Woohoo!!!!!!!! Survived another play date, with a trio of hyper-excitable, hyper-energetic, just about hyper-everything 4-yr-old boys 🙂 I mean, I love my child dearly, but why do the things that make him happy, have to be so exhausting for me?! This is when I’m convinced that if there is indeed a God, he is definitely a MAN 😛 😉 No offence to all you dedicated Papas out there (Hubby included), I know you exist, but well…Majority wins 😉
And yet, what is it about watching them play that brightens our days so and lightens our hearts? What is it about the mad, seemingly chaotic running around that makes our hearts flip-flop madly in our chests and turn us into grinning idiots? Is it the instant flood of memories that rush us back to a time when we revelled in the gay abandon of rough and tumble play? Is it our craving for their obvious innocence as they caper about like monkeys, laughing & screaming for no reason, falling, fighting, and making up all in the space of seconds? Is that why we laugh while our hearts cry for our own lost youth?
Or perhaps it’s just their sparkling eyes, red sweaty cheeks & hoots of echoing laughter as they kick the ball high into the air, or run around like headless chickens looking for a place to hide in a madcap game of hide and seek, destined to fail because they will not stop giggling!! Boys giggle just as much if not more than girls, people! Especially 4-yr-olds! Whatever our reasons, however hoarse we get from the constant cautionary shots of ‘LOOK OUT!!!’, “Get OUT of the car’s way!!!!”, “NO GOING OUT THE GATE!!!!!!!!”, as much as we pretend constant worry at their hurting themselves – deep down inside, in our very cores, it is…what’s the word…Restful. Yes it is! Oh so Restful…and for those all too brief moments, All is Well with the World!!
Cheers to children everywhere & how about indulging that inner child this weekend?
Go on – do something silly and laugh!! You know you want to 😉
This morning I had a moment. You know – the kind of moment that arrives without warning, usually offering a calm oasis in the midst of chaos. The kind of moment that comes sometimes from recognizing the truth but mostly from just accepting it. Yup…an epiphany.
I had a rather thorny start to my day. Granny had a fall on her way to the loo early this morning at 4 am. I was completely unaware of the fact until I came down all bleary-eyed in the morning. Thankfully, nothing’s broken, just some nasty bruising. At her age (she’ll turn 85 in April) though, I’ll take bruises over a fracture anytime! Unfortunately in characteristic fashion, I had been rather short with her. It’s just like me that. My concern always seems to manifest masquerade as irritation, especially with those I love. I don’t why that is, except to blame it on some genetic character flaw beyond my control or maybe it’s a defensive mechanism to mask my fear of losing my loved ones. Whatever the reasons, suffice it to say, when it’s time for Ishaan to leave for school, I am not in a good place.
He is outside as always, playing cricket with our driver and Pushpa, utterly oblivious to all of Mom’s flaws for the moment 🙂 Oh that it would stay like that forever! Hubby calls out. It’s time to leave and there’s a flurry of Goodbyes to Pushpa, Grandpa and Grandma. It’s a familiar scene, repeated every Monday through Friday before he leaves. Just before he climbs into the car, I hug him and hold him close, tousle his hair and tickle him while he lays his head on my shoulder, in the crook of my neck (a perfect fit :)). He erupts with laughter and climbs onto Hubby in the car. The sun is shining and my boy is happy. His eye’s are sparkling and his tiny nose is all scrounged up, crinkled with joy 🙂 Suddenly I am in awe of this perfect moment when nothing else matters but the happiness that radiates from my son in great big tidal waves 🙂 I know, I know, it’s crazy…we’ve done this a million times before, but today, although I’m laughing with him and squishing my nose against the car window making funny faces, inside I’m still. Something is different.
There’s a strange duality to the moment. I’m suddenly aware of its fragility. Of the power of laughter & the healing that comes with happiness. Somewhere deep within, a load feels lighter. There are a million good things in this World and a million bad, but there’s not too many things that can’t be made better by the sound of your child’s laughter 🙂 But the moment is also symbolic of the power my son has over me. Of how my happiness is now forever linked with his and my eyes get teary – whether from joy or sadness is hard to say. Probably both. It’s scary but I feel cleansed.
I stand still and watch the road after the car is long gone. He’s growing up so quickly…too quickly. And that’s when it struck me. It’s always like this between parents and children isn’t it. Children moving away, parents left behind, happy, concerned, and proud. Did I think it would be any different for me? This is how it’ll always be…him leaving, me watching him go…happy, concerned, fingers crossed, like mothers everywhere.
On the 4th of this month, my parents completed 44 years of married life. We had a quiet celebration at home, just us, which was what they wanted.
What with Hubby and me completing 19 and their 44th, I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage in general and my parent’s relationship in particular. I’ve been around for 42 of the 44 years they’ve been together, and I can safely say that their relationship is as mysterious to me today as it was when I was younger…perhaps mysterious is not the right word, perhaps enigma is a better one (Yes, I know they mean the same thing, but enigma is just so much more sophisticated!). Marriage is such an intimate relationship between two people, that it’s impossible really for anyone else to understand it’s mechanics. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years it’s been that nowhere are the old adages, ‘Appearances are Deceptive’ & “Still Waters Run Deep’, more true than in the context of marriage. I’ve seen (and I’m sure you have to) seemingly happy couples who are on the verge of separation, seemingly happy couples where either one or both partners are having affairs, obviously unhappy couples who can’t seem to let go, couples who let go only to reunite, and thankfully, obviously happy couples who are just that – happy!! But you get my meaning…anything is possible.
I’m no relationship expert and the only reason I think I know my parents’ marriage is coz I’ve had an awfully long time and many opportunities over the years in which to observe them at close quarters. And still the key word here is ‘think’! They had a traditional arranged marriage as was custom at that time. There’s a funny story there. My Mom went along with her uncles to meet my Dad who had come with his friend. The friend had played match-maker and is Dad’s oldest friend to this day 🙂 My Granny, had given my Mom, instructions on proper conduct at the meeting! “Don’t talk too much! Don’t talk at all unless you have to! You can have a look at the boy but DO NOT make it obvious! Just do as your uncles say!” and more advice along the same lines. My Mom has always been a shy, reserved person and I imagine an occasion like this one would only serve to make her more so! She tried to steal glances at the boy she had been told would make her a good husband. She had seen a picture at home. Back home, my Granny asked her what she thought of the boy and my Mom with her trademark stoicism, said he seemed alright, but that she was surprised at how different he looked from his picture and he wore rather thick glasses which were also absent in the picture. My Granny was a little surprised and took up the matter with her brothers, who said No! The boy didn’t wear glasses and was very smart-looking and a worthy match. His married friend however did wear glasses and apparently that’s who my Mom had given the once over!!! Every time I hear this story, it makes me laugh 😀
They made a handsome couple 🙂 He was dapper and she was beautiful and they were both blessed with a rare generosity of spirit. To this day, they never hesitate to help a stranger in need. Indeed, it’s a habit that has often cost them dear and that makes me equal parts annoyed and proud! Theirs is a traditional marriage – my Dad is most definitely the ‘Head’ of the household and has the last say in most everything. My Mom defers to his judgment and opinions in almost everything. And yet she has perfected the art of getting her way and still making Dad think it was his decision, in the manner of all seasoned wives 😛 I live and learn 😉 My Dad’s love for us children is rather legendary in the family 🙂 His stern demeanor effectively hides the fact that he is the world’s biggest softie!! I cannot remember ever being told ‘No’ as a child and it’s a miracle I’m not a spoilt brat! I’m not! (You’ll just have to take my word for it!). My Mom often speaks of how my Dad has always put us kids first, not enviously, coz I think she did it too (it’s what parents do right?), but wistfully, I sometimes think, and I can’t say I blame her.
I think (or maybe it suits me to think), that the most idyllic years of my childhood, were also the best years of their marriage. Dad had been transferred to Japan and we spent a happy six years there in the seventies 🙂 I still get teary-eyed when I reminisce about those golden years, when life seemed so simple and happiness just a cartoon away!! We socialized, traveled, had picnics and did all the things a young family does! It’s no wonder Japan has a special place in my heart 🙂 My parents though, Dad especially, never had any intentions of settling down in a country other than their own and so we were back in Bombay and then to Goa which is their birthplace and which is where their dream of building a home for the family was realized 🙂 This is also when our family split up for the first time and that’s how it’s been since, except for short periods during which we were all together. My Dad was transferred back to Bombay and we stayed behind, my brother and me with Mom, because I wanted to be a doctor and admission into Medical College required 5 years domiciliary proof in the state of application. My parents did what most parents would do (or so I console myself), and decided to live apart for my sake, a fact that never fails to make me feel guilty and sad to this day. Now that I’ve been married so long, I know how terribly hard that must have been for them. Yet despite the distance, I like to think we were still happy. My brother was born in 1980 and for a few years after that, we were still the perfect, picture postcard family, epitomizing the ‘Hum Do, Hamare Do’ policy of the then Indian government! Could we have known then the turn things would take? Was it Nature’s great balancing act? Having given us great happiness, was she now showing us the dark side? The evil eye perhaps? I used to think a lot about why our life changed so dramatically, when I was younger and it made me angry and frustrated. Not any more. Age has some advantages…wisdom and acceptance among them.
And so, my turbulent teenage years mirrored the turbulence in my parents’ marriage. My brother being diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, was the turning point and much as I would like to say otherwise, it was all downhill from there for many years. Even when we were able to finally accept and rally as a family, there was no going back. Life changed irrevocably and finally, and nothing was ever the same again. I was twelve and I cannot remember being more scared than I was then. I saw the ugly side of marriage then, as my parents went through stages of denial to acceptance and settled down into a permanent grief that hasn’t left them completely even now, two years after my brother passed on. It never will. I watched them, tense, as they battled both inner demons and external monsters in an attempt to make sense of it all as their hitherto perfect world crumbled all around them. My Dad was always angry and bitter and my Mom retreated into her shell, resigned, finding solace in religious rituals and hundreds of Gods. I wish I could say that I was understanding and helpful and didn’t cause them additional pain. I can’t and I’m not proud. My only excuse is my age and the fact that my world imploded too, although I tried hard to pretend nothing had changed.
It was as I said, an ugly time. I grew up then, quicker than I would have otherwise. I realized that my parents were human beings after all (not Gods on a pedestal), fragile ones at that, capable of being hurtful and destructive, and of shattering like so much glass. It’s a hard lesson to learn about parents, to discover that they are not the perfect, all-conquering heroes that one has idolized and venerated through childhood, but human beings like everyone else, vulnerable, trying to do the best they can and capable of failure. With help from family and God’s grace, we got through those turbulent times and yet many things changed forever, as they are wont to do after major upheavals. I’ve always felt my parents have carried their guilt with them ever since. They always blamed themselves for my brother and dedicated their lives wholly to his care. Everything else took back seat and that included their own relationship. And again, despite the surrounding debris, there were happy times 🙂 Dad was transferred to Singapore and much to my delight, my brother had the same experience I had in Japan 🙂 He went to a fabulous school, traveled, partied and had a ball!! I’m so very glad he did, coz he always referred to that period as his ‘golden time’!
I got married at 23, when my parents were still in Singapore. The year I got married, they celebrated 25 years of togetherness and there were grand celebrations with most of the family who had come to the wedding 🙂 It was a happy time, if bittersweet, coz I left home to make my own life and it took me away from Goa and later from India. I visited home as often as I could and yet often my visits resulted only in increased stress for my Mom in particular. I have been a difficult daughter at best (still am), and the empathy and compassion that come so easily for others, desert me when it comes to my parents, especially my Mom. I don’t really even know why. Perhaps it’s residual feelings of anger and guilt from my teenage years, when I craved attention and didn’t get it. Perhaps it’s me being judgmental (which I’m not with anyone else), about the way they cared for my brother and the fact that they ignored everything, most of all themselves, occasionally to the point of illness. Or perhaps it’s just the disconnect that I feel from having lived my own life and being apart so long. I like that third option, makes me feel less guilty and evil. I always relied on my brother who acted as a buffer between my parents and me during these visits!
Over the years, Dad has mellowed and Mom, well she’s mellowed too I guess, in her own way. In the two years since my brother passed away, they have come to rely on each other again and I think they are gentler with each other now, more forgiving. They revel in Ishaan’s company and he brings them the kind of joy that only children can – innocent, pure and magical. They see my brother in him and it’s no surprise, given how Ishaan has inherited his uncle’s love and talent for cricket! They are not the kind of people who discuss their feelings or relationship. Being reserved and conservative, they have definite ideas about what children need and don’t need to know and that’s not likely to change. Their marriage has survived 44 years of Life, and when I think that they hardly knew each other when they made their commitment, it blows me away!! The kind of dedication, compromise, understanding, perseverance and sheer gumption it takes to make it through all these years with their sanity still intact takes my breath away. I have in them an excellent example of how to celebrate the good times and make a relationship work through the worst crises. What daughter could ask for more?
I am so very, very proud to be known as their daughter and I do hope in my own small way, I can make them proud too. (As I type I can hear them both saying “You Have! You Have!”)
When the field is family and the ticking mines are people you love…What then?
Lately the feeling has been growing on me, especially after the scary story last week. Obviously I’m nowhere near over it…don’t think I’ll ever be. It simmers within and boils over unexpectedly and in mysterious ways, when I’m least prepared and often on poor Ishaan :(I’ve become quite short with him this last week and I don’t like it. Since my usual inappropriate strategy of ‘denial’ & ‘burial’ doesn’t seem to be working…I guess I have to finally face stuff head on. Easier said than done…I hate confrontations and am a total ‘chicken’ when it comes to discussing serious issues with the family. We’re all like that actually – Ostriches!
But this living on tenterhooks – tip-toeing around issues, skirting boundaries and testing the waters – preparing ground as it were, not for any one thing in particular, but rather for everything, makes for an exhausting existence and I’m done feeling tired without any physical activity to blame! Ever since Dad’s accident, the need for ‘change’ is omniscient. I feel like I need to be doing something I’m not, being someone I’m not, changing things I’m not. I think what I mean is that I have this nagging feeling of having to ‘do’ something, anything, but without a clue as to what that something might be. In my head, vague ideas and imaginary scenarios float about, where I’ve been very clever, said & done all the right things and rather like a magician waving his wand, made everything alright, whatever ‘alright’ means. Doesn’t help much ‘coz as I’ve mentioned, all solutions at the moment are imaginary!
Yesterday unexpectedly, Mom and I had a talk. It started ‘coz Dad’s Parkinson’s was acting up more than usual and he called from the shop saying he needed help getting back home, ‘coz he felt like he was falling (a common symptom). The shop thankfully is within our compound and just a few minutes walk from our front door, so Mom rushed over with a walking stick belonging to Grandma and brought him safely home. Dad rested and the two of us sat at first silently pensive in the living room until we got to talking. As I mentioned, we are not a family of ‘talkers’, we don’t ‘discuss’ stuff with the intention of reaching consensus but merely for the enjoyment of arguments, (well my Dad & I do, my Mom hates arguments and will go to pretty much any level to stop them), and so ‘talk’ rarely helps instead leading to fights, discontent and sometimes tears. Luckily this was an unusual day and Mom, (who is otherwise one of the most reserved people I know), opened up and shared both her fears and plans for the future. As so often happens in such cases, we realized that we had both been thinking and worrying about the same things, just separately! We even seemed to agree on possible solutions! Ironic huh? But such a load off my mind and my soul 🙂 Such a relief to know that I am needed and that I am doing the right thing by my parents.
There are big changes coming. Not in a hurry but they’re coming. It’s inevitable really, coz deny as we may…the only constant in Life is change. Change by itself has never frightened me. I can go as far as to say, I’ve always enjoyed change and hated monotony. My parents however are the exact opposite (perhaps in the manner of all parents?), they abhor change of the tiniest kind and resist it with every breath in their frail bodies. It’s surprising the fight that lives in old bones! So it’s a huge comfort to know that we seem to be on the same page about what the future may hold. I would never do anything that changes my parent’s lives without their complete acceptance and agreement and so it’s good to know that I won’t be 🙂 They need time of course and their concept of time is very different from mine…I say hours, they say months, that kind of thing! Still, this time Mom seems determined and since she actually initiated the conversation, I’m daring to be hopeful 🙂
And for navigating this particular land-mine in satisfactory fashion and coming out tops…Thanks Mom!
The thought came to me last night, after an exhausting day with Ishaan, who put me through the wringer with his worst, clingy, whiny behavior in a long time and the memory of a conversation I had with a friend about her teenager just a few days ago.
Ishaan’s generally a happy child and when he gets this way, it’s safe to assume that he’s not feeling bright. The last time he was like this, it was teething-time and he had the ‘loosies‘. This time it was constipation and colic and other than wait for the medicines to take effect, massage his little tummy when he would let me, and cuddle & carry him continuously, there was nothing else to be done. When he finally recovered yesterday afternoon, he was instantly more cheery and by the evening, was back to his normal mischievous self, (albeit with sunken, rimmed eyes from 24-hours of non-stop whining :(), to the relief of us all.
It’s at times like these that I feel inadequate (A strong word. ‘Not up to it.’ seems kinder to self.), as a mother and pediatrician. There’s not much I can do in either role, except love, reassure and hope and then love, reassure and hope some more! Watching your child when they are ill, is heart-rending and yet educative, if you can stay sane enough to learn. It’s tough though, and I’m a pediatrician, trained to work with sick children!
Seeing him this way (difficult and whiny), brought back several conversations I’ve had over the years with friends and parents of teenagers, who are having trouble dealing with ‘the change’. It seems like toddlers and teens have a lot more in common than I first imagined! I made a list…short and not very sweet, which I include here. It’s by no means comprehensive nor written in stone…so do feel free to add, subtract, and otherwise share your thoughts.
Stubbornness – helps them both get their way, although I think Toddlers here have the definite edge, ‘coz, well, try reasoning with a two-year-old with limited vocabulary, who doesn’t want to eat his veggies! But perhaps I’m biased as a toddler mom and parents of teens have an equally hard time getting them to swallow their spinach!
Communication issues – Toddlers ‘coz their language is still developing and teens ‘coz they’ve developed an entirely different language 😉
A tendency to tantrums, sulking and all manner of drama that’s downright scary!
An inability to stand still for more than a minute and in Ishaan’s case – a few seconds!
Following naturally from #4 – an inability to listen to most everything, unless it’s something they want to hear. Also the ability to twist anything and everything into something they want to hear.
A strange yet firm resistance to all logic other than their own! Seen in abundance particularly in smart-alecky teens, of which I used to an esteemed member 🙂
Toddlers are master manipulators as are Teens. Emotional blackmailers par excellence!
An inability to understand ‘NO’
Both revel in defying authority – any parent will testify to the fact that the surest way of getting your toddler or teen to ‘Do’ something is to ‘forbid’ it! Works like a charm!
A curious affinity for trouble (A corollary to #7) – Both seem to have a penchant for getting into scrapes and tight spots with little regard for danger to self and others and little thought to consequences.
All right…this list is scarier than I thought! Will stop now before I lose all perspective and concentrate on happy thoughts…or I have a better idea…it’s close to midnight, my particular toddler is asleep…and that’s where I’m headed…comfy bed…happy thoughts…sweet dreams…smiling toddler…Nighty night…yawn…
p.s. for some reason I can’t get the numbers to turn blue…and it’s bothering me more than it should…guess I really am tuckered out…
The dawn of day 3 is a little scary since Ishaan hasn’t had a good night. He’s been restless and I can sense a cold in the offing…sigh…
We get to school in time, but today the crying starts as soon as we park and he sees other children milling around waving their goodbyes…it’s not the start I was hoping for! He’s beginning to cry and cling and pretty soon the tears flow freely. I harden my heart (I’m beginning to realize that it’s the one skill I’m going to have to master in as short a time as possible, if ever there was one!), and carry him down into the waiting arms of his teacher.
He disappears into the room, still calling out to me, arms outstretched…leaving me standing there, feeling like Monster Mom! Such are the joys of Motherhood! Today, I’m alone and as I sit on the ledge outside, my back to the school (lest he catch a glimpse of me), swinging my legs, I feel a lot like a school-kid myself – unsure, insecure, nervous and scared. If I feel like this at 41, how must he feel at 2? No…this is not helping…this is just making me feel worse then I already do. I feel like a coiled spring…watchful & tense, with no avenue of release. Positive thoughts…think positive thoughts…think positive thoughts…meanwhile the silence inside is vaguely disquieting but oddly comforting…
I look around the garden and decide to take a few pictures so I can show them to Ishaan later and because it gives me something to do (in typical hare-brained fashion have forgotten to bring a book and my camera!). I use my phone to click pictures of the two turtle statues and an earthen flower-pot shaped like a shell. I take pictures of the black-board outside, with its quote by Dr. Maria Montessori. I peer surreptitiously through the long window panes, trying to catch a glimpse of Ishaan, but he’s nowhere in sight and the silence persists. I should be happy…shouldn’t I be happy? He’s probably enjoying himself somewhere, having forgotten all about anxious Mom waiting outside. Why then do I mistrust the silence? Why is my heart not jumping with joy? Why is everything to do with children a double-edged sword? Questions, questions…where are those positive thoughts when you need them?
A butterfly catches my eye…there are many and they offer welcome distraction. There are large Monarchs, others with opalescent wings, still others with white-rimmed, light-brown speckled wings and yet others with green and lemon-yellow wings that catch the sunlight and shine like green-gold! Pretty, delicate and uplifting. Then I catch sight of the centipedes crawling all over the garden…their fat chubby bodies moving smoothly, with equal ease both forwards and in reverse, on the wave-like motion of their hundred legs. Not so pretty (I’m not an insect person, except for butterflies), but still fascinating. They seem so purposeful, I envy them, sitting here swinging my legs, purposeless! The teacher appears and asks for his shoes. They’re taking him for a walk in the garden out back. Before I can ask, she assures me he’s fine. If only I were too!
I go back to my meandering thoughts and old school-memories come flooding back. I loved school and had a wonderful time, especially in Japan at the Stella Maris Convent, where I studied from grades 2 through 5. I think of Mrs. Rosario, my Grade 4 home room teacher, a stern-faced disciplinarian with a heart of gold. An excellent academician to boot! It’s hard to find teachers like her now. She took us girls in pairs to spend a night at her house, a great honor it was, though a little scary, and I remember walking down the lane by her home to watch the cherry blossoms in spring, while she spoke to us about seasons and nature 🙂 A practical lesson in science and a wonderful memory! Then there was Sr. Mary McDonald, the Principal, I still remember her calm countenance and smiling face. I don’t once remember her flustered or angry. And Mrs. Callan, my Grade 5 teacher, the first one to recognize my love for writing and encourage it. She had me write a letter in response to an appeal from a zoo where an elephant was sick. We collected money and sent it along with my letter and we received a letter of thanks in response. I remember feeling proud, the pride that comes from making someone you love and respect, happy! It’s a great feeling and it’s what I want for Ishaan…happy memories from school that he will treasure ever after! There are many more memories and I’m pleasantly lost…until I look down at my watch and it’s past 10 am!
The one hour is up and I am eager to see my boy, but it’s not to be…today they’ve decided to keep him for another half-hour (sigh), and he seems to be doing Ok. Suddenly, there he is at the window and he sees me as I’m talking to the teacher.’Oh Lord!’ I think, ‘Now he’s seen me and that’ll set him off again!” and I try to hide my bulky self as best and as quick as I can. He’s calling Mama and he’s tearful but he’s not howling. He’s told the teacher he needs to use the potty, and she leads him to me, but it’s a false alarm and he has to go back, which is when the crying begins again, which I confess (Monster Mom that I am), is oddly comforting!
But he goes back inside and quiets down and I stay outside. Hubby joins me and we wait together a while, before it’s time to leave. This time he walks out to me, holding his teacher’s hand and he’s not crying. He’s happy as a button to see hubby and runs straight into his arms 🙂
And so, another day is done…not too bad at all…rather well done methinks…I pat myself on the back before I bury my nose and inhale the sweet, sweaty fragrance of his hair 🙂
So, here we are on Day 2 and this time I have reinforcements in the form of Mom – she of the veteran parenting class and nerves of steel…not quite (she’s now been ‘Grannified’ which means her heart’s softer than butter where her Ishaan is concerned :P), but still, her presence calms me down.
I’m not expecting miracles…I know things will probably worsen a lot more before they begin to get better…and yet still, I hope! We go down to school and again the crying begins as I hand him over to his teacher with a quick hug and kiss. Then Mom settles (barely!) into the chair and I try to find a place where I can be omnipresent but inconspicuous…channel all my Mommy stores of sixth sense & intuition! We hear him crying from the depths of the school and then suddenly everything goes quiet…instantly the silence becomes ominous and not peaceful, as I begin to imagine breath-holding spells and other medical emergencies! But I don’t let my worry show, ‘coz Mom is already worried enough for a thousand of us! She looks at me and mouths “Poor baby!He’s so small, too small! He’s barely begun to speak! We were never in a rush to send children to school in our time! They went when they were good and ready, when they were 5!” At that moment, I agree with everything she’s saying and I tell her, but to convince myself and her that I’m doing the right thing here, I tell her that times are changing and that he would probably cry just as hard if not harder, if he were 5. He would probably have had long arguments about why school was totally redundant…don’t underestimate 5-yr-olds! She nods. She knows what I know, heck she knows a whole lot more! It’s just her butter-heart acting up!
While we’re wondering what’s happening inside, the Directress of the school, visiting from Delhi, comes outside and does her bit to soothe us. She assures us that Ishaan is doing fine, and that crying is totally normal and in control. She tells us how she explains to anxious mothers that when they cried as adults (she used the word great hulks!), while leaving their Mom’s house after marriage to a man they loved and chose and wanted to live with (well most of us), then it was silly to expect that a child, who leaves home and the comfort & security of Mom’s arms, against his will, would do so without a good howl! Indeed it is! Beyond silly! I never thought of it quite like that before! Her analogy is amusing and makes us smile for a while, before drowning out in the next wave of crying.
And so we sit outside, comforting each other with all manner of platitudes, while our hearts are elsewhere, listening for the sounds of his anguish, glancing ever so often at our watches, counting seconds, minutes. I realize my Mom is suffering twice over, for Ishaan and for me too, watching me go through ‘separation anxiety’. There are periods of silence though and a teacher comes out twice, once to let us know that he enjoyed playing in the sandbox and then to tell us he’s naming animals on a chart 🙂 We make it through the hour, all three of us and although it was hard, it was just a little less harder than yesterday.
On the way home, he’s back to his chirpy self, but I imagine I can see the change…a seriousness in his eyes, subtle as it is.