I curl myself around Laddu. My hand strokes her back. She snuggles closer. It is 7:30 AM. I could have woken her up. Instead, I lie and stare at this bundle of cuteness. She senses me watching her and looks up. Her face breaks into a smile that is pure joy. We cuddle some more and she wakes slowly, in parts until all of her is awake and alive.
I drop her off at her school. Her face droops. I ruffle her hair and promise to be back. She looks defeated. I want to scoop her up and bring her back home. I watch her standing by the breakfast table undecided if she wants to eat her snack or go play. I linger a tad longer past the door willing her to look up. She does not. I walk out. Her friend is at the window that overlooks the path outside. I stand and wait for Laddu to join her. The glare on the window makes it impossible for me to see what is happening inside. I see her friend mouth her name. I wait a few minutes more and when I do not see her head next to her friend. I walk reluctantly, my feet shuffling, back to the car.
I imagine my child sitting alone at her table staring at a box of goldfish wondering why she cannot be home playing instead. I imagine her listening to her friend call her and sitting resolutely at her desk, unwilling to wave bye to her mom who betrayed her. I imagine the resignation, the defeat and the stubborn streak in my child all my way home.
It occurs to me that this child who would sob and hold my leg no longer does it. She has grasped the fundamental concept of learning to let go, to accept things that cannot change. She has learned to express displeasure. She has learned to negotiate.
When I have been busy with the everyday living, this child of mine who is all of three years has grown up. She has gone from being a baby, a toddler to a little girl. A girl with spunk, a girl secure in the knowledge she is loved.
She loves to look at books. She has refined tastes in food. She knows exactly what she wants. She has us twisted around her tiny finger. She is headstrong, clear and bossy.
She is my wild child. She is my baby. She is growing up.