We were sitting and painting / coloring the other day. Sid was doing a self portrait. After drawing his face, hands and legs with a black crayon he decided to color it in. He thought hard as he chose his crayons. “I think i want blue eyes today” he announced and colored his eyes a stunning blue. Then came the dilemma…”what color am i?” he asked aloud as he rummaged through the box of crayons. “Not peach” he decided, discarding different shades of peach. “Try brown” Nish proffered. “What brown am i?” Sid picked up a bunch of browns and help it against his hand. “Not this one…this is like coffee…this is like mud…this is very dark…this is also not right” Finally he looked like he had nearly given up. Then suddenly he said..”But i think coffee colored brown skin looks lovely!” Decision made, he quickly colored himself a ‘coffee brown’ and proudly handed his work to me 🙂
I am planning to have them do a few more portraits and think through colour a little more. Maybe read Shel Silverstein’s poem on Colors to them and see how that goes 🙂
This afternoon I took my youngest fellow for some blood tests that he needed to get done. He was quite OK for the first test…a little wince..a little ouch and a couple of quick drying tears. He admired the bandaid he got and was all set to show it off to his ‘big brothers’. However, when we told him that he needed one more poke, the little fellow did not look so convinced. “But you’re such a brave boy!” thte nurse told him. That kind of did the trick for a bit and he lay down…if only for a few seconds. “I don’t want another band-aid he argued” “this will be quick we told him” And, the nurse added, I am so impressed with you! You are such a brave boy!”
Amu lay back down and allowed his other hand to be taken. I was holding the arm with the band-aid already on it and i tried to keep him focused on it. However, a small poke later as we were in the middle of the test, he looked at me and loudly yelled “we’re done! I don’t want to be a brave boy!” and then he bawled. My poor baby!
I have to say he waws quite a good sport though. He thanked the nurse for the band aids, blew her a kiss and is now waiting to show them to his brothers when they get back from school!
Sometimes kids make the smartest of observations…in the simplest of ways. This evening all three boys were sprawled on their floor on their painting mat. I had given them large one sided paper from an old wall calendar and they were busy drawing and coloring and scribbling all over it. Since the three of them decided to work on a single canvas, it gradually moved off the painting mat and onto the floor. Just a little while earlier, i had asked them to color on the mat as they were using my markers which could potentially stain the floor. When i came to see their art work I saw a lot of bright magenta streaks on the floor. “Who did this?” i asked. ” i just said to NOT color on the floor” “not me!” “not me!” “not me” came three replies almost instantaneously. “Maybe Amu did it?” Sid asked tentatively. “I don’t think so” i replied. These don’t look like strokes he owuld have made. I let the matter rest there and went to the sink to rinse something. “Aai”, called Sid a moment later. “It was me. But it was by mistake …i was coloring the paper but i also colored the floor”. “That’s okay Sid” I said as i started to wipe the floor “Thanks for telling me”. Nish put his pen down and looked very solemnly at Sid. “You know” he sad seriously and with deliberation, “it is better to make a mistake than to tell lies” i was quite surprised at the pearl of wisdom from my 3 1/2 year old. “Did your teacher tell you that at school?” I asked Nish. “No” he said…”i just think so…it’s ok to make a mistake but it’s not ok to lie” Sid nodded in agreement while Amu, oblivious to the deep philosophical discussion, made the most of the lull in the coloring to gather as many felt pens as he could possibly hold in his two tiny hands!
We were in the play ground yesterday and the twins were swinging fast and high, enjoying the breeze and the thrill of the swings. Nish bent his head back to stare at the sky as he was swinging. Suddenly he called out to Sid in excitement :Look Sid! The moon is going back and forth back and forth back and forth!!! It’s swinging like us!” Sid threw his head back too in order to better appreciate what his twin was saying. Then after a few minutes of deliberation he responded..”it’s moving yeah…but the moon doesn’t have a swing. I don’t see one!” Nish gave this some thought. “Maybe it’s just happy that we are on the swing and so it’s moving back and forth” he concluded.
A few minutes later Nish yelled out again “Sid look! actually everything is moving…look at the trees and the building! it’s all moving with us!”
I did not jump in, did not question, did not correct. It was simply too fascinating and too perfectly adorable to add my two wise scientific bits. As far as they were concerned…everything was moving and the moon was happy they were having such a good time! Oh, the small yet wondrous joys of childhood!!!
In a land of the skin colour obsessed, in a time where ‘fair and lovely’ creams are now ‘fair and handsome’ creams for men…one cannot escape from the reality of the colour of our skin. And in a house where surprisingly little has been made of the hues of our skin, the conversation has suddenly crept in…slinking in through the back door like an uninvited guest.
I noticed some conversation between the boys earlier about skin and colours when they were talking about a classmate who is very fair. “He has different skin” said Nish. “Aai and I have the same skin” he added. “Sid has different skin too.”
I talked to them about how each one of us is different in so many ways and skin colour is just one of those many many things. What matters is who we are. I showed them how even my parents had different colours of skin and hoped the conversation was over.
It was…for a few weeks. Then, this morning as I got the boys ready for school, Sid stared intently at his legs and knees. “Why am I dark brown?” he asked “my knees are almost black” he continued. “You are a lovely colour” I said. “I love the different browns you have!”
“But Nish is not this brown…he is a very very light brown” Sid replied
“I am like Aai and Amu” Nish confirmed
“You are like your ajoba (grandfather)” I told Sid (he adored his ajoba)
He looked a little longer at his legs. “It’s ok?” he said/asked
“You’re beautiful” I replied.
I love his gorgeous colour and I really don’t know where he is getting this colour complex from. It is so easy to pick up on sub text and random conversations, to sink into the mire of societal constructs of beauty and value. I just don’t want that affecting his self worth in any way. My Sid is a stunning boy just the way he is and I hope that with time he learns to appreciate himself for all that he is…a bright rebellious little spirit who is empathetic and caring and affectionate…my thinker outside the box, my destroyer of boxes for that matter…I hope he breaks out of this box too!
I was watching the boys play in the sandpit last evening. There are a few simple rules for the sandpit:
1. no throwing sand
2. No taking the sand out of the sandpit
I don’t care if the boys are rolling in the sand or covering themselves with it. I am however particular about my 2 simple rules because sand can get into someone’s eyes if you throw it and it makes a difficult to clean mess on the walking path when it is taken out of the sandpit.
Anyway, Sid my little rebel filled his dump truck up with sand and then proceeded to climb out of the sandpit, onto the walking path and then he started ‘zooming’ with his truck, tilting it with loud noises as he dumped the load onto the path. I called out to him and said, “Sid, sand play in the sand pit please” to which he looked up with a deadpan expression and replied…”Sorry aai but this truck is completely out of control!!!”
Anyway, got him back in. Later as he was doing something else he absolutely wasn’t supposed to, I walked up to him looking annoyed. Before i could say a word he quickly smiled and said..”I am not a bad boy right…I only did a bad thing…I don’t know why but my hands just suddenly did a bad thing. But i am not bad!” (best rationalization for smacking his brother that he could have come up with). And then as an afterthought he yelled “sorrrrryyyyyyyy Nish”.
And of course, psych 101 comes back to bite me in the butt!
You look at the mischief in their eyes, the fact that they hardly ever listen…you cringe as they tear up and down the stairs screaming louder than anything you thought possible..you pull them apart as they roll on top each other, fighting over a red honda city car…and then just as you are ready to throw in the towel they do or say something incredibly heart wrenchingly cute that makes your instantly forget the madness of the day in a moment. Here are a couple that I simply had to share…
We were at some exhibition yesterday..Giftex…there were all kinds of handicrafts and jute products juxtaposed with high end speakers, magnetic putty and funky giftable things by a range of high end players. As we walked by the stalls, we stopped in front of a ‘bastar art’ stall. While my husband and I were engaged in conversation I noticed that Sid was standing at the neighboring stall where an older lady (probably from a tribal region in west bengal) was busy sorting through and string some stuff through a large plastic bag. He came up to me and tugged at my sleeve to interrupt..”she is very poor Aai?” he asked. I was a little taken aback by this question. Looking at her, she did look like she came from a fairly lower socio economic background. But what had made him pick that up…she wasn’t really badly dresses. She was in a sari with lots of sequins. “Why do you ask?” i probed. “She looks like she is poor” he replied. I wondered what he was using as a cue. She was very dark skinned and I did not know whether the little fellow had picked up some of the abundantly flowing color bias that we see around us. “Is it because of her clothes, her color or something else?” i asked. “Not her color” he replied. “not her clothes” he added. “her um….expression…she looks a little sad…she looks like that other old lady at the traffic signal. She has a poor face” he tried to explain. I knew what he meant but I did not want him to create stereotypes…”Maybe she is just tired…or having a bad day” I said..”everyone can look sad or have a bad day. that does not mean she is poor”. Before we could go any further with this conversation (it was taxing because i was trying to figure out how to talk about these things and differences with them), Sid moved away and back to the stall. He took out his measuring tape and started pretending to measure the table the lady was sitting at. He intermittently stared at her and flashed big smiles till she finally gave in and smiled back at him. He came back to me looking happier in general and quite pleased with himself. “now she is not so sad” he announced.
It was touching to see how much he was able to perceive and I was moved at how he made his own little effort to make someone’s day a little bit better!
Then today we had another interesting conversation. Nish has been down with acute tonsilitis and so he stayed home from school today…he was miserable and his throat was hurting a lot so he kept whimpering and crying. However, he came with me to pick up Sid from school. In the car, i told Sid that Nish was not well and had been crying. Sid looked at his twin and asked “You were crying for me? because you were missing me?” “No” replied Nish “because my throat was hurting”. “But you missed me?” asked Sid looking at his brother. “no” replied Nish.
No remotely crushed by this response, Sid simply gave his brother a hug. “I missed you at school today. You are my Nish and I love you! you want to share my water bottle?”
Again…it was so cute to hear that frank little conversation. How easily kids say things that are actually so deep!
Day before, my youngest Amu was at his worst behaviour. He wanted everything his brothers were playing with and pulled all stops to make sure he got them…which included pulling, screeching, hitting and biting. He bit Sid and poor Sid came crying loudly to me saying “he bit me Aai…he bit me and it is hurting terribly!” I took him to my room to look at where he was hurt and he insisted he wanted his twin Nish with him…”Nish Nish Nish!” He kept calling till his brother arrived. “Look Amu bit me…so badly it’s hurting!” Nish examined the injury quite seriously and looked at me..”you put ice?” He asked. Yes doc. “Nish!” howled Sid again.
“It’s ok Sid, Nish is right here next to you” said Nish gently stroking his brother’s hair and giving him a kiss.
At this point I figured my injured boy was in very safe and caring hands and I left to address the biting boy.
The boys and I were chatting this afternoon when they came back from school. I was sharing with them some stuff that Amu said to me today…he is talking so much and is just so aware of stuff around him that i was pretty impressed. Not wanting the boys to feel like i was suddenly praising the little one too much, i was quick to add, “See how much that little fellow is picking up from you guys”. while Sid seemed very thrilled at the compliment, Nish looked almost distraught. “I don’t want him to pick up me!” he said. “If he picks up everything from me then I will have nothing left!”
Time to introduce copyright and intellectual property i suppose!
The twins fight so often sometimes…it makes these moments of sharing and empathy even more special for me to see. Last night during our post dinner stroll in the garden Nish tripped over something and fell face down against the concrete skirting of a tree. He got a bad bump and a cut on his nose which was bleeding. In the process of falling he managed to drop some balls of confetti that they had collected on the landing. When we got up, as i applied ice to his head and nose, he seemed more distraught about losing a confetti. Siddhant, who was most concerned and worried about the fall, came up to him and gave him…not some…but ALL of the confetti balls he had collected. He seemed so upset about Nish getting hurt!
5 minutes later he somersaulted right off the bed and ended up with a nasty bump himself…They both took some arnica and went off to bed all cuddled up with each other!