I had a childhood interspersed with trees. Going to “the ground” was the best part of the day. The tekdi during summer holidays was a thing to wake up for. Cycling around in the “galli” was possible. It was OK to play in mud, and it was OK to sit on the road when the rains were lashing down. The TV was also a part of my childhood, but लपा छुपी or ङबाईस-स्पाईस made a lot more sense. राज्य कोणावर येणार seemed to be the only problem on our minds. Sleep overs meant playing dark room. Outdoor exercises meant climbing trees. Making a किल्ला was always a disaster, but planting the आळीव and watching it grow was a high point of our lives. Then we grew up, cycle rides got taken over by bike rides,and evenings got taken over by movie theatres. College, work, everything happened at the time it was supposed to and then reality struck. The need to get back to what makes me happy took over and PetSitters happened.
Cutting it to the present, last 4 years or so, I have been working extensively with children. Across age groups from 2 to 15. When I say I interact, it’s always at my workplace-PetSitters. So the interactions are centred around pets, nature, greenery.
It’s an effort for the parents, I know that, to take time out of their schedules and come with their children, nieces, nephews over here. I think,they take that effort partly coz they know that the childhood they had is not the kind of childhood there children will ever have. A certain bit of carefree, a certain bit of risk, a certain bit of trust and a whole lot of giving that goes in interaction with nature and pets. Innocence and amazement go hand in hand. As said, the interactions have been on for a long time, but in the last 1 year, with a colleague of mine, we have given it a structure. The framework revolves around not having a structure, not having a necessary learning activity stapled to it, but having a ” I had so much fun” element to it. That one tiny hand that clutches you hard when the other is trying to feed a pet, the same kid at the end of an hour confidently giving a No to the pet for something pet ought not to be caught doing. The kid that holds you so hard that they latch on like a monkey on your leg, then 30 mins later, throws the ball with utmost elan for the pet to fetch. The child that walks tenderly on a small wet patch in the monsoons for the fear of stepping on the wriggly red “पैसा”. Be it one hour, 3 hours or a full day, we hear stories about how brave I was once, to how a cousin slipped out a tree once. The sheer happiness for us lies in the fact that they are willing to share this is with us, without a smallest hint of should I or should I not.
Whatever, we call the activity, Kid birthday parties, a Fun Ventures, a Play Without Boundries, a Kids Carnival, tekdi walk or a Pet Sibling programs, the goal is to get everyone to say “I had so much fun”
I thank all the parents who trust us in allowing their kids to grow with us to gain these experiences. I respect the time they put aside to allow this to intersperse with their childrens day to day life. Thank you.