Until you were two, I wrote every month. Then for a year, I wrote every quarter. Now that you are 3, I don’t quite know how often I can write but I think I am going to try and do once a quarter again because I am afraid I’ll forget a lot of things if I do it any less often. So, here’s one for turning 3.25 on Sunday.
Where does shadow live, Amma?
We were walking back from the gym yesterday, and you were awfully quiet. You didn’t ask to go to the park on the way. We walked quietly hand in hand under the neon orange street lights. Just when we were walking into our gate, you asked “Where does shadow live, Amma?”
P: Umm..It lives with you, Berry.
B: Is it a girl, mamma?
P: Yes. Your shadow is a girl.
B: Does it live in London?
P: No, it lives here. With you.
This morning, on the drive to school, we chatted some more about shadows – what they are, where they come from and so on.
Ever since you turned 3, you’ve suddenly transitioned from asking what is that and what is this to “Why”. So, we call you the Why why girl, just like the one in your book. Asking why, being curious is great. I hope I’ll always be able to answer you or find you the resources to help find the answer yourself. You now have an ability to connect seemingly unconnected things to reason. This one time, you were looking for your “nightie” and then discovered that I’d left it in your gramma’s house. So you called gramma, and yelled at her for taking your nightie to her house. Next day, when you called gramma, she didn’t talk much with you. For no particular reason, really. You started wondering if she was still upset with you for shouting at her. At that moment, I knew we were onto something new.
While all is well with being able to connect seemingly unconnected things, I think your ability to see patterns has also been unhelpful. For instance, you’ve noticed that the girls in your class wear a lot of pink, orange, white and yellow, so you call them “girl colours” and the boys wear black, blue and brown and hence, they are “boy colours”. I’ve tried so hard to explain to you that colour has no gender, but in vain. Maybe this is similar to how I feel all cats are female. I know they are not, but that’s just the way I “feel”. I think feelings are usually irrational, it’s hard to really know why we feel the way we feel. So, I just hope you learn better, irrespective of how you feel. I don’t want to impose my views of gender on you, and I want to let you form your views on these things but I am trying (to some extent) to facilitate learning, mostly in vain.
Thanks to your pattern recognition and stereotyping, you believed that mummies can’t drive. Only daddies have to drive. I’ve known how to drive for the last 14 years, but I haven’t driven much, atleast not in the last 10 years. I felt like I’d almost never ever drive in my life and the more I thought about it, the less confident I felt about driving. I don’t know if I wanted to shake up your idea of who can drive and who can’t, or prove to myself, I started driving one day after Dasara. And guess what, I can drive now, all in a matter of a month. I drive you to school sometimes, take you to ajji mane, go out for dinners with you, and what not.
So, my little friend, anyone can do anything. You don’t need to be a mummy or a daddy to do anything in the world. Just remember that.
The upside of you wanting to be “girly” is that going to weddings or other family functions has been an absolute breeze. You get ready before anyone else does. You pick out all your clothes day, may be even months in advance. You even have your own name for Indian ethnic wear – “Punjami”, and I’ll tell you where this came from. We were supposed to go Appa’s friend Anuroop’s wedding in Punjab, and we’d been talking about it for months. So, you’d been excited to go to this “Punjami” wedding for the longest time, and hence, everything about weddings started becoming “Punjami” for you.
The highlight of this quarter had to be “Nikhil’s mama wedding”. You were quite little when Shreya mama got married last year, and so Nikhil mama’s wedding was a big deal for you. You picked out all your outfits, and in fact, you even got one custom made according to your own design. Yes, you designed a “cold shoulder” dress for you. You told the tailor that you want open here and closed there, and the tailor asked if you mean cold shoulder, and that was the beginning of your designing career. You also wanted “dappattas” for all your Punjami clothes.
You want to wear matching shoes, bangles, jewellery and bindi. You even put on your own make up. And do not even get me started on the number of times you change your clothes in a day. I pretty much spend all my afternoons folding your clothes. I’ve even tried to get you interested in folding, but you don’t see it as something that needs your attention. You’d much rather encourage me to do it. See, these are things I never understood, mostly because I’ve never cared about these things in my life, but I am appreciative of these being important to you. Hence, we’ve hung a mirror for you in the balcony garden, and are also getting you a new dressing table just so you can stand there and stare for hours, so we can get some time off in the afternoons. 🙂
You go to school full day (8:30-2). Obviously these are much shorter hours than your nursery back in London, but since you are expected to “work” in school, I am sure it’s far more tiring. You are learning to cut paper, stitch, polish wood, do the dishes, dust things, make snack, etc. to help develop strong motor skills. You are also learning to read, write and speak 3 languages – Kannada, Hindi and English, as a result of which you aren’t quite able to speak any language fully well. While your Kannada has improved quite a lot, your English has deteriorated quite a bit. Sigh. You feel quite shy to speak in Hindi outside of school, because you don’t have anyone to practice it with, but I am sure you’ll learn enough to save your life, and that’s alright with me.
Earlier, you had atleast 30mins of playtime in school everyday, but now that’s reduced I think since you guys aren’t taken to the park. In general, you love running around and being physically active. You go to Little gym once a week, and have learnt many gymnastic tricks. You really enjoy those classes and hence, we are planning to keep at it till you get bored. You even come to our gym with us 3-4 times a week. You love all the coaches in our gym and get along with them so much that they wait for you to come by everyday. You are like baton exchange for appa and me as we do consecutive classes at the gym. You love doing dead hangs at our gym and also doing jumping jacks during the warm up. Arvind purposely makes everyone start with jumping jacks on the days you come. You also love riding your scooter at home. I can’t remember the number of times you’ve fallen off it but it never bothers you. You can even ride your cycle quite well, with trainer wheels on. I plan to take off one trainer wheel soon, so let’s see.
Apart from this, you’ve been asking for a baby car and a baby computer for the longest time. There’s a baby toy shop near your school and when we pass by the store every day, you are reminded of it. We told you that we don’t have money to buy you that since you don’t let us do our work at home. But the truth is, there isn’t much place for you to drive the car at home. We are also trying to teach you the concept of how you make money. You work, you earn. Sometimes you get money without working – on birthdays, as dakshine, etc. and so you think that’s how you can get money and you don’t have to bother working. When we once showed you a picture of Warren Buffet and told you that he is one of the richest people in the world, you weren’t a least bit amazed. You said he has money, you have money and everybody in the world has money except appa and me. Fair enough.
We usually buy you almost anything and everything you ask for, and much more. You get a lot of presents from ajji and thatha as well. But sometimes it doesn’t make much sense to give you so many things because you hardly play with them after. It would be so nice to be a part of some circular economy where toys could be shared and you constantly played with new things and gave away things you no longer used to someone who could use it. The problem however is with the giving away bit – just when we want to give away something, you cry so much and make us guilty of taking away your things. The picture up there is definitely one of those rare moments when you were playing by yourself. This is one of your favourite games – doing a picnic and having tea with your friends.
Oh yes, that’s a new thing you’ve started since you turned 3 – Crying. Urrgh, it is so annoying because you are a child who communicates so well, and have little reason to cry. We have no idea where you picked up the need for this sort of a drama. I don’t know if you are going through some sort of a mental growth spurt that is leaving you feeling frustrated, but you cry. You cry for the silliest of things. We don’t quite know how to deal with it sometimes because you’ve almost never cried needlessly until you turned 3. You have helped maintain our tolerance levels so low that every time you throw a fit now, we end up losing our shit – appa more often than me. That’s when you get very upset with appa and keep telling him that he’s not very nice and you don’t like him very much. You raise your finger and shout at him when he gets impatient with you, and right now, it’s damn adorable.
You are a little bit bossy like that. Bossy might be the wrong word, but you usually know how to get your way around, and you do so like an adult with words. You have very strong managerial skills, mostly because you’re damn lazy and if you can find an easier way of doing things, you’ll do it. You know how to get everyone to do your work quite well as you appreciate people for their efforts and thank them making them forget that they’re doing your work. We sometimes worry you might be a bit too lazy, hence, we thought we should start putting you in some sort of classes so you learn to endure things for longer than your attention span can handle.
We started music lessons for you. Nothing too serious, but Mads, my friend, comes home to teach you music – singing and playing the keyboard. You really enjoy your time with her. You hang out with her for 45mins or so once in a while, and it’s amazing to see you being interested in something. You like playing the keyboard more than singing songs. You prefer making up songs. You love dancing too, you knew that. So I am planning to take you for some dancing lessons just to help explore your interest in it.
No, I am not trying to be a tiger parent. I am just trying to offload some guilt of being so overly self-obsessed. As you know, I quit my full time job to work on my own business idea. This has meant that I am constantly thinking about how to build my business, much more than I ever did when I was working for someone else. So, I don’t think I am spending quality time with you, unlike before. I try to find ways to keep you engaged while I can’t do it myself. There are moments when I realize this, and I try to sit down and read with you. I’ve got so many books for you in the last couple of months because you enjoy the time we spend reading together, and it motivates me to sit with you and not think about anything else.
This break also allowed me to re-start celebrating Dasara. We arranged all the dolls together, I told you stories of all the dolls and we invited your friends to come see the dolls. You enjoyed having so many guests at home during the 10 days of Dasara. In general, you love socialising, and that means, we don’t need to take care of you at all when guests come over. You were such a doll yourself, taking such good care of the doll display and never ever disrupting the setup. The reason however was because they were all my dolls, and hence, you didn’t want to do anything with them. You made so many new friends during this time, and also got to meet some old friends. You continue to meet and play with some of them – Bhargav, for instance.
Your ability to observe the most random things, and remember them so fondly is a gift. You remember Manti and the way she spoke to you, you remember so many things about London, you remember people you’ve only met once and remember everything they did/ said, it’s crazy. But it’s selective memory. May be that’s why it’s been so hard for you to get over London. You keep wanting to go back ever so often. I think I’ve felt more guilty about relocating you in the last 3 months than I did in the beginning. You prefer that people speak less, they are gentle, etc. which was a big part of your surroundings in London, and it’s just the opposite here in India. I get that, but I think there are parts of India you love – all the people you get to meet and talk to, the festivals, the Punjami things, etc. Unfortunately, I can’t take you back, not right away at least. So, I’ll let you grow up and decide for yourself where you prefer to be, and I am okay with wherever you want to be.
I don’t know if its because you meet so many people, you’ve managed to learn the concept of names. This is something you hadn’t figured for the longest time. You didn’t think cats and dogs could have names although you have a bhatta and a ganapathi in your life. It’s only when you decided to name your baby doll “Avyath”, we realised you understand names. Avyath is your baby, and I am still not a 100% sure if Avyath is a boy or a girl, but Avyath comes with you for all weddings. There is also the mamma monkey “Madrath” and the horse, “baby betty” and a “brother monkey”. But then again, you think all cars are Ubers. I’ve tried explaining to you about platforms, but in vain. But hopefully we’ll get there soon.
You’ve also had the chance to go to a few birthday parties in school in the last quarter, and clearly you love them. You enjoy playing “mamma, papa, baby” with your friends Avya, Advika and Milan. You love some of the older kids in your class who baby you around. You are less generous with smaller babies, except Veda may be who is a year younger than you but you guys get along so great. You also have imaginary siblings – Billy and Molly who are in your belly. You always pick out things for them and want to keep aside some of your smaller clothes for them.
You have started showing an inclination to understand concepts. We’ve successfully thought you addition using an abacus. Just one digit for now, but we find that you get quite interested and bored equally quickly, so we haven’t made too much progress. You can do jigsaw puzzles upto 20-30 pieces yourself. We haven’t tried bigger ones yet to figure out if you can do them or not. You really love building different shapes with blocks. We’ve been noticing this for quite sometime. You also love playing with your doctor set and keep wanting to become a doctor. This time when Barbie and Nakul visited, you had fun playing doctor with Barbie. Your favourite things to do as a doctor is to check temperature, knock people with the hammer, giving injection and putting a plaster. You are obsessed with plasters. You randomly keeping wanting to put a plaster always. And you love drinking disgusting tasting syrups.
I don’t know if it’s just playing with the doctor set, but I think you are generally very compassionate and kind. You sometimes appreciate it when I drive “faster like appa” by saying things like “Amma, I am so proud of you for driving faster”. You are very observant, and you appreciate anyone who dresses up well and looks nice. You are so kind to ajji, and give her suggestions on how to wear her bangles. Your friend Bhargav loves animals, and you’ve observed that. So you want to take presents for him that you think he might enjoy and that’s so thoughtful of you.
You generally give people a cuddle if you see that they’re upset. You tell them that everything’s going to be alright. In fact, if we ever shout at you, you immediately run up to us and ask us for a cuddle. Off late, I’ve been noticing that you are starting to develop these feelings of abandonment where you worry a lot that we’ll leave you and go somewhere. So you constantly need assurance from people that they will wait for you and not leave you. I am yet to get to the bottom of it, hopefully I’ll have more to say in the next letter to you. Now now, this one has already gotten way too long for anyone’s attention, let alone yours…so I better go.
Happy 3.25, love!
P.S – I forgot to mention one thing – You can make your own snacks and breakfast sometimes. Here’s a picture for a proof.