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Gy returned from school, bag slung over one shoulder and her left arm clutching her pinafore above her knee. One look at her face and I knew she was hurt. I dropped my laptop (on the couch, mind you) and ran to her. She could see the concern writ large on my face. Quickly, I relieved her of her bags and hugged her, asking her if she was okay and where she was injured.
Then, the most unexpected thing happened. She gently nudged me away, held me at arm’s length, looked into my eyes and said, ‘Ma, don’t worry. Relax. I am fine.’
For a second, I was at a loss. ‘You mean, you’re not hurt?’
‘No, I am, but I am fine. I am a big girl now, right? I cannot be crying for these small things.’
There I sat, watching as my little doll transformed into this mature, dignified lady. She stood there and recounted how she had tripped over someone’s foot, fallen onto a rock, grazed a knee, walked to the school nurse, dabbed the bruise with medication, spent the next two hours on the sports field practising for the Yoga display, put her weight on the knee, but had borne the pain without a grimace and made it through the day till she reached home.
How was I to react to this?
For the last seven years, I had been the one she would run to when she was hurt. I would soothe the pain with lotion and calm her tears with my kisses. I was her knight in shining armour, shielding her from the arrows of the world.
Of course, she was bound to grow up, become aware and emerge strong from her battles. But, was I expecting it to happen now?
So, I sat there, watching her with pride, tinged with more than a hint of sadness.
Pride that she had learnt to face a physical fall with grace, knowing that in that, lay the foundation for many future challenges.
Pride that she chose to smile in the face of adversity.
Pride that she was the one calming me down.
Sad that my baby was growing towards awareness and away from innocence.
Sometimes, growing up is far more difficult on the mother than it is on the child.