Here is Armaan on his first day of playschool. This was the smile plastered to his face all day.
People tend to ask us, “Is he always like this?”
We know that what they’re really trying to ask us is, ” Christ! How much coke did this kid snort?”
What kind of hippies do you take us for? The kid is just naturally stoked, say 90 percent of the time. He is a blaze of fury for the remaining 10 percent and he flings himself to the floor like a scorned Kaikeyi, weeping copious tears. This usually lasts all of 3 minutes and when he realises no-one gives a toss, he picks himself up and gets jiggy with his life again. So far there is not much whimpering and whining. Maybe he’s waiting to turn two before he unleashes a new personality upon us.
For about a month before he began playschool, Armaan could be seen scratching and clawing at doors and windows, making pitiful noises. “Release me from these shackles of loneliness,” he seemed to be saying “Let me go play.”
So I took him to his new playschool. A bright, roomy, airy, cheery place, where employees are so pumped on Prozac that they’ll readily acknowledge HOW MUCH they love changing your childs poopy diaper. Armaan loved it. He crawled around completely unfazed, pointing out “poovu” (flower), mammam (food in the fridge) and wuffwuff (doggie). He sat comfortably with his carer, all cuddled up reading an animal book, while I sat in another corner, against bright, squashy IKEA cushions, sipping my coffee and wondering when I had become so dispensable. The least the child could do was show SOME consideration and be slightly off-balance and clingy. Instead, he decides after a while to go around trying to cuddle and pat completely strange children on the head – completely strange children who were bleating in terror, y’know like normal children that age do when faced with the prospect of imminent separation from a parent.
Our hero looks at them as if to say, “Suck it up a bit, will ya brother?” and moves on to the toy trains and cuddly toys, every inch of which is covered in unspeakably spooky microbes. That’s right, “playschool” is euphemistic nomenclature. The correct term would be Bacillus Central. He buried his face in snot-marinated teddies and for good measure he might even have washed the floor with his tongue.
And here begins his downfall. You see, the universe is always tripping up the cocky ones and my son would be no exception. Once he was done tonguing all the toys, we headed home and he proceeded to puke for three days. At this juncture, the universe surveyed our tattered life and decided to up the pain and suffering, either to strengthen our souls or finish us off. Fresh blessings came in the form of Otitis Media. In plain english, thats the kind of ear infection which a) makes you want to rip off your ears and b) makes you beg for deliverance. Armaan, unable to do either of the above, just shut the happy shop and screamed. This carnival lasted a week. Peace now reigns in our life again.
Now, when we drop Armaan off at playschool, he keys into his empathy and joins the sonata of soul-wrenching screams with the rest of them. At least for the obligatory minute or so till the anti-jinx kicks in.