We've finished our first week at the mother toddler playgroup and Nikki seems to be settling in rather well. She was a little wary of the general proceedings on the first day, keeping a keen eye on me to ensure I didn't wander off too far, but the next day on it was like she'd been doing this all along. She's already made a couple of friends and has even gotten herself a little admirer who has taken quite a fancy to her, insisting on hugging her hello and goodbye every time they meet. Nikki is quite scornful of all this attention though and brushes the poor little chap off disdainfully each time, but he is nothing if not persistent. The sessions at the playgroup are divided into motor skills, language skills and drama and no prizes for guessing which is Nikki's favorite! Its drama all the way; I knew I was being prescient when I christened her the little drama queen. She has an absolute blast in the drama class and is quite the life and soul of the music and movement party that is an integral part of each session, with her little 'balle balle' jig and general shake that booty baybeh happening in full flow. At one of the sessions there was a puppet show and Nikki was beside herself with excitement at all the animal puppets that made an appearance. At first she was content to sit at the foot of the stage and wave a cheery 'hi' to each puppet that made an appearance but soon she figured out, from some clever peering under the screen, that there was someone back there making all the action happen and she made a beeline for the poor teacher-puppeteer's foot. I was quite enjoying the sight of the teacher hopping around to avoid her, when I noticed the other teacher glaring at me and quickly moved Nikki away. The other big hit with Nikki has been an activity where all the babies get to dress up like monkeys and prance around. Nikki took to her little monkey headgear and tail immediately,and spent a good ten minutes preening in front of the mirror, even giving herself little kisses in the mirror!
The motor skills class, with its fun educational toys is another hit with Nikki, its the language skills class with its rather large dose of structured activities that she likes the least. For this class requires the kids to sit down and go through a series of quiet-ish activities, and that doesn't go down too well with Nikki. She likes doing things her way and any attempt at doing otherwise is met with instant and ear shattering mutiny.The teachers are finding this out the hard way. At one of the sessions a variety of toys were laid out in different corners and the mothers were supposed to spend a couple of minutes playing with one toy and then move on to the next. Some of the toddlers didn't mind being moved around once their time was up at a particular toy, but not Nikki. She insisted on playing with the toys she wanted to, and moving on to the next toy at her own time and pace. When the teacher tried to direct her to a particular toy she promptly turned up her nose and marched off purposefully in the opposite direction to another toy just to make her point. Personally, I think its fine if she wants to set her own pace and choose the toys she plays with, as long as she's not bothering any of the other kids but the teacher seemed to think otherwise. After a few more failed attempts at getting Nikki to play with toys in a particular order, the teacher finally decided she would try and teach Nikki to play with the toys the 'right' way instead of using her own creativity. The toy in question was a large bowl of colored rice and a shovel and the activity consisted of shoveling the rice into another empty bowl. Nikki was enjoying playing with the rice, feeling it slip between her fingers, scrunching it up in her fist, when the teacher tried showing her how to use the shovel. At first Nikki continued playing the way she wanted to, but soon she was done with the interfering and the bowl of rice was emptied unceremoniously in the teacher's lap. Next, another teacher tried being helpful when Nikki was messing around with some colored play dough. She had been given a little rolling pin and board and was 'expected' to roll some chappatis with the dough. Nikki had turned the board upside down, placed the rolling pin in it and converted it into some sort of boat which she was busy decorating with bits of the dough. Pretty innovative, I thought! But the friendly teacher again interrupted her play to show her how to roll chappatis the proper way. Last seen, she was observed desperately trying to scrape off the dough from the seat of her pants where Nikki had plastered it. Overall though, its been fun so far and I think Nikki quite enjoys the entire experience. Yesterday, when I announced that we were off to 'school' she even got out her little bag and got S to pack a little box of raisins and her sippy cup of water to take along :) The other great thing about this school, like I've mentioned before, is the wonderful collection of books they have. We've been borrowing one every week and Nikki has been having a wonderful time with Spot The Dog's Big Touch and Feel Book and Itsy Bitsy Spider, which has brought her favorite rhyme wonderfully alive.
In other news, Nikki's artwork at school now occupies pride of place on our refrigerator, proudly displayed for all to see. Speaking of the fridge, Nikki seems to have developed a strong fascination with it and all that lies within it. She comes scampering up whenever the fridge is opened and trots off at top speed with whatever object catches her fancy. She's also lost interest in the collection of toys we had amassed for her playing pleasure and now insists on playing only with random household objects; kitchen utensils and fruits and vegetables being the favorites. We've had to write off many a mangled banana or a squeezed into inedible mush cucumber, after Nikki's done with them, all in the name of the greater good of learning. The Papa Man's empty beer cans are another hot favorite, but can have unfortunate consequences as I discovered recently. I walked into our balcony where Nikki and The Papa Man were playing last evening only to find our new neighbors giving us strange looks as Nikki, in an effort to imitate her daddy, pretended to take long swigs from the empty beer can while The Papa Man chatted on his phone!
The sleep files continue to be tempestuous and unpredictable with the latest development being an abject revulsion to sleeping in the cot. Every night at 8.30ish, I put Nikki to bed in her cot. Every morning at 4am she wakes up screaming blue murder and insists on being transferred to our bed where on good days she nods off almost immediately, and on bad ones, frolics around for an hour or two. On the really screwed up days, we just give up, go with the flow and head out for an early breakfast to any place that serves extra strong, knock your eyeballs out coffee so that we're fit and fighting for the day that lies ahead. We went through a phase recently where Nikki took resistance to being put down for a nap or for the night to new levels. The Papa Man and I would take turns on the battle field before finally flopping down in weary surrender on the bed while Nikki would continue playing gleefully before tiring herself out and eventually retiring for the night. Thankfully that phase didn't last long else we would have made the dehydrated raccoon look a new fad in these parts. The resistance to sleeping in the cot has been on for a while though, thanks to which anyone who wanders into our bedroom anytime between the hours of 4 and 8 am will be spectator to the strange sight of The Papa Man and I lying at perpendicular angles on the two open sides of our bed to preempt any attempts at diving off the bed, which Nikki is wont to do every time the thought strikes her fancy.
The other thing with Nikki is that because she resists sleep with such admirable tenacity, she often finally falls asleep in a strange pose resembling a long distance runner with her body all hunched up over the starting line. The fact that she also resembles a baby Spiderman with her newly tonsured look (although the hair is growing back at quite a brisk pace now, thank the Lord) makes this a strange sight indeed. And when she finally wakes up, oh joy!, she sits up with a great sense of urgency like she's running late for an important business meeting and starts chattering at top speed, to make for all the lost time when she was forced to sleep.
And now, since this seems to have turned into another one of those long, rambling, all over the place kind of posts ( I seem to be doing that a lot these days) and also because Nikki has deigned to take a nap, I think I will stop and catch up on some sleep myself (those 4am jaunts are TOUGH!). Will be back with bath tales 101, food fetishes, current fave activities (all I can say now is they involve cars and much shrieking) and other things Nikki!