KG turned four couple of weeks back. It is so unbelievable for me because it sometimes feels like she grew up completely on her own. Well, not literally. But she just grew up before I could even imprint it in my head. Always rushing to catch up with her brother who is twenty two months older than her. She is a mix of daring and shy that sometimes surprises me. She sometimes acts like she has no clue what fear means, that such an emotion even exists. But sometimes she exhibits shyness that I just cannot understand. I drop her in preschool for the first time when she is three years and two months old. She waves goodbye and acts like she has been going there for ever, doesn't even turn to look for me. Her teacher, who is also into photography sends me pictures of her every day. I can actually see how long she took to let go of herself at the new environment. She barely gave a smile in the initial days. Then a suppressed smile. A slight curve. A couple of teeth showing. A few more. Then a full smile. Raging laughter chasing after her teacher in the playground by the end of the year. She had such a good time at her preschool. The learning part of it was too abstract that I really don't know if academically she learned much there. But her teacher just loves children and dotes on them. That sense of warmth made me feel so much at ease when she was away at school.
The summer before KB turned four, he started reading simple Bob books. The first time he read a book fully to me was so exciting that I even remember that moment well now. But with KG things just happen and we take it in stride. I do feel happy but it is not a novel experience. Considering how little time I spend reading to her alone, or teaching her things (since there is not much academic learning at her school), I am often surprised by how she picks up things. When one day I found these Brain quest cards on our book shelf and sat down with her and asked her those questions, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease with which she could answer most questions. The poor little sister, she ends up listening to us reading Magic tree house books or books about mammals meant for older kids that we read to KB. He is such a talker and such a prankster that I often have to physically shut his mouth so he would let KG talk or answer questions. He delights in annoying her by answering any question I ask her quickly before she can answer it. So she does not get much individual attention where I sit down to teach her things. KB was a very focused and attentive listener when I read books to him. He could read books back to me verbatim from memory from the time he was two and half. It still amazes me that we took that for granted because KG absolutely cannot do it. She just does not pay attention to the exact words. But on the other hand she gets the story and often surprises me with her understanding of subtle nuances in the story.
Thanks to her brother who is now totally into basketball and reads books about greatest basketball players, she too knows about players like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Russell. She loves to sing and makes up gibberish songs and sings on and on even when she is in the bathroom. We baby her a lot at home and she thrives and enjoys the attention. She wakes up in the morning and always insists on "Mamma" coming to get her from the bed. Some days if she decides to get out of her bed on her own she will come looking for me in the living room and sit next to me and say "Good morning Mamma". She does not have the clarity of communication that KB had at her age. KB always was verbally way ahead of his age and so we sometimes get nervous if she is on track or not for her age. KB's teacher and now KG's teacher both remind me that KB was naturally very verbal and was ahead of his age and I should not be comparing her to him. And that she is totally fine. KG talks a lot but sometimes gives totally random stories or answers which I am not used to at all with KB. She has cute ways of saying things the wrong way that we love so much and go out of our way to not correct her. Like if I tell her "KG, I know you will break it". She would say to me, "No, I will'nt". She still says "Sun scream" lotion for "Sun screen" lotion. KB has always been so precise and correct and clear in the way he talked that KG's lingering mazhalai (baby language) is such a delight for us.
KG loves to play outdoors. She has always been daring when it comes to activities at the park. At age two and half or three, KB used to be slightly scared of going in those tall curvy slides. KG on the other hand could do it without any fear since age two. Even now if I am busy and the bedroom light needs to be turned on, KG is the one who rushes in and turns it on for KB just so he won't be scared! I sent her with B and KB couple of weeks back to the park and told B to get her started on riding the bike w/out training wheels. KB learned to ride a bike without training wheels only at age five. But for her we decided to start earlier because I knew she was ready for it. But I assumed it would take a few tries and that I would go with her the next time and I would get to see her bike on her own (without training wheels). B came back home that day and told me that within forty minutes of trying, she was happily biking on her own without any training wheels. Even turns and slowing down for it etc. We took the kids for roller skating lessons a few times. KG just pushes me off to go to the side lines and not help her out. She learned to do a pretty good job of it quite fast. One Afghani mom who was on the sides was observing her the second class and told me "Your daughter, she is so strong willed". Indeed she is. Extremely so. B and I wonder how we will cope with her strong will when she is a teenager. She has very good grip when it comes to holding her pencil and she loves to paint. I took her to an art class couple of weeks back. The instructor said that he normally does not take four year olds but when he saw her paint the flowers (he drew the outlines for her), he said he would take her in once a month because she was able to hold the brush and paint really well for her age (in his words). She has started swim lessons since last week. Her teacher told me that she was completely comfortable in the water. After class KB and KG and two of their friends were playing in the smaller shallow pool. KG kept asking me if she could go to the big pool where she had the class. I said no and that she could only play in the little pool. The kind of "kurutu dhairyam" (blind courage) she has, she suddenly got out of the play pool and very coolly walked to the big pool and was about to jump in. I had to make a dash and grab her before she fell in. She scares me with her recklessness sometimes. She is always skipping and running like a typical happy go lucky four year old. On the day of her birthday, she banged her head on the edge of the wall and I had to rush her to the doctor and have the skin on her forehead pulled together with derma bond! The next day again she hurt herself on the other side of her forehead while fighting with KB for the basketball in the yard outside. She gets bruises all the time but usually does not fuss like KB would for these little cuts and scrapes. She writes her name and numbers up to 10 but still feels upset that she cannot write in cursive like KB does. KB is her super hero!
Any child is a blessing really. But I can't help thank God for giving me a daughter even though I did not mind either way when I was pregnant with her. She hugs tight, laughs with joy and skips around with delight, all of which fills me with joy. Especially her tight hugs. Her calmness in some situations makes me wish I could be like her in some ways. I just hope she continues that way. She is sometimes a paradox - calm yet full of energy, daring yet shy, grasps things well but talks like a baby sometimes, is so strong willed yet melts if I so much as say "Aww" if she steps on my toes and immediately bends down to rub my toes. I continue to say my thanks to God for all the ways in which she has helped me in raising two kids who are so close in age by being easy going in so many ways. I thank God so often for giving me a daughter since I am enjoying her so much. Thank you God, thank you!