Do you remember the time my toddler destroyed my laptop, right at the onset of a month long blogging challenge earlier this year? Well, when I look back now I can smile, because I persisted and finished the challenge. But back then, that kind of destructive behavior in kids, signaled the end of my world, my dreams and aspirations. I thought I had learnt an important lesson that night, but NO! Yesterday, he did something which broke my stupid heart once again and sent all my emotions helter-skelter. 

Snip Snip… Snap

My son’s latest obsession are scissors. No matter how hard I try to hide the adult scissors from the kitchen or craft set away from him, he manages to find a pair. He runs around with them, menacingly, snipping papers, loose threads, flowers, leaves and my memories. The pleasure he derives from cutting things off.. that creak of the screw holding the two blades together and the ensuing slight clink of the steel is very evidently satisfying to him. I see it!

I know he doesn’t mean to ruin stuff. This is not symbolic of some destructive behavior in kids. He is merely exploring his world and learning new skills. But scissors destroy too. And threads which are snipped, cannot be rejoined and even if they are, there shall always be a knot in them, disfiguring the beauty of life, forever. Philosophical, much? Probably a state of my mind right now!

His Master’s Voice

Yesterday, the son rendered useless an object from my memory, right from day 1 of his birth. I was holding on to that beautiful memory, because it revolved around him and my husband who had been transformed into a gentle, sweet, nurturing soul overnight. Not that my husband wasn’t all those things even before the birth of our child. But because he became daddy from just a husband. 

While I lay immobile in my hospital bed with stitches that sent shivers of pain down my body, I witnessed how my sleep deprived husband stood constantly by our baby’s crib, cleaning his black meconium poop with warm water and cotton balls, while the baby let out a banshee’s wail, protesting for being separated from the warm confines of his mother’s womb. 

Four poopisodes later, my husband dashed downstairs to the gift shop in the hospital and came back with the memory in question. A musical star toy with a string attached which you pulled to hear beautiful instrumental music. Gentle lullabies which instantly calmed the wee banshee down and put him to sleep. In my state of pain induced delirium, there were also angels with wings which showered hearts and soft flowers down on my sleeping child.

But there shall be no more music

I treasured that little music box. Its music still helped soothe our son when he was unsettled or needed comforting. I had vouched to save this little heart shaped box forever. And then to gift it to my grandchildren, my son’s little babies, decades down the line.

But those dreams were killed too early, when my son decided it was a good idea to snip the string off this toy. Before I could say “No” or get up from my chair and come rushing to that spot of destruction, “SNIP” the string had been cut.

Like a wilting lily loses its petals one by one, the heart shaped box woefully sang its swan song, as if it knew, its end was near. And then just like that the remainder of the string rolled inside the heart shaped box, never to be pulled on again by five tiny fingers. 

The toddler realised what he had done! He was desperate for the box to make music again. But he also knew it was a lost cause. Not spending more than a minute on the now useless toy, he got up and brandished his scissors, looking for something new to cut.

My heart, my poor heart!

I lay there in a heap of tears. My memory, my wish, my dream – gone forever!

Then I cried, bawled worse than that banshee of a baby. I yelled at my baby. I complained to my husband, I tattled like a school going child. 

My child didn’t understand my reaction. He had snipped and cut many things before this one. But I had either not paid attention or told him off lightly. This kind of madness, he had not witnessed.

He asked me why I was crying? “The toy will never make music again” I spoke between sobs. He picked the toy and banged it against the cold, stone floor. The device let out a few feeble tunes, before silence prevailed again. He banged it some more and let out a few more tones this time. “See, you just have to bang it” he proclaimed, before scampering off to conquer new victories.

I sat there destroyed. My heart a million pieces. Somewhere I also let out a tirade of negative emotions, words and expressions. All aimed at my toddler son.

Hubris

Remorse set in quickly. What was he to know of my memory box. What did he know of the night he was born. I was mean and rude to subject him to that. 

I fetched my son.. sat him in my lap and explained to him, why  the musical box was special to me. And why I wanted to keep it forever. He didn’t quite understand what I was trying to say. But he did seem to have learnt a new concept – memories. “Just like the pineapple I ate during our barbecue last year, isn’t it Tara?” 

Kids can mend a broken heart with such ease.  And Pineapple found a new place in my memory.

This is part I of my story on memory, keepsakes and learning lessons for ourselves and teaching something valuable to our children. Part II coming up real soon.