|Thinking Inside the Box|
Why do birds fly?
Cause they have wings.
No, not that. Why do they fly? Why can they fly?
We were sitting on the plane when Ashvin, four years old, asked me this. A few days earlier he had asked me why people were different – why did we all not look the same?
Some seven years back I had similar stuff thrown at me by Ankit. “Why do only men and women marry?” “Why do we die?” I made up cute things then – about you having a mommy and daddy, about space on earth. I did not explain the contention about same sex marriage or how chromosomes open up on ends and mutations cause cells to die. I really did not discuss evolution or use big words and terms that would take a long time to explain.
Six years ago – a year after the questions started - Ankit told me the computer was not working. I asked him to see if the green light was on. “Did Papa tell you to check that?” I felt that Ankit thought I was slightly dumb. I had coddled him so much in my answers that he had gone looking and found more. He knew stars did not twinkle to make him happy; it looked like they did as there was dust in the atmosphere. It was fine, that he knew things I had not told him but what was not fine was that he thought I did not know those things. The mom was dumb.
So now, I have a chance with Ashvin. I don’t have to tell him birds fly because they like to chase airplanes or to reach the stars that twinkle for him. I have to make sure I am not busy when these questions come up and tell him to go ask his dad. I have a chance at having a five year old look up at me. I have a chance at not being dumb.
For this I have to compete with his brother (already dumb in those eyes) and his father (who remembers physics theories I forgot before I finished school). I have to think more, explain more and be more logical. I have to be less busy, less emotional, less of a storyteller but above all less mommyish.... hmmm, I think I’ll go with a little dumb.