You and I were born at the same time. When you emerged from my womb and let out your first cry, the mother in me was also born. We are of the same age.
But the fact that we are of the same age doesn’t stop you from thinking that I can answer all your questions, purchase everything you demand, and work nonstop without feeling tired just because I look bigger and stronger than you. The fact that we are of the same age doesn’t stop me from thinking that you are too small, do not know much, and cannot do much. Since we are of the same age, we clash at times as we struggle to express our individual points of view and fail to understand each other. You have been my son and I your mother for just six years. So yes, we do clash, you armed with your limited vocabulary and me with the word power I had started building from the moment I learned to speak. But you do not allow me to stay mad at you for long. Seconds after an argument, you climb onto my lap and I put my arms around you. Sometimes, I feel that you will never outgrow my lap.
When you were a baby, hardly able to crawl, I used to think that I could decide what is good for you and what isn’t. I believed that I could mold you and shape you into the human being I felt that you should be. I felt that all the decisions I made for you—that you should learn to swim, that you should learn to dance, that you should learn to confidently deliver a flawless speech, that you should learn to draw, and so on—were for your own good. Since I was just a naive, inexperienced mother, it did not occur to me that what I believed to be good for you need not necessarily be good for you. Since you were small, I believed that you were incapable of having a mind of your own.
When you were a baby, you and I would cry together. You would cry for reasons unknown and I would cry because I was exhausted and wanted to curl up and sleep. Ultimately, you and I would fall asleep. I was too tired to get mad those days.
When you grew up and learned to argue, you drove me nuts. I never argued with my mother the way you argue with me. Being an inexperienced mother, I would argue back and get mad at you. Fortunately for you and me, I could never stay mad at you for long. I still remember the day when you were two-and-a-half years old and I had bought a watermelon for you. You wanted to hold it in your hands throughout the 5km ride home. Since you were too small to hold that large watermelon in your hands, I took it away from you forcibly and put it under the seat of my scooter. Throughout the way, you cried, screamed, and stamped your feet. I gripped the handlebars of the scooter, worried for our lives, and struggling to retain balance. I did not get mad at you. Instead, I was amused, afraid, and a bit tired. Once home, I handed you and your watermelon to your grandmother and retreated to the quiet haven of my bedroom.
You are now six years old. On January 1, you will be celebrating your seventh birthday. I too will become a seven-year-old Mamma. I have grown and developed a lot as a mother. I have realized that you are not a piece of clay in my hands to be molded at my will. You are a rose bud that will bloom at its own sweet will. I do not want to do what my friend Sahana once did to a rose bud. She tried to bloom it by forcing its petals apart with a pen. We all laughed at her for being so silly. I know you will bloom into a lovely rose without any interference from me. You will develop your own passions, form your own opinions, and make your own decisions. You have already begun to bloom. You are a tough kid who knows exactly what you want and what you don’t want. And you waste no time in making your decisions. You keenly observe your surroundings and understand people well. You are a lovely child who cannot even eat a piece a chocolate without first distributing it among everybody who surrounds you. In short, you are a gem.It took me a long time to realize the utter futility of trying to match my word power against yours. When you get into argument mode, I just laugh. In fact, you got into one today when I came to pick you up from school.
“I want ice apples,” you said.
“Right,” I said.
“Now,” you said.
“Tomorrow,” I said.
“Not tomorrow. I want them now,” you said, your voice beginning to rise.
I patiently explained to you why I could not buy you ice apples right now, but you pretended not to get it.
You accused me of never buying you anything. You whined that I never listen to you. When you got no response, but a twitch of my lips, you threatened to destroy my car. You said you will go on a hunger strike. You said you will never kiss me again. You said you will never buy me anything when you grow up. And you lost your temper when I burst out laughing. And then I stopped the car near the market.
“Why did you stop?” you demanded to know.
I leisurely took a sip of water from the bottle and got out of the car. You scrambled out after me, demanding to know once again why I had stopped.
I grinned at you and said: “To chuck you somewhere here, sweetheart.”
You looked at me searchingly and said: “Hah! Lies! I guess you want to buy something from the market. I want oranges. Five kilograms.”
Tell me. Is it possible to stay mad at you, kid? Impossible!
But I am human. I still lose my cool and scold you hard and then you burst into tears. But the very next moment, you crawl into my arms, refusing to let go till you are absolutely sure that I am no longer mad at you.