Like many parents doting over their kids, I, too have bitten the soft toy bug. In retrospect, I’m thankful that UNLIKE many indian parents I didn’t keep him away from the real furry ones. Now that those happy-go-lucky inanimate ones that ruled over his days and nights are merely serving as pillows around his bed, I thought I’d write an ode to all of them and one in particular.
About eight years ago I bought a soft toy for my son. A plump grey elephant, with some pink on the ears and laughing eyes. I christened it, Ellie – a girl elephant. Not sure whether the idea was to make my son grow to be sort of gender neutral, or just that I liked the cute heart a lot. There were others too and Ellie found her friend in a tiger, a huge bunny, Noddy and a polar bear. And like all the bigger ones, looked down upon the smaller dolphin, panther and the dinosaur. Like all pachyderms, she loved a swirl in the water, coming out of it quite the perfect being, unlike the others trying to hide their limp tails. Being the only girl among the boys, she immediately found a protective friend in the tiger. Oh yea, she was one of the few allowed to ride him. But that was only until I had my way with the kiddo. Somehow my son lost all interest in Ellie soon enough. All my efforts to make him like that girl, failed and the only time my son held her was to hold her trunk and put her aside. That was one of the first lessons my son taught me about his choice on material things. And how he would absolutely resist me forcing mine on him. However, being possessive, he refused to share her with any one else too.
He stopped playing with his softs about a year ago, but doesn’t let me remove any. So, all of them sit there, aging. Unlike us, not worse off without use.
Ellie, the ever-smiling happy protagonist in this note, sits proud with her trunk perfectly poised, with the only regret of not having made any memories with her favorite people.
My son wants to be an explorer. He’s not sure what it means. But eating raw animals is not included for sure. Traveling with a back-pack is. He also wants to be an F1 champ. And then a world famous footballer. Famous enough to buy us (separately) some super cool cars, essentially. And lately he was told by one of his cousins looking at some photos he had clicked on a tablet, that he’s already a photographer! Sure enough, the child’s mind was left with no opportunity but to put himself onto a slick pedestal. As a parent, my immediate thought was to tell him that he has to work to get there. Which I did.
But there are other similar situations which become tough to deal with. For example, he thinks that when he goes to watch a football match, Messi is sure to come and meet him as soon as I (oh yea, did i tell you i was supermom!?) will call him. He cannot fathom why Messi would not, after all – he wants to meet Messi. Pretty much the same works for Sachin Tendulkar, apparently the next time we visit Mumbai, Sachin is calling us over for lunch. I don’t have the heart to tell him that he should not think of himself as relevant to them. Or (behind their back) tell him that Messi and Sachin will not think of him as relevant. So in my words, they stay busy. Busy achieving. And he should continue to be relevant where he is considered to be so, for now, before launching himself to the hapless world!
As soon as reality pulls him in and he grows older, he will lose this sense of equality and measure himself according to other’s achievments. The time isn’t too far and until then I’d let his imagination and dreams give him happiness.
After all, a child’s dream subject to reality is an adult’s hallucination.