Dr. Zeba Hisam
(Published in DAWN Magazine on Sunday, July 1 2001)

I always favor get-together for children. I know how much they become happy if some special party is arranged for them. It is a matter of making them happy and thrilled so we have to find ways to make them meet each other for one reason or another. We should not wait for a special occasion to arrive. I am not talking about the huge gatherings, which seem to me useless. I want only children to participate with their cousins. In this busy world people have no time to meet each other. In my family I have got many nieces and nephews and if all my brothers and sisters do not visit my mother’s house on the same day, children do not find a chance to see each other.

I always love to excite children with new ideas. Recently I got an idea of inviting all the nephews and nieces — seven kids aged between 5 and 12 years — to sleep overnight with me on the weekend. I sent invitations through email and in return started receiving blasted calls from all of them saying, “Khala is it true? Phuppo is it true?” They were all so anxious that they couldn’t wait any longer. They were counting the days on fingertips.

At last that day arrived and they all came in the evening. First I took them to Hill Park for joyrides. It seemed to me an interesting task to control all the children and make them agree all to go for the same rides. I gave ticket money to the eldest nephew who managed so well. All the little girls were humbly asking him for money to buy popcorns. He distributed the money with a pride. It gave him a sense of responsibility. We came back home, and then I took them out for dinner at a restaurant. Next to our table there was another family and one woman among them asked me with amazement, “Are they all your kids?” I really enjoyed her comment but I sort of disappointed her with my answer. Then we went to eat ice cream at a place near the seaside.

At night we all lay the mattresses in the lounge to sleep. All of them were asked to behave properly so that they could get the gift packs in the following morning. They all brushed their teeth and changed clothes and put all the stuff in their bags and were settled in the lounge all to watch the movie Blue Streak and Jumanji. The five-year olds could not understand the first movie. We went to sleep at 2am. I begged them to go to sleep otherwise nobody was in mood to sleep. In the morning I was amazed to find all were wide-awake since 6 am. They took their breakfast without being forced to eat and it was an amazing sight as I always find mothers begging after their kids to eat properly!

Same mannerism was observed at lunchtime. Children told me so many interesting stories and jokes and tremendously increased my knowledge! I like one thing about children that they can freely express their emotions. They don’t have to have fake smiles on their faces as we have. They cry when they have to cry and laugh wholeheartedly when there is a reason to laugh.

I had made small gift packs, which I distributed and they were so delighted. I love seeing sparkles in their eyes. All the children were picked up by their parents in the evening. All the respective mothers thanked me more than their children because they could, breath in peace for a day without kids.

It’s a matter to sacrifice your one-day entirely for the kids and the happiness that it brings to them and to you is worth doing it.

Previously I had arranged a doll show and invited children of my family to see who has maintained the doll in perfect manner. The boys brought their cars instead of dolls. Prizes were distributed on well-kept dolls. Once I arranged an art and craft show to encourage children to show their artwork. There could be thousands of ideas to make the kids happy. You also think about it as such efforts increase our tolerance to bear the children (of others of course!) in addition to strengthen the family ties.

Henry Longfellow wrote a beautiful poem about children that I would like to quote here: Ye are better than all the ballads that ever were sung or said, For ye are living poems And all the rest are dead.