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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

One and a half

25 piece circle of friends jumbo two-in-one floor puzzleWhen you indicate
All Gone
Where is it?
in sign language, gesturing confidently with your baby hands, I automatically fill your need without stopping to marvel, even if briefly, at your burgeoning communication skills.

When you confidently point out
and make their respective animal noises, I just nod along and not make a big deal about it these days, not even stopping to think what sort of abstraction and refinement must've happened to distinguish between Horse/Donkey in that fledgling mind of yours.

Why should I? After all, we have moved on to the less vocal Ant, Ladybug, Spider, Cricket, Firefly, Dragonfly and of course Butterfly already...

And, in response to my query, when you correctly identify
with the chest-beating always accompanying the Gorilla, I hurriedly acknowledge with a Yeah, that's right, Gorilla... mhmm... That's the Lion! Right you are! while moving on to the next, forgetting the fact that I was in primary school before I learnt about half these animals you so easily recognize already.

After just a few days of animatedly pointing and repeating
you seemed to know the common shapes like the palm of your hand (which you incidentally point to every time I ask, along with a few other body parts, in Tamil and English), identifying/recognizing them in different books/scenarios... so I quietly moved on to introducing colors, promising to return to hexagon and octagon and possibly the controversial trapezoid in a few months.

I flippantly utter short-and-snappy commands
Lie Down
Shoes On
Shirt Off
Pants Off
Wash Hands
Change Diaper
to keep it simple these days, confident that you would understand and come along for the respective enterprise. I fail to pause and appreciate how much of processing you have done on your own to get to this state of ease.

You seem to have picked up on the fact that you have a nice role-model in your sister.

You sit down to color and scribble whenever she sits down for one of her coloring sessions or art projects without any nudge from me.

You shuffle your jig-saw pieces about when you see your sister doing one of her challenging ones.

You perform your half-squat and high-march while banging on some imaginary bongos as you try to match your sister's dance moves whenever there is music streaming around.

And, what can I say about your affinity for books? When I can't sit with you to read, you just pick your current favorite and settle yourself down, sounding out loud gibberish, turning pages appropriately, seemingly appreciating it all as much as your tender mind allows.

On rare occasions that you are allowed in her room, you make a bee-line for Ana's bookshelf completely oblivious to all her toys within easy reach. And when we go to drop Ana off in her school, you survey the room teeming with activity but quietly follow your sister to the reading loft, park yourself on the little sofa with a book, allowing me to focus on the hug-and-kiss-goodbye ritual.

While my secret wish is for you and your sister to inherit my love of books, it will be just fine if you choose not to. No pressure.

You had just turned one when you exploded with a lot of the magical feats above but I never did bring myself to do updates about you... yeah, you have a lazy Amma!

Well, not so much lazy as time-challenged, shall we say? So much happens with you each week that it is quite an adventure just keeping up, let alone write it all down.

Besides, there is always this nagging thought that being the second child somehow makes it easier for you to do it all faster and earlier than my expectations manage to set them up for you. There is probably some truth to this. But, I can't let it take away your effort and your perseverance at constantly demonstrating your developmental triumphs.

Yeah, sure, babies are built to adapt, wired to learn the intricacies of their environment, absorb like a sponge as they make sense of the chatter they hear and somehow find their place in this world and make a mark in it as they mature... and do it all at what seems like a breakneck pace in the Universe's framework while staying unbelievably resilient - a survival skill, an instinct so primitive and crucial that it warrants no mention.

It is easier to convince myself that all-6-month-olds do this, all one-year-olds do this, all-18-month-olds do this... while tucking away how special it makes me feel when you do it, when you surprise me day-in and day-out with your capacity to absorb and distill the essentials of this complicated world with minimal help from your ever-busy Amma.

Is it some sense of self-righteous modesty that deliberately spotlights the challenges and anxieties while relegating the triumphs and jubilation to the dinghy backstage of the mind?

Is it my grounded upbringing that struggles to exult in the seraphic moments, knowing all-too-well about being fallible, being human, dismissing the enchanting qualities in my kids with the age-old belief summed up by Hume: Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them...

I imagine it would feel safer to not add the burden of my contemplation to your growing pains, to feel no compulsion to announce your charisma... the world will see you with its own eyes and believe what it wants and that is just fine by me.

And, as you both grow older, I suspect I will continue to play down your best qualities, afraid that projecting my awe on your innate personality would mar it somehow and not leave it as pristine as only the maternal mind can perpetuate it... I suspect I will inadvertently focus on the not-so-ideal and the less-than-perfect moments in a spurious effort to set-things-right when there is nothing wrong per se... Heck, I am already catching myself doing that with your sister!

No Matter.

You will be turning all of one and a half soon.

While part of my mind races with the upcoming challenges of potty-training, reading, writing and such trivialities, the rest of it feels strangely reassured that in the larger scheme of things, you will teach yourself everything you need, drawing inspiration from wherever you find it, and excelling in everything you set your mind to... while I sit back, humbled, fervently hoping that I remain a big part of that evolution.

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At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Poppy said...

Wow Sheela, he's just an amazing child - I love how he likes to read just like his sis :)

I'm hoping this line is true "in the larger scheme of things, you will teach yourself everything you need, drawing inspiration from wherever you find it" because I am sure as heck not doing ANYTHING for Sweetpea, feel ashamed of it but she seems to be learning regardless so who am I to interfere with nature's way and birth order?

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Kodi's Mom said...

wow, Sheela, simply wow. this post is a treasure. just like li'l Og himself. kunjeli - too too cute :)
my fav lines -
"the world will see you with its own eyes and believe what it wants and that is just fine by me."
it takes a lot to get to this stage of acceptance! & I know I'm not there yet - so, really, hats off, for knowing how to let go and 'unparent' the second one.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Lavs said...

I can only echo what the first two commentators have said. Wow sheela Wow.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger VJ said...

Wow !!!
and beautiful !!
what more can I say ?

At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

big hi to the cute one and half. He is sweet and smart kid. Hug to him


At 12:41 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

:Poppy: Thanks! yeah, Nature's way and Birth Order - well said!

:Kodi's Mom: Thanks! And, thanks to you, everytime I hear the increasingly militant mmm? mmm? in Og, I think of Plane paapaa!

:Lavs: Thanks! I still picture LB with the thandai on, even after he outgrew it - that little anecdote will stay stuck in my head, thanks to you!

:VJ: Thanks! Really liked the Father's day card with hand prints of VK you had posted!

:CS: Thanks! NR will be one and a half soon and we haven't met for almost 6 months!! Hope we get to meet before Xmas at least :) Hugs!

At 6:25 PM, Blogger Praba said...

that was beautiful, Sheela! Your writing, a treat for your kids to savor for posterity...full of natural preservatives! :-) The self-righteous modesty and the part about acceptance simply touched my heart...

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Thanks, P! Glad we can email each other often and have this mutual support to help us through parenting!


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