For the longest time, it was a one-way street. Hari would lovingly proclaim, “I love you very much Ram kutti”, and Ram would reply with an air of entitlement, “But I love my mommy very much.” The smile on Hari’s face would fade. “It feels like Ram doesn’t love me as much as I love him amma,” would complain the heartbroken child. With time, he took the lack of verbal expression in his stride.
This summer, the one-way street morphed into a two-way path. Ram would go to his brother asking him to check if he is wearing his shoes on the right legs. He would hog his library books and plead that he get a turn to “read” Calvin and Hobbes, Big Nate and Dragon Breath. “I want to sit with my brother and eat”, “Can I have a sleepover with anna amma?” In return, Hari would teach him some tricks of the trade. “Ram if you ask appa like this he will let you watch T.V. – “appa, I am begging you, I really really want to watch T.V. Please, please, please.” Make sure you have bambi eyes when you ask, ok?” And sometimes Hari would mimic us, borrowing the very words we use with Ram – “Anna is very proud of you because you used words instead of crying. If you cry, anna will not understand what you are saying”, And then of course he had to pass on his love for sports to Ram. “I will teach you how to play soccer Ram” and would proudly report to me, “Amma, I think Ram is a born thrower. Look at his throw.”
Don’t let this sugary syrupy description mislead you into thinking that it is all love and no war in our household. Far from that, the days are filled with tattle tales. “Amma, I don’t want anna to sing the Frozen sang. But he is not listening to me”, “ You do not even know to read, so why do you want my library books”, “I will not listen to you anna. I will only listen to appa and amma,” “Stop copying me Ram”, “You stop copying me anna”, “You started it, so you stop it”, “No you started it.” When a child comes to us complaining, we play the role of a dutiful umpire reminding him the rules of the war in our house – hands to yourself, talk to each other and figure out a solution, don’t use your size to your advantage. If none of this works, take time out from each other.
Today after finishing up his morning routine, Hari settled himself on the love seat in our living room and got totally lost in the book that he had recently borrowed from the library. Ram who was clinging to me for some TLC slowly slipped and plonked himself on Hari’s lap. No words exchanged, just the comfort of being in each other’s company,sharing a common love for reading. It was a sight to behold..!
Nothing better than seeing the two people you love so intensely love each other.