Writing about food is my guilty pleasure. Recently, with a baby on the move, there hasn’t been time for any sorts of pleasure. I cannot understand why my six month old baby feels the need to crawl aggressively, clamber up and take flying, frog like leaps on the carpet. “What’s the hurry,”I wonder, as I follow him around the house, on one hand proud of his persistence and propelling forward type of proclivity and on the other, completely exhausted and numbed from the effort of constantly watching and trying to restrain a strong willed ball of uncoordinated energy.”I’m so tired” I moan to anyone who will listen, and particularly to my family in India that I manage to track down on long-distance calls. The time difference between India and the U.S. has always worked in my favor. My day, after a night punctuated with howling children that wake up each hour, begins as they settle into the evening, and I can’t resist reaching out to my mother or my sister for just a little bit of support to get through the day. The morning is over too soon, though. Agastya returns from summer camp at noon and we launch into the rest of the day.
I’ve learnt some lessons along the way. One of them involves alone time. I find that I need to spend time alone with each child to enjoy him and to observe little details about him. A short walk to the grocery store with Agastya or a trip to the dry cleaners with Vasisht allows me to marvel at how small and how perfect and how wonderful each is. It’s a change from all the other things that I keep constantly trying to do with or to my kids – feeding, teeth brushing, diapering, potty-training, sleeping, and more recently, bargaining, negotiating and trying to quell tantrums.
I’ve also found that a child’s perspective can make an otherwise boring trip quite fun. Take for instance a PATH train ride into Manhattan. Agastya walks to the station from home with me, watching for the right turns and forks in the road, feeling very important as he crosses the road at the right signals. Everything we do at the station – going down the stairs, buying a metrocard, swiping the “ticket” at the gates, finding the right train, settling ourselves into the seat – is new and novel. We study the map and confirm that indeed we will be disembarking at 33rd St. On the next platform stands a train that will go to WTC. We can see carriage number 626. There are H’s for Hoboken on the pillars in the platform. “Oh look mommy, there’s an EXIT sign,” says Agastya. When Agastya sees the conductor ambling into the train, he exclaims loudly “all aboard.” The sleepy looking conductor looks startled for a moment, then catches our eye and hides a small grin. When the train pulls out of the station, Agastya holds his breath with excitement. “We’re in the tunnel, mommy” he says as darkness falls around us. When I ask him what the first stop is, I see a look of intense concentration and excitement on his face. “The train is going faster” he says, breathlessly. It is indeed. I’m almost in his body, feeling the trip for the first time, my face alight with wonder.