Now we are six

“I want to finish my dream mamma,” Re often says as I wake him these days. I know the weather is lovely and perhaps it makes for better dreams too, and better dreams can only mean better stories and better conversations. I often envy him for having whole, vivid dreams, full of texture and detail, unlike my fractured, jagged, muddly ones with rough edges.

These days he dreams a lot about mermaids (ever since he requested me for a mermaid tail which would help him turn into one) and once he told me I woke him just as he was about to turn into a mermaid. I felt really guilty about that.

Some days I wish I could have the sleep of my childhood when dreams were things you slept for. Once in a while, when I do have them, and I wake up thinking of them, I do try and go back to sleep, before my rational mind gets in the way.

Re once told me, “You can change your dreams mamma!” It seems all you have to do is think really hard about what you want your dream to be just before you go to bed.

“I always change my dreams,” he said. It is when I realized that as adults, we accept reality too easily. We give up on dreams and the world of magic too easily. We have become unidentifiable versions of our little selves.

But our dreams can still save us.

As you read this column, Re will be turning six. I have never really kept track of his milestones but felt the urge to google six year-olds and read the various newsletters baby experts have been relentlessly sending me since Re was a little life brewing inside of me. I read, among other things, that at six, the child is now at the centre of his universe. That he is more of a lot of things – more mature, more adventurous, more independent, more daring. What bothered me was the bit about “relationship with mothers being difficult”. I can feel that already. I also googled some key strategies to cope, and found them in excerpts from Louis Bates Ames Book, Your six year old: Loving and Defiant and some of them were: minimal direct commands, sidestepping, bargaining, not noticing, ignoring or giving more chances. I smiled, realising I need more ammunition now.

For the last two years, birthdays have meant a big deal to Re and he has already become somewhat of an expert in carefully choreographing all our birthdays, his being the most important, of course. This year, he told me. “On my birthday, I will do whatever I want to do for the whole day and you must not tell me what to do.” I quickly agreed, remembering what I read in the key coping strategies.

I remember buying the children’s book of poetry, Now We Are Six, by A .A Milne long before I had a child (I used to, at the time, make excuses for buying children’s books which I always enjoyed more than adult books, I don’t have to make those excuses anymore) and this poem beautifully encapsulates what being a six year-old is:

“Now We Are Six”

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.

So my little wish for my not so little boy is the gift of dreams. It’s the only thing that will last a lifetime, if he lets it. So dream all the things you want, because if you can dream it, you can make it real.

 (A version of this post appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 22nd June, 2015)

 

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48 ways in which you changed my life: A birthday post

Around this time four years ago, I was packing my bag. No it wasn’t that kind of adventure-laden bag, rather it was a hospital bag that I was packing, ticking off items in my little black book (still have it!), getting ready to give birth, annoyed that the child inside had already overstayed her welcome (yes, I kept thinking it was a ‘her’). Finally, a boy arrived, and I first thought I’ll return it, but then I chanced upon a curly top and a dimpled chin and I thought he could stay.

 


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Four years later, I am still reeling under the shock that I am a mother. To a boy!  I thought I will celebrate Re’s birthday (June 23) with a list. I love making lists. So here’s a list of 48 ways in which Re has changed my life (for the 48 months that he has been in my life.) (Disclaimer: It’s not mushy)

1. I have my tea in seven installments. The first two are perfect in temperature.

2. My idea of alone time is sitting on the pot.

3. My baths have become longer, especially when you are in the house. I am okay with opening the door and looking at the drawing as long as I can shut it back on you.

4. I have begun to really respect silences. And people who don’t talk much. Or ask why.

5. My definition of bad hair days is changing rapidly.

6. When I say ‘I’, and the father thinks ‘we’, it makes me really mad.

7. When I say ‘we’ and the father thinks “I’, it makes me even madder.

8. I have learnt that collaborating with a good cop is a really bad idea, so I just don’t listen to your father anymore.

9. I never cared much about nighties, but if on any given night, you don’t want to wear them, I become obsessed with them.

10. I am on first name basis with Cinderella, Ariel, Flounder, Rapunzel, Chota Bheem, Maya the Bee and Tatonka.

11. I have begun to appreciate the joys of nakedness after watching Chota Bheem.

12. I sometimes see the music in whining. Yours and your father’s.

13. I mostly don’t.

14.  I have found the joy of saying everything in triplicate. No, make that quintuplicate.

15. I love schools and any place that will take me away from you.

16.  I love my parents much more now. Especially when I leave you with them.

17. I take it in my stride when my friends ask me about you before they ask me about me.

18. I am obsessed with baths. Not mine, yours. And your father’s.

19. I often dream of being marooned on an island, and feeling very happy about it.

20. I have learnt to lower the bar for cleanliness, order and punctuality.

21. I think folding clothes is a waste of time.

22. And ironing is overrated.

23. I can be friends with women I don’t give a shit about just because their kid likes you.

24. I have a point of view on parenting. It’s called “My way”

25. Each day, I find seven new ways in which your father is annoying.

26. I can spend an hour looking for a Barbie shoe.

27. Or a lellow colored kydayon!

28. I am constantly reading books on “How to tune off”

29. I use you extensively as arm candy. It always works.

30. I have started hiding things I really love to eat. Like mango gutlis and white chocolate.

31. I am excessively allergic to OCD. I can’t understand what’s wrong if the shoes are not aligned on the shelf or if the purple crayon is next to the yellow one.

32. I cannot stand people whose sentences start with “You won’t believe what my <insert name of child here> did today!”

33. My desire to ask my mother what I was as a child is overwhelming.

34. I need a drink quite often.

35. On good days, I want to trace my family tree.

36. I love my cousins. Especially the ones who’ve made babies.

37. I suddenly want my siblings to have babies, so that there is some equality in our suffering.

38. I am trying hard to be really annoying so you disqualify me as the object of your affection and move to someone else.

39. I look at my non-communicative cats in a new light.

40.  My love for you is inversely proportional to the time spent with you.

41. I love watching you sleep. It makes it seem worth the while.

42. I have bitten your cheeks several times while you were sleeping.

43. When someone says good things about you, I am very happy to take the credit.

44. It pisses me off that your curls look good even on bad hair days.

45. I call my mother. Very often.

46. I always say “lovely pix!” when someone posts baby pictures. Even if they are ugly.

47. I love doggy bags. It’s one less meal to plan.

48. I am becoming addicted to your hugs. Please don’t stop.

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An ode to cutted, putted, telled, buyed and goed

Dear Re

In a few days, you will be four. The age of perfection. The age of saying things as they are. Of doing things as they should be done. I should be delighted, but strangely, I am not. I love it when you say things the way the way they are not. I already miss hippopotis, which has now become hippotenuse, and might soon become hippopotamus. You used to say emitet, now you say elephant.

Four is the age of being conscious, they say. The age of being politically correct and wanting to be friends with people who don’t want to be friends with you.

I don’t know what milestone years are. I have never kept a track of whether you were doing age-appropriate things. It has never bothered me. All I knew was that you were fun on a daily basis and you brought out the child in me. The child I was mostly exhilarated to find.

You wore my dresses, my shoes, my jewelry, you turned my dupattas into saris and gowns, you twirled me and pretended to lift me up, like a ballet dancer and it reminded me, this is how I was as a child. I too wanted to be a dancer, although I am sure I wasn’t as graceful as you.

People asked me why I let you wear your hair long, or try nail polish or wear pink, or my bangles and dresses and I smiled. It never bothered me. It still doesn’t.

Today we found Gia’s hairband in your toys and you said you wanted to return it to her. No, you said you will put it on her and she will turn into a boy. And then she will put her hair-band on you and you will turn into a girl. Do you want to be a girl, I asked you. Yes, I want to be a girl, you said. I don’t know what to say to you except that I really like you as a boy.

May be you still remember that I called you Tia when you were in my belly. But I am happy that you are a boy, you sort of equalize me, I don’t know how to explain it.  I have never felt so girl as I have after you came.  So thank you for bringing me to me. And thank you for all the twirls.

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