My elder son was the cutest baby I had ever seen with big expressive eyes, long eyelashes that would prevent his tears from rolling down his cheeks, small pink lips concealing tiny white teeth, a button nose and curly black hair that fell around his face. In my eyes he is the cutest since he is mine, as would be for any mother. Once he was two I began to realize why it is called is the 'TERRIBLE Two' and indeed it was. He had these phases of fascination for certain types of things. Firstly, it was water bottles. Whenever and wherever he found then, he would unscrew the cap and pour its contents on the floor, on the bed or table. Then came the love for make-up, largely nail paints and lipsticks, which were often found smeared on the floor. The day he had his mundan I noticed him admire himself in the mirror and touching his head. The curls were all gone. He generously applied talcum powder on his head and kept rubbing his rough scalp.
I still remember one evening, when he was around two and did not speak a word, I found him struggling to open a colourful container of eye makeup. It was a circular container with four shades. Its lid had to be unscrewed to be opened. He being a child had not figured it out and was pulling at the lid with all his strength. After watching him struggle so hard, I told him, “Gol kore khulte hobe” in Bengali (It needs to be opened in a circular motion). While I told him I did guide him with hand movements and wasn’t sure if he understood since he never spoke a word himself. He in response held the container in one hand and moved the container in a circle around his face, eyes following the container in a circular motion, lips pressed together in concentration. I burst out laughing watching him and realized that he indeed understood more than I thought. I happily opened the container for him to demonstrate how it opened. When I used to leave for office every morning and took him along with me in the car to drop him at my mother’s house for the day he preferred to sit next to me or on my lap, knowing that his mother would disappear soon. In the car he carefully watched me apply lip balm and if I asked him if he wanted some he would pucker up his lips in response. He felt extremely happy as soon as I applied some for him. Once I dropped him, I had to tiptoe my way out of the house. Waving or saying good bye would make him cry. The days he happened to see me leave he would cry loudly with tears streaming down his cheeks. It took all my strength to hold back mine. Anyway, coming back to his phases, next came his love for lotions, balms, creams and oils, which he loved to smear on his hands and then liberally apply to the bed sheets or table tops. Once I even found him massaging his favourite toy car with cream. He calmly told me that his car was hurt when he noticed my presence in the room. His unwavering focus was commendable, an artist was busy at work. Once he turned three and began to speak sentences the carnage reduced and he entered into the “drama queen” phase much like the Bollywood heroines from the seventies and eighties. Often when we caught hold of him to take a bath in winter, he would say “Chod do mujhe” (leave me), which would sometimes be “Chod do, mujhe kuch nahi pata” as if he was being tortured to give out some secret. Once he was done bathing and the tub would be emptied he would cry and say “Yeh tumne kya kar diya?” (What have you done?). Lately, if he is told not to do something, he doesn’t cry, but straight away goes to bed to hide under the covers. He reminded me of the way Asha Parekh would run to her bedroom and cry on the bed with her face buried in her hands and derriere moving in tandem to her sobs. There are many of these small things that make me fall in love with him more with each passing day and that is what makes the journey of parenting beautiful. My children are indeed the greatest love of my life. It’s not always fun, it’s not only about love, it takes a lot of patience, perseverance and hard work to bring up a child. They test your limits of energy- physically, mentally and emotionally, even at the moment when you wish for a moment of solace. While they look like angels themselves, they have the capability to tease out the devil in you sometimes. Personally, I have found it to be a lot more pleasant when I take it easy and force the perfectionist and cleanliness freak in me to take a backseat. At times it’s best to let go even if your make-up is destroyed, bed sheet ruined, room scattered with toys and things are not running as per plan to be able to fully embrace the moment.
I often think of parenting as a roller coaster ride. The best and the scariest in the world, but thoroughly enjoyable and absolutely worth everything! So hold on tight and enjoy the ride Mommy and Daddy!