Newsletter Issue 22: Yr 20-21
This was a very interesting week and there were lots of gyan charcha!! Over time we have figured that kids tell us when we need to guide them and how much. The difficult part is, not to overdo it….:) The week started with visitors to our centre who shared their views and experiences.
Shakil is a lawyer, digital content developer and a good friend of the founder members of LC. He and his son Kabir who is in 9th grade had visited us on monday. They had come back from a visit from the Singhu border where the farmers' protest is currently going on. They were here to share their stories and their views on the matter. Shakil explained to us what these farm laws were and what are the arguments from the side of the farmers to each of those laws. They spent about 12 days there interviewing and documenting the protest. Kabir explained their life in the tents and how farmers mobilised food and shelter. He promised to come back again with pictures. He was very humbled and heart felt by the seva bhav of the punjabi culture and wanted to share these stories with our children.
You must have figured out by now what is the most recurring issue during the judiciary. Yes, it is housekeeping. So this judiciary, we made a game plan for housekeeping. Now onwards every child once a week will be incharge of setting up of one room during the winding-up time. Just once in a week for 15 mins. It seemed very doable to all, so it's passed for now. This is one of the many tactics we have used so far. Will keep you updated how this goes.
We had to do some serious talk, or should we say adult talk to our kids this week. It so happened that one of our children used some profane language and the reaction was completely uncalled for. Usage of cuss words and in any way or form, disrespecting others and violating someone’s physical space is an offense in LC. Few kids did get offended but tried to take a mature route to tackle this issue. We decided that it was time to create body and sexual awareness.
The biggest hullabaloo around sexual awareness starts from the very beginning when we don’t address our private parts by their names. We often call them by pseudo names out of shame, discomfort or taboo. We have attempted to remove that in our first session. So the first hurdle is crossed where all the kids were made aware of all the names of our private parts.
The second session:
We split the group continued further discussion with the 8+ age group. While understanding our body, and taking appropriate care, it is necessary to understand what is so called indecent and unacceptable behaviour. Rather than giving information, kids were asked about what they know, what all things they are already exposed to (via movie, media, games, friends, books). Surprisingly, children were already aware about many concepts, including boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, sexual intimacy, sexual behaviour in animals, different advertisement pop-ups showing inappropriate contents as well as some people indulging into nudity for money. There were questions asked like, what about nude paintings? Is it not an art form? Can a baby be born even in absence of marriage? This went on to the cultural context of marriage, legalities and live-in relationships. Also, someone asked why girls use breast enhancers?
Further, the discussion was led to the topic of imposing any activity on someone (a girl or a boy) without consent. Is that fine? Does a person feel safe? What all are possible ways of such force? What should a person do in case if he/she falls victim?
Some of the children had heard the word “rape”, some had a faint notion what it is. Someone had watched movies like Pink and Mardani, and were well aware of the situations.
The session concluded with everyone admitting that, it's not a good practice to exhibit, or watch, touch or make someone touch private parts of the body. So also, it is not acceptable to send video clips or messages pertaining to such matters.
The third session:
The third part was pertaining to body changes which soon will be evident in everyone. Hair growth, burst in height, menstruation, etc. While explaining menstruation, it was told to children, that the uterus prepares for arrival of the baby every month, by cushioning, taking extra nourishment (like bird readies a nest with cotton and feathers, and we do preparations at home if a baby is expected to arrive). Every month, when there is no chance of conception, this extra cushion is laid off, only to create a new one for the next month. The blood that is shed is as pure as in any other body part.
Children were curious about whether it pains? How does someone get to know when the period starts? Is there a possibility of a girl getting pregnant (say at 15 years) if her menses start? Do pregnant women get menses? All these answers were found through group talk. Few children already had clarity and helped others understand the issue.
A demonstration of sanitary pad use was also provided. A few were already aware about issues like pollution, hygiene and infections, and alternatives like menstrual cups.
All the discussion was carried out with boys along. It helped them to get their concepts clear and develop sensitivity towards the topic and take away the shame.
There is a lot more to discuss like gender diversity, equality, inclusiveness, cultural connotations associated with gender and emotional changes occurring in puberty. Those too, will be addressed soon. Also, the same sessions will be repeated periodically for different audiences.
We thought it is a better idea to give you details of what happened in the session. You may expect some questions. In case there is any difficulty in answering, please feel free to reach out to us.
Every friday morning we have now engaged a gymnastics instructor. He is very forthcoming and friendly with the children. They love to play games and he makes them do long laps of running, jumping, frog jumping, etc. Kids also did head rolling, cartwheeling, head stands etc. We are very glad to have this lacuna filled from a facilitation point of view. He is very approachable and has agreed to help us better our play room too.
The food for this friday was mug cakes, which means cakes made in mugs in the microwave oven. As usual there was a goof up of the supplies, but this time they claimed that one of their friends didn't turn up with the required ingredient. They later went home to a friend’s place nearby to fetch the missing ingredient. However, the cake turned out just ok. SInce they were the ones who made it, they ate it happily. No questions asked. They cleaned up the table and all vessels too.
Please join us tomorrow at 10 am for a Parent sharing Circle. We hope to do this one in few months so that we could share our anxieties, experiences and celebrations. The details of it is sent on the WA group.
Until next time…