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Friday, September 18, 2009

Croeso, Appa!

croeso welcome home appa banner kids craft project

Orient Longman published the Gulmohar series English textbooks which inspired me all through middle and high school, along with the "Non-detailed" texts which were quite enlightening, now that I think about it.

Eight Days Buried in an Avalanche (by Robert Littell?) is one of the short stories from one of my English textbooks that wedged itself in my head, among others, that I have not been able to dislodge to-date.

Back then, I had never seen or touched snow so I couldn't quite fathom what the big deal was about an avalanche - can't they just push off the snow and move on, it's just like powder, isn't it? I remember thinking.

While not quite an avalanche, and not quite eight days, my recent experience of 28 Days Buried Under Necessary Chores To Manage The Household Single-Handedly somehow threw my mind back to that little piece of non-fiction from decades ago. Not the helplessness, the desolation, the confinement, and the frigidity... no, not all those negative emotions justified by the ordeal.

The pure drive for survival, the resourcefulness, the hope, and the strength of optimism... that's what inspired me to take each day, not necessarily in the Carpe Diem! kind of way, but more like ut melius, quidquid erit, pati kind of way.

As long as nothing breaks down...
as long as it is just a matter of befriending The Plunger and The Fusebox...
as long as nobody catches any nasty bug (especially me)...
as long as it is just for a short period of time...

In all this, I am so thrilled to register how Ana rose up to the occasion and has been such a darling at helping me out - sort/fold laundry, gather the dirty dishes from living room and table to help load the dishwasher, put away clean spoons and forks, clean up the floor in the living room and her room... well, when I put it that way, these are the things she does anyway, but, she needed no very little prodding to get it all done within reasonable time frame day-in and day-out.

When she felt overwhelmed by his absence, when she missed having her Appa next to her, I hugged her and told her I miss him too... there might have been some shared little droplets of tears there between us in the quiet of the night. But, the empathetic side of her kicked in and tried to cheer *me* up telling me how silly Appa is and how he makes her laugh!

She assumed wardship over her brother quite naturally and instinctively, taking it upon herself to alert me when Oggie stood/walked/jumped on the sofa or otherwise engaged in activities that endangered the wee-self. Which made life a tad less anxious for me. After all, Ana is a baby herself and cannot be charged with the safety of her baby brother, but, for those times when I can't turn on the X-ray vision, her voluntary zealousness was better than none. I guess the couple of incidents of rough play leading to injuries helped ignite these protective instincts in her.

I feel truly blessed and am not sure what I did to deserve this: "You have to do all the work because Appa is in India, so, I am going to help you, Amma. I am a good helper". What more could a mom ask for from her 4-yr old?

Not the same Ana whose uncharacteristically contrary behavior in India poked & prodded & taunted & teased & egged on the monster inside me.

Boredom, displacement, separation and lack of control are not to be taken lightly in a bright and sensitive 4 year old, as I have learnt the hard way.

Of course, this sweet persona of hers probably will go into hibernation now that Appa is here. And that is fine. She is a child and I want her to enjoy childhood without feeling weighed down by disproportionate expectations that circumstances demanded of her over the last 3 months.

Counting down and preparing a celebration for Appa's homecoming seemed to cheer her up during the last stretch. We did that last year when Appa was away in France for about 4 weeks and promptly forgot about it until my mum-in-law called me last week. (Thanks, Mom, for reminding me to make it a celebration and get Ana deeply involved in the preparations). We somehow managed fine then as my parents were visiting for Og's birth and I wasn't working and Ana was just getting used to Og and video chat and her new toys from Paattee...

We talked about baking cupcakes for Appa, but, "sweet and sugary stuff is not healthy" she chided me. Maybe I repeat it too much at home and her school reinforces it too so she inadvertently picked it up... and, not that that stops her from eating sweetmeats. "Why is there candy in this world, Amma?" "Hm. Why not, Ana? I'm sure a little bit of it is fine..." "But it is so tasty, we can't just eat a little bit, Amma, we want to eat a lot of it! See?"

We managed to make:
  1. An impromptu card: Sketched and colored by Ana, no nudge/guidance/supervision from me, so I had to ask her to explain it to me.
    kids art greeting cards welcome home earth card
    Ana's description: This is our Earth. This red piece is India where Appa is. This other red piece is Portland where we are. And we are not together, we are far away from each other in this world.

  2. A Welcome Banner: Background Art work by Og and Ana.

    Words and hearts and glitter and feathers and pompoms completed by Ana, with a little help.
    Croeso=Welcome, in Welsh.

Just to make it special, I took her out of school early, got her excited about meeting Appa at the airport in the evening and enlisted her help in keeping Oggie in the dark. Not that that was tough to do.

And, after what seemed like eons, when we finally spotted him staggering out red-eyed and groggy, I couldn't hold back either of the kids from racing ahead to get scooped up and be lavished upon.

As he watched my seasoned self pinning Og down with an arm and a song, artfully thwarting the tiny writhing frame attempting to dodge the dreaded diaper change, smiling indulgently as I went through the required motions with much-practiced ease, "We are all here now. Our family is here in this room, Appa. You, me, Og and Amma! I am so happy!" Ana declared clinging to D.

I echo her sentiments. Wholeheartedly.

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At 7:14 PM, Blogger Tharini said...

I'm glad D's back Sheels. Good for you! You've managed splendidly in this lovely that you get to be a family again. :)

At 8:48 AM, Blogger Dee said...

yaaay! glad that the family is back together. Must have been such a happy moment for the kids :)

At 10:58 AM, Blogger upsilamba said...

I feel so excited, happy and thrilled, Sheela!
hahha!! Imagine that.

A big hug send your way, for being the big girl one whole month.
I hope you get to be a kid (every now and then) and be pampered with much affection from and by D:)

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Reva said...

Yaay! Glad to know D's back! Very sweet and thoughtful of Ana to help you so. She is way too smart for a 4 yo!

And, I understand the sentiments exactly! :D

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Poppins said...

Sigh! Happy for you Sheela, all's well now in the family of my fav 4 year old girl and her cute brother :)

Ana sure is a gem!

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

:Tharini: Thanks, T, and I know you must feel wonderful to have your mom with you now!

:Dee: Oh, it was... it was interesting for me to see how little Oggie ran to him right behind Ana :) And, try to be stress-free yourself!

:Upsilamba: Thanks! What sweet sentiments you send... Unfortunately for me, D is more of a if-you-don't-who-will, kind of a practical guy whose idea of gushing profusely is "Nice. Good job. Now let's get on with it without fussing about it." :)

Take care, I am excited for you... can't wait for December!

:Reva: Thanks! How is the Kolu? Hang in there... four more weeks is it, before J comes back?

:Poppy: Thanks! I guess 3 months in my constant shadow has changed her a bit for sure: she tut-tutted at her Appa throwing his socks and shoes in the living room and asked if he would put them away soon!!

So, am not sure if I created a finicky, controlling little version of the self inadvertently :)


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