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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

watch and learn?

I still remember a white dress, with collar, red lace trim, full of hand embroidery of hen and chicken and such made by my mom... way back when I was 3 or 4. It was my favorite frock/gown. But since it was white, my mom didn't want me to wear it everyday and get it dirty. I have such wonderful memories of unique clothes I got to wear because my mom took the time to make them for me. One of my dad's favorite fotos of me was taken when I was about 4 or 5 yrs old, wearing a Thai skirt and tops my mom sewed for me.

I have seen my mom so focused on some sewing projects that I learnt not to disturb her from a very young age: from the time I started understanding it was for me that she was taking all the effort, I couldn't contain my anticipation. I would lay low so my mom could finish the dress for me and I would get to try it on!

Now, I sew t-shirts and fleece tops and pants for TJOML, among other things. Usually, I try to do it when she is asleep. But, of late, she seems to enjoy playing by herself for quite a while, so, I have started sewing and crocheting when she is around playing.

She seems to know/sense I am doing something special and ought to be left alone. She usually stops by to watch. Sometimes she points to my craft things and affirms, "Amma's." And, sometimes, when she tries to grab my yarn and run, even before I can form the words, she giggles and states, "naa tha thoi" and gives it back to me.

Many a day, she would come into the kitchen and try to help me put the dishes away or make me pick her up so she can watch what's cooking on the stove, perched safely on my hip.

My mom let me cook on my own when I was 8 years old. I used to make tea and coffee and such till then, but, when I felt ready for making my first sambar, my mom chopped the veggies for me (she didn't trust me with a chopping apparatus we had then called arivalmanai - a long sharp blade fixed on a wooden slab) and showed me where all the spices were and let me experiment away.

Full-time job, cook incredibly well, as well as constantly churn out wonderful crafts and arts stuff, plus of course home-made clothes... how did my mom make it all seem easy? Did I subconsciously watch and learn? Is that why I am engaging myself in many little projects these days? Is that why I enjoy cooking? Even today, my mom enthusiastically sews dresses for TJOML; and she had lovingly made some wonderful decorative stuffed aquatic toys that can become part of a baby mobile - it is a wonderful addition to TJOML's room.

Will TJOML watch and learn as well? Should I expect it? What if she doesn't have the aptitude or interest in cooking? It is slightly difficult for me to even imagine that. I am afraid I might feel like a failure if I didn't inspire her to cook. I want her to know how to cook healthy dinners. I want her to express herself artistically. I want her to explore and develop all her talents. I want to encourage and cheer her. But, I want to do it in an unobtrusive way, sort of nudge her when she needs a nudge, but otherwise let her do what comes naturally.

Becoming an Exemplary Mommy is not easy...

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