If history has taught us anything, it is that every generation has firmly believed that the generation before it is silly and ignorant, and the one that follows it is too cunning and smart for its own good! I often heard the phrase “When I was your age bla bla bla” while growing up, and I heard it every now and then in between as an adolescent (about those who were younger), and now as a parent, I often find myself thinking it (I’ve never said it out loud) as my son surprises me every day in ways only he knows how. One of those being – he’s decidedly more sarcastic than I – the immature child in me is shocked, having been nicknamed “the queen of sarcasm” once upon a time, but the mother in me is secretly proud of his witty responses, and the easy charm with which he pulls himself out of sticky situations. I’ve even described in my earlier post, Going From Technologically Superior To A Parent how, like every child is superior to his or her parent when it comes to learning new technology, my son too has made an early start in his own way.
But my three year son isn’t only about sarcasm and charm. Nor is he only about beating me at games. What surprises me the most is the little ways in which he shows me he cares. He intuitively knows if I need to be cheered up, and proceeds to do just that.
He usually spends his vacations with his grandparents. He returned home after his previous summer vacation a little over a month ago. He coming home was enough to cheer me up – I was in between jobs, and sitting at home all day had begun to take its toll on me. A few days after he returned, I had been particularly worried and gloomy one afternoon. He asked me what was bothering me. I maintain a grown up policy of honesty with my son – I hate dumbing things down for him, and I hate lying to him. I don’t know if I am wrong to answer his questions as truthfully as I can mindful of his age; motherhood doesn’t come with a how-to manual, there’s no one right way and you learn something every day. I told him I was upset as I didn’t go to office like I used to. He listened to me with an expression I can only call totally grown up, totally patient, and then said, “Wait.”
He rushed to my mother’s room, came back after a moment and said, “I got you something from Ammamma’s house.” Ammamma is what he calls my mother.
A lot of children, adolescents and even adults maintain collections – of stamps, coins, or whatever catches their fancy. As a teenager, I had a collection of paperweights. I had quite a few, a traditional spherical one, and some other shapes, sizes and weights. Some were gifted to me, some I found here and there, and some I bought. I kept them safe in the drawers of my study table, and they survived our frequent transfers, given that I guarded them so religiously, like they were dragon eggs!
We let go of these little tokens, these reminders of who we used to be as we grow older. And in the midst of all that, when your little one brings you back a bit of your childhood when you’re sad, you can’t help but be stunned! He placed one of my paperweights in my palm and told me how he’d found it in my old drawer and asked my mother if he could bring it for me. It was such a sweet gesture that you wouldn’t believe how moved I was.
I stared at the paperweight for a long time. I had forgotten about it, but seeing it again reminded me of how I had first come by it – on a rainy day, in the middle of the street. We are taught not to pick things up from the street for our own safety, but this was a rule I often found hard to adhere to. The paperweight was simply too pretty to be ignored, it had many crystals inside (impressionable teens reading this – do NOT pick things up from the street; I was a stupid person, who was just lucky to never have come across a shiny bomb – do not be me!)
As instantly as I was transported to that day, I returned to the present moment. I was as cheerful as I could possibly be – not for the paperweight so much, but seeing that my son felt it was important to bring his mother back something from her childhood. I don’t know what intuition taught him that.
For all his mischief, his subway surfing, and his sarcastic responses, he’s my little big man.