Voices

Lockdown Diary: A Grandma Gets an Unexpected Shot at Toddler Training

For grandmom Poonam Kirpal, the coronavirus lockdown turned into an excellent opportunity to train and homeschool her visiting two-year-old granddaughter.

This article is part of our ‘Lockdown Diary’, where we invite women to share their experiences at home during the COVID-19 lockdown.

By Poonam Kirpal

We had invited my daughter, Neha, her husband, and her in-laws for lunch at home just a day before the lockdown, and she had decided to stay back for a couple of days with us along with our two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Kaavya, before she started preschool on April 1. It seemed like a wonderful idea.

Then the national lockdown announcement locked all our plans. So, here we were with a toddler bursting with energy locked in with us, deprived of her very first school and playmates. The onus of compensating for her loss weighed on me the most. So, I, an M.Sc. degree holder in child development – the expert grandmom – took it upon myself to transform this limitation into an opportunity.

First, we decided to toilet-train Kaavya. She is quite conversant but the diaper allowed her the security to not tell when she needed to relieve herself. So, we removed the diaper and told her the consequences of not wearing one. The first two days were traumatic as she refused to sit on the pot when we wanted her to.

But miraculously on the third day, she began to shuffle and indicated her need to use the toilet. A big victory, and my husband, Sanjay, marked it by opening a bottle of wine for all of us after she had slept.

Poonam and Sanjay celebrating with wine

Next, we wanted to train her to wear no diaper at night too. I slept in my daughter’s room and put an alarm for 3 am to put little Kaavya on the pot. She refused and went back to sleep. There was no bedwetting. The next two nights, we repeated the ritual but she still didn’t oblige.

Finally, we realized that she could hold for the whole night. It was time to rejoice again with Sanjay opening another bottle of wine. A second celebration within a span of four days! If things continued this way, we would be alcoholics with euphoria by the end of the lockdown.

By then, Kaavya began looking up to me as a mentor, philosopher and guide. I wanted to strike while the iron was hot. Next on the agenda was to replace her milk bottle with a glass. She loved her milk in a bottle, in the morning and before going to bed. The fear was that she might give up drinking milk altogether.

Poonam Kirpal

We took a chance. The first day, she refused to drink from a glass. The second day, she had half a glass. The next day, she gave up the bottle suddenly, saying that we could give it away to a little puppy. That was our third victory – and you guessed it, Sanjay was ready with our third bottle of wine – all within the first week of the lockdown!

We then began a volley of question-answer sessions with Kaavya. “What is the capital of India?” “Who is the prime minister of India?” “What is our national bird, animal and flower?” “Where does a dog, lion, hen and a pig live?” “What are their young ones called?” and “What sounds do they make?”

It seemed like an overwhelming task but my pupil was unrelenting and kept soaking in information like a sponge, and soon started comprehending the knowledge and blurting out answers like a parrot.

Home-schooling

Now, I needed to be on my toes to find more interesting facts for her to assimilate. So, she learnt all the rules of the COVID-19 lockdown: “staying at home”, “social distancing”, “wearing masks/gloves” and “washing hands”.

During our ‘talk time’, she memorised the seven days of the week, the twelve months of the year and the sensory organs and their uses. In our play time, we cracked jigsaw puzzles while singing songs together. Surprisingly, she picked up the Gayatri Mantra, a bhajan and Papa Loves Mama in no time.

It was impossible to keep screen time away from her, which we had been doing quite effectively earlier. So, I decided to incorporate a little education in this too. We introduced Kaavya to a tablet, the Surface. She learnt to enter the code to turn it on, how to click on the Word document, get to the keyboard, recognize letters, numbers, symbols and emojis.

Jigsaw time

On the phone, she learnt how to open the Scrabble app, push the letters in the box, recall and shuffle them and move on to the next game. She can even click candid pictures and selfies as well as delete them if they are “bakwas” (not good enough).

There were many things I had planned to do during the lockdown, like knit (which I love), crochet (which I wanted to learn), make masks (which I wanted to distribute), resume cooking exotic cuisine (which I had forgotten) and organize my cupboards (which are always a mess), but instead I ended up spending the most fruitful as well as enjoyable time with Kaavya.

This prolonged period of containment has taught us many important things. There is more compassion and willingness to help others who are older as well as support the less advantaged, while being thankful for one’s blessings. We have realized that we can do without so many things that seemed essential for us earlier.

40th anniversary celebrations during lockdown

People have even commemorated weddings, landmark birthdays and anniversaries during this time. For instance, Sanjay and I had a lockdown milestone 40th ruby jubilee celebration. A lot of our friends and relatives called and wished us, and we didn’t feel as if we were in isolation. It was a pleasure to have Neha and Kaavya with us for what will be one of our most memorable anniversaries.

We still have many more things to work on. Kaavya likes to read several stories and sing a number of songs before sleeping, and needs much animation during mealtimes. So, for the remaining days of the lockdown, we still have our list of challenges to conquer!

17 comments on “Lockdown Diary: A Grandma Gets an Unexpected Shot at Toddler Training

  1. Tamal Saha

    Awesome ! Lovely pictures too! Enjoyed reading it!

  2. Eduardo Mendoza-Núñez

    This is fantastic. Now I want to open a bottle of wine and celebrate with your amazing family! 🥰

  3. Karandeep Vohra

    Excellant aunty. We can leave our two incase you need more challenges

  4. Wine opening by Uncle – day toilet training successful

    Wine opening by Uncle -night toilet training successful . Here the credit goes to Kaavya, as she could hold for the whole night.

    Sanjay Kirpal uncle the best, he opened a third bottle of wine. Good to have a husband who cheers for his wife and shares alcohol with family.

    Education, fun, games, puzzles, covid 19 safety measures, prayers, you did all Aunty. Kaavya blessed to have grand mom like you.

    Kaavya would be around 3 years old. Can’t believe she learnt so much at an early age. I guess, having a Msc degree holder in Child development as grand mom, has its benefits and perks.

    Can’t wait to meet the new ( all round developed, and skills learnt) Kaavya.

  5. Sadhana Garg

    Great read.Poonam what a blessing to have this doll – just when you needed this joyful engagement the most.
    Much luv to all😍
    Keep writing.

  6. Veena Sarma Krishnan

    A lovely easy to read article without any CD jargons! But besides the factual learning activities please include fun activities like finger painting, mud play, making dough etc.

  7. Vivek B

    Well written articles. I also like how Sanjay celebrates!!

    • Anonymous

      We all need an excuse to celebrate especially during the lockdown time to be in better spirits literally

  8. Anonymous

    How lucky to have been able to spend so much time with your grand daughter and do all the things you could. We met out today after nearly two months

  9. Anonymous

    Gr8 job – what a fun time during lockdown!😊

  10. Sudhir khandelwal

    Fortunately, the liquor shops have opened at the right time, before you run out of your stock. There is a method in your strategy to impart teaching, and Kaavya has responded in equal measure. Great team. God bless.

  11. Deepali Bhatnagar

    Lovely narration of lockdown activities put down in the form of an interesting article. I’m sure knowledge of CD has helped in devicing various techniques to keep little Kaavya engaged. Good work Poonam!

    • Anonymous

      Well not sure about that but the lockdown has taught us more patience and ofcourse there is no dearth of time

  12. Anita Patheja

    What an impressive list of achievements with little Kaavya!Very engagingly written!

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