“All aboard” screeched my four year old son and “choo choo choo” they voyage into the world of imaginative play. They circled every room in our home making stops here and there. Little did they know that their expedition dragged me along into my childhood days two decades ago. As the choo choo sound starts to dissipate, I find myself running and screaming along with my cousins, passing by the coconut trees, sifting through paddy fields, into the wide open blue sky. I still vividly remember every little prank we participated; every little escapade we embarked on; every little brawl we had; every little path we roamed; and every little tears we shed while separating. Summer vacations at my grandma’s home will always be a shrine of my childhood memories….an abode where my imagination were nurtured and encouraged.
Grandma stocked up the cupboards with buckets (yes! I said buckets ) of goodies for all her grand kids. Three buckets of athrasa and three buckets of chakuli to be precise. And those filled buckets of snacks would be emptied by us in less than a month. Is'nt it amazing to eat buckets of sweets and deep-fried junks in less than a month and still be skinny? That’s the magic of childhood. Grandma had furniture made out of bamboo sticks. We converted those chairs into auto rickshaws / train/ bus and dragged it around everywhere on the concrete verandah. Within two years (two summer vacations) those chairs were completely destroyed. Thinking about it today, I cannot comprehend why grandma didn’t stop us? Why didn’t she admonish us? Did she not heed for that furniture?
As I immerse myself with these notions, a loud cry puts me back to the reality. My kids were belligerent as usual after an hour of cheerful play. And I am back again in the never ending loop of what happened, who did it, who is the culprit and the punishment. PUNISHMENT -which I never received as a rowdy child; now trying to discipline my kids to behave well – how incongruous is that? As my kids hit the bed that night, I am restless with many questions echoing in my mind. Why grandma didn’t punish us for breaking her furniture? What is her message behind this gesture? Would I do the same thing if I were her?
As a kid I was a tomboy. I have done many notorious pranks that will easy exceed encyclopedia if I even begin to pen down. I don’t remember ever being punished for that. Then why do I punish my kids if they go wild. “Don’t” and “No” are the words in my dictionary to respond to their every prank. “Don’t jump on the puddle, you will get dirt” I said to my kids … imagine coming from me …a kid who soaked herself in mud while playing in the paddy fields. Oh how I enjoyed playing in the field getting all wet and dirt, don’t my kids deserve getting their feet and hand wet in that puddle?
Reminiscing about my own childhood has brought so much positive change in me. I may never be like my grandma, allowing my kids to go wild ripping the furniture (or may be I will allow it for my grandkids, may be I will reap that much patience at that age), but I did learn to tone down and allow my kids to go crazy occasionally. I join their crazy fiesta sometimes too. I realize that imagination and discipline don’t go hand in hand. Imaginative kids are wild, exploring and experimenting life. I have no rights to discipline their creative play; I can only make sure they don’t get hurt while exploring, just like Grandma did. May be Grandma was reliving her childhood by allowing us play auto rickshaw with her furniture and now it’s my turn to nourish my kids imaginative play.
The Ministry of My Utmost Grief
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