VISHA & MOM
“The bond between mothers and their children is one defined by love. As a mother’s prayers for their children are unending, so are the wisdom, grace and strength they provide to their children.”
– President George W. Bush
Challenges Media caught up with Vishalatchi Arunagiri (Visha as her mum would fondly call her) as she was more than eager to be interviewed after a long procrastination. Joy P. met up with Visha together with her mum, Mala Davi who had returned to Malaysia recently.
Visha was confident and very frank in her sharing with openness besides her mum. “You don’t mind?” I asked her mum in front of Visha. “There’s no secret between us,” her mum revealed with a smile.
“Growing up with my mom?” Visha repeated my question and replied with no hesitation. “She was more than a mother but in fact, my best friend. She guided me through my school work. I didn’t passed but she supported me throughout the whole situation in Sunway. She made me go to Academia Italiana which is a makeup school and she was there for me.” Visha continued, “She has been physically there for me and when I have my anxiety attacks, she would be there and she would cook for me and I get everything from her during my illness. I was very into my friends. I spend the time with them and go out with them but when I got sick from 19th August 2011, I became very close to my mom.”
As to her return to Malaysia then, Visha shared, “We return to Malaysia and I was supposed to be studying in Raffles and mom had to go to Bangkok. I had to stay three weeks alone in Malaysia and I couldn’t cope as I had to do everything; clean the house, buy food and study. I couldn’t cope and I was 19 at that time.”
Q: “So how did you feel during that period when your mom was not around?”
V: “I felt I was psychic and I could read peoples’ minds and see things. After realising that I was ill, I stopped feeding the illness but it was not like all of a sudden.”
M: “She was a special needs’ child and was four years below her biological age. She had an assistant with her and we brought her to Melbourne where she completed her foundation studies and they have special help. When someone reads to her it was much more effective. However, instead of staying on we decided to come back. When I was in Bangkok School of Fashion, it was very intensive and that was where her stress level started building up. Her subjects were in literature and media.”
V: “I was forced to do it by my siblings and father and I just gave it a shot. I am more into writing.”
Q: “Have you written any articles?”
V: “Yes, there is an article called ‘Simply complicated.’ It was in Star 2 online.+ I was the third prize winner on an essay competition on Mental Health when I was 15 years old.”
At this, I turned to asked her mum, “So is that the reason why you went into Child Education?”*
M: “Child education is my passion actually. I was doing corporate work, but when I got married I stopped. I was in Jakarta when I took a Montessori development course. When I came back to Malaysia I went into Kumon and the repetitive structure in two and a half year. I was in Bangkok when I did special needs education and I felt I need to do more. In London I did a special needs course and when I came back, the London Montessori was looking for a trainer. So, I started their first batch of training and then we went to Melbourne and I did my Masters in Education. After that, I had some family issues and had to come back to Malaysia.” She continued, “I was in a programme to educate teachers in childhood education and I make my courses simplified and applicable and then Visha fell ill. There were many research that showed that many things can be done to support special needs at early childhood.”
Mala has three children, the eldest is 31 years old and married. Her second child just got married last year. Visha is her third child, 29 this year. All her children were delivered through caesarean.
M: “Before Visha, I conceived another child but it didn’t live for ten days and we had a D&C and it was not successful. We did two more D&Cs and three months later, I conceived Visha. The doctors were saying I am not prepared. Emotionally, I was also not ready and I had my first turmoil when I conceived her. I noticed a lot of cases from the womb, so, when they go into depression it was very bad.”
Q: “As a mother, what would you advise those in pregnancy?”
M: “For me, I believe pregnancy is the most important stage in the child and mother because all the emotions from the mother will be experienced by the child. In my case, it happened like that with my own daughter. So, try to be happy, have a good mood and less anxiety. I know it may be difficult sometimes, but try to keep happy thoughts so that you can have a happy and beautiful child.”
Q: “Would you want to share your personal experience?”
M: “Before the pregnancy, I had a D&C done and I conceived a baby attached to the IUD and the baby didn’t grow and I had to do a D&C twice. Then I had Visha and I had a lot of anxieties with her. Five months into the pregnancy, I had early labour pains and I took Vitalin tablets and at exactly nine months, I was driven all the way from Sitiawan to Subang and the baby was taken out. Maybe that is why she is so stressed-up. She was a highly anxious child and gets angry easily as a child. The environmental factor is also very important. I would like to emphasise that, as a mom-to-be that you take special time to take care of yourself during your pregnancy. For all moms and moms -to –be, pregnancy is a special moment of your life and you need to take care of yourself and for your child.”
Q: “When you were in Thailand at that time when you couldn’t contact her…”
M: “My older two children are very independent and they feel that Visha is too clingy to me. She was 19 when she wanted to be independent and I thought three weeks would be a good experience for her as I need to be in Bangkok. The support system was there. I cooked for her and she was within walking distance to Raffles College in Ampang and that was where she felled ill in 2011. For me, that was a bad experience for her.”
Q: “I want to peek into your life during that three weeks’ period…”
V: “That first week, I went to class for three days and then I started feeling tired and I would sleep during the two weeks. My phone was switched off and the electricity was also switched off. I felt I was getting kicked off from the apartment and I called my aunty and she told me to go to Paramount Station. She fed me Maggi mee and sent me back to the apartment. The grill was not there and the electricity started to work and I don’t know why I started to feel sleepy. I realised that the bottle of vodka was not there and that I had been drinking. I was lost and two girls came to me and asked if I needed help and they dropped me off at my house. I don’t know when but I couldn’t remember how to get back home.”
Q: “You didn’t miss your mum? You didn’t call her?”
V: “My mind was like trying to figure out which way to go home because I was new to KL and my sense of direction is very poor and it was very near to the Raffles College.
M: “The security was all there every time she goes. She was walking there the first week she was there. I was confident that she would have her course mates and so she would have friends.”
V: “My friends all avoided me when I went to class and nobody said “hi” to me and I was talking to myself in class.”
Q: “It’s because nobody is talking to you so you started talking to yourself? What would you want to say to the public in general about how they react toward you and people in the same situation as you?”
V: “I would say don’t be afraid of me. I have this face and I don’t smile, so people sort of avoid me. I never made any friend in my college, same in Sunway College and I still have a long way to go in my social life because of my anxiety and sometimes because I don’t look into their eyes. Sometimes I look down like I don’t respect them or the elderly but it’s not that. It’s sometimes I feel intimidated by them. Society hasn’t come and help me yet and I have lack of support and the stigma is still there.”
Mala Davi is an entrepreneur, consultant and trainer on Early Childhood Education in the South-East Asia region. She runs the Diploma program at Modern Montessori International London in Bangkok. An active advocate on early intervention for mental illness.
The First Day of School Sets the Tone for Academic Achievements
Neurological research shows that the early years play a key role in children’s brain development. Children’s early experiences – the bonds they form with their parents and their first learning experiences – deeply affect their future physical, cognitive, emotional and social development.
The formative years of a child are very vital and the first impression in school is equally important. There are many transitions in life (starting school, moving house, changing jobs) and how well we cope depends largely on our perceptions of the event as well as the level of support we receive.
The transition to school is a particularly significant time, heralding a new stage in a child’s life. Whether your child is feeling slightly anxious about starting school or bursting with excitement, all children (and parents!) benefit from a bit of planning and preparation in order to ensure the transition to school goes as smoothly as possible.
There is consistent evidence to show early positive school experiences are important for your child’s social and emotional wellbeing and academic achievement. In contrast, children who experience a bumpy start to school are more likely to continue to experience difficulties throughout their school life.
A POWERFUL CONNECTION: MOTHER-CHILD BOND PLAYS ROLE IN CHILD’S GROWTH, DEVELOPMENT
MANHATTAN — It’s little wonder that a child gravitates toward the mother, says Chuck Smith, a Kansas State University child development expert. After all, mothers represent a child’s bond to the world and the understanding of it.
“A mother has a different relationship with her kids than a father, and I think a lot of that is based on biological connection,” Smith said. “We don’t fully understand the power of that connection.”
According to Smith, children recognize and experience that connection with their mother through the feelings and the emotions they associate with her.
A good example illustrating this mother-child connection is if a child scrapes a knee. Provided both parents are still together, in general the injured child is going to run to their mother rather than their father for comfort and a Band-Aid, Smith said.
“Not to be sexist or dismiss a father’s love and caring, but when looking at this situation through a child’s point of view, mom’s going to be the one to make you feel better because she’s going to love and hold you and maybe even feel a little bit of that hurt with you,” he said.
While parents’ roles can be reversed, more often than not, children are going to view dad as a knight in shining armour who will keep them safe and chase away fears, while mom is the primary source for comfort and care.
As a child grows and matures, the mother — whether biological or a stepmother — plays an important role in her child’s development, character and attitudes, Smith said.
“She teaches her son how to be good to a woman by way of her relationship with the father. She’s very important in teaching her son respect and about the importance of love and affection,” Smith said. “For young girls, she’s very important in serving as a model for when her daughter grows up and one day becomes a woman like her.
Children are aware of emotions before they can talk about them, and because a mother plays a significant part in her child’s life, Smith said it’s important for a mother to talk about how she feels in words her child can understand.
“For example, if a mother is showing physical signs of sadness and she tells the child that ‘nothing is wrong’ when asked what’s the matter, the child knows from looking at her face — her smile and her eyes — that’s not true,” Smith said. “So knowing that the mother is sad, the child will try to connect the dots in ways that are untrue, and they’ll blame themselves and try to figure out what they did to make mommy sad.”
While being a mother is stressful, especially for the first time, by being a strong and loving authority figure in the early years of a child’s life, Smith said it will help ensure a respectful relationship is in place as the child grows and that relationship changes.
“We have phrases like Mother Earth and Father Sky, and there’s a reason for them to be a part of mythology,” Smith said. “The Earth is bountiful and provides for us. All of those wonderful thoughts about motherhood are associated with the Earth. That bond, that connection that children have with their mothers is something I don’t think they ever lose.”
Source: Charles Smith, 785-532-1946, firstname.lastname@example.org