Fleeting Childhood

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She is staring out the window, a stuffed bear under her elbow, a piece of paper with the drawing of a little girl in her hand. In a week she will set foot into a new era. One in which her life will be ruled by teachers, friends and timers. In the eight months she has been home, unschooled, unruled, she has blossomed like a wild flower. She is articulate mimicing dialogies, absorbing words and imitating her sisters without effort. She writes her letters and numbers with a steady hand, mirror images of what they should be. Sometimes she writes from right to left following her instinct. She says mo lawner for lawn mower and I file it away along with other artifacts of her childhood.

The days are long and the years are short, people tell me. At the moment it feels like everything is too short, too hurried, too nimble for me to catch them and commit them to words or to my memory. With Ammu and Pattu, I remembered what they wore, what they ate, what they said. My facebook memories remind me of witticisms, nuggets of deep thought, things that will be handed down to the next generation as “things your mom said when she was little.” With Laddu, I have been lax with recording, with memorializing things. Instead, I have been living, absorbing, soaking moments as they happen knowing that my brain can only remember so much.

Like most milestones, there is a sense of deja vu, of having gone through these intense emotions before. This time, it is tinged with sadness knowing this is the last time these milestones happen. As Laddu shadows her sisters as they navigate their way through middle and high school, I will be watching, mourning the disappearing children even as I enjoy the newly independent young adults.

Transitions make me pause. They make me take stock of our lives literally and metaphorically. I notice the outgrown clothes and the stuff that needs to go away. I also notice all the things we should be doing but are procrastinating instead. It reminds me of how lax I have become at taking pictures, organizing and sharing them. It makes me take stock of the people in our lives. People who should be there but have passed on. People I want in my life but whom I have given up on.

My eyes are still on Laddu, she is talking to me animatedly. I watch indulgently, willing her to come sit on my lap, to fold herself into that compact baby she once was. Instead she passes me by, patiently tolerating my attentions in the way the very young and the very old do. I let go, a pang in my heart that has nothing to do with that moment. I swallow that lump, blink back tears and know this too shall pass.

2 comments

  1. :). I used to record, photograph A when he was little. Moved here, frequency came down. Growing up , getting busy made it worse. Though even now A comes and gives me a hug (on demand). He tries fold himself and sit on my lap like a small kid. Hilarious if you picture him as a boy who is just a few centimetres shorter than me. This happens when he really wants attention else morning ritual is him laying his head on my lap while I just need to coddle him! Happens for a few minutes before I push him off to get ready for school!

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