Ammu hands out small disco bands when I ask her to. Laddu is trying hard to be still as I first part and then make two braids on either side of her face. Pattu is drying herself and preening in front of the mirror. The changes have been gradual, creeping up until one day they smack me in my face.
Saathi and I hold hands as we walk along our smallish community. Laddu runs full tilt at us until she wedges herself in between, linking her tiny hands in ours. Ammu and Pattu are circling around us with greater radius in each pass. Their bikes, hot pink with gears, that seemed too large at the end of last summer is a comfortable fit this year. In their helmets, they seem bigger than they actually are.
All day as I try and work on my fledgling book proposal, I notice they keep themselves engaged with less intervention from me. Laddu is often playing by my feet, colorful magnetic blocks and old photo albums spread like an explosion. She drops tiny pieces of paper through a hole on my desk meant for wires, calling them mail.
“Mail Delivery!” her singsong voice punctuates the air, causing a ripple in my thought process, enough to make me aware of her but not yet disrupt what I am writing. At the dinner table, they serve themselves, relishing whatever it is I have made for the day. Gone are the days when I spent more time watching them, serving them and feeding them than eating myself. Most days, I am done and looking at these mini-adults as they appreciate what is on the plate.
Their stories this past year written, illustrated and “published” by their school’s Unicorn press show greater detail. They are into specifics, their drawings complex and the beginning and endings pretty engaging.
I ferry them to art classes this week, dropping them off at the door instead of walking them inside. I take naps, I instruct them to shower and watch them come down squeaky clean and smelling fresh.
These little beings are on their way to autonomy, to taking strides a bit too long for me to keep up. My maternal heart swells with pride and notes with sorrow, all of these tiny things that change them each day.