In between my travel blog posts, I always throw in a few personal life reflection ones. Some of these personal ones include the Memoir for my Mother and the Reflection of Travelling with my Son. I wrote that for him on his 10th birthday and had made a mental note that I will do the same for my daughter when she turns 10.
Guilty of 2nd child syndrome, her birthday is here and I haven’t written anything yet 🙁 I know if I don’t write something today, I won’t end up writing at all so down 10 years of memory lane we go…
In keeping with the ethos of Selims Raasta Travel Blog and our personal belief that it’s never too young to start travelling with children, we took Shama on her first international trip to Germany when she was 4 months, then again on a 10 day camping road trip through France when she was 5 months, to USA when she was 7 months and finally to Bangladesh when she was 11 months.
Contrary to our easy going, happy traveller baby Shahaar – our fireball Shama chose to break our bubble of ‘how easy it is to travel with a baby’ and kept us on our toes all the way till she turned 2 or 3! Even as a baby, she fought for what she wanted, her way, and would not have it any other way 🙂
Just a few of the stunts she managed to pull on her travels – climbing up trees she can’t then climb down, being miserable with just breast milk until she had French baguette and then being a happy camper (she was 5 months then), screaming at Germany Airport at 4 months so loud that they quickly ushered us through security, falling really sick just at the start of road trips (camping in Cornwall was a memorable one with her having high fever sleeping in a tent), getting lost and being found by security twice…the list goes on!
Now looking back at the pictures, remembering the fun stories and all the wonderful memories, we would not take anything back and we would do it all over again – children become so much more adaptable and easy-going with travel. On her 8th birthday, Shama wrote a blog post of some of her travels and it fills me with pride and happiness, reading about her personal experiences and all the places she has been to.
We still travel with them now, with both of them in their ‘tweens’, but it definitely is a different experience, more fun in many ways now that we can do adventure travel with them, our last trip to Nepal we went mountain biking, paragliding and climbing up waterfalls through the forest. And I know the time will come (all too soon) when they would rather be travelling with their friends than with us! Travelling with them in Bangladesh and other parts of Asia is a joy as we get to re-experience my own childhood with my parents.
From the very beginning Shama was a ball of energy (she still is) and a fighter. And she had to put all that courage and fighting strength to use between the age of 4 and 6 during her 2 Moyamoya surgeries. I am grateful every day that she is healthy now and I am forever indebted to everyone for all the love, support and prayers during those difficult years.
We have always tried not to fall into gender stereotype and raise our kids differently, and we had to be extra mindful of that when we moved to Bangladesh last year…it is not an easy place for strong independent girls and women, and it was very easy to fall into the trap of not giving her as much freedom as her brother, or of ignoring when elders say ‘how can she go cycling on the streets’ or ‘she needs to look neat and dress proper’. Easy enough to fight the latter by pointint finger at my own dreadlocked messy looks 😛
But I must admit it is not that easy to fight the worries about her safety as she becomes more independent. Ashique and I talk about these issues often enough and at the end of the day, here are few things we check to keep things in perspective, so we don’t restrict either of their freedom, living in Bangladesh or elsewhere:
We make sure both kids are aware of stranger danger (and what to do), they know that their private parts are their own, they have the confidence to say No if they are uncomfortable with anyone – stranger, family, friends or otherwise , that they know what to if something bad happens and to know that they can always come to us with ANYTHING. To date, the four of us can freely talk about sex, puberty, period, the darker stuff…mind you they refuse to tell me about their crushes or their friend’s crushes. I have also had to accept that no matter how ‘cool’ we are, there are things the kids won’t tell us, and that’s okay…as long as they know that they are able to tell us anything and we will never judge them and will only support them.
Back to the mushy sappy stuff (so I can look back and read this post when Shama is a teenager, rolls her eyes and we end up having mother daughter fights).
Shama is fiercely loyal and it is touching to see how she is still best friends with Alex – her friend since she was 3 – she wants to move back to England one day just so she can be with her. Even when her brother makes her cry and we joke and offer to replace him, she won’t have any of it!
She loves her art and writing, her music and gymnastics. She loves to sew with her father and make her own clothes. She has a “Hermoine” personality at school, we are very proud of her abilities and her accomplishments…To be honest, just plain thankful she doesn’t take after me in academics when I was her age. The kids laughed when I showed them my report cards which my mother has lovingly kept from KG 1 to Class 10!
She loves Sushi – one of her most endearing stories to date – she is 5 years old and had just come out of surgery and back into her hospital room, nurse asks her what she wants to have (from their menu of soup, sandwiches, other children food). She answers Sushi….the Nurse notes it down and says in her nursing career in a children’s hospital, that’s the first time a child has asked for raw fish post operation 😀
I sometimes worry (or more like roll my eyes in exasperation) about her super competitiveness and sometimes her over confidence – it makes her upset when she can’t do something well, and she doesn’t take well to critique, but with age, I hope she will develop the maturity to accept that she can’t do it all to perfection – that as long as she enjoys what she does and gives it her best, it’s okay 😉
One day we did this elements personality test and we have all come to the same conclusion – I am (mostly) water, Ashique is earth, Shahaar is air/earth and earth and Shama is 100 % fire – fierce, risk-taking, adventurous, loyal, emotional, she is all of it and more!
May you be happy, healthy and your fire burn bright ALWAYS…Happy 10th Birthday my Shining Star Shama ❤❤❤