I put away clothes and tidy up the bedroom picking up stray doll parts and mini bags stuffed with blocks. The TV blares from downstairs as the Colts play the Chiefs. Saathi’s voice modulates as he explains the game to the girls. I smile as straighten the bed and fold the warm throws. As the play ends and cheerleaders strut around, I hear Pattu ask “Who are cheer leaders?”.
I am curious. I stop what I am doing and stand by the railing waiting for Saathi to talk.
“Cheer leaders are…” he trails away. I can hear his mental wheels whirring. A pause later, he changes tack.
“Don’t you want to be a sports woman? Why not play the game instead of cheering who is playing?”
“Yeah!” comes the reply. “I will play football.”
The moment pauses and the game starts.
I walk switching the room lights off as I go downstairs. I start with the dishes next, my mind still mulling over the conversation. Even as I rinse and soap off stubborn spots on my steel utensils, I remember another conversation from the morning. One between Ammu and I.
“Crying does not get you anywhere” I say in response to her whining about something she wants that her sister has. “Use your words” I exhort her. “Tell her what you need and see if that works”. She wipes the tears that seem to spill so easily and calls out to Pattani.
Hours later, I mull over the everyday moments that make me pause. The innocuous questions provide plenty of teaching moments. For parent and for the child. Even as I tell my children to save their tears for feelings and focus on actions that get them results, I wonder if I walk the walk. Even as Saathi redirects questions he does not have answers to, he probably wonders if we are enforcing our prejudices on our children.
I shut the dishwasher door with a satisfactory thud, wipe my hands and sit in front of the laptop. I understand there is no right or wrong. Saathi and I will muddle through plenty such moments wondering if we did or said the right thing. I just hope the sum total of what the children imbibe is positive rather than negative. That when they step into adulthood themselves they are happy with the way they shaped up.