Category: #SOL

Growing Up

Growing Up

I wait outside the registration room and I watch H as he stands in the queue. He looks uncertain, but not scared. I watch as his turn comes, he signs up, picks up his ID card and walks out to me.

‘There. Done,’ he says with a grin, ‘You can go now. Or you can stay for the opening ceremony.’

I am here to drop him off for a mock UN session. We have travelled half way across the city for this annual event that brings together school children to represent various countries discussing a particular topic.

The instructions and timings are a little vague and H doesn’t know a soul here. That worries me. All through the forty-five minute drive I’ve been talking to him, explaining, cautioning, making sure he has the phone with him. Will he feel lost, lonely, scared? I wonder.

‘Don’t worry ma,’ he says reading my thoughts, ‘I’ll be fine.’ I look at him, taller than me already, in his formal suit, the ID card around his neck making him look oddly grown up, professional almost. To an outsider.

To me he’s just a 13-year-old. A goofy absentminded 13-year-old.

Unbidden, a memory comes to me, that of 6-year-old H, taking his first steps into Big School, bravely trying not to cry, walking away without a backward glance.

I look at him again. Try as I might, I see no traces of the scared 6-year-old. All I see is a young boy, chattering away excitedly. ‘I wish they’d have given me a more important country to represent. Philippines is just so sidey. China would have been good or the US or even India,’ he complains, ‘Next time we’ll register earlier.’

Nope, no traces of the six-year-old.

With an effort I make myself separate the two images.

‘Oh boy!’ he exclaims examining the programme for the day, ‘they have Breakfast after the Opening Ceremony. Last year I had three glasses of hot chocolate. I hope they have it this time too.’ The six-year-old is back again!

I can’t help but laugh, glad the younger version is still in there somewhere under the suit and the tie even as the teen tries to take over.

Mornings #SOL

Mornings #SOL

6.15, says the kitchen clock. The sun is just lighting up the skies. I slide some butter on the hot pan, the sizzle sounding loud in the early morning quiet. I put in slices of bread quietening the sizzle, then turn the flame down and head off to wake the children.

I find H sleeping on his stomach, head twisted upwards at an awkward angle, a thin sheet barely covering him, the fan on full blast. I reach out and decrease the fan speed then call out to him. He doesn’t stir. I give him a gentle shake, trying to reach him through the swathes of sleep. He nods finally, as I tell him he has five more minutes.

This five minute warning, I have found, helps ease the children to start the day. I like it too. I hate dragging them out of bed, specially on cold winter mornings or on rainy overcast days. Mondays are the worst, specially exam Mondays, like today.

He’s a night owl, this one, lying awake late, then waking up to lethargic mornings, often begging for an extra minute after the five-minute buffer.

In her room, N lies invisible among the folds of a thick comforter, the fan switched off. She stirs as I call her, gets her head out then silently points to her cheek, eyes still shut. I give her a kiss. She turns her head and points to the other one for another kiss – our own private little ritual. Then she snuggles down for the extra five minutes. Mornings are easier for her specially if she has a ‘good’ day lined up.

I marvel at how different they are.

I smile remembering how passionately we read Linda Goodman back during college, how confidently we allotted character traits to people we barely new. ‘Ooh she’s a Scorpio, beware’. ‘Oh he’s an Arian, bound to be flighty’. Judgement came only too easily.

How ridiculous it seems now! How can people born over thirty days have the same traits when these two, born a few minutes apart, are chalk and cheese? How drastically did the planet alignment shift in those two minutes to get me two such varied ones?

Interesting subject of study for an astrologer, I muse flipping the bread, and tipping the egg on to it on the pan.

I glance at the clock again. Five minutes are up. I walk to each of their rooms in turn, checking on them, calling out again, trying to inject a sternness in my voice this time, a sternness I don’t really feel but there’s no time for mush now.

Another day beckons.

 

Sharing the post with Two Writing Teachers.

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

N sits on the sofa in front of the television, her plate of food balanced on her knee, the remote in her hand.

‘May I watch TV?’ she asks.

Exams are two weeks away and the children have a Chemistry test the next day – that’s all I can think of as I take in her perfunctory query and her expectant gaze.

It’s hard, but ‘No,’ say I, ‘Eat your food at the dining table then get back to revision.’
Her face sets in a stubborn line and I realise it’s going to be one of ‘those’ days.
‘Why can’t I watch TV till I eat? I can’t study as I eat anyway.’
‘Because we talk while we eat and we catch up with papa,’ say I referring to our nightly Duo chats with the Husband. It’s a bit of a ritual that I’m reluctant to let go.

‘I don’t want to talk’, she replies.

H chips in bringing his best arguments.
‘Only for 15 minutes, till we eat and then we’ll get back, promise,’ he pleads.
‘No’, say I.
‘I won’t eat at the table. I’ll eat on the sofa,’ says N, not willing to give up with at least one small victory.
‘That’s fine by me’, say I picking my battles.

Ten minutes later, I’ve finished dinner. N sits with her plate full, dinner untouched.

I take up my book and walk away to my room.

After a while I hear the twins talking at the dining table as they finish eating.

Then, the door to my room opens slowly.

It’s N.

‘I’m sorry mama’, says she.
‘It’s okay’, I reply.
‘Are you angry’
‘No’
‘Can you smile please?’
I smile at her.
‘I’m sorry’, she reiterates. ‘I’m sorry I was rude and angry. It’s all these teenage hormones you know’.
I have to laugh out at that, at my little wise soon-to-be-teenager.

It’s a battle won – not against the kids, never that, it’s the battle against my temper that I’ve won.

The war is on.

*******

Trying my hand at Slice of Life writing.