Sometime in the recent past, and I don’t remember when, my baby turned into a boy. And I don’t think it was on his birthday or when he turned two or any such. It has been happening subtly, rather steadily over the last few months and the results took me totally by surprise. Yes, I could figure that Re was trying to tell me so many different things, which my limited imagination and his prosaic vocabulary wasn’t matching up to. Yes, I was sort of hit by a truck upon realising that the little Buddha I thought I was rearing was, in fact, a raging testosterone machine.
It all came together when I found this note under my pillow from Re:
1. No means no. Don’t you realise it when I say it with so much emphasis? Is there any other language you want me to say it in?
2. Play-dates should be decided on the basis of how much I like the kid. Not how much you like the mother. I am the baby, remember?
3. Yes, I have developed an affliction for the screen and yes, I can watch Nemo and Iceage over and over again. And don’t you try to pretend the DVD is not working or that you can’t find it. I can see through it.
4. When I am watching the said movies, do not distract me with food, baths and potty reminders. The last one is gross.
5. O, and by the way, I know that Ogod was my cry for potty time, but now I randomly use it just to test you. Haven’t you noticed?
6. Don’t mess with my food. I eat better and have less issues with food than any child I know, but don’t you tell me I have to eat the roti with the sabzi. Or the dal with the chawal. And don’t you dare mix things up in my plate when I am not looking. I worship food, mainly the aesthetics of it and I prefer attacking one texture after another. So yes, I will finish my sabzi first, then attack my dal and then eat the roti or chawal. And don’t you scoff at me. Sometimes, when I feel like it, I will also drown my roti in dal and then deem it unfit to eat. Sometimes.
7. If you like eating a gooey mess and prefer not to pay heed to higher things like art direction on your plate, it is your problem.
8. I do not like being picked up. I can just about handle you. Please don’t make me do the work of telling every person this. Infact, why don’t you have a hundred of those “Do not touch” t-shirts and make me wear them everyday? In different colours, please.
9. I love my curls and don’t want anyone messing with it. Even you. So don’t give me this story of “If you oil your hair twice a week, it will stay beautiful and luxuriant forever.” Bollocks. What are genes for?
10. I will gleefully say Hi and Bye to every stranger. Don’t explain after me that I am sociable. It is embarrassing. I was just being polite and doing my bit to make the world a happier place.
11. Just because you have to nap, do not entice me into a nap. I can tell. I lead a busy life, and have lots to do.
12. Do not rearrange anything that I am sitting on, eating, watching or playing with when I leave the room. I can tell.
13. Ya sounds better than yes, so ya it will be. Don’t act like those convent nuns and try to correct me. How many times do you say yes anyway?
14. If you are inviting what’s-his-name to my house, please ask him to bring his own toys. And his own cats!
15. I will occasionally rearrange my closet and yours too. Sometimes I may do this with toys and books, but not always, so don’t classify me as orderly. Yet.
16. Don’t you ever take me to a birthday party where they have a dumbass Khoyi bag! Who the fuck invented that anyway? And if you tell me that Pepsi is bad, why the hell are they serving it anyway?
17. Please ask the host to reveal the deejay playlist at the door at such parties, should you take me to them, just because you like the parents. If they are playing dumbass songs with adult lyrics at weirdass decibels, or the MC is doing pelvic thrusts, please let us leave. Else you might find us repeating the performance at an unsuitable time and place and you only have yourself to blame.
18. Yes, there was a time when I bathed every morning, napped every afternoon, went for a walk whenever you told me to. That time is over!
19. When I need space, I will ask you to go. I know it sounds rude, but it is the most effective way of communicating.
20. I may make up for it by randomly walking up to you with a ‘maaarrmmeee” and a hug. I know my PR.
21. Don’t fish for compliments. If I like something that you made, I will usually produce gastronomical sound effects. Or even say, “nice”. But don’t try and put words in my mouth.
22. Improvise. If I am having a bad time, I am having a bad time. If plan B, doesn’t work, try plan M, or R, or X. Out-of-the-box thinking is what they call it, I think. Read up. Talk to friends. Do something.
23. If you do manage to entice me into a bath, I will also wash random clothes and linen I pick up. I might also like to spend an hour and be left alone.
24. I know my technology. I know that phones can be locked and have not fallen ill.
25. More later. Have already wasted an hour on this.
P.S: I am sure your little one has hidden some such letter for you somewhere and is just waiting for you to find it.