You know how, just out of the clear blue sky, you have these annoying self-psychiatric revelations, maybe on account of watching too much House or just doing too much thinking and not enough sleeping? Well, I have these flashes normally and I usually deal with them by just pouring it out on my blog. Sorry readers!
So the other day — well nothing exciting, just pretty much a regular day — I take Saanvi down to the park. Then I take her to the mall. Then I take her along to get my groceries. It was a fun day, I thought to myself. I mean it was an adventure! That long route we took to get inside the mall instead of just darting in... Badass! Yea, the word 'adventure' has a very different meaning to me now.
But that night, after an hour of tossing and turning in bed, here's what I heard playing back to me. (Sidenote: Before going to sleep, Saanvi gave me several reassurances that it was the funnest day ever!)
"Saanvi, watch your foot! Watch where you're going."
"Could you walk any slower? Hurry up!"
"We don't have all day. Just five more minutes!"
"No, you can't buy a balloon. It's going to sulk around with nobody to play with for a while and I'll have to pop it."
"Will you finish your cookie already? Why did you ask for it if you weren't hungry?"
"Smile! You're on camera. See what mumma is doing?"
"Sit properly, young lady!" (OK, that probably came from my convent days.)
"What? That wasn't me. That's the other annoying mom in the park. Oh wait. That IS me."
The nudge of guilt was so hard that I had to ask Saanvi, yet again, in her sleep, if she really thought it was a fun day. On my fifth iteration in a slow, soothing voice, she gave me a green flag (in the form of a very sleepy nod).
Anyway, it wasn't easy to shake off the uncomfortable realization that I've turned into Momzilla. So the next morning, I made a pact with myself. Today there will be no agenda. I'll let Saanvi do whatever she wants. Well, except watch cartoon videos back-to-back or eat a lot of sugar. Or do anything else potentially hazardous. The point is whatever we do together, we'll take all the time in the world. There'll be no timeline. I'll watch her. She'll take the lead and I'll follow.
I know. You're bursting to know how that panned out. Well, of course, I didn't say all day, did I? I started small. I gave myself an hour to drink my morning chai and watch her play. And hopefully, she'd finish her milk in the process. Without any instructions floating in the air. Wait, I changed that to half an hour. Then to ten minutes. Then to a minute!
Let me tell you. It's not easy. When you're itching to tell your kid that she needs to watch her tipping glass of milk threatening to pour over your precious pastel green divan. When you almost tell her that she should hurry along cos she needs to take a bath next and then eat breakfast and do some paintwork before lunch and plan the rest of the day for her in a carefully-curated itinerary.
The thing about me is I'm not even one of those supermoms rushing to finish a million chores at one time, racing to be ahead of the day and managing to squeeze fresh orange juice amidst everything. Granted, I don't really know how to take it easy, even in my own time. My mind's always racing. So, perhaps, when I watch my daughter taking her own sweet time to nurse her dolls or gaze dreamily at her glass of milk to admire the creamy froth pattern, I don't get it. I handle her dolls with crude haste. I feed her milk in one speedy motion. I can't help but tell her to "Hurry up!"
When I was pregnant, I read this wonderful book about parenting that made an indelible impression on me. I even showed this particular excerpt to my husband and said how this is so true and we need to practise this when we become parents:
Observe more, do less. I love that thought. But do I live by it?
Maybe in small doses, once in a blue moon. Like I remember, once in Gir, we lay on the grass and watched butterflies fly by. She gasped when one flew right over her and we could see all the way through it. But it was so beautiful that I couldn't define it in words. And I watched her silently, not influencing her thoughts one bit.
I try to, sometimes, let her play with a bucket of water after her bath (even though we shouldn't be wasting water.) I watch her play with soapy foams and create weird shapes out of them. I watch how she moves in circles with her doll singing "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?" And then mix it with "With Superman, Salman Ka Fan".
As this happens to be the holiday month, to be concluded with a week-long celebration of our six-year anniversary and Saanvi's birthday in Singapore, I'm hoping to factor in the slowing down experiment along with it. Maybe, we'll amble along Orchard Street without really going anywhere. Perhaps, we'll sit on a bench, say hi to strangers and observe the blur of people passing by.
Many of us complain about not living in the moment. I suppose if there's anything that would come close to living in the moment for me, it would be in the joy of not rushing through it.
Have you done this with your kids? On a vacation or at home? I'd love to hear from you in your comments.