The Brat turns nine

Dear Brat,

This is your last single digit year. Never before has your birthday made me so sentimental. I recall the night before your birth and the terror I felt at the thought of the imminent delivery. And everyone telling me, there’s no point worrying – there’s only one option and that is for the baby to come out! And now as I pointlessly work myself into a froth over you turning nine, all I can do is accept that there is only option and that is for you to grow up and spread your wings and fly away. You will only go further away each year. It’s time I accepted it. For now though, I have no fears. You still come running to share your life with me.

As I write this post you rush up to me with yet another bit of dog related trivia -they’re your latest obsession. I don’t pay attention to a word, smiling at you besottedly and tousling your curls. I am a bad mother to you. Bad, because I find it hard to look beyond my love for you. It’s like wallowing in a bowl of molasses. I am so absorbed with indulging in it, examining it, working my way through it, that I am unable to rouse myself enough to scold or correct you. It helps that you rarely need any correction.

I have lost count of the number of friends who chose to have a baby after they visited me and saw what an easy baby you are. Even today you are my biggest weapon against the child haters. They meet you and all their usual arguments fail. You’re unfailingly polite, quiet, calm, thoughtful and wise like a little Dalai Lama.

I’m glad I didn’t try to ‘toughen you up’, because I’d be going against your nature and turning you into something alien. Everyday you make the world a better place with your gentle smile, your dreamy eyes and your out of the box questions.

A few days ago you came to me with tears in your eyes, saying that you were feeling really bad about something you’d done.

I steeled myself for a broken vase or something, even while knowing that it wasn’t really the sort of high jinks you got up to.

“A long time ago, last year, the Bean came home from a playdate and late in the night said to Dada that she hadn’t done her homework. He scolded her and told her that she should have done it before going out to play.  And I thought – serves her right.”

Alright, I said, waiting for the punch line.

‘That’s it. I was happy that she got a scolding and now I’m feeling really bad that I was happy when she was sad.’

Who said the diapers are the tough part?

What do you do with a child who reprimands himself for every mean thought even before you do? Who holds himself up to such impossibly high standards?

What will the world do to a gentle soul like this?

I took my troubles not to the Heavenly Father, but to your very earthly father, the OA, that night.

He hugged me and in a rare moment of wisdom (!) said – Yes, but why not look at it this way. What will a gentle soul like him do for the world? Wouldn’t it be amazing if he spread this gentleness?

I still soak up the softness of your cheeks, I hug you in my arms and love how substantial you feel. Your feet are almost the same size as mine and I run my fingers through your rough but perfect curls. I can barely lift you anymore so you obligingly spread yourself over me like butter.

But mostly you just ignore me and my fussing over your hair or cheeks and keep your nose buried in your book. When you’re not reading, you’re writing a little book, creating a fantasy world, writing stories in verse and making up the most sublime (not!) of rhymes – ‘If we don’t listen to the swimming teacher when he says jump, he kicks us in the rump!’

You’ve learnt to hold your own against your sister and I think that is one of the most important lessons in life. Not to let those we love, rule us.

You’ve picked up from your father and my attitude and the Gods across all mythologies are equal to you. The one above them though, is science. We couldn’t be happier or prouder, even though we’ve introduced you randomly to most religion and let you learn in school and from grandparents. There are moments you sniff disdainfully at a ritual or a religious more and your father and I grin at each other delightedly.

You have a few good friends and a very clear sense of the time you want to spend with them. You come back from school, give me a kiss and then inform me that you will now find a quiet spot for some ‘me time’. I’ve learnt to put aside my excitement and chatter and wait for you to collect and regroup your energy before you come back to us, ready to join the family in our boisterousness.

Which is not to say that you’re entirely vague. You’re the only one who will look at your father running around the house frantically throwing his luggage together and say- Dada, do you have everything you need? Can I help? Your sister and I are meanwhile chatting up a storm with someone, unconcerned that the man might miss a train (nothing new there – we missed the train before our Easter holidays again). Of course while we planned the drive down for our vacation you were the only one who read us the riot act for being haphazard and careless. In our defence – we were stuck in two jams caused by accidents and you know it! :p

The long drives are no longer hated and you’ve learnt exactly what we wanted you to learn on them. To be still. You look out for hours and do mental maths, find shapes within the clouds and spot tiny birds that we seem to miss. Every time you do that, I remember our long peaceful afternoons spent lying out in our beautiful Delhi balcony, me with my huge pregnant belly, you with your baby cuddliness. I’d point out shapes in the clouds, at other times lie in silence and wonder if I should instead be teaching you alphabets and using flash cards or sending you for some class that promised to turn you into a genius. I’m glad I didn’t because you’ve ended up so restful, so self sufficient and so low maintenance. I’ve never heard you say those dreaded words  – I’m bored.

You love hearing your birth story and every time I give you a little more detail. This time I told you how your cord was wrapped around your neck, you were suffering from IUGR, and you had no soft spot on your head. You listen and absorb and never forget a word.

You’ve been the ideal grandson this last year with your maternal grandparents, being quiet as they rest, watchful of their injuries, never shuddering when you see maimed limbs or blood. Instead offering them love and nonjudgmental conversation. Your paternal parents spend a lot of time trying to speak to you in their language but you haven’t a head for languages and don’t care for such things, simply making it up to them with – ‘Mama, I’m going to sleep with them because they must be lonely.’ Always fair, my little King Solomon.

I have no advice for you, my little Buddha. I’m going to sit at your feet, look up adoringly and hopefully learn from you.

I love you,



His latest obsession – the Rubik’s cube. Geek alert!


46 thoughts on “The Brat turns nine

  1. Beautiful, beautiful boy. Happy birthday to this little wise man. We need more gentle souls like him in the world. My cheeky baby boy is the opposite, more like your Beanie but I hope as I tell him stories of your Brat some of that gentle wiseness rubs off on him. Happy 9th anniversary to you too MM, for the day you first became a mother. Celebrations all round! x

    • Thank you, Siggy. I feel so pleased to hear from the girls who started reading my blog and are now mummies. I feel like an aunt to all the little ones who came after. Muah to him.

  2. Here is wishing my B’day sake a Very Very Happy B’day and a blessed year ahead.!

    Random Well-Wisher !

  3. What a lovely, lovely post, MM. Hugs to you for having produced and brought up a child like this. And a very very happy birthday to the Brat.

    On a different note, yes, you might just be right about being a bit worried about his growing out of single digits soon. They grow, they grow away from you, you can feel them slipping away. But then that is life. In the words of Khalil Gibran,
    “You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

    Have a great day.

  4. “I took my troubles not to the Heavenly Father, but to your very earthly father, the OA, that night.” Hehe…He does sound like a little Buddha. Happy 9 to the very non-bratty Brat.

  5. Happy birthday Brat, I can’t believe he’s going to be 9. I started reading your blog (the old one) before the bean and I do remember wondering what the world would do to him but he seems to be content in his skin and that’s an amazing thing!

  6. That “you’ve ended up so restful, so self sufficient and so low maintenance. I’ve never heard you say those dreaded words – I’m bored.” makes me so, so, so happy.

    Such important things to learn early in life, MM. Take it from a hyper adult who forgot these things her parents taught her, and had to painfully re-learn it all in her late 20s. Its a wonderful thing to be content with yourself, in your own space, without accessories, screens and a hundred activities to fill your time.

    Happy Birthday darling Brat! I hope the ext year is science-ier than ever before, I hope the dog obsession makes way to all love for all the other animals you have yet to discover (I bet there arent too many left on this list — is there an animal he doesn’t already know about?!), I hope you spread your wings and fly, and with it spread your kind, gentle, calm and collected Zen energy wherever you go.

    Lots of love,
    Besotted “Aunty Re”

    • His current dream is to breed and create a new dog made out of 12 dogs. His birthday cake is going to be a rottweiler. Don’t ask.
      I have to admit I’ve learnt to be still from him. It’s not something I take to very easily.
      Love right back from him.

  7. Dear MM, Wishing a very very happy birthday to brat. As OA said may this gentle soul spread his gentleness to everyone around him and this world which needs it so much. Much love. take care

  8. I was lost in the Brat’s world. Or at least the your world of adoration for him. Sigh. What a child! So there, little Buddha, wish you a very happy birthday before your age moves on to double digits. Spread your gentleness. The world needs it. Stay happy, stay un-bored, stay awesome.

    Hugs, MM. You *always* make me tear up.

  9. This is the most touching letter from a mother to her son that I’ve ever heard or read anywhere.MM…you yourself are out of this world.So you’ve been blessed with a child like him.Here’s wishing him health,happiness,contentment and a never ending curiosity.Lots of love to the Brat and Bean.
    PS Your post just reminded me that J is soon going to be 10.

  10. Happy, Happy day Brattie. I know you(thru your mad mum’s blog) since you were teeny-weeny and the brat was on her way. Thats many, many years so I have the privilege of sending you big sloppy kisses and lung constricting hugs on your big 9:-) Wow, almost a decade old aren’t you!
    You know when another brattie here who turned 10 recently year says stuff like”I haven’t had an opportunity to do that my whole entire life!” I laugh out aloud much to his chagrin and wonder if there was a way to keep you all from growing up on us so suddenly.
    Stay joyous and wise my darling child. You will light up the world some day. I know that for sure.

      • You are cho sweet MM for saying that. You know what my dream is(if I can beat this darn Big C that is) to take your brat and my brat on a National Geographic trip to the Galapagos Islands. I know your brattie will love it and my brat will hopefully learn from your brat:- ) Be aware that my crazy wishes have a way of coming true. Don’t say I didn’t give you a heads up.

        • And my wish is for you to beat the Big C – kick its butt until it regrets the day it was born, as my grandma was fond of saying. My wishes have a way of coming true too. Here’s to both our wishes coming true. We’ll share a good old bottle over this wish coming true business, someday.

          • Amen MM- hope both your wishes come true-especially Deepa’s.
            Deepa: Don’t know you from adam but I can tell you have dum and josh to kick C’s butt. Hat tip.

            MM-already wished Brat but hug him again for me pliss. Loved this post BTW.

            • Suk – you can join us over the bottle. Unless you think it won’t be enough for three in which case we shall get in two bottles!

  11. The Brat is a star and rockstar, Mad Momma..I wanna meet him and take his autograph..superb and is not really a Brat…happy budday to the lil’one and guess, kids grow up real fast:)

  12. Happy happy b’day! I especially loved what you said about trying not to toughen him up, because it goes against the grain of his nature. 🙂 What b’day theme this year?


    • A very confused one. He wants a dog shaped cake but we’re trying to turn the house into a cinema theatre and have a movie session with tickets and all. I’m nervous thinking about it and I haven’t got anything done yet :-/

  13. Happy Birthday to Brat.
    My daughter will turn 10 this August. She is already too mature for her age. Stil remember the days when she would call a helicopter as ‘happa cuppa’.

  14. A very happy happy birthday to Brat. This post is just what I needed this week MM. It was my sons first birthday on the 5th. I lost him to a terminal illness a couple of months ago and I sit here wondering what he would have been like. Cheeky like his brother, serene like his dad or pretending to be superhuman like his mom? I will never know but now I can pretend that he would have been most like the boy he shares a birthday with. So thank you for sharing him with us.

    • My heart goes out to you, Ariel. And here I’m mourning my child’s growing, forgetting, that growing older too, is a privilege. I don’t know if he would be cheeky or zen, but he’d definitely be his own person and very special, I am sure. Big hugs and lots of love and strength coming your way.

  15. A very happy bday (belated though) to the wonderful little boy. Having seen him now, I can relate to the lovely curls and gentleness 🙂

  16. Happy birthday to the brat. I have been reading you from 2007 and the adorable posts did warm me up to the idea of having kids…. Still remember the dining table of memories 🙂

  17. I wish I could generalize that all May born boys will turn out this wonderful. Happy Birthday to the Brat and I really wonder if he deserves this name 🙂 Such an adorable litle earthling …God bless!!

  18. Happy Happy 9th Birthday Brat!! You were a year or two old when I started following your mom and it’s no surprise I did it mostly to learn more about you and then the Bean and then the whole family! Wishing you the best of health, learning and exploration. You make the world a better place 🙂

    TMM – sniff sniff, I don’t believe it. And I am going to hope that my May baby also grows up to be like yours 🙂

  19. Happy Birthday and many blessings to your lovely boy…I wish that he continues to follow the dreams in his mind and the sparkle in his eyes xx

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