Inside a little mind
The child is indeed the father of man. So I realised all over again after experiencing a bout of impulsiveness by a seven-year-old.
It was a warm Saturday afternoon when a young nephew was dropped off to spend the weekend with the family. He arrived with hunger pangs because he had spurned his breakfast that morning. The food at our home did not appeal to him. He simply wanted “proper food” (whatever that meant!).
His craving to wolf down some outside food had set in. Nothing could calm him down till he was shown the green signal. Since the brat was a much loved one and was on a rare visit to our home, I decided to give in to his demand.
So, off we went in the direction of a street which is punctuated regularly with a series of eateries in the international range waiting to appease gourmets and gluttons alike.
Though I had haunted that street a million times over the decades, I realised that I had never patronised any of those joints. Since he seemed to be equipped with a lot of data on these counts, I let him take a call.
We reached the place of his choice and seated ourselves comfortably. I told him to order whatever he wanted. After a cursory glance at the menu card, he rattled the names of two dishes. The waiter said that those dishes would be made only an hour later but the young one did not want to consider the other item on the menu card. Since he felt too weak to step out, we remained seated for a long time, nursing an aerated drink to kill time. Finally, the food arrived. He picked at it with distaste for quite a while till we had to evacuate our table for a waiting customer. When we marched back home with our silent thoughts, it was twilight.
I spent the night thinking of the best possible manner in which I could mend his ways without making him cranky. After all, we were expecting many more aunts and uncles the following day and I did not want to upset anyone or complicate issues. Sunday dawned. He woke up with a ‘butter-will-not-melt-in-my-mouth face”, making me melt with affection. His infectious smile made me feel hesitant about raking up the subject of the gourmet’s jaunt. He completed his ablutions without a murmur and polished off the idlis on his plate in a trice. He even helped us around the house with little tasks. Soon it was a full house. All of us had planned to visit a temple and eat out, thereafter.
Most unexpectedly, the self-enlightened young man would not hear of eating outside as scheduled. Some healthy, homemade food was packed for him amidst wholehearted appreciation. Eyebrows were raised and many tongues clicked marvelling at the maturity and the self-control of a soul so young! He was approved of and appreciated by aunts and uncles who wished that other kids in the clan emulated the haloed soul!
Every inch of him looked convincing in his new avatar. What had passed was passé for him. I am sure that this kind of oscillating behaviour is true of all children across time and space.
Children can be characteristically unpredictable. They can display completely contrasting attitudes and behaviour with sincerity and élan. More often than not, their uncanny disposition comes forth during meal times.
The younger are crankier, quite at the higher end of the scale, especially when in the company of their dear ones. Best behaviour usually plays cameo at unexpected moments, preferably in informal situations.
True, unwarranted quirkiness of kids can be demanding, frustrating and flabbergasting, all at once. However, their earnestness has the power to offset the setbacks they create for us. Weren’t we also children once upon a time? Wonder where we lost our innocence and our ability to be ourselves despite everybody and everything?