Maybe I am not the only one. But have you ever noticed that all parents spend the first two years of their children’s lives teaching them how to walk and talk and then the next 16 years asking them to shut up and sit down?!! Is it not interesting how these turn of events occur?
Nevertheless, the first few years of a child’s life is what every parent cherishes and holds close to the heart. Their first word, their first step, their first day at play school are memories every mother carries with her for the rest of her life.
I remember the day my eldest son called me mama. There I was despairing that I would never hear that one word that would culminate the entire emotional rollercoaster ride of my pregnancy and birthing, because no matter how much I entreated the tyke to “say, mama,” all that I would get in reciprocation was “DADA.” Jesus, talk about being frustrated! Then one day while the furthest thing from my mind was to get Kyle to say mama, I heard it. Everything literally came to a standstill. I remember that day with crystal clarity.
There I was running myself ragged trying to prove to all and sundry about how strong and together I was. I was a young woman of 24. Born and brought up in the big, bad city of Bombay, suddenly transplanted in this little hamlet – to my way of thinking – all alone with a toddler to take care of, with a husband in the merchant navy, I was totally at my wit’s end because I could not stand the slow, plodding pace of the boondocks. To cut to the chase, the rope was fraying. So there I was sitting in my living room with my son cradled in my lap wallowing in self-pity and quietly weeping, lest anyone else heard me break down.
The little tyke must have sensed my inner turmoil, for he turned around caught hold of my shirt collar and dragging himself up shoved his inquisitive fingers into my mouth and uttered “mama.” Jesus freaking H Christ (forgive me Lord, for I have blasphemed)!!! My tears dried up faster than I could say, “Jack Robinson.” Yes, time can come to a standstill. I was jubilant!!
I was thrilled, ecstatic, overjoyed. However… my joy was short-lived. I soon realized that he would call everyone mama. The maidservant, the milkman – even my mother… and to worsen a mother’s joy would even look at my father-in-law and call him mama. I used to get so upset but taught myself to get over it and can now look back on it and laugh about it.
Children are indeed a joy to have around – from the moment they are born to pre-adolescence. The love that they spread and the joy they find in life’s ‘simple’ yet ever so important things, is something we grown-ups don’t understand because we have forgotten what it was like to be kids ourselves.
I remember another incident when my eldest was about 3 years old. It was the annual Anglo-Indian Christmas tree party. Games had been organized for the children and one was an 80m dash for the younger ones. My son and several other children were rounded up and made to line up. While they were made to stand at the starting line, Kyle spotted his father and me in the crowd of onlookers. The look of joy on his little face was priceless. He started waving out to us; the whistle went off and all the little wannabe athletes took off at top speed. But not my 3 yr old. He was in ‘wonderland’ as he continued to stand at the starting line, while the other kids made their way to the finish line! We frantically made signs to him trying to persuade him to run. However, nah, he just would not budge. He was more pleased to stand at the starting line waving out to us, watching the other kids run, rather than run the silly 80m dash himself! The look of bewilderment on his face when he realized all the other kids were getting candy and he was not, made us split our sides laughing. As I said, Kids are a constant source of joy.
Then there is the time when I was returning home one day with my second son Kirk from play school. On the way out, I got talking to this adorable little girl and I asked her about her day, and all that she had learned.( Now before I go any further, English is the language everyone here aspires for his or her child to learn as everyone speaks in Hindi here.) She said the teacher was very nice and had taught her a-b-c. Very enthusiastically, the little girl asked if she could say them for me. I half-heartedly said yes and prepared myself expecting her to refresh my memory of the alphabet we all learnt on our first day in nursery school. But, oh dear Lord! I almost tripped over my own feet when I heard her say; A for apple, A for ball, A for cat, A for dog
Was I dreaming? Had I heard wrong?! So I asked her to stop and start over and this time I was certain I had heard right… A for apple, A for ball, A for cat, A for dog. Oh, it was so hilarious I was hard pressed to keep a straight face!! Now, I’m not sure of b,c,d but on her first day of school, she certainly did learn that it was not ‘e’ but ‘a’ for ‘everything’!!!
These are just a few of my most cherished memories. It is what puts a smile on my face on the days I do not feel my best, or down in the dumps. What are yours?