It happened again.
Zoya’s school diary had entries of her infirmary visits because of stomach pains. She would tell me about them, and the pains seemed genuine. She is six and half, and can articulate very well!
At least, that is what I thought.
One day, just like that, the stomach aches stopped, and a headache happened. It happened again after a week, and the following week. She was not wearing her glasses regularly. So on they went, with a note to the teacher to ensure they stay on her in class too.
The headaches then happened two or three times a week. We got her eyesight checked. Everything was fine.
The headaches turned into a daily affair. And then almost two times a day. Only in school. The aches never came home or happened on a holiday.
If there is a pit inside the human body, inside my body, it turned into a blackhole.
I took her for a thorough check up – eyes, ears, spine, stomach, brain. Please let it be a physical ailment.
Perhaps, it is her posture, said the doctor. No television for long hours, back straight, everything at eye level.
Almost everyday, the class teacher and I would be on the phone, discussing the daily schedule, meals, conversations, friends, alertness, other teachers… I could sense her concern and helplessness.
“What do we do, Ms Sood?”
She tried everything there. I tried many things at home. We continued to exchange notes. A pattern emerged – the headache started post lunch, she would look visibly ill and tired, the under eye would turn reddish – the nurse would apply a balm and she would be asked to rest with her head down on the table.
“This is not a pain in the head. Stop the balm please,” I told the teacher.
It has been a crazy six months – I have been travelling non-stop because of the OTB Series, and when I finally did come home, I’ve been buried in edits. There has been so much hustle and bustle, distractions, animals, people coming, going, staying over.. It’s been a happy crazy time overall. And the children have loved the process of being involved with films – being on the shoots and watching the edits to partying when the telecasts happened!
When they could not travel with me, Praveen held fort and he did very well. I so admire his parenting skills. I indulge, he balances. He manages to get time to work and even get the children in bed on time! Why does the system fail when I am around? My so-to-say little geniuses can’t even pull their pants down to pee on their own when I am home!!
Every time I left for the shoot without them, they’d we all teary eyed and screechy. “Don’t leave us”, “I want to go too”, “You can’t have all the fun without us”, “I promise to not disturb you”, “Please take me too”.. And since I have come back, they’ve clung on to me even more, especially Zoya, insecure that they may wake up and find me gone for a few days again.
But, what have I missed? What is she going through, what is she thinking, that she is not being able to rationalize?
I missed the subtle hints, I guess, in the last 6 months. No more cartoons, questions about life and the universe, more time in front of the mirror, precocious gestures, already planning her 10th birthday, wanting to sleep till 10 am on holidays, friends twice her age…
She is growing up very fast. Yes, it is the ultimate goal of parenthood. But, she is maturing too fast for her age. As much as it is charming, it is very challenging! My heart squeezes so hard, I can’t breathe. No! I want to preserve her childhood and her innocence as long as possible…
What do I do?
Sunday morning her tooth fell out. This time, she was not as excited.
“Ma, is there really a tooth fairy?”
Yes, and she comes bearing good wishes and happiness and health and gifts! She does exist, my love. Believe in this magic, always!
She removed all the elaborate gift wrapping I had done, tucked the tooth into a tiny piece of foil, put it under her pillow and asked me if the Tooth Fairy will give her an iPad.
“Alright, Tooth Fairy, if you can’t get me the iPad, books will do. And if that is not possible, make Mamma’s fever go away… Can you make my headache go away?”
I can cry as much as I want… But time will not turn back. As a parent, I have to move with the clock, evolve, think on my feet and believe in my instinct…
Monday morning, Zoya woke up to this:
A little patience, a little pause, a little imagination and a little magic…
They can take you a long way, and even make your headaches disappear.