“Go on! You can do it,” I urge watching Ammu hesitate riding her bike without training wheels. A few months ago, Pattu bravely agreed to let us take the training wheels off her bike. It took a few attempts, one fall and she was riding like a pro. Ammu resisted. Each time we would point to her sister who was riding like the wind, she would counter with “I am happy with the training wheels on. I can ride just as fast.” We would shake our heads and let it be.
So, yesterday I asked her out of habit if I could remove the training wheels and she demurred as usual. Pattu came gliding in on her bike and it hit me. “Ammu, we don’t have to remove the wheels on yours, but can you try in our driveway with Pattu’s bike?” She paused giving weight to my question. I waited, the silence feeling heavy. Then she nodded, an imperceptible movement I would have missed hadn’t I been watching her like a hawk.
“Go on!” I cheered as she stood by the naked bike. She hesitated, rocked the bike back and forth a couple of times and swung her legs over and rode like she had been doing it all the time. She sailed off into the setting sun, her hair floating like a cloud around her. I stood flabbergasted, my words failing me. She circled and came swooping in like a boss and braked right next to me. We high-fived, hugged, screamed and laughed until we were red in the face. Saathi who had been inside stepped outside and on being apprised of what had happened, joined in the celebration. As both of us enveloped her in hugs our smiles stretching from ear to ear, she flushed a deep red, a mix of happiness and awkwardness as being celebrated so noisily.
I kept coming back to that one moment. The look on her face, the smile that was coy, the blush on her cheeks and the happiness at being serenaded without reserve. It makes me wonder how different our lives would be if we celebrated everyday moments and wins with so much feeling. If each time I felt the need to discipline, I bit back my tongue and focussed on the good, the positives or just stayed silent. Most parenting books touch on it. I understand it I think yet, I fail when it comes to implementation. Yesterday however was a peek into what unadulterated joy looks like. A feeling so pure, untainted by expectation that it touches everything around it and paints the world in a rosy hue.
Certainly something to strive for.
PS: The picture is a drawing by Pattu of Ammu’s sailing into the sunset for the first time without training wheels.