Connecting the drops!

Pushpa Ramachandran, 2012

“Amma—can we wear our laincoats and go down pleeeaaase?”
Oh! that “l” for “r” makes me smile all the time. Veda who is two years and ten months old frantically tugs at my dress and drags me to the cupboard to get her plastic raincoat, so we can go down and jump in muddy puddles. In under five minutes we are down in the building parking lot eagerly waiting for puddles of water to get generated under the generous gift showered by the heavens.

Veda has loved the rain since she was an infant! When it used to thunder ferociously, while her peers would cower behind their mothers, my little one year old would be running to the balcony with her fist clenched and her arm pumping as if she were applauding God’s sound effects. We had nicknamed her “The heavens’ Rock band groupie.” Lightning wasn’t something she would shut her eyes to. When she had just begun to speak and discovered the magic words for “more” she would shout back to the skies, “Once more venam” (Another one please!) and would squeal in delight at the instant replay.

There is something truly magical about the rain and that magic just gets expounded when Veda experiences the rain! I am amazed how much the rain has taught her and me—making me realize that all the dots (and the drops) in the world are connected. Learning doesn’t have to be compartmentalized, as my toddler has shown me in the following ways:

Role play: Role Play is such an important part of learning about one’s environment and the rain provides the perfect stage for little “Peppa” to practice her acting skills. Veda loves watching the character Peppa Pig and one of Peppa’s favorite things to do is to jump in muddy puddles. As soon as the puddles are generated, Veda immediately transforms into Peppa Pig. She puts on a great act, with the snorting and the mannerisms all complete! The reward is always unconditional - more number of puddles for Veda to jump in.

Reading: One of Veda’s favorite books is an Indian publication called Sunu Sunu Snail. The book is a very simple story about a snail that finds comfort in a cave with his mother while it thunders, gales and pours outside. Veda is quick to point out to me depending on the weather that it's “breezy” or “stormy” just like in Sunu Sunu Snail. Rain and its related weathers have never been easier to learn about. These stories have added the words (thunder, lightning, hail stones, snow, just to mention a few). The meteorogical department might be put to shame by this two-and-a-half year old’s vocabulary.

Videos: Veda delights when it rains on the shows—Kipper the Dog or Caillou. The umbrella has become her favourite fashion accessory as have her cute gum boots. She pretends to hide behind me when Bambi hides under his mother in the pelting rain and feels sad for all the creatures that get soaking wet in the unslaught that is shown so classically by Disney. Watching the rain on screen isn’t just some passive activity—I feel she genuinely relives moments of her own experience while watching these beautifully rendered images.

Concepts: The rain has lent itself for concepts that people are so eager to box into flashcards and drill to boredom in textbooks. Veda with all of her toddler wisdom and without any of these pedagogical tools has figured out which puddle is “deeper”, on which side the drain pours out water “faster”, and how much she needs to jump to make the splashing go “ higher”. Math, anyone? The height of the clouds, how dark they are, how close they are getting, what “monsters” they look like are all things that she talks about when the rain seems approaching. Dry, wet, dripping, pouring, clean and dirty water aren’t concepts that I need to show her on paper charts. She shows them to me in the boundless chart that Mother Nature provides her with.

Music: The rain inspires her to sing and the singing connects her back to the rain itself. “It's raining, it's pouring”, “Rain, rain go away” and other English nursery rhymes as well as her cherished mother tongue (Tamil) rain-related songs are but a few that she has reveled in belting out. Instrumental music—classical or contemporary—have also been our go-to’s to dance to when it’s so stormy outside that we feel the need to stay indoors and dry.

Smelling the earth, feeling the rain, tasting the first drops, watching the glistening dew that remains after the storm, learning that the ants and other creatures scurry for shelter when the heavens part while she runs to soak up the magical showers has taught her many a thing about her world. And taught me that when its raining—it's time to connect the dots—and the drops!
This writing is shared with Pushpa's permission. Pushpa Ramachandran's family lives in Pune, India.

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