I have been living outside India for more than seven years now, but my thinking is still very much based on my upbringing in Bombay. “Never accept sweets from strangers” were my mum’s first words of caution as we stepped into Primary school. News, in those days was all about children drugged and kidnapped right near their schools and my mother had made sure that we know each gory detail, enough to keep us on high-alert the minute we stepped out of our comfort zone. My school was barely a five minute walk from home and yet each day a chauffeur driven car was sent to drop-off and collect us. Even when we were allowed to walk home by ourselves, we were given a set of instructions on how to walk, where to look and the pace of walk. I guess a bit of my nervousness is rooted in this upbringing, besides of course the fierce desire to protect my children.
I know, I know. Life goes on, things are bound to change. Whenever I hear new mums babble about their babies not eating solids, not getting potty-trained, not walking yet, I want to tell them to stop, step aside and just watch them grow. Send them to school as late in life as you can, be with them, cherish them, hold them, cuddle them. There is no need to rush them to achieve their milestones, no need to make them grow up too soon. Cause eventually they will and then we would want them to slow down.
|My son holding onto my hand when he was 2.|
It’s time for me to let go now, uncurl that small hand that has tightly gripped mine these past 10 years, finger by finger, touch by touch, making sure that he is ready to face the world by himself, letting him know that he can choose his own pace, make his own way and that I would be there just a step behind him to hold him steady if need be.
Two hours later a ping on my mobile phone makes me jump. It’s a text from him. ‘Almost home now’. I am so relieved and I let out a long deep breath. My younger son ran down to the lobby to meet his brother. Guess he is also not used to being away from him for too long. Five minutes later my son walks in through the door and I couldn’t help but notice a slight change in his gait, like a little spring, bobbing up and down – a style that comes with confidence and independence!