Understanding Nadi

Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. Much harder than walk in alone on a first day in a new school. Much harder than owning up after telling a lie and much much MUCH harder than any exam or test life ever threw my way. PhD’s have nothing on Parenting.  And here I am not talking the drgudgery and toil associated with being a mom; those feedings or diaper changes or baths or clean up- that all is easy manual labour. I am talking of the stuff you have to understand and un-learn to be able to let you child grow in peace and happiness.

Being Nadi’s mom is especially hard. I have never yet tried to verbalize why because I didn’t think I had the words to do so without making it sound like I think something is wrong. He is literally the most amazing person I know. When I can see it clearly and am not clouded by grime of everyday living, it hurts my heart to realize he has this gentleness of spirit that gleams from his eyes, along with the naughtiness. I have noticed him standing one step back from the action because he is assessing it, to see if it feels right for him and who he is. I get scared of his ability to feel so much and realize so much because as much as I hate a cliche, I know the world is a strange place- where sometimes the people who are who he shows the strains of becoming are left behind because they do not fit what is the more accepted notion of being.

I nudge him sometimes and sometimes in panic, I admit I push. “Go play with the other kids” I urge him, when all he wants to do is be a lion and prance about by himself in the garden. “Why don’t you want to do what the other kids are doing?” I ask him, bordering on the exasperated, while he sits and reads the same book for the millionth time pointing out these little things, nuances which I would think are amazing if only I wasn’t trying to compare him to the others. I love the  printouts he takes and sticks on his shirt in order to imbue that characters essence so he can truly BE the foosa or Kaa. I love of the dedication and attention to detail he bestows on everything that catches his fancy, poring over the intricacies till we are both cross-eyed and cranky.

I want so much for him it hurts. I want him to be the confident, hilarious kid in public that he is with his own people and yet I marvel at how privileged it feels to know someone is a way just with you. It brings back memories of when you wished that someones demeanour would change from private to public and yet here I am now, not appreciating that nugget of gold in my own son.

I want him to be the best at all the things that matter and I am sometimes foolish enough to think those are the daily things like school and sports and performances and playtimes. Isn’t he already the best elder brother a little girl could ask for with his little paws that tickle and the little eyes that shine with love when she calls out to him? Don’t his eyes sparkle joyously when he sees babyaah after months, even if his hands stay firmly put by his sides? I have seen his eyes worry for me if I am thinky, I have seen them dance in joy and mischief for naughtiness yet unperformed. I have seen them tell a thousand stories of things he will one day do, and yet there are days when I want him to be typical, to say the obvious, to be the usual just so that its easier, for both me and him.

We live in such a confusing world sometimes, confusing of our own making of course. I value all these things that I have in my life seen weigh more and yet I get caught in the trap of wanting the things that I have known don’t necessarily bring that elusive contentment. I have struggled for a while to make sense of having a child who is shy, most probably because I am not shy myself, and recently I read a description that reminded me of Nadi and teared me up with pride for the him-to-be, “He has a solid self-concept- an inner peace that shines; if the extroverts would be quiet long enough they would notice its glow.  He tends to be an attentive listener, a private person who exudes a welcome presence even without saying a word.  He is a reserved person with a lot of valuable inner stuff for others to discover. He warms up slowly to new acquaintances, but once comfortable in your presence he’s charming. Matthew is just a nice child to be around.”

We wade into the muck of parenting thinking so confidently that we will be our own kind of parents, that we will not cave  into the claustrophobic obviousness of the world but as things speed up and our children interact with the world, we sometimes forget to honour that promise. We pull and push at the person he is becoming in order to fit him in with the less painful conforms around us. Social. Talkative, Outgoing. Fun.

Then suddenly it rains, and there is clarity of vision as the murkiness dispels, and you are able to see again without the world-tainted glasses, the harder to live with qualities that shine, maybe not as effortlessly or brightly, but with as much intensity. Focused. Attentive. Gentle. Reserved. And you pray that this time the knowledge remains, without the outside chatter to distract you, so that you are able to continue to see your little boy for the wonderful man he will become one day. (amen)


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15 thoughts on “Understanding Nadi”

  1. Love this post, because I know you and him and could relate everything back to you guys.
    I love that Ive seen the side of him that most people don’t get to, and yes, Ive also been there, watching like a confused bystander as you assumed he was Mowgli(?), but he was actually Kaa.
    This post fits, because I’ve felt that confusion at looking at his super shy school recital pics when I know that he’s absolutely kooky in reality.
    I also know that this post was long over due. very long over due, back from when we all watched 3 idiots and you saw naadi in there in so many places, and how you voiced it when the “give me some sunshine” song came on.
    And yes, Ive also seen the brotherly love as he randomly stops to kiss her feet while passing by.
    which brings me to my next point…please update kooky-lily-pie’s pic in your banner!
    Love you guys!

  2. I want to thank you for this post. Thank you for it, really. I cried after reading it because it was like you pulled the words right out of my confused heart.

    My Bayboo is the quiet, shy boy who wants to arrange his alphabet blocks or read his books rather than play with others…and I am the mother who is alternately surprised that this is her son, worried that he’s not ‘right’ and grateful that he is the wonderful, gentle, empathetic person that he is.

    You seem to be making your peace with it…I confess I’m still confused on what I want for him and how (or whether) I should help him…some days I get very frustrated…but in the larger scale of things, your thoughts are spot on and hopefully I can move more towards acceptance.

    Much love. And thank you again.

    1. i think making peace is not the term i would use- but then i cant come up with a better one. there is a resignation in making peace whereas i have come to accept and love that about him- so not sure yet of the right words! But yes, i think it is something that happens slowly and surely.

  3. what a beautiful and well written piece, like always.

    i have a 14 months old boy and I KNOW what you mean by learning and UN_learning things. beautifully expressed!

  4. now i understand your message.
    i remember you once said you were afraid that some day someone will break his heart, and he being such a feeler will be immensely heart broken. i say better that than to have a heart so hard that it fails to appreciate love and all that life has to offer. better that than to be so icy that not even the warmest of hugs is ever really felt. that little boy you are raising is so close to my idea of perfection that i am actually afraid i may not love my own kids as much as i love him. i am so insane about him that sometimes it scares me too.

    bottom line; to answer your question, you are a great mom. 🙂

  5. Your every word seem to be coming right from a heart wrenched between adoration and panic for this little man.

    I am not a mom, but this I can say with absolute certainty: you and him are what you both are by Allah’s Grace….enjoy your boy as he is. He has been sent just like that only for you 🙂


  6. It’s amazing that you’re actually psychologically invested in your child. That’s the toughest part about being a parent: the constant question on how to mold and nurture the strong ‘will’ that children begin to grow once they’ve crossed that ‘feed-me, clean-me’ stage.

    I look forward to that stage – for the same reasons I wanted to have children. To have the opportunity to love and nurture someone so that they can become happy, loved, well-rounded individuals.

    1. yes so i wish loving and nurturing was all it took…seems to me that there are too many things that kick into play and those are the things we have to learn we cannot control and still make the best of!

  7. Nadi is an amazing little boy and I am sure that he has been blessed with the best Mom for him. I can relate a lot to his personality and I wonder if I was like that at that age too and what my parents made of it. More recently, as an adult it has helped me to discover personality types and figure out my own as it helped me to feel understood instead of weird as I sometimes felt. I don’t want to box Nadi into a certain personality type though as I am sure he is unique in his wonderfulness; I just personally feel that it helped me realise that the way I am could be seen as a strength too and just because I am not the same as extroverts doesn’t mean that it’s a weakness.

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