My Little Guddi

I went on a school tour today. This one is my 4th. Not a big number, but to me, it was overwhelming. While I was really interested in figuring out which school my child will be most comfortable in, I was growing anxious with every school visit, that my baby was growing up. 

Driti has been independent ever since she was a few months old. She didn't care if I was in the office, as long as there were people around her. She was closer to grown-ups first, now, she likes to be with kids her own age. I would well-up, and break into tears thinking about her. 

My first day in office meant 15 continuous calls to Mom-in-law, to figure out if Driti was doing OK. Ma stopped picking up the phone after that, and I rushed home only to be reprimanded for my 'weak' behavior. 

When we put her in day care after the matriarchs of the house left, I waited just outside in case she wanted me. After three hours, the care taker politely asked me to leave. 

When we moved here, I played the waiting game again, at her pre-school. She didn't know. She just always whined that I was coming too early to pick her up. 

That and all her first's were tear inducing. Except, her first time use of the 'potty'. That was liberating. 

Today, as I toured the school and looked at the Kindergarten class, my  baby felt so little in front of these really tall kids. "Will she adjust well here?" "Full day school?" She's been in full day care so that was a dumb question to myself, but who cares. I was reacting to my own emotions.

As I entered the cafeteria the principal was saying "Our kids are very disciplined. They line up and..." I could feel my eyes moisten up. My kid? Lining up? "They raise their hands to ask a question" she continued. My daughter would just keep screaming till she got your attention  I thought to myself. by rejon - This is clipart converted and broken apart that has been released into the public domain because the document says so, and its from NASA, a USA government agency. The publication is called "The Brain in Space:"

I don't know how her transition is going to be, but I hope it's a smooth one. I hope she makes friends but stays our little girl and doesn't roll her eyes with a 'Whatever', the way she did yesterday.  She was just like a 4 year old teenager. She had no idea what 'whatever' with the rolling eyes meant. Her friend did it, so she did it. But she's promised not to do that again and she better not find some other annoying habit now.

I hope she still lets me hug and kiss and cuddle her. I am not greedy or unrealistic. I just want to hug her for another 25 years or so. Right now, I am her hero, so she let's me. "Mamma, how do you know everything? Even my 'American' rhymes?" she asks so adorably. Very soon, she'll be talking to me about Calculus and I'll have to pass her over to her father or she might not come to me because "You won't know Mamma"

After the school tour, I was determined to mint in as much as I could, when she was still small. "Driti, come, let's listen to Patakha Guddi" I said, "You're Mamma's little Guddi right?" "No Mamma, let's listen to 'R-O-O-O-O-A-A-A-R'"
"What is that Driti?"
"Oh, it's an American song Mamma, you don't know it"

It's starting pretty early, right?

Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde

Once in a while when I sit down to introspect, when I have the time for it that is, I really think deep – till there’s a need for caffeine or a long bath to fight the brain strain.  Today was one such day. And like Mr Archimedes, I had my ‘Eureka’ moment in the bath too, although I did not jump out of the tub like the old man. And it’s not because I am a mature parent completely in control of her feelings and aware of her surroundings. I wish. It’s just because there was an incessant knock on the door just as I was about to step out the tub, harshly reminding me of the fact that Archimedes did not have little packages banging on his door. Not that we know of, anyway. My 4 year old dynamite brought me back to my ‘Moment of Truth’.

I may not have had the time for a complete dramatic declaration of my ‘aaha’ moment, thanks to DD for keeping me grounded, but I did realize something too.
My realization may not change humanity for ever – it’s not a dripping discovery of buoyancy or anything. But it would perhaps help me and many parents like me understand why we are the way we are.
You see, every day, (day defined as the period after the urchin(s) are up to the time you force them into bed) we turn into Mr and Ms Hydes. The clock works reverse for us when compared to the real Dr Jekyll in Robert Louis Stevenson classic.  But the amazing writer left us ample literature indicating that we are the victims of our own creation. Not playing God, but that thing that runs at the ground level, is our own creation, and the reason for our own torture. Who’s to blame but that one scientific process that led to this?

Anyway, thanks to that process, now my husband and I (read: mostly I. He somehow is able to maintain his cool and stay unperturbed to the disruptions caused by the 3 footer) have ended up with a 4 year old smarty pants.

And from my interactions with her, I’ve realized that as apparent, I seem to have two different personalities. Here, sample typical conversations in our little world. You’ll know what I mean.

“D, please brush your teeth or you’ll end up with cavities”
“Why Mamma?”
“Because you need to fight the germs with the paste to avoid cavities”
“But you said fighting is not good”
“Yeah, but these germs are the little bad guys in your mouth and..”
“How little?”
“Very little. You can’t see them”
“If I can’t see them, how do I know they’re there?”
And a ton of questions later, I declare: “You will brush your teeth, because I told you so”

“Why are you saying that? Are you my step mother?”
“D, if you don’t go brush your teeth this minute, you will get a time-out for the next 45 years”
You would think it ends there. No. She wants to know if I am forty five, how many years before I turn 45? Why am I grounding her to forty five, when I am not forty five yet? When am I going to die?

Oh my God…I can actually see my hair turning grey as she asks me all those questions, still trying to avoid the brushing exercise.

Food – that’s another drama. The dessertarian apparently is terribly allergic to vegetables. She doesn’t even know what allergy means and will just about use any weapon in her little brain to get out of eating!

“If you don’t eat food, you’ll have no strength. Your hair will not grow like Rapunzel, your cheeks won’t be pink like Cinderella and your wings won’t grow like Tinkerbell”
Well atleast that does it. She has half of half a plate and no milk – she apparently knows that she’s brown and does not want to be white. Pink is her favorite color, so she’ll eat up the strawberries declaring herself a Fruitarian.

Once the food’s down, the next big deal is clothing. Basic necessities turn into a power struggle at home. I’ve never hated Disney so much. It’s freezing cold outside and she wants to wear a frock, a tiara and fancy shoes. What am I going to do with the princess when she freezes over. Thanks 'Frozen'!

I’ve learnt to choose my battles and this is not one of them.  But when the clock’s ticking, you need to do what you need to do.
“If you don’t decide what to wear in the next two minutes, I get to choose for you”
“Mamma, can you search for my pink polka dot frock, tiara, wand, and pink tights?”
She settles for a plain pink frock. We aren’t able to find the polka dots and the two minutes are up.

And that’s just getting dressed.

All our interactions are a struggle with warnings and ultimatums. I feel like Ms Hyde. But the moment she goes to sleep, my world changes completely. There’s something about the deafening silence that makes you realize and even miss the moments of struggle that test your patience.

Everyday, before I go to bed, I have this urge to walk into her room, and look wistfully at that peaceful face. It makes me forget all the energy drain. And I feel guilty about giving her all those ultimatums. My Dr Jekyll phase. But after 5 mins, the guilt is replaced by reality and I remember a saying in Hindi, which translated means “After gobbling up a thousand mice, the cat’s gone on a pilgrimage”. After creating all that havoc in my life, she’s sleeping in absolute calm. I need to, too if I need to figure out a thousand ways to cover for the thousand mice.

The Obsession with Death

There have been a few deaths in the family and we shared these with Driti.
We wanted her to know of the dear ones we had lost. They were after all her great grand parents.
She's come to terms with the fact that death is inevitable. That grandparents pass away after a period of time.
But, that 'clear understanding' has also led to a lot of confusion and frustration at home. Mostly because she keeps killing me. Not physically, but theoretically.

"Mamma, when I turn 60 will you be dead?"
"Mamma, because you are getting old, will you die?"
"Mamma, are you going to the Doctor because you are going to die?"

"Driti, why do you keep killing me? Why do you want me to die?" I asked perplexed.
"I don't want you to die Mamma. And don't be silly, I have no weapons" Such a luke warm response.

She's freaking me out. At every step, she wants to know when I will die. Now, maybe this is fear of losing me (which I'd like to believe) or her mental calculation of the time she will actually gain her freedom.

Today, we were reading the Ramayana. In one particular scene, Rama is shown as saying "I can sacrifice my life for you father" to his father, Dasharatha and Driti immediately responded: "But Gods don't die"
"Yeah", I said. "It's just his way of saying that he can do anything for his father"

"I will take care of you forever till you die Mamma" was the next response. After a long story, and putting her to sleep for the seventeenth time, she came to our room - again.

"Mamma, why won't you let me sleep with you? I'll miss you when you die!"

Of all the death sentences she's bestowed upon me, this one is special I guess. She'll miss me. She's after all not waiting for my eventual death and her inevitable freedom - at least not today!