The things that seem to have endured the most by their activities are my room and my energy reserve. I won’t deny I’m fairly astonished by their energy levels, but even so envious of the same. They just won’t get tired! Partly to be blamed is my experience with kids their age. I don’t end up mingling much with them for the reasons stated previously. Their and my energies don’t vibe together and I end up full of lethargy. The first couple of days, they were so-called guests and for a while they did act accordingly. Following days showed how it was all a facade.
It’s fun at times too. I mean this time playing chiclets and laughing like anything over the little one getting the lowest score and the elder one cheating God level.
When they are not at indoor games, it’s my cell phone bearing the brunt. Every damn game in the App Store seems to have somehow found its way to my poor cell phone which is crying of getting filled to the brim but nah, they are not going to take pity at it. I’m afraid it might explode for it turns hot as hell with anger, evidently, for the abuse aimed at it. Poor tongueless creation. I’m pretty sure if I die and they attend my funeral, they are going to take a peep into my coffin only to ask where my mobile phone is!
So today they have decided to cook! Yes, the elder one says he knows the recipe and the procedure to make pancakes. Assures me he has successfully attempted it several times at his home. I am not convinced. I agree on one condition, I will accompany them all the while and do the major stuff myself, especially handling the knife and all. All is set and we ask Mom for the permission to the kitchen. She allots this time to us when she won’t be doing her chores in there and it would be vacant enough for us to play MasterChef!
It’s about time and enthusiastic them and apathetic I enter the kitchen to make pancakes. The leading party decides to make it mango flavoured. So I start off with peeling a mango and putting it in the blender. Older one is shown the flour, sugar, milk and all the stuff he needs. He gets a bowl and starts mixing it all together. It’s this while that we are occupied that the little one takes the opportunity and the next I take a glance at him, he is doing God knows what with this cleaver half his height and the chopping board! There is nothing around that he seems to have been chopping. I give out a scream, followed by a couple of interjections of shock. He is startled, leaves the knife and gets all teary in the eyes. I don’t know how to handle kids I agree, but what is this behaviour mate? All he repeatedly says as he moves out is why I shouted in the first place, could have said it slowly as well. He says that I frightened him! Blame-shifting and how!
Amidst this predicament I realise, though not intending any mistreatment, my reaction was a bit heightened given the fact how children watch us and learn, more so when we ain’t consciously teaching them. I don’t want him to take away from this incident that in order to get your word established you have to go all violent in the words and give out cries of fear.
Now I have a choice to make, stay in the kitchen and help the elder one who is not at all affected by this spectacle and is ignoring us big time; or move out to the younger one and make peace. I choose the latter despite not having the trust in the elder one. I sure shot know he wouldn’t be able to do what he is upto without putting the house on fire.
I decide to find the younger one and reconcile. I find him sitting in the lobby, all prepared to see me there any moment. Such a gimmick. I assure him my reaction was impulsive, no doubt, but it was for the fear that he might hurt himself. After molly-coddling him, we are again on good terms. I make him promise not to use the knife and we are back in the kitchen.
I understand children have their share of curiosity with things, but above all I wonder why I let go of the fact that they not only have a mind but also a heart of their own. Adults, generally, are of the notion that kids don’t posses complex emotions. But if I were to choose one thing that my interaction with kids so far has taught me, it will be that kids experience feelings as advanced as adults. This has made me believe that we are born with all these emotions wired into our brains already. Maybe, the prevalent conception is because kids don’t have a vocabulary to talk about it. But then we, adults, inspite of possessing a grand word-stock, still choose to not communicate at times. What good are we then?
I resume baking from here onwards for the fear that otherwise the stuff that we will end up with won’t be worth consuming by any human who possesses taste buds.
My brother joins us shortly in the kitchen, but he is not helping, just mocking us outta fun. During this while, we are discussing fast food and stuff and it’s now that the younger one tells us how he knows an eatery in the area that’s named FRENCH FRIES. He informs us that we can find anything to eat in there except French fries. The irony of it makes us break into a laughter. To this my brother says this has provided him with an idea for the name of a setup if he ever comes up with one. He says he’ll name it INSURANCE. Being told to elaborate, he says he’ll be providing tuning and modding facilities for interesting parties there but that very thing kills the insurance policy of a vehicle. This one is witty, I have to agree. The elder one feeling left out tries to join the race and comes up with an even funnier one, says he will name his shop EVERYTHING, but one wouldn’t find anything in there. I ask how is he going to make profit out of it then? Says, “I will charge people fare to visit it.”
Amidst fun and laughs, our dish is all prepared. I season it with honey and there we have it! High five. I cut the pie in the shape that the younger one suggests me, “…an ‘X’ and not a ‘+’”. If that’s not doltish, I don’t know what is. It’s just his way of showing his attendance and pressurising me into following his advice over the fact that he isn’t allowed to use the knife himself for the same tussle that happened a while back. Humans crave their presence to be felt since the very beginning. Amirite?
Pie distributed, between 3 and a 0.14 (the little one) of us, we move to watch TV while we gulp it down.
The evenings are the bonding time. There are instances when they talk so incessantly that I find my train of thoughts leaving the station even without me! It’s during this stint that I’ve this epiphany that no doubt all days are made of 24 hours, but still some turn out longer than the rest.
Kids asks a lot of questions. I’m sure not to annoy but to actually get an explanation for the things. Curious little cats. Sometimes, asking different variations of the same question until they get a satisfactory response.
Tip 101: “I don’t know.”, “Because I say so.” are very bad replies if you want to put an end to your interrogation.
Humans evolved an extended childhood to a certain degree to allow for the children to be able to navigate through the complexities of the human social realm. It turns out their curiosity is but an adapting mechanism.
Sometimes, I deliberately ask them questions as I enjoy the thought process of people their age. And I’m sure it’s the case with children in general, that they are very keen observers. This time the story the little one shares with me is worth telling.
He says how one day a fellow student of his discovers to his dismay that his mom has (obviously by mistake) placed her cellphone in his lunch box instead of something to eat while packing lunch for him. I don’t know if I trust this story to be true but I am all in for willing suspension of disbelief to indulge in the state of laughter for this is one such funny occurrence.
He goes on to share how his classmate was all worried in case teachers would find out about this. Next, what he tell me really leaves me startled about his understanding of the deliverance of justice. He say the poor kid had to go through all the trouble for the carelessness of his parent. He questions if the fault wasn’t his, why is the system as such that he had to worry? Did I have an answer? Yes. C’est La Vie.
The little one shares with me that he is of the belief that if he runs fast enough, he will turn invisible. It’s the influence of The Flash, I think. He stands up to demonstrate. Walks a distance from me in the hallway and comes running past me as fast as he can all the way to the living room and back. As he stops, panting, asks me, if I could see him running. Without waiting for my answer this Usain Bolt lite moves back to the previous position and runs the distance again. This time breathing hard, asks me if I could see him this time. It’s a hard state to be in. I don’t want to break his tiny heart, especially after looking at all the hardwork he’s put into this failed little experiment of his, but I choose to make him understand that no matter how fast he runs, he won’t go invisible. He is clearly crest fallen. I shouldn’t be feeling bad for the acerbity, for this is only one such step preparing him for some umpteen plot twists he’ll be encountering in life to come.
No matter how innocent they be, there’s this thing about human nature that leaves me surprised. We, as a species, are not as empathetic as manipulative we are. The science behind this, I would like to explore someday. To support it here’s an instance:
On this one occasion, I see the elder one making the younger one comply to what he wants by going to the extreme lengths of bullying him. Over some issue, he picks up the phone and threatens him that he is going to call the orphanage to come and get him along. Such weird eggs!
I find the elder one using my laptop and I don’t remember telling him the password (not that it is very hard to guess, but still). He invites me to see what he is doing. All I see is this long list of him asking Siri question and it answering back. He boasts the questions he asks are the ‘Easter eggs’. An e.g.:
Siri: “Mr. Stark is that you?”
I leave the room with a smile of appreciation and also the utter realisation that age is just a number, in the sense that people younger than you can teach you things. And it’s a big rest to ones ego for good.
It’s no news that we can learn a number of things from children, the likes of being brave, finding wonder in small things, regaining compassion, being spontaneous, et cetera. But at this very moment, all I can sense is how they’re making me feel technologically handicapped by virtue of their better understanding of it.
From I reading out to them basic rhymes few years back and they marvelling at how I can decipher the words on a piece of paper so well, to they showing me all these tricks with technology and I being amazed at their understanding of tech for it being better than mine; from I spoon feeding them their baby food with an underlying objective of developing a connect to they showing me new recipes, life’s come full circle.
I had missed out the parenting angle associated with elder siblings in case of my brother due to very less age difference, but thanks to these little devils, I have been experiencing the nurturing and caring aspect of my personality which is new even to myself. I am astonished it even exists. It makes me understand that it takes a certain ambience to explore different dimensions of ones disposition. I wonder what else is in store that’s only waiting for the right moment to become known.
Speaking of their tech savvy nature, same day the younger one is absorbed in some video game on my cellphone. I get a call and I take it from him. While on call only, I leave the room. After I drop the call, it’s the game he was playing staring me in the face. I return to give my phone to him so he can resume playing. He is all puzzled at this point, probably because I returned the phone to him without him asking for it again and tells me, “You’re a very nice person Aapi, stay blessed.” A wise old man’s blessings.
Day of parting:
Their parents are back. They clearly have no mood to return to their dwelling. No one likes the regular, you see, even if it’s home. A major turn back for them sure is the academic studies they will be resuming shortly when they get back. I can understand the plight, I share this state with them. The process of learning is often times dull.
In hindsight, I could have made better use of time spent with them. Still the good thing, we’re parting with a load of memories and a promise of scheduling our next vacations together. Undoubtedly I will miss them, but what I’ll miss more is the rare company of naivety, untouched by the malice of the world, and the lessons they would impart to me ever so gently.
And off they go, my link to the generation next (they keep me updated with things) and my own childhood (I see a lot of younger me in them) simultaneously. Our energies? Still not at the same frequency, but we were successful in finding a happy medium to harmonise.
No children were harmed in the making of this article. Non-fiction.