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Life is freer in Slave Island

A city sans freezers

 

More Review Articles...

 

The suffering shows in their eyes

 

With gratitude and love to Aunty Daphne

 

A splendid life…

 

It all  happened at lightning speed...

 

Six resolutions for better toddler behaviour

 

Good behaviour games for pre-schoolers


 


Fashion



HUMOUR


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 market produce.

It is not easy to capture Slave Island at a glance. The hundreds of winding ways down Slave Island 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 Slave Island. No one would dare walk around town here after dusk. For to the average dweller in Colombo, Slave Island smacks of many shortcomings

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 Slave Island say that they have got it all.

Forty years in Slave Island

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 Slave Island," assures Feroza.

"I came here to Slave Island 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 hot.

 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.

Four daughters

"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 happiness.

"This is a paradise," said Feroza and there are never any shortages here in Slave Island.

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 p.m.

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 Slave 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 their eyes


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 Lanka.

Dogs beaten

"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 Udayangani Jayawardene. 

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 said.   

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 place.

 Dog missing

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 Vanarathana Road, Dehiwala only one dog out of four was released in the same location from where it was caught.

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  location.

"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 said.

"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 activist said.

"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, Rajakarunanayake said.

  


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 teaching career.

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 hands. 

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 fear."

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 career.

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 encounter.

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 faithful servant."

- Lakshika Benjamin

 


A splendid life…


Looking after sick children
(inset) Sujatha Fussing

By Ranee Mohamed 

Many 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 her.

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 Lankan wife.

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 strode on.

Special chairs

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.

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 lightning speed...

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 leadership." 

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 place.

 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 to Bangalore 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 IWC.

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 ethical leader.

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 at large.

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 awakening.

- Sr. M. Concelia HC

 


Six resolutions for better toddler behaviour

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 no time.

Resolution #1: I won't simply say "Be nice!" when my kid tries to hit or bite his friends.

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 "good."

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 get there.

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, says Windell.

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 bedtime.

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 "don't."

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 pre-schoolers  

"Build-a-train"

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 goals.

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 a snack.

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 object.

"I Spy"

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 "spy."

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 airplane flight.

"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 started.

"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 person's box.

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 time!

"Balloon Bash"

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 arguing.

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.

"Treasure Hunt"

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 getting warmer."

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 forward to.

"Voice Lessons"

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 nicest voices.

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 clean!"

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 them.

"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 that way.

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 siblings.

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 rude.

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 dinner.

 


 

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 forlornly outside.

 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 exposed surfaces.

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 smaller.

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 children laugh!

- Honky Tonk Woman


humour

Happiest day

It 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 times.

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. Whew!

She then told me that we needed a new cuckoo clock.

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...” 

Cannot see

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 paycheck.

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 with me.”

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 eye.

Advanced studies

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 tracks”

while they were arguing the train hit them.

 


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