It occurred to me at the beginning of August that I probably should start sorting through the kids clothes assessing what to keep and what to throw. I let the thought slide. There are four more weeks before school starts. Plenty of time right? Wrong!
So, here I am with a day to go before school starts, standing in front of the kids’ closet, ready to cry. Do they own so many clothes? Who on earth has four pairs of stockings each in black and white? What about those scrunched up balls at the back of the closet? Leggings. Six of them. I scan each for signs of wear, holes, stains. I take a deep breath and purge. I have the girls try everything I want to keep before steeling my heart and putting it away in the dump pile.
The hours fly by. The closet looks neat, the floor is littered with socks, leggings, shorts, tees, pants, jeans and tights. My feet are killing me. I leave the room as is, mentally noting to have Saathi attend to it. I realize I do not have to run out to shop for the twins to go to school next week. There are a few things I need to get though. Making sure my list is updated, I make my way down. Ammu and Pattu have a clutch of toys in two shoe boxes by the front door. Their voices carry around the home. I realize with a pang that tomorrow is literally the last day of vacation. I make a detour to give them a hug. They look at me, curious. I shake my head and move away.
As I lean back on my office chair and make myself comfortable, I realize that they have grown physically. They are taller. The pants that fit them well in fall are at their ankles now. The tees that fit them comfortably are snug. Their hair seems a shade darker. Their features are defined and the puppy fat is all but gone. They make faces at me when I lecture them. They push the boundaries. They do things behind my back that they know will make me angry. They also rush before I do when they see their little sister about to fall. They help me unload the dishes. They put away their plates and cups after each meal. They attempt to make their beds.
I hear the sounds of typing on my old iPhone. I pause and call out for them. Pattu walks in furiously typing. I ask her what she is up to and she shows me the phone. “Ammu and Pattu like to pely on the fone and in the porc…” reads the note. I give her a hug and give the phone back. Both of them have made radical strides when it comes to reading and writing. “Thank you Amma” she enunciates as she walks away. I am reminded of a song they have been humming all day long. Being home all summer immersed in Tamil has had its effect. They slip into using Tamil words for oft-repeated things. They call out to Laddu using Tamil endearments. They take pride in being able to talk in a language that Amma and Appa do.
“I am hungry!” Ammu calls out from the adjoining room. Instructing her to pick a banana from the fruit basket, I continue with my reminiscences. Over these two months, their palates have matured. They have graduated from eating mildly spiced food to complex tastes and textures. They sniff their food to identify ingredients, they taste and make pronouncements on the quality of what they eat. They prefer hot chocolate to plain old milk. Perhaps the biggest change is in the way they perceive the making and eating of food. From it being an isolated activity where Amma makes and they eat, now it is a joint effort.
The sounds of Laddu awaking from her nap trickles in and the two of them rush upstairs. I sit listening to their voices as they croon to their sister and play with her. The laughter gives way to crying and I reluctantly get up.
As they head back to school Monday, Laddu will miss them as will I.