I don’t think of myself as a hyper attentive or indulgent mom. In fact, most people tell me that I’m way too severe with D. I dunno, I’m like my dad I think. He was very strict too & the only thing I remb. dreading as a kid was his displeasure. Yet, somewhere he succeeded in instilling the unshakable faith in our minds that his love for us was boundless, that he was our pillar no matter what else went wrong. That remains true even today.
The thing abt her is that she’s a strange mix of flippancy & forgetfulness and soulful sensitivity and as she grows older I can discern when one overshadows the other. Usually nothing u can say or do will dent her armour of complete indifference when she makes repeated spelling mistakes or has lost her new water bottle or is unable to do something that most of her other classmates have completed; but of late, there have been instances when I can suddenly glimpse a facet that reveals she is hurt or painfully self conscious. I don’t like to see her that way.
She’s been having problems at this dance class I’ve enrolled her. It’s not some tough classical kathak academy or anything, just some light bollywood hip-hop numbers. Though she likes dancing, for some strange reason she’s uncomfortable and unable to pick the steps and do well there. It came to a point a few weeks ago when she said she wanted to stop going to class. Now, I’m not the sort of parent who’ll send her kid for Abacus tutorials or Phonic Kids or Personality Development (I kid u not!) classes, but I do believe, if you’ve started something, don’t just drop out because it’s getting tough. Try it for a while at least. I said as much to her and now make it a point to return early twice a week so that I can drop her to class and just generally bolster her spirits or cheer her after the class by grabbing a milkshake at McDonalds or something.
Today, the dance teacher had assigned a slightly older boy to take charge of the class as he was busy with some other kids. On an impulse I stayed back and was observing D’s class from out of a small crack between the door and the frosted glass. Apparently they were doing a dance which D was totally clueless about! I mean, her movements were rigid and unsure and after a few minutes the boy started scolding her and the other kids snickering. Usually if we are at home and I scold her about her spellings, she is quick to shoot back some rejoinder. But there she stood, absolutely quietly, fidgeting one toe then the other, and I could see the acute embarrassment that gripped her. I still don’t think I have the power to convey in words all the thoughts and feelings that assaulted me immediately. My first impulse was to walk inside and ask the other kids to shut the ef up; I next wanted to tell the boy to stop scolding her and teach her the steps instead. And yeah, I wanted to tell her that not getting a few stupid dance steps right, is not the end of the world.
But I couldn’t do anything but stand there and watch her discomfited. I didn’t even feel like returning home then, just sat on the stairs for a while. In that moment I knew, I have the strength to face anything He throws at me, as long as it isn’t directed at D. I love a lot of people, but the kind of ferocious love that I felt for her then, scared me. How am I going to ensure that she is spared the serious health hazards or deep hurts that dodge us through life? What can I do so that while she rides the crests and troughs of life, she is never sucked underwater?
A scene from Finding Nemo comes to mind. Marlin tells Dory, ‘I failed him. I told him I’d look after him forever and I let him be lost.’ Dory replies in her half comic half serious way, ‘Boy, that sure is a strange thing to promise anyone.’ She's right.
I know she’ll be a lil upset when she returns from the dance class today. She doesn’t know I was there standing outside when the others were laughing at her. Perhaps, we’ll order some takeaway and watch an hour of Finding Nemo together. Those impossible spellings can wait for a day, I'm sure.