That’s Me in the Corner

Comparisons are inevitable when you have two kids. And by now we had pretty much reached the grand conclusion that six-year-old K will always be the stickler for rules and little V will be a rebel with or without a cause. Yes, the second child is always more adventurous and all that jazz but some personality traits are so strong that I’m sure it has nothing to do with birth order!

So V is now a one month veteran of playschool. She just loves getting ready. I have to be careful not to start the process too soon else she’s ready and terribly impatient a good thirty minutes before we actually need to leave. And its a herculean task to contain her for those thirty minutes. She is parked near the main door, bag on her shoulder and plotting her escape to the corridor.Th entire journey from our apartment to the elevator to the car to the main gate of the school is made in a state of heightened excitement. And then the last leg – I hand her over to her teacher and …. the tears and howls fill the room! She wants to be there but she doesn’t want Momma to leave. ūüė¶

It’s a heartbreak for any mom. Your hormones are just lurking under your skin waiting to unleash loads and loads of guilt and sadness on you. I quietly slip away and wait by a window for a few minutes. I am waiting to hear silence. Silence that will tell me that its ok to turn my back and head off to work. V will be fine. And thankfully the waiting has reduced from five minutes to thirty seconds. Just a few more days till we declare victory.

Once she’s resigned to her morning fate, her “Miss”¬†tells us that she quite enjoys herself. She likes to float around the room, turns pretty much a deaf ear to requests to stick to her own mat and toys. She likes to mingle, socialize, check out what her friends are upto and join them (or disturb them!).

‘Snack break’ is also her favourite. We hear stories of¬†V trying to make it more of a giving and sharing session than the Miss would like! Well, we know we can’t make her sit still for two minutes at the table so this doesn’t surprise us much. K would never dream of such a transgression. By now K would have been appointed Snack Monitor, empowered with the authority to ensure that every child is in his or her place and having their snack.

For the last couple of days she has been taking a nap two hours into school time. So she misses the community sharing of ‘snack break’. Today she woke up just five minutes before her granny was to pick her up. Her teacher felt she may be hungry given that she missed eating her snacks and drinking her milk. So she was shipped off to the snack room and asked to open her little box and eat.

Her granny walked in to see the most heartwarming sight. Little V has sitting in a corner of the snack room, her box of fruits and biscuit open, empty spoon in one hand and quietly gazing out the window. Perhaps oblivious to the fact that she had slept thought the first session, she was waiting quietly for her friends to join her. Or perhaps, Granny thought for a fleeting second, seeing her Rebel V sitting so serenely, that little V is learning that there are rules. Nah! ūüôā

Masti Sister

When K was born in Mumbai, one of our first outings with her was SiddhiVinayak Temple. I discovered a small item on the noticeboard announcing a service for newborns – a detailed horoscope booklet with a write-up about what the future holds for the child. Being a sucker new mom, I ordered for one.

A lovely,¬†red,¬†hardbound book arrived a few weeks later.¬†It held¬†pages and pages of hand-written charts detailing the positions of every star in the sky, it seemed. I¬†skipped all of it and landed on the only two pages with some words. It spoke of what her personality would be like and what¬†her future holds –¬†how she would mostly study abroad, how she would have a religious bend of mind, how her left eye would be prone to injury (!), how her first engagement might not work out but she will have a long, stable marriage finally, etc. My belief in astrology was not strong enough to actually think that this little page held answers to such grave questions. Yet, one sentence stayed with me and would run through my mind every so often – ‘She will take great care of her siblings’.

As a mom who went through a very precious pregnancy, this was music to my years. It was a sign from above, I told myself, that there will be more babies in my arms. Not that I wanted to recreate the Von Trapp family but as an only child, I was pretty sure we should have a couple of kiddos.

Over the past few days I find myself repeatedly recalling this innocuous¬†little statement read over five years ago. K has been an exemplary¬†big sister to naughty¬†little V. And it’s not just about things like sharing toys or letting V scribble in her books or walk away with her chocolate (though for a little kid these might be big sacrifices). From the day V was born, K has shown a kind of deep caring for the little one.

When I would emerge from the bedroom after putting a sleeping V in her crib, K would gently check, “hope you kept the soft pillow on the side”, “did you cover her? mosquitos may bite.”

All her actions would show that she is always ensuring that her little sister is safe. And empathy is something that I¬†find is so abundant in her. At two of her previous schools, they had inclusive classes and ‘special’ children were integrated into the regular curriculum. The class teachers would tell me that K makes an extra effort to help these kids with their daily work and activities. Maybe something as simple as helping the child open her water bottle before lunch or taking her to the washroom. But K does it each time. So much so that when we were moving cities, the teacher had to prepare the special child for K’s absence. She didn’t want it to come as a shock to her that K wasn’t in the class anymore.

So many times K has had to wait for my attention. I could hear myself saying ‘please wait while I finish this for V’ and hope that she doesn’t object. She rarely does. She’s willing to wait because the baby needs me first. Her maturity amazes me still.

Last night the two of them were lying on the carpet, cuddling with each other and trying to fall asleep. V was being the little monkey that she usually is.

I sneaked it in slyly, ‘So, is it fun to have a little sister?’

‘Oh yes! Especially when its such a masti sister like mine!’ ūüôā

God bless you K.