Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Things I Learned From My Daughter...

I have a confession to make. I'm a whiner. I whine a lot. About everything. About not getting an extra half hour of sleep if Peaches is up before her usual time. About losing hair. About somebody eating my chocolate.( By somebody, I mean my hubby, Sumit.) About tiny little things in my household gadgetry falling apart. Like the other day, a very ill-placed water canister suddenly decided it has to throw up some water all over my most favourite Roald Dahl classic that was innocently lounging in the shelf right beneath it. Unfortunate as it was, it's not as if I'm disaster-prone. It's like I'm deliberately keeping my eye out for any minute havoc that has the potential to bring on my whiny face, and there I am again with that "Why does this happen to me" monologue.

But something weird happened the other day. I was slowly savoring... no wait...gulping down my morning cup of chai as I observed my perky two-year old, Peaches unfold the mysteries of her toy box all over the living room floor. Since I'm not that much of a morning person, I decided to take the less-traveled road of letting her finish what she's doing. And I continued watching. She was talking to her toys. Telling them how to behave and where she'll take them in the evening. And just out of nowhere, she'd break into a song and sing to her doll. Then, she spotted a stain on her doll's dress. She fluttered to the bedroom to fetch a baby wipe and got down to scrubbing it pretty hard. She went on and on...with this magical intensity and purpose.

And just like that, the mess dissolved into a blur. I breathed in a fresh draught of morning air and sipped my chai. And it was then, after what seemed an eternity, that I got my mornings back.

The whole time, we carry within us a list of life skills, lessons learned, to-dos and to-don'ts, and beliefs that we import from the people around us. We make a mental note of them and pass it on to our kids as they grow. But who ever thought that these tiny, dripping vessels of love could show us a simple DIY of how to leave behind our baggages and relish life just as it comes?

So I thought that I'll make a small list of all the things that my spiritual guru in diapers has taught me so far, at least the ones I'm picking up easily:
Time for Life Lessons 101
1. How to dance like nobody's watching (and not give a f*** if somebody is):
Dancing doesn't come naturally to me. It's an utterly humiliating exercise. Somebody once observed about my dancing skills that if people could do this morose, zombie-like dancing at funerals, that's where mine would apply.
But the way Peaches moves in this really upbeat, madly-spinning rapture makes me want to groove to whatever it is that she's grooving to. Even if it's a nursery rhyme. And I lose my calculated rhythm, the sense of what looks sexy and what doesn't, the sense of myself, and I freakin' jump up and hop and dance. And it's ridiculously awesome!
The Way I Dance Now
2. How to smell the roses and fall in love with your life:
You know how it is. We're always dashing to get our chores finished, like until the morning comes. Then we mull about how mundane our current situation is and how we're lagging behind in that self-charted race of life. But even when I'm running helter skelter in a daze and being broody in general, I make it a point to watch Peaches lose her head in delight over replicating my boring tasks in her own little space. She mixes veggies in a bowl (and garnishes them with coriander). She cleans. She folds. Between tasks, she begs me to put a spoon of sugar in her mouth. And she squeals with joy when you see what she's accomplished. While I am wheezing to catch my breath, there she is, sitting happy and shiny, loving every bit of what she's doing. And she makes my life look perfect, right then, right there.

3. Saying hello to strangers:
I'm not a sociable person. I'm not even that vocal, come to think of it. I'm pretty sure I was the kid who screamed, "Monster!", when a guest came over to talk to me for the first time. I was the girl who didn't say one word in a Group Discussion, cos she was waiting for her turn. Oh yea, I was the quiet girl for the longest time. In fact I once told someone that I'm a writer and I want to get into building a blog, and he gave me that dreaded advice. He said with a sassy smile, "Babe, forget writing for a while. Network! You need to get out of your shell." And I'm nodding my head and thinking, "And you sir, you need to floss." 'Cos I thought writers can get away with being loony.
But now that I'm a mom to a very chirpy kid who starts random conversations with random people (even in a 10-second elevator ride), I'm learning how to smile at strangers. I'm learning how to say stupid one-liner jokes to people while standing in a queue. I'm learning how to pour out trivial details of my life to other moms. And above all, I'm learning that people are not monsters. And boy, that's a relief.

4. Embracing your body:
We all have those special phases in our lives when looking at your reflection in your bare skin becomes a bit of a self-deprecating exercise; one that gets the better of your self-esteem. Even when your husband tells you that you're beautiful, you don't accept it.  If people compliment you, you find ways to deflect it by saying, "Oh thanks! But you should've seen me 5 years ago." or "Thanks. Must be the new diet I guess. But wait till I lose another 10 kgs" or "Really, you like it curly! But I wish mine were straight like yours." As it happens, I'm still crunching away to whittle down my muffin top (and that dimpled hip) and I realized it's not going to melt away by my burning stares. Which is why I look at myself in the mirror, count till 5 and disengage. But to Peaches, I just look like mommy.  She calls me beautiful when I'm out of the shower, when I'm wearing my worn-down pyjamas, even when my hair's sprouting in all directions ...She doesn't care that my jeans is too tight or my belly's kinda squishy right now. All that matters then is how I feel about myself. And I kinda feel pretty again. She taught me how to.

5. A day out in the mountains is worth ten big swipes on your credit card:
OK, I'm a city girl and don't really have that much in me to appreciate the quiet. I mean if you took me to Grand Canyon, I'd probably look at the view for a minute and go, " I'm done. When can we hit Vegas?" So when we were planning a vacation, I was OK with Goa, 'cos you have a pleasant mix of serene beaches, colourful flea markets and noisy lounges but I was skeptical about Gir National Forest. Four days in the forest seemed unjustified if we were going to stare at lions and listen to the birds chirp. And we were miles away from the shopping hubs of Surat and Ahmedabad. We got there and I was gasping for some familiar carbon monoxide fumes or the smell of fresh concrete but the air was way too clean . But Peaches...She belonged there. Not only did she have a hell of a party on the train ride up there, but she was collecting little flowers around the enormous garden stretch, she was getting all wonder-eyed when she spotted lions for the first time, she was chasing butterflies, she was getting glints of sunshine in her lovely locks while running about with her dad.
Peaches and Dad - At Taj, Gir Forest
 I've to admit that it was after really long that I saw a butterfly, I mean like really see all the way through it. And it finally dawned on me that this has to be paradise on earth.

So that's what my cute little teacher's managed to teach me so far.

Yet, there are so many more lessons to learn. Things that I'm being slow at include:
6. Being a hero, when your gut feeling says, "Run!". ('Cos I still run when I see a lizard)
7. How to get really dirty and enjoy it, even when you're in a fancy restaurant.
8. How to stand in the middle of the rain and jump up and down and not obsess about how your hair'll get all weird and sticky, among other things.
9. How to just go somewhere...without a purpose.
10. How to go by your gut instinct.
11. That thinking before acting is over-rated.
12. How to say what you mean. And say it like you mean it. Even it means saying No. Especially No.

So from where I see, Peaches is turning me into a brand new person, little by little, everyday. Maybe before I can even think of passing on my big book of wisdom to her, she's showing me a whole new perspective.

I can try to trace when it all began. But in the meantime, I'm just going to slowly sip my chai, watch her be a little girl as she helps me get started with living my life anew.


  1. Learnings, we have teachers in all our parts of life

  2. There is a lot to learn from the younger generation. My children too inspire me a lot