Day 18 ————–
Inevitably, there comes a time to let go. It’s my last day of being with Arya tomorrow, and I’m a little uncertain either of us knows what’s really to come. Whether or not he’ll wonder where his long-haired masi disappeared to is a fact I can’t confirm. But although I’ll be thankful for the extra strands that won’t be yanked off my scalp, I’ll sure be wondering why I’m suddenly craving some of that pain.
Even though it’s only been a few weeks, Arya seems grown up to me. The way a person transforms so quickly, changing each and every day, is quite an unexpected spectacle. Why, as we get older, do we allow ourselves so much more time to progress? We make New Year’s resolutions that allow us a full year for improved behaviour, yet continually fail ourselves. Change is daunting to us–we don’t want to be stronger; we don’t want to learn how to walk alone; fall over, and stand back up again on our wobbly feet. We’d much rather crawl our way through life, looking upwards and forwards, but not standing quite as high as we could.
Arya makes me want to change. Write better. Dream bigger. Explore things underneath. Make a mess. Smile at strangers. Love at hate.
For all the days I spent holding his hand to keep him up, he’s been the one carrying my weight forward.
Day 10 ————–
I’m attempting to write this while Arya reads a book. We’re not entirely certain he can read, but the way he looks at the words–so delighted does he get at the sight of “elephant” and “gorilla” –written in massive font, that he smiles back at them as if they were written just for him.
This is my favorite time of day with him. Just fresh from his afternoon nap, not an inch of crankiness to be found. It still amazes me, even though I witness it every day–but Arya is possibly the only person I know who wakes up from his sleep, every single time, with the widest grin on his face. Doesn’t matter if it’s been one hour, two, or just fifteen minutes–even if my sister instructs me to wake him up mid-nap–come rain or shine, the first expression on his face is a smile.
It’s such a wonderful feeling–compared to the dread with which I open my eyes each morning. There’s always a “I’m still tired. Do I have to wake up? Why is there so much noise? I hate that alarm clock!” But not for Arya. With the opening of an eyelid comes the discovery of a world still unknown, the delight of interacting with people still to be met.
It’s now been 45 minutes since I started writing this post. No, he’s not still reading. In fact, he’s made a trip to Starbucks, pooped, had milk, jumped around in the walker, and cried with no tears because he can see me typing on the laptop. It’s funny, but if I’m sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing, he’s happy to run around on his own. But the moment he sees my attention diverted, through a screen, on the phone, or in a book–game over. It reminds me of the “want what you can’t have” phenomen; albeit much more innocent.
I feel like he’s saying to me, “It’s not that I want to play with you. I just don’t want you to play with anyone (or anything) else.”
Because he wakes up smiling at the sight of me, making me feel like maybe his reality is better than his dreams–I let him have his way. I will happily deliver undivided attention.
Except for right now, of course. Because the word “gorilla” is back again, in massive font, on the TV screen. His word-learning DVD is playing, and he can’t be asked to give me the time of day. So I’ve finally gotten the time of day to finish writing.
Day 6 —————
I’m not a huge fan of deception, unless it’s in a magic trick. But every day at approximately 10:35 am, I deceive an innocent child.
Arya gobbles down breakfast and dinner like he’s never been fed, but for some reason he despises lunch. And so to coax him into eating, I hold up his little water beaker, jiggle it in front of his mouth so he can see and hear the splash, and just as he opens his mouth for some thirst-quenching water, I shove a spoonful of food in.
The worst part is, he forgives me. Every subsequent time, he continues to open his mouth, full of trust, always hopeful. And yet again, I deceive him.
Now my sister (Arya’s mother) taught me this trick; but last night I asked her if she was sure I should do it. Consumed with guilt, I wanted to find a way out. My sister assured me this was completely normal–and to her credit, I’ve seen parents do much worse to make their kids eat (including forcefully holding their mouth open; which gives me the shivers). And the fact that he eat a full and healthy meal far supersedes my need for honesty.
But his ability to forget, to forgive, to continue to smile at me like I’m the best person he’s ever known–breaks me a little bit. Why do we lose this as we grow up? Do we soon discover too much dishonesty? Is our trust broken too many times?
Arya is a happy child–and that’s a serious understatement. Rather than the realities of adulthood slowly seeping into his years, I hope a little of his open-heartedness trickles into ours.
Day 4 —————-
“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.”
Like most of us, Arya doesn’t appreciate taking a walk in the rain. I’m not sure why though, because bundled inside his bubble jacket/one-piece contraption, inside a stroller covered top to bottom with a waterproof plastic covering, not a single drop of rain made contact with his little body.
But the weather wasn’t to his liking. I made two attempts to take him for a walk today–the result: I found myself drenched from head to toe, returning home with a discontented baby.
He didn’t like the adventure one bit. Maybe the raindrops clouded his vision, or the wind muffled the otherwise sharp sounds of Manhattan. But even when we were home, something in his mood could not be lifted.
His giggles were a little softer, his laughter a little more contained. While I continued to make a spectacle of myself, imitating various animals to produce some kind of smile, Arya remained unamused.
I finally accepted the sombre mood the grey clouds had brought, and carried him to the window–hoping he’d enjoy hearing the drops patter against the pane.
A minute later, a wide smile crept up in his face, his head angled slightly downward. I wondered what had brought this on, and followed his gaze. Now fully beaming, I realized he was looking down at a picture frame that stood proudly on the window sill–a frame that contained a wedding photograph. Of his parents.
His eyes lit up and he continued to smile, the grin getting wider and wider. He was beaming, filled with so much happiness at the sight of his mummy and papa. No amount of grey could wipe out that joy. Even as we walked away from the window, he twisted his neck right around to keep looking at their photograph until it was no longer in sight.
From that moment on, all spirits were lifted. My animal sounds brought on full belly chuckles.
I can see clearly now. The rain is gone.
Day 3 —————-
It’s probably apt that I’m three days late. I had it all planned out. Babysit my nephew in the day. Write about it at night.
Well when the day started at 5:45 am, I learned my dedication to writing didn’t stand a chance against an 8-month-old with a million-dollar smile and a feeding schedule that puts the Atkins diet to shame.
So here I am, tardy as charged.
Of all the things I expected–early mornings, tantrums while eating, and making sure every inch of every object doesn’t go into his mouth–the one thing I didn’t see coming was perhaps the biggest shock of all: The quiet.
Yes, there is quiet. In the one-hour nap in the morning, and the two-hour one in the afternoon, there is a silence that borders on pin drop. Perhaps because it’s such a contrast from the moments before–but that stillness feels as heavy as the screech he bellows out when he’s ecstatic his toy bird says ‘peek-a-boo!’
I miss him in that quiet. While one part of me says, “Take a nap, you fool! You’ll be exhausted two minutes after he wakes up,” the other part is itching to hear his voice again, to feel his tiny little fingers hold onto mine, and to feel the power of a smile that can melt any level of frustration.
I think that’s the trick. That’s how parents survive. The fact that children have the ability to make you forget hours of pain and fatigue–to bring out of you nothing but love for them–well that’s an unparalleled feat of nature.
I’ve also learned you can’t create wonder. Arya looks at my hair like Monet painted it himself–but when I took him to see Santa Claus for the first time ever, he looked the other way. Literally. Poor Santa tried every trick he had, but not even a “Ho, Ho, Ho” could make Arya give him the time of day. He just didn’t think Santa Claus was that cool. Period.
Instead, he smiled happily at Santa’s assistant (wearing a bright green vest) who kept saying ‘peek-a-boo’. Doesn’t matter if the face behind the hands is a toy bird’s, a random stranger’s, or mine–those are the words that always bring him a wonder.