(image credit: veraquest.info)
Note: This article is about my younger daughter Nawaal, published today in the print version of Review Magazine in Dawn Images in Pakistan. Ironically, I had written one about the older one in the same magazine when she was much younger titled “The queen of hearts.”
So here is ‘The Princess and I”
And here is “The Queen of hearts”
(Unfortunately the Queen of hearts article won’t open so I’ll paste the text from my personal records after the Princess article).
This is going to be a long post. Hope you’ll bear with me and enjoy it.
And since a wordpress.com blog is free and should probably outlive me, my girls (Manaal and Nawaal), if you’re reading this, know that I love you. To bits. And Nawaal, I’m just as much Umm Nawaal as I am Umm Manaal.
The princess and I
“But I WON”T!” she says, with all her little might, when I ask to her to don her gown. I bite back a typically sharp response and say, “Please?” Her NO is more emphatic than before. I wonder if we’ll ever make it to the fancy dress party at school, where my daughter is supposed to go as a fairy princess. The tiara she refuses to wear is flung across the floor, her pendant looks dangerously close to giving way and breaking. I debate with myself — should I tell her she must wear the gown because I say so, or should I let her have the tantrum?
A few more minutes of sulking and throwing things and my patience is wearing out. I slowly count to ten under my breath as I try to compose myself. She insists on wearing her pyjamas (the ones she wore last night) to school. I help her back into them, gulping down a few nasty words. When she’s done, she looks surprised, as though waiting for me to erupt and say something along the lines of “Now will you change into that gown or shall I…?” I smile at her, and say, “Do you really, really want to wear that?” She nods. The pink pyjamas stay and I wonder if one of my hairs just went white.
I distract her for a little bit with something and once more I try, but this time, without exasperation, and with love. “You want to wear this lovely dress, don’t you?” She nods, looking directly at her feet and if I didn’t know better, I’d say she looked embarrassed. A minute later, I find the toddler (who will soon turn three) in an off-white and pink princess gown. Now if only she’d wear that tiara and the shoes and the faux jewellery. The gown is as far as she will agree, and with her sniffling sulkily, we go unwillingly to school.
Her soft little hand is wrapped tightly around my finger and she refuses to let go. My heart melts, just as it does every morning. A warm hug envelops her and assures her — but it’s not mine. She’s off into the classroom, and the teacher tells me to hand over the offending tiara and jewellery. I walk away a little frustrated, somewhat relived and a wee bit annoyed. How wonderful the costume would have looked had she just cooperated a little. Around me in the nursery are little Spider-men, policemen, cowboys, firemen, doctors, fairies, animals and cartoon characters. The fancy dress party is in full swing with breathless mothers gushing over their superheroes, snapping photos, glowing with pride.
As I walk back to the car, I realise we forgot her schoolbag in all that frenzy. I go to drop it off and when I get to the classroom again, I peek stealthily from the door and find that she has undergone a complete transformation. A radiant little princess, tiara and all, is waving a wand at the class. She’s smiling and it’s plain for anyone to see how much fun she’s having. The princess is finally behaving like one and I can’t wipe the silly grin off my face.
And as I trudge back to the car again, half wanting to go back and hug her, I realise something. She’s always been behaving like a little princess, perhaps I want things to go only my way far too often. In her own unique way she’s teaching me to keep mum when I must, telling me about self-discipline, urging me to stop acting like I can do what I want and giving me the message that only because she is smaller in size, I do not always ‘know better’. The little girl is asking me to give her the space she needs and the respect that she deserves. For isn’t that what love is really about?
The following article was run by Review (Dawn, Pakistan) 07-02-08
RELATIONSHIPS: The queen of hearts
She is vicious, and the only thing missing in her repertoire of weapons is a pair of fangs. I wait on her hand and foot, day and night, and cook, clean and wash after her and never complain, offering her niceties instead. She is a sworn enemy of my sleep and it agitates her so much when I sleep that she begins to sob pitifully.
Tell me, is it mere coincidence, or she’s just rotten within, because whenever I want to eat, she requires my free-of-cost service, thereby all possibilities of me feeding myself vanishes? I want to curl up in bed with a steamy mug of hot chocolate and a good book on a cold night and she decides that she needs more attention, and so naturally the novel and the hot chocolate become mere notions which people like me might as well give up on.
She has decided I’m not quick enough for my young age and has vowed to make me run around on errands until I rival Maria Sharapova in speed and alacrity. What’s more, she feels I never had a lot of respect for the powder-room attendants and has made up her mind to teach me a lesson by making me clean poop all the time.
She realises I am an abysmal cook and turns down food that is less than perfect, and in an effort to show just how disgruntled she is, she disdainfully spits a mouthful of my sincere culinary endeavour right across the room, which I, of course, humbly clean up later. Even if I am feeling totally under the weather on a particular day, I can forget about a sick-leave!
And yet, I love her. Scratch that, I adore her with a zealous passion. And I wouldn’t give her up for anything. After all, my faith tells me I have paradise under my feet because of her!
I am talking of course of my little monarch who rules my heart. My girl is a year and a half old. I would barely realise all that I am giving up, or going through, if I hadn’t actually jotted it down. For there is something about her trusting and innocent smile which makes me as fresh as a daisy after a virtually sleepless night. She speaks one word, I can barely make sense of but it sounds like ‘mamma’. My heart melts into rivers of love and I enthusiastically come up with new recipes for what generally seems like the joint effort of the cow, the hen and the fertile earth. By some strange twist of fate, it always falls into the category of unidentifiable glop, at times accented with a pungent smell. However, judging by the fact that the last time she spat out her food, it didn’t go farther than the edge of her bib… Ahh… she seems to have enjoyed my latest attempt.
A part of me can’t wait to pack her off to school when she is of age, while another side desperately wants to hold on to the little girl who has been my companion everyday as I go through the motions of housework. I treat her like a major nuisance when she flits about the vacuum cleaner like she was the one who made it all possible, but I dread the day when I will actually be missing the botheration. I do need to learn to let go, I know that, but please, not just yet.
Many years ago I played her role exactly. However, I was most certainly blessed with tastier food. I was fussed over, cuddled tenderly to sleep, and when I got hurt I was hugged sympathetically in a warm loving embrace, the smell of which is still fresh in my mind… the deep contentment that dispelled each doubt, qualm and worry. Suddenly, I realise who really is the queen of hearts.
You would be relieved to learn that this editorial has finally come to an end, for there is very important phone call I need to make back home.
Mom, I miss you.