I read somewhere once that FEAR stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real”. I have to agree with that, in retrospect, that is. But when you are lying on your bed, staring at the ceiling, heart pounding at the very thought of that awful thing you fear so much, the evidence you dig up from the recesses of your mind seem anything but false…. You know what I mean, right?
I have a 2 year old daughter. I should stop right here, and let you make the obvious connections with FEAR, and fear in general. But, I love to talk about my fears, and so I will.
When Debbie was born, she was barely 5.5lb, tiny and fragile, her wail almost a squeak. Now, although she is still tiny for her age (only 22lb when she should be 27lb, and I get my share of flack about it from busybodies of all descriptions. In my defense I would like to state, both my doctor and this website claim this is quite normal.), she is growing up to be a source of admiration, jaw-dropping disbelief, and pure joy for my husband and me, every moment!
She is a lovely, delightful little girl! She runs around making shrieking noises when I try to make her eat food. She throws a healthy tantrum (the habit isn’t, but the gusto of the display certainly is!) when she is refused ANYTHING, yes, even the flames on the stove burner (?!?!?!) She sings non-stop (ie. When she is not shrieking or throwing a tantrum). In fact she can sing the entire alphabet song, even the last bit (“Now I know my ABCs…etc.), a couple of rhymes, can count till 10 in a random order (!), and recite a couple of Bible verses… *I’m on a roll here, aren’t I… ;-]… and you say “Mmhmm…keep going…”* She cries VERY LOUDLY (seriously, that is how it sounds, my eardrums are not what they used to be…) Sigh…, loves books, and dotes on her big brown teddy bear. She is healthy and happy. She is surprisingly intelligent and insightful for a 2-year-old, and did I say she loves books…oh yeah, if she is very quiet and you don’t hear shattering glass, she is definitely poring over a book. There is no need to worry, no need to lie awake at night wondering about the future. If we do our best, everything will turn out just fine.
However, and you mommies will surely understand, I sometimes have these fears… Will she grow up into a healthy adult, or will she inherit any of my health conditions problems? How will she stand up to a bully in school? Will she be able to cope with the harder lessons in school? Will she maintain good (if not excellent) scores throughout her student career? Will I be able to guide her well through her adolescent years? Heck, will she let me?? Will she meet the right guy? Will she love him? Will he love her long enough (‘long enough’ read ‘forever’…) Will she achieve all her dreams? Will she love me when she grows up? *Aside: Will she love me more than her Dad…* Aaaarrrrgghhh! Come to think about it, these are all Worries. I worry about her a lot, and which mother doesn’t.
And these worries turn into fears, slowly but surely. Looking around at the world, I do not receive much consolation either. Relationships of any kind are not what they used to be. Even in a relatively conservative country like India, divorce rates are creeping up the ladder, families are becoming more dysfunctional everywhere, psychos are created at every street corner (False Evidence or not, it is creepy!), educational systems losing quality, and the list is endless. Of course, there is any number of good things in a society that can influence a child: a good family, good friends, the church (or any religious institution), good teachers, true ‘soul-mate’ kind of love, and lots more.
But it all depends on the choices that my child makes. Will she let the bad influence her, or will she take in only good influences. As parents, we can guide her, but (I hate this part) we can’t make the choices for her. Sometimes, these fears make us let go of the Trust Factor and lay down absurd rules that curb the normal growth of a child. There really is a thin line between caring and controlling. So, you lay down the ground rules, teach your child everything they need to know, set a good example, and expose them to a loving and caring environment…. And wait. You Wait… to see how your child turns out…How do we do that? How did our parents do it? And what will my little girl be like when she is an adult? What kind of a woman, wife, mother, and human being will she be?
Now, tell me, how can I not let False Evidence Appearing Real creep up on me every night?
I have never run many races in my life so far, whether rat or otherwise. So I do not have any ‘record-breaking’ memories to choose from when I think of a finish line. What comes to mind, though, is a ‘Rabbit Race’ we kids ran, back when we were in grade three, and the world was a rainbow. Apparently, I was on the other (more rainy) side of the mountain…whatever.
Anyway, our teacher, a wonderfully sweet lady with a beautiful singing voice gave us our instructions to run the race (but not in the form of a song). She should have sung it, maybe then everyone would have listened….I digress.
Anyway, during rehearsals (yeah, we used to have dry runs, many, in fact), the teacher said that little containers of mango juice (my favorite kind) would be placed on chairs at the start line and each one of us (dressed as rabbits – rabbit ears made from pink chart paper, socks on our palms for paws, and socks on our feet for, well, rabbit feet..duh), had to drink up all, she said All… the juice as fast as we can, and run (no, hop) to the finish line. Sure, that’s easy, right?
Anyway, (Gosh, I sound like Ellen Degeneres), the big day arrived, and we lined up for the race, every little girl with paper ears, sock paws and hopping rabbit feet. Our teacher blew the whistle and everyone hopped to the juice containers, picked them up, started sipping (so far so good), and…dropped the containers and ran….Hey wait! You guys are supposed to Finish the drink, and then run. I was following instructions and the others were finishing the race… where do I come from, anyway, gaaawd! No prizes for guessing what position I finished in at that race. My mom still has a picture of me at that race – lopsided rabbit rabbit ears covering half an eye, drink in hand, and a “What The…” expression on my face!
I look at the winners of that race now, and I wonder if they still have the head start – cool jobs, cooler hairdos, parties, pets, apartments and travel photos – while I try to not to burn breakfast, then force-feed it to my daughter Debbie, and get to work on time.
And then I turn around and look at her toothy grin and the love in her eyes, and I think, well, Mama Rabbit’s going to sip this one in, moment by moment, before the next race catches up… We got time to sip the juices, smell the roses …. The finish line can wait.
My computer crashed! How timely is that?! I mean, I have to submit my MPhil. thesis at the end of June, and here’s my computer showing attitude! AAaaarrrgh! I took four days off, and got my husband to help out with Debbie and the chores while I worked on my thesis. He even did some of the typing work for me. And then, Sunday morning I open a blank file where Chapter 3 used to be…..!
I mean, I saved the file and everything. I think it’s about time we got rid of that computer (It’s as old as the hills!) My husband just won’t do it…I don’t know if it has emotional value for him (he just tried to throw out Debbie’s favourite book last weekend because it was dogeared! I just don’t know what makes these men tick…). Maybe, he has some distant hope in the computer’s human-like will power to make one last Herculean effort. I tell you, the whole deal is as nonsensical as that last sentence. Anyway, that’s my husband and his computer!
So yesterday we just gave the entire chapter to be typed at a DTP centre, where they will type your stuff out and save it for a minimal amount of money. That works for me, I tell you.
I don’t have to deal with the typing work along with all the other stuff that’s driving me crazy around here.
Debbie is beginning to stand without support for a few seconds nowadays. Her best yet is 10 seconds! She is really excited about it…but unfortunately has inherited the family trait of letting the excitement get out of control!
She now walks around the entire house (with support) and pulls down anything, and I mean anything she can reach. She pulled down on herself the entire pile of xeroxed secondary source material I had collected for my thesis! She managed to eat a few words too!
One day, I found her dutifully chewing her way through the headphones! That cost a lot of money and she was brunching on it!
Then there’s the books, face cream tubes, underwear (my husband left the drawers open again!), stationary, TV remote, clothes (right off the hangers) etc., etc…
She is getting her fourth teeth and it’s driving her crazy..She has recently developed a craving for my fingers. I would be sitting there, absorbed in my work, and she would sneak up to me, grab one of my fingers and dig her teeth right in! Gosh, I should probably introduce her to hotdogs, or maybe they have already been introduced and she just misses them!
When she cannot get at my fingers, she goes for my hair! Yep! That’s what I said, my hair! She likes to pull really hard at one strand at a time and put me through excruciating pain while she claps her hands in absolute delight! Oh yeah, just for the record, she has learnt to clap her hands to music or when she is happy!
See what I mean? Here I was, narrating my unfortunate accidents and the torture I suffer at the hands of my 10 month old daughter. Yet, I can’t resist bragging about her achievements. I guess that’s what parents are like. So proud of their children. Makes me think of my own parents and the sacrifices they made for me. Every time I excelled in school or at art or music, they would be so full of pride and would talk about it to relatives and neighbours for so many days! Failure on my part, at the same time, would send them to the depths of disappointment that was worse than the sadness I felt at my failure. Parents practically live for us, and love us with a love so pure that it is only lesser than God’s love for us.
I have wonderful parents, let me tell you. At the most unexpected of moments this fact hits me and I feel a rush of gratitude and my eyes fill up with tears. I regret to say that I rarely express this gratitude properly to my parents.
I guess that’s why we have Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, a day on the calendar when the whole world is telling you “this is your day to go and tell you mom or dad that you love them, that they are special and that you are happy and successful and they had a large part to play in forming this success and happiness”. Just tell them that you love them.
Happy Father’s Day in Advance to all the fathers in the world!