A night before my scheduled routine annual checkup, I ask my daughter to pack up early for the night so that we are up early in the morning. She asks me why do I need to see a doctor and I tell her it is a routine thing. What comes next is unexpected. “Mom, are you going to die?“. I tell her that just because I am going to the doctor does not imply I am sick or I am going to die. There is a pause for few minutes and then goes off to sleep. I feel she goes to bed convinced.
I am proven wrong the next morning. Just before leaving for school, I get a tight hug from her and she says “Mom, I love you. I don’t want you to die.” Good lord! I try to convince her one more time and in doing so mention that I will see her in the evening. In the evening after school, I intentionally harp on the topic again. I tell her I am not going to die because if that were to happen who would take care of her. Spontaneously, she says that her father will. So I ask her who will make her pigtails every morning before school. She tells me her father can make ponytails and that will do. Next, I ask her about all the help with dressing, bathing, feeding etc. Pat comes the answer “Dad can do all that. He does when you are on business trips”.“What about the fun art projects?”, I ask. “Dad did a finger doodle project with me recently” is the response. I can hear the husband chuckle in the backdrop.
I give up. There is no point playing any more cards. So I tell them “Guys have fun. I can now die in peace. “
But then one morning while dropping my daughter to school an unusual conversation takes place in the car. She initiates it and here is what she had to say “Mom, actually I don’t want you to die. If you die, I will not know how to be on the good tile and not go over to the bad tile.” Now that is a profound statement to understand which you may need some background.
Like every mother on this planet earth, I am invariably always classifying the child’s act into two broad categories – Bad Job and Good Job. In doing so, I recently mentioned to her multiple times about her progression towards doing the bad jobs more often. A simple example was that if I called out for her, I needed to do that at least 5 times these days before she responded. That was earlier never the case. Progression, transition is a concept that did not gel with her. She said in a rather forthright manner, it is either a good job or bad job. Period.
The argument ended but the transition did not. This continued till a day when we were out for a walk. I don’t remember what dawned on me but while she was skipping from one concrete tile to another on a sidewalk I made this comment – “Do you see how there is a thin line between the two tiles. So let’s say one of the tile is a good tile, that is the side where all the good jobs are. The other tile is a bad tile where all the bad jobs are. As you move over the line you are moving from the bad side to the good side or vice versa. Where you want to move is entirely your wish. But you need to think of that before you jump.
Ugh! I was not exactly thrilled with this explanation later on. Perhaps that is why they say you must watch out before you speak in front of a child. The thought however resonated with her. That night before going to bed she informed in a rather pensive tone “Mom, I don’t want to be on the bad tile. I am a good girl. Can you help me to be on the good side always.” I stood dumbstruck for a moment and promised her I will. (all the time in my mind kicking myself for a bizarre analogy).
But that my friend is supposedly the reason why my daughter does not want her mother, that being me to die. The whole dying thing is in the first place is probably a bad influence of a melodramatic movie.  But who wants to die anyways. I only wish that I am always around to help her to be on the good tile or move back to the good tile knowing well she will plunge into the bad tile every now and then. We all have at some point in life and there is nothing wrong with that.  What is important is to jump back into the right tile at the right time.
Story Credit : Piya Mukherjee, mom, blogger, storyteller and the other half of chatoveracuppa. This story is based on real life incidents and conversations between the author and her daughter.