Yesterday Popples insisted he wanted to go to the women centre that had been another home to him for a long time as he wanted to collect some of his old toys. On reaching the centre he headed straight to what use to be his room and ferreted around in search of his old cars and other toys. We retrieved some. Then he wanted us to open the small cupboard that use to have his clothes and long before his mom’s things. He ferreted some more and then looked up with a question in his eyes. Where is the spiderman pencil box, the one Mom used to keep her change? I want Mom’s box. We were all stunned. We realised that the child was simply looking for something that belonged to his mom, something he could keep with him as a memento. The box has been taken by the mom when she left the centre.
I keep sitting in silence. The moment was pregnant with emotions too complex to define: a child’s intense love for his mom, his hurt and disappointment, his zillions of unsaid questions that no one had answers for and above all our inadequacy to make it all alright. We told him gently that the box has been taken by his mom as she had kept her money in it. The child simply answered: but it had my two rupees in it!
I cracked up and had to leave the room as tears filled my eyes and threatened to flow. No matter how much you try, you can never fill the space left empty by a mom. We did try to make things work and help the mother but failed. But the little boy never forgot and never stopped loving her. His search for the forgotten box proved that beyond doubt.
The moment passed and Popples was his ebullient self again, but I was now aware of the hint of sadness that lay hidden in his beautiful eyes and threatened to spill out at any moment. I was also conscious of how much more we needed to do to try and make things better for him.
Children get hurt by us adults. Often they are unable to deal with the situation and resort to what we easily call bad behaviour and that we are quick to reprimand. That is our mistake. Actually it is simply their way of telling is that all is not well. We have to be able to understand them and make things right. We will do it for Popples, come what may!