Firm Footing

“Anklets.  She would place her foot firmly. For she would love the sound they would make with each of her steps.”  We were told.

I didn’t know if she would like it. I knew I would!

Firm Footing

They were ‘fancy’ to some folks. ‘Traditional’, to others. ‘Beautiful’ to me. And it was plain ‘utilitarian’ to the missus. For it was a rough equivalent of a sophisticated GPS system. It always announced which part of the home the little feet were prancing about in. Often causing our minds to whirr and think of possible objects there that the little hands that came with the little feet, could be exploring.

Today, the little feet are exploring a stack of paper in a corner. She turns around and looks at me. Her year old legs reveal their age with the stutter of the unsure step. Each with the jingle of the anklet. Usually, she lets out an incoherent shout of joy, blissfully oblivious of the next lurking danger. Like a bowl of water, the edge of the cupboard or the end of the bed!  Unmindful, she usually stutters on. With obvious results.

Today is no different. She is soon atop the stack. It’s not a tall stack. But it perhaps is a Edmund Hillary moment for her. Her shouts of joy punctuate the air. This time around too, I stay a good distance away.

Her mother’s heart beat almost shakes up the building with every one of the little stutter in the step. Growing louder, as the stutter of the small feet reaches very close to the end of the stack. One more step and she would fall. Not a plunge across the Grand Canyon. But a small fall. Similar falls are part of her routine.

Her mother lurches forward to hold her, anticipating the fall and all the crying later. I lunge and catch hold of her mother’s hand stopping her midway. We are a few feet away from happy feet. Her mother squirms in my grip. Reserving the choicest of ‘are you a nutcase’ look. I hold firm.  I hiss ‘Quiet’.

I stay calm. On the exterior. With the countenance of a sage who has been in meditation since the time dinosaurs roamed the planet. Grey butterflies adorn my stomach lining. In hordes.

“Will she fall?” An inner voice asks me.

“I don’t know”, I answer. Inside me.

“Then let go of her mother, who atleast will hold her in case she falls”. My inner voice tells me.

“I can’t”. I answer. In a fledgling moment.

“Why?” The voice persists.

“The stuttering feet have to learn. She will”. I tell myself. “She will learn what causes a fall. Perhaps how to fall. Or perhaps how not to. Even better, she will gradually learn about her options, choices and consequences. In any case we are at hand to pick her up and let her know that its OK to fall”!

The inner voice stays quiet with the rapid fire conversation within me. A conversation that lasts not more than a second.

Nano seconds appear like hours today. The sounds the anklet produce, reach a spot where one more step will mean a slip and a fall. The hundred butterflies have morphed into two hundred and make their way all the way up my alimentary canal.

I notice that the speed of her mother heart beats could get Usain Bolt’s heart cowering in the bushes. I still continue to hold her mother. Firmly.

The stuttering feet take the next step. Almost. She changes her mind at the last-minute. And turns around. To find her father holding her mother’s hand, and her mother struggling to jump out of his grip and both of them ready to jump.

The clinks of the anklet stop for a minute. A look mixed with bemused curiosity loads up on her face. It could have asked, ‘you idiots thought I was going to fall, didn’t you’? Her usual arrays of celebratory sounds are released perhaps at the sight of an unexpected audience to an event that didn’t happen.

The cutest of smiles escape her perky lips and she stutters off in a different direction. The seeming search for new objects, shapes and spaces to explore, exposing an intact confidence announced by the pronounced anklet.

Her mother frees herself from my grip. ‘She could have fallen’. She says calmly.

“Could have”. I say. And smile.

“But she will learn. Awareness. Choice. Freedom to choose. Doesn’t come easily. But will eventually come.”

Her mother looks at me. “Look, you can continue to be Gautama Buddha. Or whoever. I am just going to be a simple mother to my daughter”.

It takes a while for the heart beat to slow down.

She smiles. I smile.

We both know each other too well.

To stay distant enough to give space for her to exercise choice and face the consequences head on, yet staying close enough to pick her up incase she falls. It’s a thin amorphous line there.

Baby Anklets

I realise, that’s going to be a lifelong quest.  Today we have shiny anklets made of silver.  In the days ahead, the time that we spend with her should help her do the job: Place her feet firmly!

Kavi dabbles in writing, reading, traveling, photography, long distance running amongst other things. He and Shanti have their hands full with their adorable toddler, Kayal. In-between all of this, he gives an arm, leg and everything else to earn a living. Usually accomplished by punching keys, attending meetings and trying to sound profound. He blogs at http://kavismusings.blogspot.com & tweets @kavismusings. Just in case you are intrigued enough to know more about him please head to http://about.me/kaviarasu.

  • Poetic…well you justify your name… loved reading it…
    Thanks

    • Awesome! Great to hear! Living upto name is intense business ! 😉

      Thank you for egging me on!

  • Beautifully done

    • Thank you Arundhati

  • Fab

    Beautifully written!! You’re right, it’s a thin line between smothering them and keeping a safe distance 🙂

    • Am still figuring out that line. For it is non-existent and yet it often appears! 🙂 Thank you for writing in!

  • Beautiful post. Made me smile, thinking of the your lil princess and my one year old boy as well who recently started walking.

    • Hello Priyanka!

      ‘He has started walking’ is sure sign that there is a new phase of life that awaits him. More so, awaits you! Welcome to the club!

      Thank you for writing in. And look forward to hear more of his exploits too! 🙂

  • Mercy Livi

    This remind me of the days I spent with my parents esp my DAD. He loves seeing his daughters wear those lovely anglets. i remember the days he take us to the jewellery shop & select the best one for us.

    And, daughter-dad relationship always being spl in every home. I sense the same in your post as well.

    Great write up once again & my two cents.

    • If its about the father-daughter relationships, the two cents are worth their weight in Gold and a whole heap more. 🙂

      Look forward to hearing your accounts as well! And happy Pongal!

  • Roshni

    you did good to not stop her from taking her own independent decisions! She will fall and get hurt and learn. and be wiser in the process! It’s a great thing to happen if only we will let it!

    • Thank you Roshni ! It helps know there are others who think like me! For there have been a few brickbats already in the mail box! From well meaning friends and family.. !! 😀

      Much appreciate! Look forward to your next post !

  • Lovely, and I can’t stop swooning over the photo!

    • Ah thank you! Am dabbling with a few lenses and angles. So glad the photograph caught your attention ! 🙂

  • janu

    Fab post.

    • Thank you Janu! Much appreciate your comment!

  • Beautiful articulation Kavi. Nobody else could have said it better. The first two years are the cutest. Don’t miss a thing!

    • Thank you Sajan. Been trying hard to soak up every moment. Now that you say too, will try and do more! Thank you ! 🙂

  • Sriram

    Kavi, beautiful prose..err poetry ! Refreshing ! Lovely snaps as well…keep them coming mate – love ’em

    • Thanks Sriram! Will exchange notes on the run! Super glad that you liked it. Super glad indeed. 🙂

  • What a beautiful post! Loved it!

    • Hello Sriram

      Thank you ! Am sure you will go through similar emotions sometime in the future. 🙂 Glad this post resonated with you. Look forward to staying connected!

  • Amrita Thavrani

    Lovely picture and equally poetic post. We need more of such 🙂

    • Thank you Amrita! Will do my best! 🙂

  • i can hear a caring yet sensible dad there in this endearing post. A similar situation in my home but some 13 years back:)

    The last two paragraphs sums up all- Indeed it is a fine balancing act – the job of parenting:) The click of the shirt against the anklets complements your lovely write up.

    • Thank you Asha! I guess we are just following a path that several others have taken. You included. Its plain reassuring, to say the least! Thanks a ton! 🙂

  • Sanjith Menon

    Beautiful post ! Kavi, you’ve taken such things through a emotional journey which is making life even more beautiful.

    • Thank you so much Sanjith! Treasure your wishes !

  • Kavi….this was a beautiful post. Coming from somebody who I can claim to have ‘known’ virtually for more than a few years now (regular reader of your other regular blog, remember me, remember mahabore), this is simply a beautiful post.

    Being a parent to a 15 month old daughter, I can completely relate to your post, with just the difference that it is the mother who holds my hand in my case 😀

    Cheers…….Jairam

    • Hello Jairam!

      What a delight to get connected to you here as well! Congratulations on your daughter. It is a fabulous experience isnt it!

      Ofcourse, I remember Mahabore! Lovely connect up again and would look forward to stay connected! 🙂

      I guess someone should hold someones hands. Doesnt that hold true to life!?! 🙂

  • Almost everyone has told you how beautiful your post is, and I am not going to be an exception :). Was mesmerized by your choice of words and similes used. Awesome. I had been through these moments an year ago when my son was learning to walk. Relived them through your post. Thanks for this and looking forward to reading more from you!

    • Hello Yamini !

      That peps my spirit up no end. I can only tell you that when the daughter puts the spring in the spirit, the words just flow. Am sure you can relate to that as well ! 🙂