The Solar System, Some Dinosaurs and a Birthday

Conversation was flourishing yet again at the breakfast table. The clock ticked on unmindful of the parodies and paradoxes being played out at the very moment. There was time – 6 minutes and 23 seconds before the big horn was blown and all children boarded the car and raced towards their scholarly duties. This time in the morning is the most fraught with tension, melodrama and hilarity. For instance, one time the daughter sighed an identifiably 10-year-old tenet that Monday mornings were tough with P.E, gym and all classes packed into the day. It must be particularly hard for her, for she knows how to take relaxing-over-the-weekend to ridiculous extremes.

“Don’t worry .. you can sleep soon in the afternoon.” said the wise toddler opening his mouth way bigger than it needs to be opened for 3 pieces of cereal to be spooned in. The cereal made it in, but the milk did not. The wisdom-dripping sister sighed and passed the milk dripper a napkin.

“I don’t have nap time in my school unlike yours. Amma – he thinks I have time to sleep in school!”  said the affronted sister.

“ is he to know that? His school has nap-time. You go to school, therefore it must have nap-time.” I said.

“Yeah – Pre-school. They don’t even agree to call it school yet. Pre-school! He has 3 breaks, 1 nap, 2 play sessions and 4 go-to-the-loo’s in his time-table.”

Say what you will about the toddler, he rallies. His brief confusion about how there can be schools and universities without nap-time occupied his mind for a few seconds and he said, “Oh! That’s okay – when you become small like me again, then you can sleep in school.”

3 minutes and 40 seconds.

Another howl from the older sister. “I don’t grow small again, I become bigger.”

“Yes, but I will also become 5 years old.” says the brother.

“That doesn’t even make any sense!” she says to me again. I nod.

Say what you will about ambition and planning, the toddler has it right. When asked what he would like to become when he grows up, he says, “I want to be 5.” At  10, his sister must seem like a wise-rishi to him. When she tells him about flip bars ( and running 9 rounds during P.E, his mind boggles. The magic of her age, size and tenacity seem formidable. He cannot even aspire to such greatness, and he settles for being 5 and becoming a fire-fighter like his favorite cartoon character.

These age-related discussions always have her puzzled. She has tried explaining the concept of time, solar system, evolution of dinosaurs and mankind to him (subject to another blog, for it was fraught with theories bound to make philosophers and scientists squirm in their seats and graves).

One time he told her that when he was small, she was in my tummy. “How is that even possible? I am older than you, lil broke-head.” she says tussling his hair and he replies. “Yes I know. But when you were small and then smaller, you were in amma’s tummy.”

“Yes, but you weren’t even there.”

“Yes I was.”

“NO! You weren’t. “

“Yes I was. You was in Amma’s tummy rember?”

“I remember.” (Maybe she is a rishi after all, could Rishis remember the time in their mother’s womb? I must check)

“Yes…then I was a small boy.”

“You are a small boy now. You weren’t even there when I was in amma’s tummy.”

“Then where was I?” he asks in confusion. He looks at me for answers. I am flummoxed.  I suppose I look like a dinosaur to him and have lived eons in comparison,  but how was I to answer the #1 existential question that has wracked mankind for centuries?

Earth goes around the Sun Dinosaurs roam the Earth The Clock is Ticking
Earth goes around the Sun
Dinosaurs roam the Earth
The Clock is Ticking

Luckily, it is time to herd everybody into the car and I welcome the confusion.

To make matters worse, his birthday rolls around in May, while the rest of us have it in the fall. School (Fine – pre-school) starts in the Fall, and so he patiently waited while all his friends had birthdays. “When will my birthday come?” became a common question mixed with the notion that birthdays mean he will get older, his sister younger and my tummy flatter. (Well, alright alright.)

Unable to bear it any longer, I told him that it takes a full year for the Earth to go around the Sun, and when that happens, his birthday will come. Patiently, for months, he waited and spoke about his birthday every time he saw a picture of the Solar System.

Well, the Earth made it around the Sun and the son’s birthday is finally here. Happy Birthday little Tucky! (

Taking the ABCD Approach

“Amma! How can you say that? Three is a very important age!” says the daughter riled up and agitated. I now recognize that tone of voice as the one she uses when she is standing up for someone or something. There is a sincerity to it that is refreshing. Maybe, one day that voice will help her lend her energy and actions to more noble causes than celebrating the third birthday party for her brother, but for now, I appreciate the thought.

“Really? Tell me all about your third birthday party dear.” I ask her. I can see her tumbling about in her brain with a look on her face like she is rattling a box of metal keys to look for the key to the treasure chest.

“There was a .. a cake?!” she says hesitantly.

“Nice try. What else?”

“Amma, see all I am saying is that I will take care of everything for the party. All you need is A.B.C.D and we are set.”

I was gearing up for a small party among his friends in his day-care and much singing of the birthday song, but the daughter wanted to have some of her own fun in our house with a larger group of her friends and her brother’s on the occasion. Hence the discussion.

“What is A B C D?”

She picks up a marker and heads to the white board in true Teacher’s-grand-daughter fashion and writes:

A: Apartment/House

B: Buddies

C: Cake

D: Decorations

“We already have A, I’ll invite all the Bs, you order the C and I’ll take care of the D too. I’ll even clean up before the party. “

She ignores my question about cleaning up after the party.

So, I am settling down to the myriad tasks that come with pulling off a birthday party at the last minute. None of this is helped by the fact that my sister sitting half a moon away is pinging me on progress. The daughter has looped her in for support I see.

Lightning McQueen Cars Cake
Lightning McQueen Cars Cake (Image from Safeway)

The little brother, in the meanwhile, is basking in all the attention. When people wish him a Happy Birthday, he glows and wishes them Happy Birthday too. Sigh.

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