26 Jul 2013
The little one pulls me to her bedroom and closes the door, asks me to bend down and whispers in my ears, ‘I want you to spend your day, from 9.30AM- 3.30PM with me. In this time you must do what I say. You can’t look at any one, can’t talk to any one. You must make eye contact with only me.’ I ask her what is the deal with the ending time and she replies, ‘After that I have to go to the park and play with my best friend-no? So you can be done by 3.30 amma.’ I ask her why she chose to pull me aside and tell me this in my ear and she says, ‘I don’t want Chula to hear. Otherwise she will come and demand to be included. This is me and you time.’
It was clear that she wants a chunk of MY time, but does not want to give me HER time. After all I am just a mother and what chances do I stand against her best friend?! But I was bothered by the fact that she wanted to keep the deal a secret from her sister. So I insisted on transparency. With great reluctance, she thundered her way to her sister, called her sister, then poked her, then finally pulled her hair. Chula who was reading a book was oblivious of all the calls, pulls and pokes, finally snapped to attention when the book was snatched from her hand and barked an angry , ‘WHAT?’. When the little one explained the deal, Chula cut her short by saying that, ‘Its okay. Whatever. Do what you want with amma. Just give me my book. I don’t care. BOOK. NOW.’ Then a very interesting conversation, that left me dumbfounded, started.
Meija: Don’t care? You don’t care? Hah! It is easy for you to say don’t care. You had 2 whole years with amma before I was born. So I care.
Chula: 18 months to be precise. But the quality of love she gives you is way more than what she gives me. So even if you got love for lesser time, the amount you get is waaaaaay more than what I will ever get. (note the usage of precise and placement of ‘will ever’)
Meija: That is not true.
Chula: Yes it is. Every one knows mothers love their second borns and fathers their first borns. So just give me that book and go away.
They are 8 and 7 yrs respectively. I am an only child. This constant bickering, division of love and firm belief that I favor one child over the other baffles me. So people with siblings enlighten me:
-Does the bickering ever stop?
-When do they start caring for each other? Or is this care and it is so heavily disguised that I am not able to identify it?
-Should I give up hope?
-Should I stop grinding my teeth, holding them by the nape of their neck, forcing their faces inches apart and growl, ‘I need to see some love. N.O.W.’
-Do they love me so much that they fight over me, if so how do I handle this naansense?
-Or they just don’t want the other to not have me?
1 Oct 2009
I am currently dropping Chula’s classmate at her house on the way back home from school. This child’s mother is travelling and hence she requested I do the pick-up-from-school-and-drop-off-at-home service. This other child, let us call her X, is the same age as Chula. She is a mellow, sweet kid and gels well with Chula and Mieja. All three were having a conversation in the car that I was privileged to listen to.
Chula is narrating the events of last weekend to X. She is talking about the navarathiri trips, golu visits and the friends she meets only when there is an occasion. At this point she says, “…and I was crying in S’s house.”
This piques X’s curiosity and she asks, “Crying? Why were you crying?”
To this Chula replies, “That’s because my sister left me alone in S’s room and closed the door. She was holding the doorknob tight from outside. I tried to open the door, I tried and tried and I got scared. So I started crying for my mommy. My mommy was sitting in the couch with P chithi and P aunty and A baby and N uncle. She heard me cry and started wondering where I was and what happened to me. So she walked through the kitchen, listening to where my voice was coming from. She walked down the hallway and came to the room I was standing and crying. She removed Mieja’s hand from the door knob and opened the door and kneeled down on the floor and hugged me tight and asked if I was okay. I said yes and started crying and my mommy helped me go to my heart and calmed me down.”
Yes, she does not talk in sentences, but in pages. There is no period, only ands and commas and the narration goes on and on. She was shut inside the room, but she had vividly imagined how I would have reacted when I heard her cry, how I reached the room ‘listening to her voice’ and removed Mieja’s hand from the doorknob before I opened the door. This is my Chula.
As to Mieja, she must have felt left out with S and Chula jumping and having fun. She must have tried her best to talk the other two girls to include her in the play. I can totally picture her drawing her to her full 30 inches of height, hands on hips and saying, “Hey, but I want to play with you guys too”, for I have seen her do it only a billion times. She must have gotten frustrated that words were not making an impact, she must have been more angry at her sister than at S for not including her, so she must have taken it out on her sister. I am positive she would have waved her right index finger at her sister and would have said, “Then, I am not going to play with you any more. I am walking away from you.”, this I have seen a kabillion times, and closed the room door. One thing Mieja knows, if her sister storms out of the closed door, she would come out and express her displeasure physically. So she stood outside the door holding on to the doorknob, so that Chula cannot come out. While I understand what she did, I do not approve of it, disclaimer in case these kids grow up and get to read this and accuse me that I take sides, this is my Mieja and she is like this only.
Anyways, where was I? Yes, in the car driving to X’s house. X being an only child is mortified. All this locking out drama appalls her. But X adores Mieja, she probably thinks that Mieja is innocent, helpless and is not capable of such an act. So turns to Mieja and asks her, “Did you do that?” I am looking at Mieja through the rear view mirror. She is looking out of the window as if she is the only passenger in the car. It looks as if she never heard the conversation. At this point X appropriately draws her breath in sharply and in her most disapproving tone says, “That is so mean of Mieja”, Chula nods her approval. X says, “Mieja is so mean. Let us not play with her anymore.” For this Chula replies, “Okay, but I have to play with her in the afternoons*.” X is puzzled and asks her why and Chula replies, “Because she is my sister and I love her.”
At this point, Madam-pretending-not-to-listen turns to her sister and says, “Akka, I love you too. I want to be your friend too.”
I am smiling. I grew up as an only child I am not sure of all the sibling dynamics. When my children are constantly in each other’s face, I wonder if this is normal and if they will turn out to be tolerant and loving to each other in the future. But instances like this give me reassurance and satisfaction.