“Mama, I need to get my face project”…pointing to her eyes and nose and mouth as quickly as she could.
Realizing that I didn’t want to go back..I told her
“Richa, We can get that tomorrow, Ms G is going to keep that safely for you”.
“Its OK mama, we can go and get it..” she said consolingly and immediately turned back. She started to skip towards her classroom singing a song “I made a project…I made a face project…”
As we opened the door, Ms G was talking to another parent while Richa headed to where the project was kept and started to skim through them to pick hers out.
Meanwhile, I told Ms.G that we're back to get her “face project”.
Ms.G went to Richa and started to tell her, that she can take it tomorrow.
“Richa, we are going to put this project on the wall..Look at that decoration over there”, she pointed to the wall that had a big brown blank canvas on the wall.
But, Richa didn’t care what that meant, she continued looking for her project and found it.
She was about to take it when Ms.G tried to stop her. There was almost a fight there for a moment. Ms G trying to make eye contact with Richa and Richa trying to move her elbows so that she could avoid Ms.G’s hands on her.
She knew very well that, if she made that eye contact that Ms.G was trying to get, then, she would have to put that reasoning button ON in her head. She was in no mood to do that.
“That is mine, I made it…I want to show it to my Didi’s (sisters)” Richa said.
She couldn’t understand this fuss about wanting to put the project that she created with so much interest, on the wall!! She had been watching her sisters make the secretive “greeting cards” project the day before, for their mommy..with so much interest.
I’m sure she had offered to help them and I could very well see that, they would have turned her down and may even have, locked the door so that she wouldn’t be able to disturb them. So, today she had gotten a chance to earn the respect of her sisters, this project was going to showcase her skills to her Didi’s (means “elder sisters” in Hindi) that she was as capable as them, to do a project.
She was putting up a brave fight to that end. But soon, Richa understood that she could not win this war with Ms.G for if she had to..she would have to resort to fist fight.
So, folding her hands, and pouting her mouth and pointing her face up in the air, she started to walk to me, her face red, and ready to burst out crying because Ms.G didn’t let her take her project with her.
She came to me and burst out crying hugging my legs but, the next second, Ms.G was behind her with that “face project” of hers and told her
“Ok Richa, you take this home, but, will you remember to bring it back tomorrow? Then I will be able to put it on the wall so all the mommies can look at the project”, Ms.G said.
“Ok “ Richa said.
As I watched this drama, I was astonished at Richa’s boldness. She used to be so quite in her class last year, She had been so scared at the mention of any of her teacher’s names. We had used that to our advantage, to get Richa to do stuff she used to refuse, like finish up her food, things like that. But, today I saw a different Richa. She had grown up. She was confident and knew what she wanted very clearly. She was ready to fight her teacher if that’s what it took.
“Is she like this in the class with the other kids?” I asked Ms.G
“She does take this liberty with me but, I haven’t seen her behave like this with anybody else”, I added
“No, she is not like this. But, I can understand her. She wants to show her creation to her sisters. She had mentioned PNK’s names as she was doing the project. She had done the hair with so much interest. “ Ms.G said.
She wouldn’t let Richa leave without smiling back at her..which Richa did eventually, we thanked her together. Then we walked out of the class. As we walked out, the wind was strong. So, I asked Richa
“Can I hold your project Richa? The wind can blow it away”
“Yes Mama” she said handing over her precious project to me.
“If the wind blows it away…it will fly away up and up and then..get stuck in the tree” pointing to a huge oak.
“If it gets stuck in the tree, How lil I climb the tree?”
“I don’t know how to climb a tree”…she continued.
Meanwhile we had reached the car. And today, I had been driving my husband’s green car. She reacted immediately.
“Oh! You can drive this car?”
“Mama, only papa’s can drive this car, this is not a mommy car, this is a papa car” she continued as I had finished buckling her up to her seat.
“Mama, you are a mommy…you are tiny big…you are not a papa..green car is por Papas” she continued in the background while I got lost in Raag Jaunpuri, that I had been practicing. A beautiful raag with 3 flat notes. As I sang, I started thinking to myself all the competition that’s getting generated at home between Richa and her sisters. How important it has become for Richa to be accepted by her sisters as their peers.
P.S. She ran to her Didi’s as they came back from school and showed them her project and the Triplets had showered their appreciations for her project with such gusto. She sure felt that it made her day. Later I found the cookie man nicely put to sleep on her bed, on her pillow and convered with her chunni (Indian scarf) for a bedspread, he sure looked cozy and happy.