Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hilarious Innocence

Now it is “All day long, all day today!” Whatever that means! But more than incomprehensive phrases, Tontu has become a master at innocent-intelligent conversations!

One evening, during a stop-over on a long day of driving, she told me, “Papa, you are a good driver!” I was flummoxed. How did she know good driving and bad driving at such a tiny age! “Why do you say that, Tontu?!” I asked. “Because you drive us to so many places!” Boink!! Such innocence!!

These kind of incredible conversations are a commonality these days. But alas, it is so difficult to keep track of all these gems. There was this other day when we were walking and the sky was filled with orange streaks of setting sun, and she said “Wow! I can’t believe my eyes. It is like dream come true!!” The phrase “Dream come true” was something that I learnt in my middle school during an English class when there was a short story with the same phrase, and here is my daughter using complicated terminology such as, well, 'complicated', 'rocket-ship', 'astronaut', 'aurora borealis'.

She looks at the map and says 'New York', 'Boston!' She has grasped that there are cities like New York and Boston somewhere on the map. Come to think of it, I might have been in early teens when I even heard about a city called New York!! There was this one day when we were coming back from Alaska with a stop-over at Seattle, and she was jumping in the flight shouting "Seattle, Seattle, Seattle"! It made me remember a day in my childhood when all of us cousins were going to the small Indian town of Nagamangala in KSRTC bus and shouting “Nagamangala! Nagamangala! Nagamangala!” What a paradigm shift!!

Tontu’s reference to NY might have been due to her granma who just visited her recently and we were talking about her experience in her port-of-entry. These offline discussions which are not really with her, sets off some strange 'memory captures' and out it comes at some later point in time, thereby stunning us!

This 'mem capture' capability has also led her to remember some small prayers and some songs. But the improvisation of these songs to whatever comes to her mind at that point in time makes it all the more great. She being a great fan of Where is pointer” rhyme, improvised it to Where is KC” (KC being my pal) when we were searching for him one day at a picnic area. I mean, that is just brilliant!

And then, there are some hilarious instances. Like when we go to vacation, she is all excited. When asked why, she says “Because I love the hotel bed!” Apparently for her, 'Vacation' is synonymous to staying in hotel and the bed in the hotel is what she likes the most. What with it being bouncy, she can jump away to glory!

Then there is this time when she glances at the house-maid in our India house when we are Skyping, and says she is Cinderella (on days when she is wearing blue saree) or Tinkerbell (green saree) or Belle (yellow saree). She looks at my mom and says her dress is not matching. She spies her granma hiding behind a pillar (in the process of Peek-a-boo-ing) and says "Silly Dragon"! ROFL!

Now that she goes to pre-school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, she tracks each day very closely. So, one day, she said-
Is today Monday, papa?"
Are you going to office?
But don’t’ go! I miss you!
I need to go to office to earn money, Tontu. With money, I can get new toys to you!
With that consolation, she finally agreed and I was able to go to office. The next day –
Is today Tuesday, papa?"
Are you going to office?
Ok! Go to office, earn money and get me new toys!
Huh!! “But I miss you, Tontu. I don’t want to go to office!
Its ok, papa. Don’t miss me. I will come to station in the evening to pick you up!” LOL!!!

And so it goes on, every day until it is weekend when she gets super excited because I will not be going to office for 2 full days! That is when I witness her playing all by herself with the umpteen toys that now occupies pretty much one quarter of our apartment home! All of a sudden, she is a teacher, imitating her own pre-school teacher, by sitting on a high chair and arranging and talking to all her toys as if they were her pupils! Another time she is a driver. All the dining table chairs are moved to the room and she has built an imaginary car and she is on the driver’s seat driving, asking all of us to do “Katchak” which means latching up our imaginary seat belts! And then she is sitting on her new tiny chair and working on her laptop just like her daddy! If she has been to a restaurant lately, she is a waitress taking our order. If we have been to the doctor’s, she has an earphone using a stethoscope and checking our heartbeat. It made me remember Salman’s Kabhi Tu song where one person dons so many roles! Using this same eagerness of kids wanting to be everything, someone came up with this brilliant idea of Pretend City and Tontu had a whale of a time being a doctor, a dentist, a waitress, a fire-fighter, a banker, a construction worker, a cop, a car-driver, a librarian, a painter, etc. etc.! Oh, I forgot about another of her favorite at-home activities - standing high on the sofa arm-rest and then pushing herself all-out into the cushy seat-buckets as if she is in a swimming pool, diving!

Speaking of swimming pool reminds me of the recent pool party that we had at our apt. Tontu had this nice tube around her waist and the tube gave her unprecedented freedom! She realized she no longer needed anyone to hold her. She could come out of the pool, fall into the pool, move around by kicking herself, and pretty much do everything without anyone so much as touching her. It is amazing how sweet the taste of freedom is, for she was outright asking us not to touch her or her tube in the pool. After all these years of taking her to the pool for her enjoyment and carefully watching over her, here she is asking us to keep us to ourselves! So much for parenthood!!

But it is good to see her enjoying her own freedom and expressing her individuality. At home, she has this tendency to keep changing her dresses every half hour. So whenever she asks us to change her dress, we keep saying no. So, now she gets into the room, closes the door, pulls up a chair to get herself some elevation and picks a dress of her choice and puts it on all by herself. Out she comes to living room, and says “Ta-da! Surprise!” We are like, “Here we go again!

And then there was this one day when we were at the park and she was playing slide all by herself. It was almost time to go and another girl of her age came over to her and they both started playing – which was nothing but just climbing up the short few steps, sliding down the barrel, running back to the steps and doing it all over again. They did this for about ten times and we kept calling her. Tontu was having too much fun to leave her new found friend! So she kept following her friend despite many shout-outs. And then at one point, her friend realized that we were calling and so she took Tontu to a side (behind the steps) and spoke to her, perhaps convincing her to ignore her parents! It was like two tiny conspirators, and they looked so funny! It was so synonymous to what many children do to parents when they are adults – like girls who are being secretly convinced by their ‘boy-friends’ to leave her parents house in exchange of a world filled with love!! - and I was witnessing something close to it already!! It was downright hilarious.

These “Hilarious Innocence” instances are so many that it is hard to keep track, and many of them slip through our memory. One day, we asked her to write 1 to 10, and she wrote 1, 2 and 10! There was this other day when her mom was teaching her the meaning of her name “Paavani”. My wife told her it meant “Purifier” but my daughter recognized only part of the word. So she asked “My name means ‘Fire’?!” And remember that iPhone post?

Come to think of it, these episodes are true for any toddler or a pre-schooler, including ourselves in that age. It is just that no one logged it in any form and, just like that, it is lost forever. We recently saw a Kannada movie ‘Naanu…Nanna Kanasu’.  It can be considered as the prequel to the famous English movie ‘Father of a Bride’. While the latter covers only the wedding part, the former covers pretty much the entire life cycle from the birth of a daughter till she gets married – and, most importantly, the gamut of emotions that a Father of a Daughter goes through.

Although it is great to see her growing taller and taller, and learning more and more things that this world has to offer, it is quite heartening to see her distancing herself from us parents even though it is minuscule. It is as if we are missing doing things to her – making her asleep, feeding her breakfast, giving her bath, putting on her dress and shoes, buckling and unbuckling her car seat – the list goes on. Just like that she grew out of it all and became independent. It is a time for both pride and melancholy! A video that I saw reminds me of how a duck relies on its ducklings to “Just do it” despite all odds, without so much as teaching, and how fortunate most of us humans are, to talk and teach and generally “Be there’ for our children…

Well, here’s to ‘Being There’ and ‘Feeling Proud’! Tontu turned four last week, and this blog-post is another web-based (and hopefully immortal) gift from her dear daddy!!

Happy Birthday, Tontu!!

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