Road to Discovery

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Statutory Warning: If you think that I am going to embark into an elaborate detail of how I have managed to complete a cross-country bicycle tour in order to raise awareness for a community program or how I fought odds in order to become aware of my true potential, character or motives – then I must warn you that you will be disappointed; because here I very well intend to share my dear little princess’ road to discovering the world around her.

Curious-chatterbox Little Princess is my shadow. From the moment she opens her eyes to a new day up until she unwillingly is dragged into bed (mostly kicking and screaming) for an actual sleep (not to mention the ten or more other pretend ‘sleeping times’ when she is definitely NOT sleeping) and that too when her eyelids droop and simply has given up trying to keep up with her active life; she is with me, behind me, on me with her constant banter which could be an unintelligible explanation of a new discovery or a complaint which I will have to work my hearing skills hard on picking the keywords that would give me a rough idea of the situation considering that her developing language is midway between English, Japanese, Malayalam, and Zulu.

Every little thing in her exciting world is associated with a poem. The sight of a water pipe reminds her of ‘Incy Wincy Spider’, a clap has her transported to Barney’s world with ‘If you are happy and you know it’, anything shaped in the form of a teapot can hear her sing ‘I am a little teapot’, not to mention a jar of sugar that every morning and evening brings up the same question – ‘Johny Johny?’ to which you simply must respond ‘Yes Pappa’.

Getting back to bedtimes, have I mentioned that bedtime is a ritual in itself? Droopy eyelids, tantrums, sleepy angry fits does in no way mean that we cannot adhere to her must-follow ‘Peppa Pig’ rules for bedtime. Bedtime essentially must have Teddy, Big Teddy, Dolly Plum, Kitty Cat (and hopefully not Danny Dog, Spiderman, her wand or any strange thing that has caught her fancy) all tucked up with her. Irrespective of whether we are in the midst of a hot sultry summer or mild winters, bed time strictly includes the super-thick quilt.

This morning sees her wide awake, earlier than usual. I am hurrying up with my chores (boring unending routines, routines, and more routines). We finish breakfast (thanks to Peppa, Ben and Holly and the new Charlie and Lola who are our mealtime companions). I am stacking dishes into the dishwasher thanking God for little blessings when I notice the strange silence. For some unfathomable reason, the silence gets me thinking of the lull before a storm. When Little Princess is up, silence can only and only mean trouble.

I abandon my dishes and make my way into the kids bedroom, envisioning fresh crayon marks on the bedroom wall which is already bright with her artwork or Sid’s notebook confiscated from his bookshelf to get a dose of color with the darkest crayon that she has got her hands on or sticking clay onto every possible free surface in the room or dabbing medicated oil with balls of cotton on her and everything around. I take a peek preparing my racing mind to witness the worst. To my complete surprise, I see her on the bed with a book in hand. I tiptoe away happy, pleased with myself that the hours spent reading out to her from ‘Jungle Book’ or ‘Grandma’s tales’ have finally paid off. It has always upset me that after the first few lines, it is only my son and me curious about the story in question while little princess has strode off on to her exploring expeditions. I am back in the kitchen and that’s when the realization hits me. The delight of seeing her and a book together obscured the fact that the book in question is Sid’s English textbook. I dash over just in time to see her ready to get to work, safety scissors in hand (Phew).

The safety scissors have caught her fancy for now. It started out with me handing over single sheets of newspaper which are half cut and half tore into tiny bits. A Parenting site explains that allowing toddlers to tear paper develops fine motor skills and exploration. After half an hour of tearing the growing pile of paper bits, a warning that I fail to heed, she has discovered a new game. Sid calls it ‘raining paper’. It is not hard to guess that the game is simply throwing bits up into the air so that every inch of the room is covered with paper bits.

Another game is ‘stacking up’. Her play blocks lay abandoned, a few of which have found their way into every possible nook and corner in the house and some have reached the landfill. She prefers stacking up Sid’s books while we sit down for his studies, stacking up cards while we are at a game of Monopoly, stacking up plastic bottles while I am cooking in the kitchen. It is funny when she begins to cry and demand that the fan and Air Con be switched off when her stack is about to topple off.

Recently, after a spell of silence, a nervous peek saw her armed with the water spray (from God knows where) spraying on the center table, the sofa, the floor and then the LCD (not the LCD !!!). I walk up to her just in time to see her lick off the water making its way down the screen. “NO,” I scream and as I write this I wonder if the ‘NO’ was intended towards her licking up the water trickling down the dusty screen into her system or if it was my concern for the television screen (I hate to admit that it was the latter).

Yesterday morning saw us launch a search mission into finding Sid’s school identity card which has the ID tag but the Identity card seems to have mysteriously disappeared. Every nook is looked up – the cupboards, bookcase, school bag and even his swimming kit is all turned upside down and finally he leaves to school with a lecture of the importance of being more organized and careful and no Identity Card. Little Princess wakes up at 9 o’clock pulling out his Identity Card from underneath the pillow, ‘Sid’ she squeals and I feel the prick of tears. I am not sure if they were tears of frustration or relief at finding the lost card which has just saved me AED 50 on fine or the fact that Sid had to endure my lecture early in the morning for no fault of his.

If you happen to pay us a surprise visit, you will need to give us time to make room for you to sit down as we unstack that cushion mountain in the living room; you should not be surprised that the kids room sports a black and white carpet of paper bits and the walls are a canvas of bright strange looking patterns that would instantly remind you of a painter’s colorful palette than his painting; you should not be astounded by cuddly teddy bears streaked with bits of paint, cookie crumbs and maybe even chocolate all over except their mouths or the fact that a super-thick quilt is always shabbily covering the neatly made bed with at least three dolls and Spiderman tucked in and amidst the chaos  you will indeed find a happy toddler on her road to discovery.

'Let's face it.  We have an environmental crisis of our own!'

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