.
Today, as he sat down on the road rubbing his hands in the mud and pebbles, a lady walked up to us with a look of complete disapproval. By her attire and accent, I could make out that she belonged to one of the slum communities that we have near our house. She looked at me and said, “Can’t you see your son is sitting on the road?”. I was surprised by her tone of voice and was taken aback a little. My response was brief and curt, “Yes, he is sitting on the road! So..?” She gave me an exasperated look and walked away. I realize she was trying to tell me that my son can fall sick by so many germs surrounding him. I am guessing in her mind, she assumed that people with intellect and money should not indulge in primitive games like this. For the lesser privileged children, they didn’t have a choice but to run and play on the roads. But how could I, educated female of the modern era, have my sun exposed to so many germs?
While coming back home, I had this constant thought running in mind – Does the possession of education and monetary resources mean that we have to live our lives away from the ground? Just because my son can have all the toys he desires, should I deny him the enjoyment of rolling in the mud and picking up stones? More than the enjoyment involved, I seriously believe such activities immensely aid in the development of motor skills of young children and help them learn about their world. Should I deny him this essential learning, because I have been fortunate to be educated?
As we grow up the ladder of education, innovation and success, I so wish we could keep our lives simple, as close to the ground as possible. Yog loves it for now and I hope I am able to keep it this way for some more years to come before the world of technology floods him.