I knew I was going to be in trouble the moment I heard the words, “It’s a boy!” And I knew I was in double-trouble the moment those words were uttered to me one more time. And not because of impending fist-fights, broken bones, muddy shoes beyond the state of cleanliness and stinky bathrooms. I was thinking of the gender-defining paraphernalia that they had inherited from their father.
Those of us who have boys, have seen the sight that shocked the Nirupa Roy-like close-to-divine, maternal-love-feelings out of our large, maternal-juice soaked souls – that of our precious, adorable little cherubs holding on to their family jewels for dear life! And with a goofy, gummy smile on their face! I clutched my heart, swooned and cried in my head the first time I saw! “He’s a, he’s a, he’s a, oh my goodness, HE’S A BOY!!! And my sweet, angel-faced son likes playing with his, with his, with his, with his…oh! I can’t even say it!” Up until then, I think we just tend to look at them as genderless, tiny humans, who the closest thing to God and heaven upon this Earth. Symbols of purity and innocence to restore our faith in all that is good and chaste. Pah! Reality bites! With newly sprouted teeth sharpness!
Read all about it in the baby-books or the Internet, even ask your paediatrician, and they’ll tell you that it’s completely natural. Sigh! So boys will be boys, eh? But must we be confronted with this mind-altering truth when they’re just wee babes of six-months? What can one do though, to make the endless touching stop? Just keep moving the hands away, we’re advised. And that’s what I started doing, all the while trying hard not to link words like ‘sexuality’ and ‘pleasure’ to a baby, that too, my baby! However, I have to confess, the process soon had me laughing. Everytime I’d move his hand away from his, er, privates, they’d zoom in on them again as if the little thingamajigs had a homing device installed! No loss of direction, not a second’s worth of hesitation, just perfect placement…each time, every time, with said goofy grin firmly in place! It almost seemed like the poor little mite couldn’t help himself. It was as if a spring had been inserted in his arm, which made the whole process seem mechanical and not of his own volition.
So is that what it's all about then? That it's natural and they can't help themselves? I don't know. Maybe for now, but as they get older? When at eight or nine, (yes, as young as that I'm afraid, as a friend with a nine-year old told me) they discover a strange, new sensation brought on by touch and they come to understand what the word 'pleasure' truly means? Is that the appropriate time to introduce Mr. Parakeet and Madam Bumblebee? Do I explain the concept of things that are 'ok' to do in private and not in public? Don't crucify me please, but I am breaking out into a cold sweat just thinking about it.
So, I guess I won't. Not now at least. Plenty of time left (hopefully!), before I am confronted with these uncomforatble truths. I just hope for tons of patience, maturity, understanding, a few bars of Twix and a bottle of Peach Schnapps when the time comes.
In the meanwhile, I think I'll stand back as the Elder One and his elder-to-him-by-three-and-a-half-months cousin brother, the Nephew, rush to the bathroom to take a leak at the same time, while the Younger One looks up at them wistfully, wishing he were tall enough to whizz along with them and indulge in some heavy-duty male-bonding. I'll pretend to be scandalized whenever he runs away from the ayah before he can have his pants put on and stands in front of me in all his half-naked glory, saying "Mamma deko, nangu-pangu!" (no literal translation for this as it's Bong baby talk; the closest I can come up with is "Mamma see, shame shame!") I'll mock-scold him whenever he rolls away from me at night when I'm putting on his diaper and he wants to, shall we say, hang loose. Because right now, at this stage, wicked grin or not, cute cackle or not, it is all done in blessed innocence. What do they know of right or wrong, sin and shame? It's a part of their adorability. It's all a game -- a game of "catch-me-if-you-can-and-put-my-pants-back-on," where luckily, we always win! But the fun part is the giggly cuddle and squiggle that happens post the catching. But yes, to ensure zero embarassing moments for me when I go shopping, I had to wean their hands away from down there during their clutch-and-hold phases. Pretty much like the breast and milk bottle scenario, all over again. The weaning, that is!
And from the nether regions, we now move upwards to another anatomical part of theirs. The mouth. Now, the mouth can spout some of the cutest sayings in the most adorable accents with the most delightful pronunciations that leave you wanting to trail them all day long with a handicam or at least a cell-phone with 'Video' taking abilities. And if you have neither near-by, ten you grab a pen and pad and furiously start to scribble down the charming babyisms. They practice new words, break into song and rhyme, give kissies and eat biscuits by the chubby, little handful all with the aid of the mouth. So it's very surprising, shocking really, when suddenly, they start using those adorable Cupid's bow shaped fixtures for swaping 'dirty jokes'!
Of course at the Elder One and the Nephew's level, it's all about what fell into the potty and Mamma's horrified reactions and non-stop, under-the-breath mutterings! Other than that, it's all about who can spot a pile of doggy-doo-doo on the road and what glorious fun it is when a pigeon poo ps on somebody's head! I've seen them collapse into heaps of uncontrollable giggles even when they're with their friends and are bonding over their collective brand of toilet humour! Who can forget the enchanting "Who Dropped a Stink Bomb?" blame-game? And they so know it's wrong, because they try to do it in whispers and out of earshot! The little devils!
But what shocked me was when a couple of days ago, I found the Younger One and his elder-to-him-by-seven-days-cousin-sister, the Niece, making each other laugh by saying, in turns, "Potty keye niyechi!" (I ate potty!) And they were in splits! These two deliciously adorable, not-yet-two year old babes and therefore still considered recently-delivered posts from God's mailbox, were potty mouths! To say I was horrified would obviously be an understatement and seeing the look on my face the little monsters realised that they had achieved the desired effect! Seeing them turn to each other and laugh conspiratorily made me stare at them in wonder! The bigger boys, in comparison, started with the poop routine at much later stages in their life. Definitely when they were three-and-a-half, four...or thereabouts! But these babies? I know everyone says that the younger ones develop faster and learn quicker, but this is ridiculous!
So what next? Do I sit down and teach them a common Calcutta 'dirty poem' that did the rounds in primary schools? 'Donkey, monkey, elephant,cow/Sitting on the potty/ Eating pulao!' The Elder One and the Nephew know it and it never fails to bring a smile to their lips. Do I join the doo-doo bandwagon and ask them to make some space for me in their little world? Well then, I guess it's move over Baa Baa Black Sheep, here comes Toilet-trained animals instead!
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