… on this day, after twenty four hours of hospitalization, ice packs, epidural and hours of pushing, the nurses handed me two little beings wrapped in white and blue towels. The one who was pink in colour was howling her heart out; while the other sober one was hit hard to make him cry. Finally, when one stopped howling and the other started crying, their grandparents rejoiced; their mother breathed a sigh of relief and their father fell into a deep sleep. Today, after six long years, the pink one still howls and the sober one still remains zen like.
Ammu has become more independent than I ever thought she will be when she’s six. Most of her chores are done by herself. In fact, at her thatha-paati’s house, she was the little helper to her paati. My mom used to get scared whenever she went calling, ‘Paati.. Naa vessels wash pannava?’ But then, my mum used to come up to me later and feel so proud about a six year old washing dishes that well. Of course, I would want to ask what is the pride in washing dishes, but then why would I want to spoil a grandma’s happiness!
She lays the table. She makes sure she cleans up the mess she makes. She switches off the lights and fans when she comes out of a room. Basically, she is a responsible girl most of the time. She even reprimands the dad-son duo for being irresponsible. I see, from whatever little I know of her now, that she loves to make up stories and read a lot of books. She can add and subtract with ease. And, her memory (with spellings particularly) is super awesome. Yes, all these are subjected to change but I shall take pride in it while it exists.
Her greatest positive is letting go as quickly as she can. She fights one moment and makes up the next. No hard feelings; all forgotten. That seems to be her mantra. Her questions are pertinent that I learn a lot from them. The other day, we were savoring popsicles when our maid walked in. ‘Amma, why haven’t you made one for L aunty. Shouldn’t we be sharing one with L aunty too!’, she asked and I had to apologize to her for not doing so. Similarly, when my maid was absent on a Sunday, she asked, ‘Amma.. Appa has two days off, right? Why aren’t you giving L aunty off on both the days?’ I didn’t even have an answer for that!
She is quite a diva, this girl. She adores Elsa (from Frozen) and grew her hair as much as hers. Finally, last week, after a lot of persuasion (and peer pressure, I should add!) she agreed for cutting her hair while I jumped at the opportunity in the first instance. She wants to wear those frilly shiny clothes every day (even in this Hyderabad heat, damnit!) and wants to somersault with the frocks. Sigh. She combs her hair fifty times a day (now that it is short and all!) and flicks my lip balm pretending it to be a lipstick. I really don’t know where she got this fashion genes from but I sure know that we are going to go bankrupt when she gets to her teens.
Kuttan.. Calm. Serene. Logical. All that which I am not and all that my husband is, Kuttan is at least ten times over. And no, I am not complaining. At all. Whenever I think of Kuttan, I can only think of how much he teases others. He knows how to pull everyone’s leg and is famous for it in the relatives’ circles. Right from ‘Why can’t you eat with the spoon properly, Ammu?’ to ‘Amma is grumpy all the time!’, ‘Appa can’t hear. He’s always looking at the computer’ to the most famous ‘Enna? Enna? Enna?’ for full fifteen minutes on the phone to thatha and paati… every jibe of his are served with that irresistibly notorious smile.
He is logical. He can ask questions that can put an adult (me!) to shame. His latest fascination is death. It is difficult answering his questions on this subject where I myself am not rational about. His long-term fascination is vomiting. (Yuck!) He loves gadgets. Right from Wii to XBox to phones, he loves anything gadgets and is the perfect partner to the husband who’s been looking for one for ages. He likes to colour and his strokes are gentle. And his love affair with the ‘vatha kuzhambu’ continues, while I am really sick and tired of making it every alternate day.
He is obsessed with super heroes. Batman. Superman. Spiderman. Green lantern. Captain America. He has clothes of a couple of super heroes but doesn’t want to wear them outside because ‘others will get scared, no? Silly Amma!’ Yeah right. He comes to me when I am reading a book and itches to know who is the bad man in the book. No one can disturb him when he is in one of his puzzle fixing sessions. Castles and bikes and guns are his favourite block constructions. He is a water baby and loves to be in the pool eternally. He is an overly sensitive child and I feel scared about it. He wants to be the good boy to everyone and the moment he feels he’s hurt someone, he goes on the defensive. He’s also subject to a lot of bullying as a result of this and I hope in due course, he gathers the courage to give it back.
I’ve written time and again about Ammu and Kuttan’s fondness for each other and thankfully, it hasn’t changed much this year. They look out for each other. They reprimand (and become a whistle blower!) when one of them does something wrong. They play together with (a LOT OF!) intermittent requests for refereeing between them. They have the same set of friends. They tag-team and tease Amma all the time. One day at the dining table, the husband quipped, ‘Amma is a great cook, right? Everything tastes awesome, no?’ ‘No Appa.. Actually, Paati makes food better than this!’, came the collective reply. This man I married has this knack of turning statements into questions just to elicit such responses I suppose!
I always thought the first few years of parenting were the toughest. With back to back diaper changes and feeding routines in the first year; with losing your breath and running behind the not-so-sure footed little ones in the second; with you feeling like peeing all the time because of potty training the two of them in the third year; with losing your patience in making them eat on their own in the fourth year; and making them socialize and losing your hair over their TV addictions in their fifth.. Could it even get any tougher I had thought. Apparently, it can, is what I am figuring out now with every passing day. They are needing me more emotionally than physically. The ‘talk time’ between us is increasing in geometrical progression. I go back on every parenting act of mine to assess if I am doing the right thing and get into ‘guilt mode’ a lot of times when I don’t find the results desirable. This parenting is tough, I tell you!
If everything goes well, the coming year is scary for me (as a parent) and exciting for them. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they cope well and have fun with all the ensuing changes.
Dear Ammu and Kuttan,
You know the alphabets and numbers. You know about the Earth and Space. You can cycle without the side wheels. You move around the house in your respective scooters. You hack Amma’s password every time she changes it, which is once in every two days. You can talk in English and walk in English. Your Tamil sucks. (No really!) You can eat sky high bars of chocolate and tonnes of ice cream just like that while your idlies and parathas need a hundred odd prompts. You have the audacity to say, ‘I don’t like Tamil songs; play some English numbers, Appa!’ even after memorizing the entire Aye Sinamika and Mental Manadhil. You are your Appa’s world.
Happy birthday, darlings. Like you’ve been saying, you are SIX and BEEG now. All I can wish for you now is that you stay happy and healthy, always. And yes.. I so also wish that you listen to Amma; if not always at least sometimes, okay?!