You don’t really expect your kids to warm the cockles of your heart. You can’t really anticipate when they will fill you with gratitude. And you definitely won’t be prepared for that moment when a mature voice emerges from a 7-year-old.

Twice, in one week.

My niece had her first birthday coming up. And, I really wanted to go shopping and pick out a special outfit for her. But, the nasty flu decided to play spoilsport. So, feeling very sorry for myself, I outsourced the task to my mother-in-law and asked Gy to go along. After 3 hours, when I was just about beginning to wonder what had happened to them, the duo returned and my mom-in-law had a glint in her eye and a barely suppressed smile. She waited till Gy had left the room and said to me, ‘You would be so proud of Gy.’

Curious and obviously stoked, I asked her what had happened. Gy had walked into the store and looked all around. When she was satisfied that the place stocked good dresses, she asked the salesman to show her an array of outfits. She spent well over an hour- looking at patterns, ooh-ing over designs, rejecting colours that wouldn’t suit my niece and picking out fabrics that would be comfortable on an infant’s body. When she finally zeroed in on a dress, the salesman handed Gy the outfit, saying that it would fit a one-year-old perfectly. She politely returned it and said, ‘Yes, but can I please have it one size bigger? So that she can wear it for longer?’ The salesperson was taken aback but clearly impressed.

Before paying for the outfit, my mom-in-law asked Gy if she was sure that I (meaning me), would approve of the outfit, Once again, she very sweetly told her, ‘Paati(Grandma), it’s not important if Amma (Mom) likes it. P(my niece) should feel comfortable in it. After all, she is the one who has to wear it.’ Her grandmother almost exploded with pride and love for Gy at that instant.

Hardly a day later, I got to know that P(my niece) was down with the flu and hence, the birthday party had to be cancelled. My mom called me up to tell me this and asked me to break the news gently to Gy, since she had been looking forward to the party.

I waited for Gy to get home from school and while she ate her lunch, I informed her that P was unwell and that we wouldn’t be having a party. Gy looked at me with concern and said, ‘Amma, I just hope that P feels better soon. What is the point of a party if P is not well enough to enjoy it? We can always have a party later, can’t we?’

As if turned to stone, I stood before her, not knowing what to say. Never would I have expected a child to speak in that mature tone, reserved for a lady.

Contemplating all this, I pondered when she had gained the wisdom that she displayed this week. Was it by observation or instruction? Did it mean the gradual loss of innocence and the certain manifestation of reality?

And, yet, she can laugh out loud when her dad cracks a joke at her expense or when she is lost in the world of animation. This was taken this morning, as she eagerly followed the exploits of Bolt, one of my all-time favourite movies!

In my heart, I pray that she can maintain this incredible juxtaposition of qualities- to be mature and to be joyful- all through her days. For, what better way to enjoy life, if not through the twin lenses of humour and wisdom?

Linking up this post to YeahWrite’s weekly challenge grid #141