I tuck the twins into bed and walk away blowing air kisses and murmuring I-love-yous. Unusually, they are cuddled against each other in one bed. I close the door and wait for a minute soaking in the whispered giggles and squeals of laughter. I open the door again to remind them to keep their voices down. In matching jumpers, they look impish. I smile as I walk away.
In a week, school will be over. The long days of summer stretch gloriously ahead filled with nothingness. I have them signed up for no classes. TheY will spend this first summer away from school the way Saathi and I did growing up. Waking late, running around the house, hunkering in the basement when it is too hot, making games up, playing pretend, playing dress up and watching TV. They will also spend this summer exclusively in each other’s company and perhaps that of Laddu’s. As they lie whispering, I realize the sibling bond is about to get even stronger. There will be cries of unfairness, there will be telling on each other, there will be fights galore. In the midst of all this will also be memories created. Of togetherness. Of sisterly fights, Of tender sibling love.
I put away folded clothes in the silence that belie three children in the house. The uniforms they have worn year round show wear. The edges are beginning to fray. The stains on the sleeves and front are mild from repeated wash. The fabric feels soft and well-worn. I hold it against myself before I put them away. One year has flown. My children have grown physically and emotionally. The jumper that reached their knees is now pointedly above it. Their once short hair is now past their shoulders, swinging as they walk.
I shake myself out of the reverie and walk down. Snippets from a conversation earlier in the week play in my head. The twins playing make-believe with their toys. Except their dialogues were very real world.
“Doctor, I have a baby in my tummy. Can I come in?”. A significant pause later, “Today? Yay!”
Another voice pops up “Honey, are you OK?”
More rustling around happens. The conversation continues to play out a baby being born and the boyfriend taking his girl home. Saathi and I stay in the shadows taking in the scene. We are surprised by how much the children assimilate from all the things that happens around them. Laddu’s birth and the subsequent hospital stay is being played out in front of our eyes right down the notes of exhilaration and exhaustion. We interrupt their playacting to signal we are watching.
They stop and change tack. Now it is a classroom and the same toys are now students. We leave them to their games and walk up.
Over the year, they have become vocal about their feelings. Their vocabulary has expanded. The world of books and reading is within reach as they realize letters form words and words become sentences. They write love notes to us with minimal help. They lace up their shoes proudly showing off their handiwork. “I can do it” is a common refrain over here.
There are days when I rue the fact that they are not readers yet or that their number skills could use polish. Then I remember the art work that shows so much detail. The involvement with which they practice their Spanish and Music lessons at home. The stray nuggets about the different countries they learn in Social Studies as we eat. I set my misgivings aside.
I remember the soft skills. Their maturity in handling mean comments on the bus and in the play yard. Their ability to express what they feel clearly. Their unlimited capacity to love and to forgive. Their openness to trying new foods. Most of all, their unflinching support for each other and I relax. All will be well.
This summer will give way to a new school year and newer challenges. They will still have each other. All life long.