My motherhood milestones - feeding, solid foods, diaper weaning, first bloody cut, first dislocation, first serious illness, first serious injury - have all had one big thing in common: Nino's guiding spirit.
Most of my stumblings through these three years have been made simpler, because when it was time, I listened to my son, his silences first, then his cries and now his words.
That was how it was when he first broke his hand. He cried himself to sleep. Nino never cries more than five minutes, perhaps the ingrained dna of having to show he's tough because he's a boy, perhaps because he wants to go back to what he was playing. That night, with a swollen arm, I rushed him to a doctor who x-rayed him and convinced me I was an over reacting mother. All night Nino slept in a peculiar position, only saying, ever so gently, mama, don't cover me, my hand hurts. The next morning, the swelling was there, and I was muttering about what to do as he sat cradling his hand, watching me trying to pour Ibugesic, and he said, can we go to the doctor again, my hand really hurts. It was a dislocated elbow with a muscle injury, we found out later that day. A pop, a cry, and a lollipop later, my son was back to his trucks.
That is how it was again, this evening. I reached home earlier than usual and was pacing the terrace hoping to catch him as he came back from play. I shouted and he looked up, one tiny figure from ten storeys down and he ran towards the lift. When he came up, he looked crestfallen, and I thought maybe the maid had a go at him because he'd been naughty. My eye hurts, he said, dust went into it. I kissed and hugged and said all my silly names to him, but he wouldn't smile back. So I splashed some water in his eye, dabbed the lid with soft cloth, splashed some more water. But this tiny speck of white over his iris just wouldn't go away. As I put in him my lap, swinging, singing, thinking the tearducts will clean the speck away, he said, ever so quietly, maybe we should go to a doctor. I'd told him not to itch, and he was holding back, but there was something in that tone that shook my gut.
Finding an ophthalmologist at 8:30 in the evening in notoriously laid-back Ahmedabad is difficult. Nino's doc finally gave us a reference, a sweet doctor who first dissuaded me saying it was way past his closing time, and then, perhaps hearing my panic, said yes. All through the rickshaw ride to the hospital, Nino kept his eyes closed, the wind hurts he said. The white particle was a speck of plaster, the kind they put on buildings, in his eye. If it had stayed overnight, it could have damaged his eye permanently. Through the anaesthesia drops and the short sharp-scalpel and some forceful holding procedure - he was obedient, quiet, co-operative. Not the son, who I've lately claimed, never listens to me. The doctor said Nino was very brave - words I've come to associate with doctors in reference to my son.
You're lucky, the doc said, you came at the right time. And I wondered about how I'd almost thought the spec would go away, that it was just, you know, dust. We've five days of drops and pain killers to get through, and one very red, but totally mischievous eye.
Right now, he plays near my feet, lining his trucks for a race, happy, singing his favourite song in a totally off-key but saccharine-sweet voice. Listening to our kids is something we all promise ourselves we'll do, putting that milestone at school, teenage and youth. I'm grateful Nino's teaching me this lesson early.
3 hours ago