I love children. Young little moppets with wide dreamy eyes sometimes looking at you curiously and perhaps wondering, “why are adults so weird?”. Babies, toddlers, young children or even school going teens, I am drawn to them and they seem to be drawn to me, going by the way they transfix their gaze on poor ole me. :).
There’s a young girl of about 4 or 5 who lives with her parents in the same building complex as I do. She’s shy, sharp witted and is like a little waif with plaits and cute as a button. I’m not shy, though in my mind I believe I am. So there are times when I can get talking to a person quickly and as smoothly as a Johnnie Walker Blue Label (I presume it’s smooth, have no idea, but I do know it’s bloody expensive) and then there are other times when I can be quite stubbornly incommunicado with absolutely no desire to make small talk. So I would encounter this young little girl with her mother most times, in the elevator and I wouldn’t really bother about her. Sometimes I would give a smile or a “Hi” and leave it at that. Then I don’t know when or how I started getting to know her mother a little better and I embraced her daughter too in my knowingness. Initially she would be shy and like a number of kids her age wasn’t too forthcoming with her show of friendship. Then slowly she started becoming a little more effusive and she’d suddenly rush to me in case I bumped into her somewhere and she’d shout out my name in greeting and basically it was a warm nice feeling when she responded.
I don’t know when this behaviour of hers changed. But it did. She’s no longer as effusive and warm and bubbly anymore. In fact there were moments, when I, during my morning walks would greet her mother and her warmly, as her mother waited with her for her school bus, she’d just turn her head away and not even acknowledge me. It upset me a lot. I didn’t know what it was as I couldn’t put my finger on it. I kept thinking and brooding and mulling over this strange new behaviour. I’ve experienced it with adults and it’s hurt me, but children? No way! I loved them and they loved me right? Wrong! This girl suddenly had found that I was not Ms.Lovable Aunty after all. My world didn’t feel so warm and bright and tinkling with happy laughter. The sun definitely had a dark spot suddenly. Woe be me!
After much pondering I thought I’d come up with a reason for this child’s mysterious behaviour. One day, as I was waiting for the elevator to come to my floor, I found that it seemed to be stuck for quite a while at the top floor. I banged on the doors on my floor and shouted for it to come down, hoping that whoever had held it up would feel embarrassed and let it slither down pronto. I was irritated and it showed in my tone and my body language. The elevator did come down, the doors slid open and I found myself face to face with this young girl’s mother and this young girl along with a couple of other folks. The mother looked startled, cringed at my irritation and seemed to be taken aback with behaviour and the young girl seemed to be shrinking and taking cover in her mother’s body. They’d never seen Ms.Lovable Aunty behave thus. It seems that ever since this young girl saw a side of me that she’d never experienced before, she drew back, and it seemed rejected me.
I continued to greet this child warmly. But when she continued to behave as she did, I decided to let it be. I would greet her mother, make small talk and just say hi to the kid.
Life Lesson #1: Pretense doesn’t get you anywhere for long, so strive to be, feel and show who you are always, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone’s feelings or deliberately ruin someone’s equilibrium. We’re so used to acting perfect, striving to be unruffled, positive and positively beatific, that when the carefully coiffed mask of poise slips in an unguarded moment, it’s a shock to all others, masked hitherto. So be it. They can continue to pretend they don’t fart, or dig their noses or snore at night. The little girl perhaps mimicked her mother who seemed to have rejected me in that brief moment. I’ve let it be. My core as a person hasn’t changed because of this blip. It’s time to move on, and I did and have.
There’s a young boy of perhaps 2 who’s carried by his father everyday as they both go for a morning walk. I see them almost every time I venture into my morning routine. I wave out to the kid, don’t greet the father as I don’t know him and nor do I desire to, make faces at him, and try to get him to respond to me.
For about 2 weeks or so, he would only stare, turn his face away or make threatening gestures. Today, all of a sudden, literally out of the blue, he looked at me and then with his chubby little finger urged me to look at a plane in the beautiful, blue woolly sky, leaving a plume of smoke behind. I was so thrilled. I stopped, spoke to him and asked him to give me a hi-five which he did.
Life Lesson #2: Strive with all your heart, but don’t worry too much about the end goal. Let the eventuality of the goal surprise you. For, when you take action, the fun is the action itself and the goal becomes a by-product. And when you do achieve what you set out to in the first place, the sheer joy and bliss is unfettered.
So hey, don’t go around to try and please anyone. Just be happy to be the way you are. For those who love you the way you are, love you for who you are.