I started writing this blog sometime in June 2006 when KB was ten months old. KB turned seven years old ten days back. I think back to his baby days and I try to remember how he looked, what he did etc in my mind. Funny how days and nights of nursing, feeding, diapering, marveling all collate into quick flashes of memory when you think about it without watching any video or looking at photographs. If I read some of the posts on KB in his infant days, it brings things back to memory in a way that feels deeply personal. It makes me wish I had written more about both my children, more often and in greater detail. For reliving the small moments. Well, I am glad I at least have this much to go back to!
We had gone to a wild life sanctuary last weekend and hung out there for a few hours. It is a very low key place with a lovely bird porch, a 75 year old desert tortoise, a small nature center with live snakes, and a few small trails and a pond with a lot of fishes and turtles perched on rocks. The kids love this place and fondly go back there to see their friend, “Henry” the tortoise. While we were at the nature center, I asked the man in charge if he could bring one of the snakes out of the cage for KB to touch. He was nice enough to bring it out and show “Bob” the corn snake to KB. He then asked him if he wanted the snake on his shoulder. “Yes”, KB said without batting an eyelid. These are the kind of moments that remind you that your child is really growing up. Suddenly there, handling the snake on his shoulder bravely, controlling his excitement and may be some nervousness too, smiling with excitement as Bob slithered around his neck, I saw KB as a seven year old boy. Still my little child, yet a person on his own. I felt proud in a way that only a mother can about something so small, a snake on his shoulder. I was proud that he was brave enough to say yes, adventurous enough to open himself to that experience and calm enough to smile through it. And because I could never have done it myself, I felt excited for him. Which mother does not live a little through their children?!
KB is in so many ways all that I saw in him as an infant and more. Sensitive and opinionated. Obsessive. Particular about the way things are done. Happy, yet intense. A real talker. Give him a few minutes of your time and he will be glad to go on and on. If he goes into academics to become a professor, it would be no surprise to me. And I hope he does, considering how much he loves to tell people what he knows and elaborate on it. He loves to laugh and laugh loudly. He dotes on his little sister and is always proud of every little thing she does much as he gets on her nerves by troubling her all day long. A small example – the other day I was going to give a box of left over chocolate chip muffins to the gardener who comes every Monday. I asked KG if I could give it and she said to save 3 or 4 of them and give the rest. KB came to me and said, “Mamma, save the ones with a lot of chocolate. Save all the special ones for KG, okay?”. This, even though he keeps lecturing KG on how she needs to stop eating junk food.
Speaking of junk food, I am still amazed by his conviction and his self control when it comes to certain things. I am not saying this in any tone of bragging. I really just feel plain and simple amazed because I don’t have the self control he does at his age. He used to love mac n cheese, pringle chips, cheetos, dum dum lollipops. He was never one for too much snacking anyway and he never wanted to have ice cream or chocolates. I always assumed that when he started school anyway he will go on junk over drive and I didn’t particularly encourage him to eat it if he didn’t ask for it. But even the few comfort foods he liked, he just stopped eating because he has learned they are not particularly healthy foods. Lollipops with artificial colors make some children hyperactive. The day he learned that, he just instantly stopped eating them. Something he used to love! Cheetos have that horrible orange colored processed cheese, he just stopped eating them. I did not once ask him to stop eating any of those entirely. He just did it on his own. At age six. And at age seven, his resolve when it comes to certain things really makes me wonder how he is that way. For his seventh birthday, he insisted there be no sugary cake. I had to get some “cake” like thing with fruits. He wouldn’t even permit a muffin in the midst of fruits to insert a candle. I had to insert candles in the middle of a pineapple in the center of a fruit arrangement I made with apples, strawberries and grapes. I just had a play date for him with 15 or so of his first grade classmates and I had to sneak in some ice cream just so the kids (including his little sister) don’t complain that I did not bring any cake! KB complained later that I should not even have brought any ice cream to his birthday play date!
KB loves to learn as all children do. But they are all different in their own ways. Even between KB and KG, how they process things and what they are curious about is starkly different. KB has been one of those academic learners – just taking in tons of information and remembering it and building on it. But the strange thing is for how much he loves to learn new things, he is not that much into reading different kinds of books. He reads a lot at school during their reading times. But during summer holidays or weekends, he reads a lot, but only those books that he is obsessed about in that phase. Right now he is reading “all” the Calvin & Hobbes books ever written, probably for the fourth time. Cover to cover. He has poems, lines etc memorized. He laughs to himself and constantly reads out lines to me and expects me to laugh. He asks me meanings of new words from those books. Today he asked me what “panache” meant. He went through this phase with his Harry Potter books early in January this year. He read books 1, 2 and 3 and half of book 4. Suddenly his attention got diverted to some basketball books and he started reading those books. That stopped and now he is back to Calvin & Hobbes. I try to coax him into reading other kinds of books and novels. But he doesn’t really want to do it. He wakes up in the morning and runs to his Calvin & Hobbes book as if his friend Calvin is waiting for him! He still learns a lot from the nonfiction books he skims through on his own. And I still read to him every day at least for a short while. Since age four he eats on his own and will not let me feed him any meal. But he still wants me to read books to him!
KB reads (I read to him mostly that is!) books on Margaret Mead, Albert Schweitzer, Nellie bly, Gandhi all with equal enthusiasm and tells us details as if he knew them. Today we were at a botanical garden with the kids and I asked him if he wanted to have his milk. He said to me , “I am fasting today for the milk, I don’t want any milk”. I had to tell him in strong terms that he is not allowed to “fast” at this age for sure. He asked me all about fasting while I read about Gandhi and I told him how I used to do semi fasts on Tuesdays (no food after dinner) etc. Knowing him, he too will start on fasts pretty soon!
For how curious he is about different kinds of cultures, KB is pretty bad at geography. I don’t know if it is a lack of interest in knowing where exactly places are or if it is because I have not done enough to make him learn it well. I have tried to get him to memorize where the fifty states are. He has a “photographic memory” according to his class teacher, so I can’t imagine he cannot remember it if he puts his mind to it. But he just doesn’t still remember those exactly. He is totally into wild animals, nature, planting seeds, observing nature, hiking, basketball and learning about physics and biology. He says he wants to be an inventor and a conservationist. His plan is to invent a space suit that is safe for astronauts since his sister wants to be the first person to go to Mars! He said to me, “Mamma, while KG is in training to become an astronaut, I will work on inventing a super safe space suit”. . And before I forget, the biggest change these last few months have been his interest in carnatic music. He never used to listen to carnatic music in the car which is when they get a lot of music. Now he is totally into it and listens to all kinds of instrumental music – Lalgudi, Kumaresh/Ganesh, Flute Raman, Kadri and also a lot of vocal music. I am most excited by this change because it used to worry me that he showed no interest in carnatic music.
KB will always have a special place in my heart just the same way KG does in her own special way. KB, my first born brought to me the joy of being a mother. While giving up having a good career because of various reasons makes me very sad at times, I have no regrets when I think that I have not missed a single moment of their early childhood. Especially for KB who is the sensitive, demanding one, I am so glad to have been there for him, comforted him and made him feel secure at all times. KB has given me the gift of learning things I never did or don’t remember and his curiosity and ability to grasp things has made me relive the wonder of being a child. It has also set the tone for KG to be curious and excited about all that is around them. As I always say, I pray mainly for their good health and safety and for them to grow up feeling secure and self assured.