Our elder kid Hiruni, a girl, had to grow up alone for 10 years because both of us are employed. Being a nuclear family, we didn’t have much help bringing her up. So the first kid almost cost my wife her job.
She was five. We were moving back home after completing difficult area service. We were in the front of the truck. We stopped somewhere in Kandy and bought take away fried rice from a Chinese restaurant. She’s been sleeping all the time. When we parked and gave her the pack of fried rice she stared at mixed up fried rice sleepily and asked,
“What’s this? Cat food?”
We used to mix up all the left over rice and feed the stray cats.
We didn’t have many restrictions on watching TV, so she watched a lot of TV. It gave a lot of exposure and also acted as an effective babysitter under supervision. Even otherwise we didn’t have much choice. There were a lot of commercials she liked, too. Actually she enjoyed some commercials as much as or perhaps even more than the regular programs
“Wait a minute till this commercial break is over…okay?”
Then we realized even her dreams had commercial breaks.
I still remember the day she rode wobbling when I removed both the guide wheels off her little mountain bike. She used to add accessories to this bike from time to time. She once bought a ta-ta hand, a yellow plastic hand fitted at the end of a metal rod that swung from side to side as the bike moved. After practicing in the front yard she was eventually promoted to ride on the country road while my wife and I were riding ahead on the motor bike. And we had made the crash helmet mandatory for her. Once, while riding downhill mom yelled
“Wait wait she’s not there.”
I stopped to see that she was not there to be seen actually. Then from the ditch appeared a blue helmet, followed by a small figure slightly scratched but generally unharmed. Then we pulled both child and the bike out of the ditch. She was fuming with rage. Later we found out the reason.
“It’s okay falling down. That’s not the problem. This stupid ta-ta hand was saying ta-ta ta-ta all the time while I was fallen in the ditch.”
When she was a first grader I had to meet her class teacher one day to listen to her complaint that my kid had walked on the piano keyboard playing with feet creating a new genre of music.
She also had trouble with bullies. When all the complains fell into deaf ears and she was bullied behind the teachers’ backs, as a last resort I taught her some karate in self defense. (This had worked for me when I was bullied at school- a mixed type of street fighting) A few weeks later I was called again because she had assaulted the bullies not only with kicks and punches but also with her motorcycle crash helmet.
I just wondered how lonely she must be when one day I heard her bursting into the living room and blurting out,
I whirled around to find her dressed in her commando kit pointing a toy revolver at her own chest with one hand, with the other hand in the air raised in surrender. She has been playing army and the rebels both.