With a throbbing headache and incessant coughing, the child woke up feeling miserable. “Amma, take my temperature. I know I have a fever.” I placed my hand on his forehead and then his neck, and knew that he did not have a temperature. “You are feeling feverish kanna, but you don’t have a fever,” I tried to convince Ram.
We did the usual things that we do when we have a coughing child at home – two pillows stacked on top of each other, the third one resting on the two so the child can sleep in elevated position, and a mug and a bottle of water next to his bed for possible throwing up scenario. “Amma, can you sleep next to me?” the child asked. Of course, anything to make you feel better, I responded and settled down on his twin bed.
The child while still coughing, relaxed a bit. His head resting on my chest, as I wrapped my hand against his body. My belly rising and falling, his hand rising and falling with it. His breathing in synch with mine, we slipped into a rhythm, and the child drifted off to sleep. This is what primal feels like.
Recording some of conversations with little Ram that filled my heart and touched my soul. So very greatful to be at the receiving end of this sugary syrupy goodness.
- His eyes well up as Hari and I talk about what just the two of us can do. He gets down from the car and confronts me. “Amma you do so many special things with anna. You eat out when you go to his doctor’s appointment, you go shopping with him, and after I sleep the three of you sneak up to the attic to watch TV. Tell me three things that only you and I do. I want to spend lots and lots of time with you amma. I want to have special things that only you and I do.” I wanted to list out our exclusive things except that my heart was already a pot of mush. I know I am his mommy and this is expected, still can’t take this pure unadulterated endearing expression of love for granted.
- We are all heading back from temple and are giving feedback on what each of us need to work on. I tell Ram that he is very good at taking responsibility for making things that he wants happen but needs to improve on managing his emotions when things don’t go his way. “Use words kanna, not tears,” “I try amma but the tears won’t stop coming.” So genuine, so authentic, telling things as is without any pretense. What a privilege it is to raise little humans who are never afraid to be vulnerable.
- Da and I were discussing extracurricular activities and unintentionally we were piling more on his plate. The child noticed and made it clear in no uncertain terms that, “Amma, I don’t like doing too many things. I want time to just relax, be lazy, and read. Can you not put me in too many activities?” Ha, very often without his knowledge the child gives instructions on how to raise him. Makes the job so much easier and abundantly joyful!
- Sitting on his bean bag, Ram got all philosophical. “Amma, I just noticed that I have to work hard to get the things I like. For example, to get a Star Student Bear at school, I have to keep up with expected behavior. To get video game time, I have to do tamizh homework and guitar practice. If I want my room to be clean, I have to clean it up” It’s a gift to see a child grow, physically, mentally, and emotionally right under your watchful eyes!
- Many nights Ram and I sleep in his twin mattress. He inches to me, puts his hand on top of my body, his legs on mine, and he asks for me to place my hand at the nape of his neck so he can use it as a pillow. The intensity of the day melts, all the stress evaporates, and I drift to sleep peacefully. Incredibly grateful that I have experienced this time and again.
I am lying down on my belly, my legs swinging up in the air and hitting down on the ground playfully, as I thumb through Ram’s workbook from school. Akhil is lying down on me, his belly on my back, peeking at the book that I am thumbing through and explaining the details on the page every once in a while. It’s a rare moment. One I keep intending to have but never end up having. Finally, I have the time and he has the inclination to go over what he has been upto at school.
I take delight in knowing the nitty gritties – oh he knows to do 2 digit and 1 digit addition, he has been taught to identify coins based on which US President is on the coin, he has been tracking the pumpkin growth from the seed to sapling, and there has been a lot of learning about guppies and pillbug just like Hari did, he has been learning about maps, and he has been introduced to poetry.
“Hari, do you think you can take a moment to reflect on your seventh grade, and write a little something for me? I want to know what you thought of your seventh grade?” Dead silence is what I hear in reply. I can hear the talking going on in his head. Writing is boring and reflecting is even more boring. Who does that anyway? Still, it’s mom, she is asking, what choice do I have? So he obliges and whips up something for me. The crux being, “form my own opinion and not to piggyback on someone else’s” He went into seventh grade thinking that he was going to hate it because of all the things he had heard about the team he was assigned to but came out of seventh grade feeling like much fun was had!
I have been very hands off with both the children this school year. Fall and early winter went by with renovation work, early spring and rest of the school year was full with upanayanam preparations. I have been feeling very out of touch, very uninvolved and incomplete this school year. As I closed the last of the pile of materials that were sent at the end of the year by Ram’s teacher and read Hari’s year round up write up, I heaved a sigh of satisfaction. I finally felt like a mom who knew what her children have been doing at school, albeit in hindsight. Hopefully more real time next school year.
Ram is smitten by the idea of making money. He has been planning one thing after the other. First, he said he would make things out of origami and go around the block to sell them. Then, he was curious to know how much a glass of lemonade costs. Could he make some? Later, he started sorting his toys into different piles so he could have a yard sale.
The problem was all these plans will have to wait for the weather to turn around. “I want to earn money now amma,” the child sounded desperate. Wanting to give him a break, I told him “If you make a book that I enjoy reading, I will consider buying it from you.” His face lit up and his mental wheels started spinning. What is your favorite fruit? Mango, I said. What vegetable do you not like? “I don’t know what it is called in english, but is noolkol in tamil”
An hour later, the child came to me with a book titled “The Viellen – Dr. Noolkol robs a bank” with illustrations. Super Mango is the detective and Dr. Noolkol is the robber. There is action and drama, and the story ends with Dr. Noolkol getting arrested by Super Mango and taking him to a place where he rightfully belongs but dreads going to – the grocery store!
The child was deliriously proud of the 10 cents that I paid him. His anna, on the other hand, was standing there glaring at me. Really amma? He spent an hour working on that book and you are not even paying him minimum wages? Shhhhhhhhhhh! I had forgotten to account for the older child’s activism when I priced the book.
Around mid-Dec., Ram injured his left thumb while closing the car door. After some icing and TLC, the child went to school with a mildly swollen thumb. A conversation with the triage nurse led us to infer that it was nothing serious (no fracture, infections etc.) Over the course of next couple of months, the nail went through bizzare phases – turned purple, hardened, cracked and finally fell off. Apparently, that is not uncommon after a trauma like what Ram went through. The nail detaches itself from the nail bed gradually and ultimately falls down. In his case, the new nail has already started growing.
Raising the band aid that wrapped the damaged nail, Ram asked us with naughtiness glinting in his eyes, “Appa if the falling of nail is like the falling of tooth, then is there a nail fairy like tooth fairy?”
Ayoo, we did not see that one coming! Nice try kiddo, nice try. But ain’t falling for that.
It is truly the only time of the year when things slow down on all fronts – work, volunteering, school and extracurricular activities for kids. There are no deadlines to chase, no routine to keep up. Nonetheless, there are things to do. Projects that I have been putting off citing lack of time and energy. Those need to be tackled but at least it will be on my terms. This quite time is much needed and I am immensely thankful for it.
Some random tidbits from my end.
- Da and I went to the Star Wars movie. I am not a Star Wars junkie but I am hooked. I am on a mission to watch the rest of the seven movies. Talking about movies, so many ones that I would like to see. If possible, within the next week – Jumanji, Pitch Perfect, and The Greatest Showman.
- Ram and I are slowly getting to our pre-summer bedtime routine. How I have missed it! It’s always tempting to give up on bedtime routine because I am totally drained by that time of the day. But once I get past that moment of weakness, the five to ten minutes of reading, meditating and tucking in give such a fitting end to the day.
- There are some residual jobs left, but officially the renovation is complete. We got the inspection sign off after some hiccups. I have been spending the past few days unpacking, cleaning and arranging. I enjoy doing this kind of work, so no complaints.
- This winter feels like winter with temperatures dipping, and some snow here and there. And it’s just the beginning of the season. Oh lord!
- I am hardly on computer since I have been off work since last Thursday. It feels great not to be tethered to my laptop or to be distracted by random web browsing due to my distracted mind.
- I decided that I will not be ambitious about what I want to accomplish during this break. I will give my all to the present and just be. I want to do a little bit of everything – work, play, travel, and chill.