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“Mum, I want rasam to drink.” the little one declared.
“Sure, give me ten minutes, will give you. But why rasam? Are you feeling a cold coming on?” I asked worried.
“No, no, I just felt like it. Just for the taste.” he said nonchalantly.
I stood in the kitchen, trying to come to terms with the fact that my little one, who has till now never asked for rasam specifically, in fact, who has even refused to have rasam whenever I have offered it to him as a cold or cough remedy, was suddenly asking me for this concoction, no demanding it just for the taste! And even as I was still taking this in, I heard him go out and speak to his Dad.
“I am having rasam before dinner Dad, would you like some too? I can tell Mum to make for you as well…” he asked his father.
“Sure! Go ahead,” the father happily replied.
So in walked my little one again to deliver the order for one more bowl of rasam and as he went out, his father asked him “You like rasam, is it?”
“You know, it is my favourite too!” the father quipped.
And I stood there, all alone in the kitchen, watching my son grow into this completely different person who I hardly knew anymore! Who was this child, really? My little one is supposed to come and hug me every five minutes and cuddle with me on the rocking chair with a book. But he is now growing so big, he takes up the entire rocking chair himself! And he isn’t interested in Winnie the Pooh anymore, but is engaged in secret agent stuff and goes on adventures with The Three Investigators and Hardy Boys and their ilk. My little one is supposed to ask for cookies and biscuits and cakes, he is supposed to come help me bake them. But this child is now more interested in watching how pasta and pizzas and parathas are made. He is keen to understand how soups and rasam are concocted and says that he hates milk and wants tea instead!
Parenting is a roller coaster! This we all know. There is no dull moment when you have a little one in the house. Whether you have a toddler at home or a teenager, you are bound to have your hands full. But as much as you want to scream out I can’t take it anymore! from the rooftop, even you know that his time you have now with your child is the best! These moments are a precious few! Tomorrow when your toddler goes to school or your teenager goes to college, these are the very same moments you will reminisce about. You will not remember at that time how annoying your child is, or how much trouble he/she expects you to go through for them; but you will remember the bedtime cuddles, the wet kisses, the stories your child loves to read in bed with you and the demands your child makes on you, trusting you to fulfill his wishes every single time!
A few days back, I read an article where Katie Holmes spoke about the most heart breaking part of parenting – watching your child grow. “Every day, kids get a little further away from you,” she said when speaking about her daughter Suri. “That’s a positive thing. They should be becoming more independent, but it’s heartbreaking. You want them to stay with you forever, but they’re these amazing beings, and you have to do everything you can to give them what they need—and then they’re going to go,” she reminded us.
Isn’t that the case with all of us parents? All our lives, we strive to raise independent, confident children who can live life without our help and on their own terms. And yet, when they really decide to go ahead and do that, it pinches us a little somewhere. It’s not that we do not want them to grow into these amazing personalities they are going to grow into; but it is that, we are never done being parents to that little bundle of joy we brought home from the hospital swaddled in blankets, praying all the time that we hopefully get things right. Praying that we are good parents, that we do nothing wrong and muddle up this beautiful, perfect thing that has happened to us.
And even as we struggle to be the best parents we can be, even as we strive harder, every day, trying to be an example that our kids can rely on, there is that pinch, that little nagging thought, that the days are passing, we are getting older by the day – and so are our kids! This process is so subtle, so elusive that we do not actually see the changes – much like we cannot see time passing – but then someday suddenly something happens – a stray grown-up word your little one uses, or you notice that his preferences have changed – and then you look back to see how far you have come.
As I placed the bowls of rasam before my men, I couldn’t help but notice that the father and son now really had a lot in common. In fact, my little one, who at one time was so much like me, is changing right before my eyes and turning into his own beautiful person. I smiled at the thought and the husband (who clearly had no idea what I was thinking) smiled back at me.
Change is natural, even essential, and if my little one has to grow, he has to take his own daring steps in the world. I know. But I still hope sometimes, that he gives me that one extra cuddle, that one extra hug, asks for one more funny story, plays one more game with me, before it is time for me to step back and for him to spread his wings and soar!