When my daughter was a bit over a year old, she’d do something naughty and tell us that one of her stuffed toy dogs did it. ‘Rocky did it.’ ‘Snowy was very naughty.’ At the time, she treated her dogs as companions, having conversations with them, ascribing personalities to them and so on, so we fell in line and scolded the dog in question with appropriate seriousness. Throughout all this, my daughter would have a teeny-tiny smirky smile at having pulled one over her gullible parents’ eyes.
When I was in the final year of my masters, my dad passed away. While this was not a surprise, given his diagnosis six months earlier, it was still a shock as I’d done little to truly absorb said diagnosis. I was distraught enough that I’d thought of dropping out and re-applying to the program a year or two later. With time and age, I’m not sure if it was all for myself and my pain, or to help shoulder some of what my mom or grandmom might have felt. Whatever be the reason, my family convinced me otherwise and I went back to college. A month later, my mom and grandmom packed up everything and followed me there with a few suitcases worth of belongings and rented a tiny apartment right outside my college gates. A couple of months later, my maternal grandparents came to visit for a couple of months as well. Thus, for the space of the six months that remained of my course, my family had put down roots there, at significant dislocation and hardship to themselves.
All through, I’d assumed they’d done that to have a change of scenery and to escape the thoughts and memories that would come from remaining home. That was what they’d said, hadn’t they? A few weeks back, I’d had this memory of my daughter run through my head, and the bit I remembered most vividly was her confidence in how we absorbed her statements completely. Taking this new perspective, I asked my mom how it was that she and gran just shut the house and came over right after. She replied matter-of-factly, “Because you said you’d quit.”
A longer discussion followed and I understood a lot more on what they’d thought, discussed, and agreed to, all without my dimmest understanding. I don’t think I’d ever realized that as an adult of 24, I was no different that my infant daughter when it came to perspective. I don’t think I’ve ever been more humbled than when that sank in.
Image Courtesy Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash