Life is freer in Slave Island
A city sans freezers
By Ranee Mohamed
It is as early as
7 a.m. when Slave
Island springs to life. From the
chugging trains to the roar of traffic down
these crowded streets, Slave Island puts is
'up early' signs for all to see. Slave
Island is a city that we secretly abhor -but
yet deep within its murky depths are lives
that are lived to the fullest.
And while those imprisoned in their air
conditioned vehicles waiting to turn into
Fort observe the noise of the marketplace
outside, they unwittingly feel sorry for
the people who form part of the choc-a-bloc
human traffic. Yet those living here in
Slave Island say that they are the richest
of them all - enjoying the modern
conveniences - of living in the heartland,
of easy access to key places and the most
important of them all - of being consumers
of the freshest fruits, vegetables and
It is not easy to capture
Island at a glance. The hundreds of winding
way portray life and living in different
ways. Here are the poorest of the poor and
amidst them is a biryani 'factory' that
dishes out hundreds of sawans for Colombo's
night parties and hungry gatherings.
Yet no one would dare dine in
Island. No one would dare walk around town
here after dusk. For to the average dweller
in Colombo, Slave Island smacks of many
We are the happiest
"But we are the happiest," says S.M. Innoon,
a long time resident of Slave Island, as she
carries her straw shopping basket and edges
towards the firm and shiny tomatoes. In her
basket is the fresh-cut red tinged fish
which forms a firm contrast with the thick
green leaves and the bright orange carrots.
"This is where we buy our vegetables and
fresh fish each day and we are not the ones
to eat 'old' vegetables," says this rosy
cheeked woman proudly.
The din rages as more and more women come
out with their shopping baskets. Each has
her day's supply of fish, meat and
vegetables in the basket or bag. There is
never more and never less for there is never
fear here as they know that tomorrow morning
just like this morning there will be newer
vegetables and louder cries.
From the omelette browning in their old pans
in new coconut oil to the fresh milk being
brought right here from the cows grazing in
the drying parks, to the crispy bread being
gauged by its sound, the people of
Island say that they have got it all.
Forty years in
Sixty year old Feroza has been living in
Slave Island for 40 years. "It's been such a
long time and there have never been a time
of want. We have always been happy here. I
know many people consider those living in
this part of Slave Island as
'unfortunate.' Yet how can one be
unfortunate when all of one's needs are
met," questioned Feroza.
"If my family wants to eat fresh chicken, it
is but a half a minute walk. If I want to
eat bananas and fruits it is just next door.
You ought to come here in the night. It is
better than going to the Hilton - be it
kothu roti, patties, stringhoppers, mutton
curry, chicken curry - all the tastiest
dishes are right here in
"I came here to
as a teenager immediately after my marriage.
I had to find my way about town. My husband
was an assistant in a tailoring shop and I
had to find the places to buy the
vegetables, fish and meat here and cook it
all by 12.30 p.m before he came for lunch.
He always liked to eat his lunch steaming
The rule in our house was - fresh
vegetables, fish and meat cooked and eaten
just as they are taken off the fire. We
never stored curries in fridges and ate them
throughout the week. We hear that homes in
Colombo cook just once or twice a week and
then stock it in the fridge and eat it
throughout the week. For us this is
unthinkable," said Feroza who went on to say
that it was only two years ago that they
bought a fridge and that they use it to
store their faluda, sherbert, puddings, ice
cream and soft drinks.
"We had four daughters and they have all
been given in marriage. And I know that they
run their homes the way I did - no stale
food for their husbands either," said Feroza
as she smiled. She also said she walks every
morning to shed excess fat. The fact that
the aim of the walk is to shop for more food
to cook for the day could dampen her
"This is a paradise," said Feroza and there
are never any shortages here in Slave
And how right she is. Walk a bit further
and you come face to face with a 'caf‚' that
promises you crispy thosais and vadais with
a wide variety of dishes that you desire.
Turn back and walk again and you come into
more tastier contact - a cart that sells
beautifully displayed sweet and sour items -
everything except the sweet and sour prawns
are here including the woodapple sambol,
the mango and pineapple pickles, lunu amba
(salted mango), salted limes, boiled olives,
and sweetened olives.
And certain items are special only to Slave
Island - like the dried, salted mangoes and
the dates and pickles. Stringhoppers, kadala,
vadai, murukku and hot, fresh bread are all
everyday happenings in Slave Island.
A paradise for children
The place is a paradise for children -
finger foods are everywhere - fresh food at
home, happy homes and mothers who are
housewives - with their sole purpose of the
day being to purchase fresh produce and cook
for their husbands and offspring.
And there were children everywhere - on the
streets, in the playgrounds and in the
market place. "This neighbourhood has many
children and we their parents try to look
after their every need. Slave Island is a
very congested area and we have told our
children to be aware of the traffic," said
Rehana as she rested her two year old son on
her hips and looked out for her 14 year old
who was with her in the marketplace.
"My son Ruwais did not go to school today. I
have to admit that our children try to stay
away from school as much as possible. That
is because they love to stay at home and get
involved in the happenings of the city
during the day. This marketplace gives us
lot of happiness. Ruwais likes to come with
me because I buy him apples and some gram to
eat during the day," she said as she hurried
with her bags of vegetables to cook before 1
Limes by the dozen
The loud calls for customers to buy green
chillies by the heap, and limes by the
dozen, and fresh fish continued.
"We have to come back here in the
afternoon," said Mohammed Ismail who said
that the people of
Island were a 'fussy bunch.' "They come
here in the morning and don't want to buy
enough fish to cook for the night. They come
back here in the evening to eat fresher fish
for their night-time meal," he said.
"Business booms during the evening because
people rushing for the train are enticed by
our fish and vegetables. So we have good
business," said Ismail.
From fresh farm eggs, meat, to vegetables,
to freshly baked maalu paan, the city of
Slave Island has its fill. And in the
textile shops that line the streets are
sarees, shawls, shoes and other finery which
we tend to look for in Singapore.
It is sad how one can have it all in a
hidden nondescript city and yet prefer to
ignore it. It is even sadder that we can
think that they live amidst the mud and the
din when truly they seem to lead a happier,
healthier and fuller life in surroundings
which we may not want to be contented with.
The suffering shows in
Some of the strays waiting
to be re-homed in Moratuwa
By Risidra Mendis
They have no homes, no proper care and at
times starve due to the shortage of
food. They wander along the streets, all
over the country in search of food and water
and in some cases get stoned and chased away
by people who cannot be bothered with them.
But all it takes is a little kindness and a
morsel of food to give hope to these
helpless strays to survive.
Some may say that at a time when the country
is at war and thousands of people are
suffering without food and shelter, it is
not the right time to address the basic
needs of the stray dogs in the country.
However if President Mahinda Rajapakse could
find the time to address the ghastly
suffering of these innocent strays, by
putting a stop to the inhumane gassing of
these animals at municipalities, it is not
unreasonable for animal rights activists and
organisations to continue to fight for the
rights of these animals especially the
strays at this time.
One animal welfare shelter
At present there is only one animal welfare
shelter in the country run by the Animal
Welfare Protection Society. This only
animal shelter is full and there is no room
for anymore strays. Another animal shelter
is being built on 2.75 acres close to
Ahangama by Kim Cooling, a British citizen.
Cooling formed Animal SOS Sri Lanka in 2006,
after she saw the immense suffering of the
animals in the country. However her animal
shelter is not progressing very well due to
the lack of funds.
So what is the answer to the plight of these
strays? Should they be left on the streets
to suffer and die or should people in the
country apart from animal welfare activists
and organisations take the initiative to
address this issue to find a solution to
this long-standing problem? The helpless
cries of kittens and puppies and the sad
looks on the faces of hundreds of dogs and
cats dumped in the streets is a common sight
in the country these days.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader an animal
rights activist said despite Sri Lanka being
a predominantly Buddhist country it is
ironic that the country has become one of
the most horrendous places for animals.
Protection of animal rights and updated
laws, new shelters for animals and getting
the police involved in nabbing those who
inflict cruelty on animals is being
discussed among animal rights activists and
animal rights lawyers these days. However
these discussions though positive have not
led to an improvement in the situation. The
end result being that animal cruelty has for
many years remained an unsolved issue in Sri
"Dogs are beaten, starved and chased away
from houses and offices because some people
consider them to be a menace. The value of a
dog for security purposes and as a companion
is ignored and 'Man's best friend' has
become his worst enemy.
"Animal shelters or orphanages for animals
that are abandoned and injured are only a
dream these days," an activist said.
"The lack of proper treatment towards
innocent animals especially dogs and cats
and the shortage of shelters to house
injured or abandoned animals have resulted
in many household and office animals ending
up in the streets as strays. The
government's lack of interest in addressing
this problem has also contributed towards an
increase in the number of strays on the
streets," says animal rights activist
In Sri Lanka there are many people who claim
to be animal rights activists and animal
lovers. However these people fall into two
categories, those who only talk about animal
welfare but do nothing when an animal is in
trouble and those who go out of their way
irrespective of the consequences to help
animals when they are in trouble.
Rukmani de Abrew, Wickremasinghe Shanthini
Sanjaya, Sargarica Rajakarunanayake, Penny
Jayawardene, Udayangani and organisations
such as SOFA and Blue Paw Trust among others
have been at the forefront in the fight for
animal rights. Some veterinary surgeons have
also come forward to help in this cause and
have even held free sterilisation programmes
to control the stray dog population.
Spend their own money
Most of these animal rights activists spend
their own money to look after the innocent
animals that end up on the roads due to the
cruel and unreasonable attitude of some
people. "There are some people who prefer to
spend thousands on party outfits and dance
the night away at night clubs instead of
giving some of their money towards animal
welfare and others who prefer to laugh and
make nasty remarks at those who genuinely
care for the animals. I'm always harassed by
my neighbours because I have many dogs and
cats in my house and I feed the strays down
my road," says Wickremasinghe.
Sanjaya is also harassed by her neighbours
for taking in injured strays and looking
after them. "The police are constantly
harassing me for looking after these strays.
Even my family is being harassed by the
police because of my animals," Sanjaya
Municipal Councils in some areas conduct
free sterilisation programmes to reduce the
number of strays on the roads. However the
Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia Municipal Council was
severely criticised by animal rights
activists when they rounded up dogs in
Dehiwala and Ratmalana for sterilising a few
months ago and released them in different
locations. While horrified residents watched
in silence nets were thrown and dogs caught
and piled into a tractor trailer and taken
away. Many residents thought the dogs were
being caught to be killed since there was
no prior announcement made about the
sterilisation programme that was to take
When questioned by residents in some areas
Municipal Council officials lied to them
saying the dogs would be released in the
same location once sterilised. But according
to reliable reports one dog went missing for
days in Ratmalana while in
Dehiwala only one dog out of four was
released in the same location from where it
Chief Veterinary Surgeon Dehiwala- Mount
Lavinia Municipal Council Dr. Viranga
Jayasundera said when a dog is caught from a
road in Ratmalana it is not practically
possible to release the animal in the exact
"The labourers don't tag the dogs when they
are caught. We round up dogs in one area of
Ratmalana and once sterilised release them
at a nearby location. The dogs using their
scent have to find their way to the
locations they were caught," Dr Jayasundera
"Municipal veterinary surgeons cannot lie to
the public in this manner. When they
sterilise dogs they should take on the
responsibility to give the animal a little
water before being released in the same
location again. It is a waste of money if
the animals are lost, got run over by
vehicles or bitten by other strays when put
in different locations," an animal rights
"I'm very happy that the Municipal Council
is carrying out this programme. This is a
humane method and is welcomed by animal
rights organisations. However many stray
dogs have gone missing because they were not
released from where they were caught. There
are many organisations and NGOs who do
sterilisation programmes but release the
strays in the same location. The welfare
organisations that introduced the
sterilisation system and stopped the killing
of strays were not informed of this
programme. Even the public was not
informed," President Sathva Mithra,
With gratitude and love
to Aunty Daphne
Daphne Lord with her proud students
It is with great joy and gladness that
I felicitate my teachers who has
successfully and fruitfully completed 60
years of teaching in the field of English.
It is none other than dear Aunty Daphne as
she is affectionately called. Daphne Lord
has etched an indelible mark in the hearts
and lives of many students during her
She started her vision with an ardent desire
to reach out to the less privileged children
and teachers at Kotahena in the portals of
her home at Bloemendhal Lane. Her endeavours
to serve many in her relentless pursuit of
fostering the English Language drew many
students, teachers and clergy to her school.
She has been very successful in turning out
beautiful masterpieces in the most difficult
of children with absolutely no knowledge of
English. Today as she travels down memory
lane, her mind carries with her fond
memories of struggles and sacrifices that
have reaped a rich harvest in hundred fold
in the hundreds and thousands of students
and teachers that have gone through her
A loving tutor
She has reached out in a great way to the
outstation schools through the many teachers
that she has successfully trained. Most of
her students have shone brilliantly in their
exams thanks to their loving tutor.
Aunty Daphne believes that teaching is a
vocation and not a career. She set the
example for her students. She believed
strongly in prayer, and I believe she prayed
everyday: "Help me to see in everyone a
precious soul, most dear. And may I lead
that child through paths of wonder. Not of
What lies behind her success? My little son
of 12 years also a student of Aunty Daphne
answered very aptly with his intelligent
reply. "Aunty Daphne is humble,
affectionate and knows how to reach out to
children. She has a special charm."
An affectionate smile
Children are the best judges of teachers.
That's a child's innocent appraisal. A true
and commendable one too. Aunty always had an
affectionate smile for everyone that walked
into her office, her eyes had a way of
reaching out to make each one special.
Her simple yet elegant and neat appearance
stood out to make her a special personality.
She enjoyed teaching and the students
enjoyed being taught. Her lessons were
carefully planned, giving lots of
prominence to her pupils, tactfully laced
with a sense of humour.
She always cared for the less fortunate
children and had a large heart to help the
poor and the middle class master the art of
English. To many working women she has set
the example that you could be a good mother,
wife and friend along with a successful
Enjoyed and admired
She was such an encouragement to me when I
was her student, always propelling me to
pursue my studies. At times when I went for
observation, I used to enjoy and admire the
way she handled her students both young and
old complementing on things they said or
even passing a compliment on a student's
dress, bringing a radiant smile on the faces
of the dullest of children.
Her faith in God and her heart to give
others her wealth of knowledge was the
driving force that kept her going joyously
inspite of numerous challenges she had to
Dear Aunty you have brought honour to your
alma mater Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena
and also brought joy into the hearts and
lives of many in our motherland.
God bless you with many more years of
fruitful teaching. May you be a luscious
fruit in the Lord's vineyard and may your
Maker say of you, "Well done my good and
- Lakshika Benjamin
A splendid life…
Looking after sick children
(inset) Sujatha Fussing
By Ranee Mohamed
of us want to get married and live happily
ever after. But Sujatha Fussing was a wee
bit fussier. She was not content just being
happy for herself. She wanted to bring
happiness to the lives of everyone around
Living with the poor, working with the
underprivileged and the deprived, Sujatha
always believed that charity and generosity
came from the very hearts of people and
could seldom be instilled or acquired.
“So when I married this wonderful man from
Denmark, the last thing I wanted to do was
to go and live in Denmark,” she observed.
And happily, the last thing that celebrated
architect Klaus Fussing wanted to do too
was to go and live in Denmark with his Sri
And together, they made Sri Lanka their home
and their life began in the 1990s – enjoying
the sunshine of the land, the luscious
surroundings and the friendly people around
them, Sujatha and Klaus made their bonding
in Sri Lanka – and it truly became a
marriage made in heaven.
“Everything touched him, other than
politics, and he will never leave this
country,” smiles Sujatha Fussing happily.
Some marry for power, some marry for money
and some marry for love. But Sujatha Fussing
says that her marriage is a complete one and
the only reason she married this man was for
love and love alone.
Acquired land in Buwaliaru
And together they acquired a land in
Buwaliaru in Angunakelapelessa where she
watched Klaus Fussing become a farmer for
three days of the week. “My husband cannot
cease to be amazed by the wonder of Sri
Lanka. He says that you just throw a seed in
our soil and it grows. Today we are able to
feed with three rice meals to over 15
families because of our paddy land. Ours is
not for profit. Earlier the workers use to
turn up for work with a little gravy and
kurakkan roti. Today they have three
meals of rice a day,” said Sujatha happily.
As the celebrated architect and designer
Klaus Fussing from the Royal Academy in
Denmark watches his ‘traditional’ papayas
and the lemons grow, it is but a branching
out of their union that has brought about
the most touching changes in the lives of
the ailing and underprivileged Sri Lankans.
Sujatha Fussing, together with a group of
Danish friends established Caring Hands in
2004 and together they began to reach out to
refugee children in camps in Vavuniya with
the help of the Danish Refugee Council.
Together with her good circle of Danish
friends, Sujatha Fussing conducted fund
raising activities such as wine tasting, art
tours, coffee mornings and international
Christmas bazaars which she says were ‘great
sources of income.’
Funds from the Sri Lanka Denmark Association
and Sujatha Fussing’s cousin, a 60 year old
marathon runner in the United Kingdom also
got her the funds for Caring Hands to reach
out to suffering people in the remote
corners of Sri Lanka.
From soft toys to sponsoring tsunami
families to fishing boats to donations to
the Maharagama Cancer Hospital, Sujatha
But today it is her Ragama Rehabilitation
project which supplies special chairs that
has caught her heart and mind. “These are
very special chairs, they get their
education sitting on these chairs…” observed
Sujatha Fussing walks around buying special
shoes for those with maimed limbs. She tries
to look for special equipment for those
special people. It is a very challenging
exercise – looking out, reaching out and
acquiring them all. “My husband not only
funds my social work but is also the
‘driver’ of the pick up in which I go to
reach out to these people,” says Sujatha.
“Happiness comes at the end of the day for I
have done what I could. I believe that I
have achieved so much in life and this is
not just for myself. I must say that I could
never have done all this without my husband.
He has been a source of strength to me –
helping me and urging me to carry on in my
mission,” she says.
“I am happy with my marriage because I can
do exactly what I want to do (as long as one
is not cheating!) said Sujatha happily.
“If I were married to a Sri Lankan, I may
not be able to have the freedom I have.
Marriage is a give and take – a compromise.
If he says you can’t do that, I will be
miserable, but I will go ahead and do that
anyway!” smiled Sujatha, having done all the
goodness that her heart desired, she watches
their farmland flourish as they reap the
harvest of their good deeds together.
It all happened at
The Third International Women's
Conference (IWC) which was convened by The
Art of Living Foun-dation at its
International Centre, Bangalore earlier this
month had as its theme "The light of
It all happened with lightning speed. I
never dreamed that I would get a chance to
participate at that conference. I being a
religious sister had many hurdles to
overcome. But within a matter of 12 hours
(on February 4 itself) everything fell into
I received the invitation from the Art of
Living Centre as a guest of honour. With the
e-ticket being sent to me, the hurdle of
obtaining a visa vanished like smoke.
Permission was obtained and I was on my way
the next day, February 5.
Like a gentle breeze
All this became possible because of Brother
Vidyut Udiaver, the head of the Art of
Living Centre, Colombo, and His Holiness Sri
Sri Ravishankar - who without any effort,
like a gentle breeze that invigorates all
beings without being noticed - made an
impact on everyone and every incident that
paved the way for me to participate in the
Every iota that went into the perfect
running of this memorable conference had
been meticulously planned by the
Chairperson, Sri Bhanumathy Narsimhan and
the board members. On my arrival at the
Ashram's Registration Centre, I saw a band
of young men - devotees of 'Guruji'
spotlessly clad in white welcoming every
guest arriving from the 70 participating
countries from all over the world, and
looking into their needs with a lot of
warmth and care.
It was a profound and a unique experience to
have taken part in that conference, where
high standing women holding eminent and
varied responsibilities from stay-at-home
moms to state leaders and corporate
executives; scientific, technological and
medical luminaries, international company
leaders, journalists, directors and
actresses from film industries coming from
all over the globe gathered together on one
platform, sharing their accumulated
knowledge and experiences in their service
to their fellow sisters and brothers.
Woman as a peace maker
The innovative, informative discussions
were centered on (a) woman as a peace
maker in conflict resolution and countering
terror, (b) the role of women in overcoming
the global financial crisis, (c) strength of
womanhood in the media portrayal, (d)
harmonious living - the balancing art, (e)
challenges in leadership - geo-political
consideration and finally woman as the
What was palpable was that it was not a
women's liberation movement motivated or
that conceived that men were to be put in
their place; but loving and compassionate,
yet courageous and intelligent group of
women who accentuated that men are equally
important in every field and in no way were
women second to them for women to fully
unfold their inner strength - shakti - that
gives them vision, charisma and inspiration
in serving humanity.
Women are indeed superior even in organising,
which pointed to their mental agility,
stamina and skill; and yet this headiness
intimately integrated with a heart that was
in attention and in loving service to every
individual who came in. Every one of those
almost 2000 participants felt to the marrow
that they were welcome in the Ashram, by the
various cues and gifts they received.
Bonded their unity
Sharing of experiences indeed widened
everyone's perspective and bonded their
unity and encouraged them to face realities
and challenges with shakti that was gifted
to them by nature. Ice breakers in the
middle of the session dissipated weariness
and all enjoyed the dancing and singing so
freely to rapturous music.
The conference also had its spiritual
dimension, for it began with yoga and
meditation, and this spirit of prayer was
felt enveloping that environment throughout
the day, and the day ended with satsung and
meditation. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar
in his inaugural speech highlighted women's
shakti. He said "Women have silent, quiet
strength and power. Each one of you is
'power' and you have all come together. So
bring prosperity, happiness, joy and peace
to the world in whatever way possible."
Lighting of traditional lamp
It was at the closure of the programme the
traditional lamp was lit by all committee
members, signifying that the light lit in
the hearts of every participant will
continue to burn giving strength and light
to other women and to the whole of humanity
What added to the spectacular scene was the
'Vishalatchy Mandap' its ambience with
incandescent lights vibrantly creating an
ethereal feeling in the participants.
Moreover, 'Guruji's' presence was a
dynamic factor, and he was like the
guiding star to all those who live in that
Ashram as he moved around gently and
joyfully dispensing his wisdom, his
benevolent smile and above all his
spirituality of non-violence that sparkled
and encouraged every heart.
When the sessions were over in the evenings
people flocked to the amphitheatre to
participate in Satsung - singing and praying
together- and to be led into meditation by
Guruji. All in all it was not only
informative and bonding but also spiritually
- Sr. M. Concelia HC
Six resolutions for better
Why Children Need Rules
It's one of the most basic parenting facts:
Toddlers behave best when given limits. In
fact, they crave them.
"Rules provide the predictability and
stability kids this age really need," says
James Windell, a family therapist in
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. "They learn that
they can always count on you, which makes
them feel secure." Unfortunately, this is
also the stage when your child is exploring
her independence - which she accomplishes by
challenging your carefully laid-down laws.
It's only natural to get frustrated and, in
the process, fall into some not so stellar
discipline habits. But if you can follow
through on even a few of these simple
resolutions, you'll see better behaviour in
Resolution #1: I won't simply say "Be nice!"
when my kid tries to hit or bite his
Why it's worth making: Giving vague
reminders when your toddler misbehaves
rarely gets results. He's still learning
what kinds of behaviour are "nice" and
Your new approach: Be specific and
tell your child why your rules matter. Just
make sure you keep the explanations short
and simple; toddlers can typically
understand something like, "We don't hit
people because it makes them feel sad."
When kids can see why certain limits are
important, they're more likely to follow
them. In some cases, you might try asking
your child why he thinks a rule is necessary
("What do you think would happen if I let
you leave your toys on the stairs?") before
you tell him the answer.
This will encourage him to start considering
the results of his actions, something little
kids can't really do on their own.
Resolution #2: I'll tell my toddler
to stay close to me at the store before we
Why it's worth making: Children this
age are seriously lacking in the
self-control department, and developmentally
speaking, that's totally normal. Reminding
them of your rules only when they're on the
verge of breaking them rarely works.
Your new approach: Do plenty of prep
work. If you know your kid is going to
challenge your limits in a particular
situation, be clear about how she should
behave ahead of time. (Remember, children
this age like to know what to expect.) For
example, before you set foot in the
supermarket, get down on your toddler's
level and say, "You need to stay next to me
while we're here. That way, we'll finish
shopping faster and then we'll have more
time to play later."
Give her a couple of reminders as you shop,
and be sure to thank her for being good if
she doesn't wander away.
Resolution #3: I won't waste time and
energy enforcing trivial rules.
Why it's worth making: Aside from
putting your sanity in jeopardy (trust us,
you might lose it if you're always debating
appropriate dress with a stubborn toddler),
setting tonnes of pricky rules just makes it
harder for little kids to remember and
follow the ones that are truly important,
Your new approach: Pick your battles.
"Getting your child to wear certain clothes
obviously isn't as important as insisting
that he wears his seat belt, so you
shouldn't make it seem that way by being
equally strict about both," says Darwin
Dorr, PhD, professor of psychology at
Wichita State University.
Focus your efforts on teaching a few crucial
safety and behaviour rules, and try to
loosen up when you have to deal with more
superficial issues. This approach even has
long-term benefits, since research shows
that kids who are raised with too many rules
may be rebellious later.
Resolution #4: I won't cave in when
my child demands to stay up way past her
Why it's worth making: There's no
point in setting a limit that you never
enforce. If your toddler knows she can stay
up late simply by screaming loudly enough,
she'll just consider it a license to break
all the other rules you've set.
Your new approach: Be consistent. Once
you've set a rule, you have to enforce it
all the time - "usually" won't cut it when
you're dealing with little kids. That
no-wavering stance is particularly important
when it comes to serious issues like sleep.
"Toddlers who stick to a regular bedtime
schedule are less likely to start a power
struggle in the evening and lose valuable
rest time," explains Steven Kurtz, PhD,
clinical director of ADHD and Disruptive
Behaviour Disorders at the NYU Child Study
Center. (And kids this age need a lot of
zzz's - we're talking a whopping 12 hours a
night for three-year-olds.)
Yes, it can sometimes be a pain to convince
your child to get into bed and stay there
all night long, but you're not doing her (or
yourself) any favours by giving up. She'll
just be more tired and even crankier the
next day, and chances are you will be too!
Resolution #5: I'll find ways to
avoid starting every sentence with a
Why it's worth making: If you say
"don't" and "stop" more often than a cop,
your toddler will feel like he's never
allowed to do anything. He'll keep
challenging your rules out of sheer
frustration, leaving you to deal with even
more bad behaviour.
Your new approach: Tell him what he
can do. Be on the lookout for opportunities
to show your toddler the right way to act
instead of immediately laying down the law,
says Dr. Kurtz. If you happen to catch your
child trying to pull the dog's tail, for
example, say, "It's okay to pet the dog, but
you have to do it gently, let's try petting
him together," and congratulate him when he
gets the technique right.
Resolution #6: I will stop myself
from throwing a tantrum whenever my kid
breaks a rule.
Why it's worth making: Yes, it can be
satisfying to vent your frustration, but
getting upset won't shock her into doing
what you say. In fact, it has the exact
opposite effect. "At this age, kids can't
always tell the difference between what's
fun and what's serious," explains Windell.
"Your toddler may think it's hilarious to
watch you have a meltdown, so she'll keep
defying you to make you yell again."
Your new approach: Give simple
corrections (yes, even when you feel like
you're going to scream). If your toddler
chucks her veggies on the floor at dinner,
take a deep breath and use your calmest,
firmest voice to remind her of the rules
("When you're eating, food stays on your
plate"). Then get her focused on something
else or, better yet, give her kudos for
doing something well. ("Great job using your
spoon!") After all, kids love praise as much
as they seem to dislike rules.
Good behaviour games for
How to play: You'll need several
cardboard boxes large enough for a kid to
sit inside. Put out a variety of art
supplies, markers, stickers, construction
paper, glue and tell each child to turn his
or her box into a train car. Once they've
decorated the outside of their box with
wheels, windows, and whatever else they can
think of, help them arrange the cars one
behind the other, then hop aboard for an
imaginary choo-choo ride.
What it teaches: Perseverance. Games
that require team prep work give kids a
sense of accomplishment. The positive payoff
introduces children to the good feeling they
get when they achieve their hard-earned
Parent tip: Be prepared to hang on to
those boxes; the kids will want to get
together and hit the track again and again.
The "Cheer-Up Game"
How to play: On large squares of
paper, draw a series of faces with different
unhappy expressions - sad, angry, scared,
sick (at least one for every child in the
game). Put the papers in a basket and ask
kids to take turns choosing a face then
acting out the feeling shown.
For example, a "sad" child might pretend to
cry. It's the job of the other players to
help her feel better. First, they should ask
questions: "Why are you sad? How can I
help?" After that the "upset" child gives
her explanation. "My friend was mean to me,"
the other kids role-play solutions. They may
give hugs, say "I'm sorry," or offer to fix
What it teaches: Empathy. This is the
"core" virtue. Until children know how it
feels to have their feelings hurt, they
won't understand why it's important to treat
others with respect and kindness.
Parent tip: Have a variety of props
on hand for this imagination-powered game:
plastic food, stuffed animals, a doctor's
kit. The more options available, the more
creative kids will be about ways to help
out, from putting a bandage on the injured
kid's boo-boo to baking pretend cookies for
a bummed-out buddy.
The "Hot or Cold Game"
How to play: Choose one child to be the
"Finder." Send him out of the room while the
rest of the players hide an object, like a
red ball, somewhere in the room. Ask the
Finder to come back and look for the ball,
while the other players shout out hints:
"You're getting hotter" or "you're getting
colder." Play until the object is found,
then give everyone a turn as the Finder.
What it teaches: Cooperation. This
game puts the emphasis on encouraging other
players, not competing against them, so
preschoolers learn to help each other out in
a fun setting.
Parent tip: Try asking kids to speak
louder or softer depending on how close or
far away the Finder is from the hidden
How to play: Take turns spotting
nearby objects and describing them: "I spy
with my little eye something that is
green...." The other players try to guess
what the object is: "A tree!" "Dad's shirt!"
Whoever guesses right gets to be the next
What it teaches: Patience. "Patience
is all about waiting," explains Dr. Borba.
Any game that forces kids to listen politely
while other players have their turn drives
this lesson home.
Parent tip: This is a great one to
try in situations where kids are likely to
get bored and edgy, such as on a long
"Mother, May I?"
How to play: Line up the players
facing you, about 10 feet away. Give
commands to one kid at a time: "Sarah, take
one hop forward." If Sarah responds,
"Mother, may I?" you can say either "Yes,
you may" or "No, you may not." If your reply
is "yes," make sure that Sarah says "Thank
you" before she goes. Anyone who forgets her
manners or makes a move without permission
is sent back to the starting line. Keep
playing until one child reaches Mother. Give
each kid a chance to be Mother.
What it teaches: Respect. You can't
just tell kids to be respectful, you have to
teach them the skills. This game reinforces
courtesy, which is a big part of respect.
Parent tip: To avoid frustration over
misunderstood consequences ("I didn't know I
had to say thank you!"), make the rules of
the game perfectly clear before you get
"To Tell the Truth"
How to play: Gather the family in a
favourite spot and give every player a
chance to finish the sentence: "I was scared
when...." Mom and Dad can get the ball
rolling by telling their own stories ("I was
scared when Josh hid at the grocery store
and I couldn't find him"). After everyone's
had a turn, repeat the game using other
emotions like "happy" or "surprised."
What it teaches: Honesty. When you
give kids the go-ahead to talk about their
feelings, positive or negative, you help
them feel safe to tell the truth. "Children
learn values best from watching and
listening to Mom and Dad," says Bob Sornson,
PhD, founder of the Early Learning
Foundation. "If you talk openly and if you
are supportive of family members in front of
the kids, you set a healthy example of how
to act with others."
Parent tip: Use kids' stories as a
springboard for further discussion: "Do you
still think thunderstorms are scary? What
helps you feel brave?" "Can you remember
other happy times?"
"Sock Sort 'n' Toss"
How to play: When you unload the dryer, put
aside all the socks. Pile them up on the
living-room floor and ask your child to find
the match for every sock (make sure all
still have their original partners). Once
he's sorted the socks, show him how to roll
the pairs into balls. Next, set up several
shoeboxes a few feet away, each marked with
a family member's name. The goal is to toss
the correct socks into the appropriate
What it teaches: Responsibility. "Getting
kids involved in chores is a way for them to
learn that everyone in the family needs to
pitch in," says Dr. Sornson. When you make
tasks fun, you'll inspire even the littlest
ones to help out.
Parent tip: After the laundry is put
away, tell your kid she did a great job -
she might ask to help fold the sheets next
How to play: Find an open area where
your kids won't bump into furniture. Then
give each child two balloons (don't try this
with kids under three, since balloons are a
choking and suffocation hazard). When you
say "go," they must team up to keep the
balloons in the air for a set time (start
with 30 seconds). You can also have them try
bopping the balloons with just one silly
part of their body, such as their nose or
their pinkie fingers.
What it teaches: Teamwork beats
Why it works: Your children will see
the value of working together toward a
common goal. Remind them of this lesson the
next time you ask them to clean their room
or set the table.
How to play: Make a certificate good
for an extra story, a back rub, or your
child's favorite breakfast. Hide the slip of
paper in her room, then let her look for it
after she's brushed her teeth. If she's
having trouble, give hints, such as, "You're
What it teaches: Bedtime cooperation.
Why it works: Bedtime becomes fun for
kids when they get extra time with Mommy and
Daddy and have little bonuses to look
How to play: Read 10 sentences from a
children's book into a tape recorder, using
a pleasant voice for some and a whiny voice
for others. Play them back and ask your
child to raise her hand when she hears the
sentences read in a nice voice. When she
gets them all right, have her record
sentences in her silliest, whiniest, and
What it teaches: Whining is annoying.
Why it works: This game shows that
something as familiar as a favorite story
can be changed simply by the way you speak,
and it helps kids understand how their tone
comes across to other people.
"Look on the Bright Side"
How to play: Start telling a story in
which something negative happens ("One day
Steve was feeling cranky because it was too
hot outside"). Ask one child to continue by
describing a positive turn of events. For
instance, "The good thing was, there was a
nice, cool lake nearby for taking a dip."
The next player then introduces another
negative idea, which is answered by a
positive one from the next player.
What it teaches: Optimism.
Why it works: It helps kids develop a
more positive outlook so they can deal with
real-life frustrations more easily.
"Follow the Helpful Leader"
How to play: Gather your kids outside
a cluttered room. Explain that you're the
first "helpful leader" and that they should
do what you do. Lead them, skipping and
clapping, into the room. Then start
straightening up. Make sure they're copying
you. After a few minutes, let one of your
children be the leader. Encourage the kids
afterward by saying, "This room looks really
What it teaches: Tidying up.
Why it works: Children will realise
they're capable of cleaning up by
themselves, and that doing so can even be
fun, especially when everyone helps out.
"I Never Thought of That" Game
How to play: Gather a few everyday
objects, such as a trash bin, a shoe, and a
pencil. Hold up an item and ask your child
to think of as many uses for it as he can.
(For a trash bin, he may come up with ideas
such as "sit on it," "hide in it," "use it
like a bucket," and "bang it like a drum.")
Take turns letting players think of as many
ideas as they can in a minute, using a
different object for each.
What it teaches: Problem solving.
Why it works: Kids learn that it's
fun to think things out on their own. You
can also use this technique for helping them
come up with options for settling sibling
squabbles or dealing with a kid who teases
"A Few of My Favourite Things"
How to play: Make a list of five
things that make you feel happy, such as ice
cream, big smiles, sunny days, Daddy, and
getting a good night's sleep. Ask your child
to repeat these five things. If he does it
correctly, add a sixth item, and ask him to
repeat them all. Keep adding to the list
until he can't recall it. Then it's his turn
to say five things that make him happy and
have you repeat them. Continue playing by
choosing different feelings (sad, angry,
afraid) and naming things that make you feel
What it teaches: Empathy.
Why it works: Your child will start
to consider other people's likes, dislikes,
and emotions, not just his own. This game
will also make him think about how his
actions affect the feelings of friends and
The "Same-Time Game"
How to play: Think of some things you
can do at the same time (such as clap your
hands and sing) and things you can't (such
as stand up and sit down), and demonstrate
each. Feel free to do something silly, such
as frantically trying to sit and stand
simultaneously. Then let your children come
up with their own examples ("I can't hold my
nose and breathe through it at the same
time, but I can touch my toes and laugh at
the same time"). Take turns until every
player has come up with at least five sets
of cans and can'ts.
What it teaches: Interrupting is
Why it works: Children have a hard
time accepting that they can't always get
your attention right away. This game will
help them be more patient and less likely to
interrupt when you're on the phone or making
Living in a pigsty
Never believe kids when they say they are
tidying their rooms away from home. I found
this out when we went to attend the
graduation ceremony of the Dreamer. First we
entered Dancing Doll's room, which looked
merely messy, and I immediately made a
mental note to tidy up.
Then when Beautiful Dreamer opened her room
up, what a ghastly sight assaulted our eyes!
It really looked like it had been hit by a
tornado. The dirty linen basket spilled out
with clothes, cascading like a waterfall and
pooling into a great heap all around.
Drawers were open, with lots of balled-up
clothing visible, some of it trailing
Documents were scattered all over the desk,
under the desk and around the desk. Shoes,
handbags, books and other articles were
scattered haphazardly over every available
surface. Since she had been away for two
months, a thick layer of dust covered all
Glanced at her in shock
Stepping over the threshold, B.D. said, "Aah!
She's tidied up the place!" I glanced at her
in shock, thinking she must be joking. But
no, she was really serious. I asked her,
"What exactly has been tidied up?" Then she
replies, "Why, she's made up the bed and put
clean sheets on it." I kid you not!
When I informed her there was no way in hell
I was going to sleep in a pigsty, she
started giggling and said, "The sheets are
very clean. They were washed thoroughly by
machine." I told her that she was a pig to
live in these surroundings, and she
laughingly replied, "I'm a very clean
person! I take lots of showers, brush my
teeth regularly, wear clean clothes, change
them daily, and I use lots of deodorant!"
When I told her I still thought she was an
absolute pig, she giggled even more and
said, "I'm a very sanitary person!"
So I immediately got down on it and started
a furious clean up operation. This was very
difficult, as every document had to be
scrutinised before discarding it. I had to
keep calling her back inside and she
grumbled that I was an absolute slave
driver. A load of clothes were put to wash
with immediate effect. Then there was room
in the basket to put the balance in. Clothes
were weeded and discarded. After a lot of
mumbling and grumbling the heaps grew
Simply marvellous talents
We asked her if she actually ever cleaned
up? She said, "Yes, occasionally." Then I
asked her how she could walk on all the
things strewn all over. "Oh, I've developed
some simply marvellous talents. Rather like
walking on water! I can negotiate my way
around quite skillfully when I concentrate."
I asked her if she had bothered to wash the
curtains the whole year. She triumphantly
reported that not only did she wash them but
ironed them too! We were wondering how on
earth she found anything in this huge mess.
She said, "Aah! But you see, I've a
photographic memory. I know exactly where
everything is in all three layers!"
I gave up after that and shooed her off with
more Things to Do. When everything was
tidied up, her flat-mates came home, and
peering inside exclaimed, "Aaah, Aunteee,
you have cleaned R's Room." Probably
relieved that they didn't have to look at
the disgusting pigsty anymore! I gave them
permission to whack her with the broomstick
if it got that messy again.
A stylish swish of the tassel
Before the actual ceremony, whenever I tried
to be severe with her, she would put the cap
on her head, and give a stylish swish of the
tassel and say, "You can't scold me now. I'm
a graduate!" So that would diffuse the mood
and we would all laugh.
The photo shoot at the studio was rather
hilarious. They kept telling us odd things
like, "Dadee, sit up straight, Mumeee, why
you look so seriouuus, smiiiile! Sister,
take hair off face. Graduate, look hapeee"
and so on.
We were adjusted for every shot, obviously
we wouldn't make good photo models! They
approved of the fact that we were all colour
co-ordinated. That was quite by accident,
since the girls both rejected my original
choice of dress and made me wear an old one.
I think we were too stressed out to smile,
so finally in desperation, one chap got a
sort of hand held, drum/tambourine attached
with balls on strings instead of cymbals,
and started banging it furiously. We all
dissolved into giggles, and he said
approvingly, "Aaah! Niiice. Velleee niiice."
I think that was usually used to make little
- Honky Tonk Woman
was the happiest day of my life.
I arrrived at the church, my wife was
waiting at the altar.
I walked up the isle, and kissed her gently
on the cheek.
Gave her a little smile, then slowly closed
the heavy lid.
A new clock
The other night I was invited out for a
night with “the boys.” I told my wife that I
would be home by midnight ... promise! Well,
the hours passed and the beer was going down
way too easy. At around 2:30am, drunk as a
skunk, I headed for home.
Just as I got in the door, the cuckoo clock
in the hall started up and cuckooed three
Quickly, I realized she’d probably wake up,
so I cuckooed another nine times. I was
really proud of myself, having a quick witty
solution, even when smashed, to escape a
possible conflict. An oldie, but still
goodie. The next morning my wife asked me
what time I got in, and I told her twelve
o’clock. She didn’t seem disturbed at all.
She then told me that we needed a new cuckoo
When I asked her why, she said “Well, last
night our clock cuckooed three times, then
said “Oh No,” cuckooed four more times,
cleared its throat, cuckooed another three
times, giggled, cuckooed twice more, and
then passed wind...”
A man left work one Friday afternoon, but
since it was payday instead of going home,
he stayed out the entire weekend partying
with the boys -- spending his entire
When he finally came home on Sunday night,
he was confronted by a very angry wife and
was barraged for nearly two hours with a
tirade befitting his actions.
Finally his wife stopped the nagging and
simply said to him, “How would you like it
if you didn’t see me for two or three days?”
To which he replied, “That would be fine
Monday went by and he didn’t see his wife.
Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with the
same results. Come Thursday, the swelling
went down just enough where he could see
her a little out of the corner of his left
An agriculture student said to a farmer:
“Your methods are too old fashioned. I won’t
be surprised if this tree will give you less
than twenty pounds of apples.”
“I won’t be surprised either,” said the
farmer, “this is an orange tree.”
One plus one
There was a farmer who raised watermelons.
He was disturbed by some local kids who
would sneak into his watermelon patch at
night and eat watermelons. After some
careful thought he came up with a clever
idea that he thought would scare the kids
away for sure. So he made up a sign and
posted it in the field. The next day the
kids show up and they see this sign, it
says; “Warning! One of the watermelons in
this field has been injected with cyanide.”
So the kids run off, make up their own sign
and post it next to the sign that the farmer
made. The farmer shows up the next week and
when he looks over the field he notices that
no watermelons are missing but he notices a
new sign next to his. He drives up to the
sign which read: “Now there are two.”
On the wrong track
Three women were walking in the woods. They
came upon a set of tracks. One woman said,
“those look like deer tracks”
Another woman said “they look like dog
tracks The other said no, no, they are “cow
while they were arguing the train hit them.