The Independent Child

I’ve lost count of the number of people who've told us that we are very lucky parents - we have an independent child, who does not need us constantly. And I think, Hmm.. maybe we are lucky for a change. Maybe there is a silver lining to the daily marathon routine of running behind ‘the independent child’, mending all the broken toys, screaming to get her attention, asking her not to scream to get our attention, and then longing to have one telephonic conversation, without  her tugging at my shirt and screaming “Mamma, Mamma”. Yes, ours is an extroverted independent child.

Our almost four-year-old will never come anywhere close to us, if there is another being in the vicinity. Any other child or adult, a cat, a dog, a baby, a cartoon on TV, a squirrel will all supersede us. We would slip away to the last on her priority list if there’s anything around that displays life. Driti only needs us when there is nobody else.

After yesterday’s party and hearing everybody rave about the social butterfly we had nurtured unwittingly, (he’s an introvert and I am an ambivert. No idea how she came along) I could not get off cloud number nine, until of course, D decided I had had enough.

I had to run some errands today and had to travel downtown. Driti’s play date had to cancel as the little girl had caught a virus. I still had to run those errands and I thought it was ok to get Driti along.  I took her to a couple of stores and she started crying as we entered the third. “I don’t want to shop anymore. I want to play”. I could have as well brought Ady along. The exact same words - just, from a shorter person. A child of the fairer sex does not want to shop. Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have the eighth wonder of the world.
Anyway, I coaxed and bribed her into visiting the last store. I promised I’d take her to the Children’s Museum, she loves so much. And the world was peaceful again.  As we reached Armory, and I saw Starbucks, I had to have mocha and Driti had to have something sweet in pink.  So we had a never before moment of only the two of us savoring something we really liked – together.

She finished hers fast, and my mistake, I loved the mocha a little too much. I just about took the second last sip when I lost the trail of the blue and white dress. Where on earth did she go? I ran down frantically to the museum. She knows her way around this place, so I assumed she took off without me. I asked the receptionist if she’d seen an Indian kid, then the cashier, and the manager. Nobody had seen a child that could appear to belong to me. I climbed up again, screaming for her. And I could hear her scream for me too. The screaming practice did help after all. 

When I found her, she was surrounded by five adults all trying to trace the careless mother who had abandoned an innocent child in a busy food court. Driti had run to a play area with all the toy cars! I had completely missed this on the way down. I still couldn't see them, till she actually pointed it out. And in her process of searching for me, the social butterfly had spoken to three ‘aunties’ and two ‘uncles’. She had also told them that I had had mocha and she, a pink cake pop. They also had useful information that we lived in Seattle, were born in India, although we’re actually born from monkeys. They knew that Flora was sick and had to cancel her play date. She also told them that she made pasta yesterday and her sisters and brothers love her.

When I got hold of the kid, the adults started chatting with me. “Your daughter is very interactive. She told us about all your kids”. I smiled. “Yeah. I just have the one. The rest are her cousins in India”. By the time we went back down to the museum, the receptionist had informed security and the blue and white dress girl was being tracked. She heaved a sigh of relief as soon as she saw us.

And it got me thinking, no matter how independent your child is, you can never be independent of her. You’re wired in to panic for her, make a relentless effort to search for her, although you know that she would be safe and screaming for you. Although all the people in the food court may end up knowing your family history, your little one will still be searching for you, and she may as well have all of them searching for you too. I am glad she can find her way. But I am blessed that she still needs me and reassured that the 2.5 feet explosive will always get me to worry for her. Yeah, reassured! :)

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