Ammu and I sit on the recliner, our heads side to side with matching smiles that light up our faces. It is a Sunday afternoon and in that gray zone between lunch and nap time when I have no idea how to entertain the kids, we discover something new. Armed with a flashlight each, we point to the ceiling and play tag with the light beams. We howl with laughter and scramble to escape as one beam chases another.
I watch as Saathi sits under the ceiling fan, a plate with idlis and almond chutney on it. As he breaks off each piece to savor it, two smaller hands join in a free for all. “Wait, it is kaaram.” I say cautioning Ammu and Pattu as the chutney boasts a fair amount of heat from the five green chilies I used. Disregarding me as they usually do, they scoop a fingerful and lick it tentatively. Pattu turns to me and says without blinking “It is not hot Amma. It is WARM.” “De-li-cious” chimes Ammu in. I watch in disbelief as they proceed to lick the plate clean.
For what seems to be the tenth time I tuck Pattu in for her afternoon nap. She lies wide awake as she listens to my lecture on what happens to children who do not nap. I browse aimlessly on the laptop as I hear sounds of jumping from the room above. Frustration writ large on my face, I walk in grim-faced and wordlessly scoop Pattu up to bring her down. The fear and tears in her face stop me. I take a deep breath and ask her if she wants to nap. I smile as I tell her it is OK to not nap. The fear gives way to relief and she asks to be put back on the bed. Ten minutes later I peek in to see the child sleeping peacefully. I feel guilt as I walk away.
Each day brings with it new insights. Parenting teaches me mindful living. It forces me to acknowledge the lesser than nice parts about me. It forces me to change. It also reminds me that within the four walls of my home lie untold joys and happiness if only I cared to look past my phone and laptop.