For some time now, our favourite pastime is sitting together to watch animated movies!
A year back when at preschool, her teachers informed me that my daughter never interacted in school. I assumed it was because she didn’t know anyone, the school going experience was new and she was scared. But later they explained that it was because she always conversed in her mother tongue, Bengali. She interacted freely with a support staff who knew Bengali. So although knowing the mother tongue was important, they were genuinely concerned that they didn’t understand her and weren’t sure if she understood them. Appraising her learning was a challenge so they suggested that at least one parent should speak to her in English.
Since then, I must say it has been an interesting journey.
I spoke to her in English; translated every Bengali word so she knew their English equivalent, encouraged her to watch the English versions of Chota Bheem, Robinhood of Sherwood, Thomas & Friends and Tenali Raman. Even when she watched YouTube, I encouraged her to watch the children’s channels in English.
Seeing improvement, I became experimental. Personally, I love watching animated movies and was keen that she too becomes equally interested in them. A long shot since she hated sitting in one place for a long time. The Chota Bheem and Barbie movies on television were a good place to start. But she would get distracted easily and suddenly decide to play with her toys. That’s when I began recording them. It allowed her to watch them at a leisurely pace and repetitive watching meant she could now follow dialogues, relate to the characters and understand the story lines. Slowly, I opened up to her the magical world of Lion King, Madagascar, Ice Age, Bee Movie, Flushed Away, Shrek etc.
It was still a task getting her to finish a movie at one go. That’s when I realised two things – I had to ensure the movie watching experience was enjoyable and only show her movies with fairies or animals as she related to them better. An enjoyable experience to me meant a home theatre experience! So we would decide what to watch, then close the curtains and either sit on the sofa or on her favourite bean bag with a tray of snacks and her favourite drink, MooShake! Snacks too had to be decided in advance. With granola bars with strawberries and nuts, I served her Peachy Strawberry or Nutty Badam; chocolate biscuits with Oh So Chocolatee or cut fruits with Slurpy Mango. Thus the food served during a movie became an exciting part of the experience.
She was free to decide what to see and how to pair a snack with the different MooShake flavours. It was super fun and made her feel important. Simultaneously, it was intriguing to see her make associations. If she saw me carrying a MooShake pack she would run to get the DVD case and ask if it was movie watching time!
We truly enjoy these bonding moments together. I love explaining things to her and it’s a pleasure listening to her use new words and phrases. She has learnt how to pronounce certain words and her vocabulary is steadily expanding. She has also become very expressive.
I’ve come to understand that it is easier for her to make associations freely and understand concepts like friendship, death and sickness, love and cruelty when it relates to animals. When Mufasa (Simba’s dad in The Lion King) dies she was very upset, when Remy in Ratatouille gets separated from his family she howled. I couldn’t calm her down as she suffers separation anxiety. So I used the one trick that always works – milk! Drinking MooShake comforted her and distracted her enough to want to know what was going to happen next. This added benefit made serving MooShakes ‘necessary’ during movie time!
Of course, the fact that the sugar content in MooShake is less and it is devoid of artificial colour and flavouring gives me much peace of mind. So it serves many purposes. It helps to calm her down, is nutritious and healthy and the presence of the natural painkiller, curcumin ensures her eyes don’t hurt from watching movies.
I avoid lunch and dinner times for movie watching as I prefer she eats with us. Sharing a meal ensures spending quality time together and also builds on the notion of family time. So we mostly watch a movie either mid-morning or late afternoon.
Recently I noticed that that she insists I read to her before going to bed. This was inspired by someone gifting her books, Lion King and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This association between the movie and story book actually helped develop a reading habit!
For me it’s been a big milestone – in my attempt to make her speak in English I’ve been able to make her understand difficult concepts with ease, be verbally expressive, relate ‘sharing a meal’ with family time and togetherness and also inculcate a reading habit. And thanks to MooShake, for without these amazing flavoured milkshakes, it would have been quite difficult to achieve my objective!
On two occasions, recently I was asked if she only spoke in English. Initially, I was taken aback but then I wanted to hug myself for having done such a great job! 🙂
To know more about MooShake, you can check out their website here: www.mooshake.co
(The English Shake was first published on Momspresso (formerly mycity4kids) on October 9, 2015)