Connecting the Dots with Raedita

by Ishani Verdia, Udaipur

While I was pregnant, I was paranoid about the lack of alternative schools in Udaipur. There was a constant fear in me on how will I succeed in overcoming the same mistakes that, in my mind, my parents did by sending me to a conventional school.

As I embarked on my journey of parenthood, my worries lessened and I gradually transformed from a nervous mother to a confident parent as my daughter, Raedita, has gifted me with many pertinent lessons.

As a 5 month old, as she wiggled her hands and legs, as she observed the pigeons fluttering their wings, the pigeons flying from one pole to another, as she searched for the sparrows chirping and the jungle babblers blabbering -- fully engrossed in observing, exploring and absorbing her surroundings -- the creeper, the birds, the various sounds, I would sometimes marvel at her innate ability to appreciate the little things that we as adults often forget to appreciate.

As a 9 month old, she would play with pugs belonging to my neighbour, get licked and pushed to the ground, she would get up and smile and again hug the pugs, empathizing with this breed of dogs. And, I marvel again at her love and compassion for someone who just pushed her to the ground, for she has an innate quality to forgive.

As a year old baby, she would constantly look at the street cats, call them and would wish to instantly play with them, not fully knowing, if these cats can be trusted or not? I once again marvel at her ability to fully trust and love all living creatures.

Currently, as I write, as a 19-month old, she spots a dog wherever she goes, whether it is a beach, a relative’s house, a road or Shikshantar. Through her love and compassion, she has learnt to make friends with dogs that are strangers to her and strengthen her immunity (inhaling the microbes) by sitting on roads and playing with street dogs. As a mother, I once again marvel at her innate desire to include all living beings in her circle of play.

As a mother, as I have grown with her, I often gaze at a dog I meet on the road, I lovingly pat an unknown dog, a pet cat or just marvel at the birds that fly, the way their wings flutter or completely lose myself in appreciating the beautiful beak of a bird, or get absorbed in staring at an army of ants collectively carrying a small piece of sugar on their shoulders and as I spend more and more time spotting birds, gazing at birds, the animals and as I feel deep love for each living creature, I ponder if I could have ever amassed the learnings that come by unleashing the full potential of nature had it not been for my daughter.

As I deeply reflect on my journey, I often wonder, has she come to me so that I can teach her or has she come to me to gift me what had been missing from my life for so long? She through her presence has quietly unlocked a part of me that I didn’t know existed.

As a family, as we co-learn, as we co-evolve, as we put aside any adult agendas, as we do away with many conditioned structures, we have several enlightening insights that I wish to share with other parents through a series of interactive parent-child workshops in Udaipur.

The conventional society often questions me about the choice of school for my daughter, the unconventional society often asks me if I will homeschool or unschool or world school my daughter? Well, I wish to refrain from giving any labels. All I wish to do is immerse myself in the pleasures of observing, learning and transforming with my daughter while spreading the joys of conscious parenting with families.

Through letting her lead the way, my husband and I have fully realised that in a non-competitive, non-judgmental environment, our children will learn whatever they have to learn for their physical, emotional, cognitive, psychological and spiritual growth.