You at six

Let’s first face facts.

You’re six.

Like every year, this leaves me stumped. And like every year, Ba and I talked about the day you were born, and the morning we brought you home from hospital. You should’ve seen us, Ba and me – two utter amateurs, all by ourselves, no family in the country, clutching onto a teeny-tiny person swaddled in a great length of cloth. I remember standing outside the hospital in the October sun holding you while Ba went to fetch a taxi. If I close my eyes, I can still smell you; the one-day-old you. I can still feel the texture of the crocheted white blanket you were wrapped in. I can still see your little face, eyes shut in sleep, nose wrinkling with the first smell of the outside, the smell of sunlight. Your skin peeling in little patches. Everything new – arriving, waking; all at once.

When I say it was just the other day, it was.

The only difference is that now we don’t have to hold you gingerly anymore. We can squish you and squash you as much as we want, and you squish us right back. You also write us letters – long letters, sitting in school – which you give us when you come home. Sometimes you keep them in your hidey-holes, little surprises for us to find. On your birthday, as Ba and I sang your birthday song early in the morning from under our duvets, still groggy, the sun rising behind us, you bounced out of your bed and ran into our room, and after we’d given you your birthday card, you said you had something for us too: you ran downstairs, there was shuffling, and then you ran back up holding a card. You’d made us a card for your birthday with a letter inside, and kept it hidden all week. But there’s nothing you keep hidden on these sheets of paperΒ  – all your love is in there in careful handwriting. Every emotion, every time you’ve ever missed us, is on it. The way you see us is on it. And we’ve never looked better. I’m always humbled by how powerful, how uncomplicated, this love is that buzzes and crackles and flows without ebb.

When you’re not writing, you draw. Yes, you still love to draw. Visual references of your world,Β  journaling things that stick to you. Like rainclouds and rooftops, geese flying over water, a wild hare in mid-leap.

You also drew your birthday party, only the guests looked a little different, and decidedly four-legged.

The actual birthday party though was by no means less wild: sixteen six-year-olds; it would’ve been calmer with the animals.

You had a Totoro Party in honour of your favourite movie, with a popcorn-and-sushi screening at home. And party bags with soot gremlins and chopsticks.

And finally a cake that made you so happy, that it made all the late-night baking and smearing and Totoro-drawing worthwhile.

Apart from Totoro, these are some of your other favourite things at six:

The animals you collect; a veritable zoo, each animal with its own name: like Cuba and Havana (the leopard and her cub – gifts from Bobo), Chandan (the St Bernard, because you love the smell of sandalwood), Charcoal and Snow (the black horse, and the white), or Snot (the snake; because that’s what he feels like).

Taking late night walks by the river, your dim little torch showing us the way.

Discovering the joy of reading your first chapter book. But still much preferring to sit on my lap listening to old favourites like the Beatrix Potter books on your desk.

Going to Ba’s Aikido class and copying his every move on your own little mat.Β 

Making tiny sculptures that can sit on the tip of a finger. Like this dog and baby Totoro you made today.

Coming into our room, crawling under our blanket and snuggling between me and Ba every morning before our day starts, and we run late for school.

Dancing with me, and making music with Ba.

Chotto-ma, how we love you! From the ends of your short, spiky hair to the tips of your six-year-old toes. You make music for us every day. And every day, we wonder how we created a note so perfect.

28 thoughts on “You at six

  1. Happy Birthday again, to chotto ma!
    I loved everything about this post. The pictures, the art, the party, the cake! the memories, the growing up that little-big 6 year olds do, seeing it through your words. I loved it all.

  2. What a lovely birthday party for a beautiful little girl :). One of my favorite things about the internet and the blogs I discovered, are the children I come across. For the mothers that willingly share so much of their lovely, lovely babies. It's a joy, knowing them. Happy birthday, Chotto- ma. Big hugs, all the way from India.
    P.S: Your handwriting is lovely.

  3. Pia, what a beautiful blog you have – writing (of course), photography, art and recipes everything exceptional! I only discovered it a couple weeks back and am already feeling bad that I might be all caught up on archives.

    Happy birthday to Chotto-ma, who, thanks to your writing, I feel like I know so well already. I'm amazed at the lovely little girl she is, so thoughtful and talented (look at those strokes!), and only six yet.

    And to echo what Roxana said, thanks for sharing!

  4. Nags, as you can see, we're very good at giving squishes, so sending you a big, big hug for that! I should have a special post (well, to me) up next week – come and read, and tell me what you think πŸ™‚

  5. I started this blog for her, Roxana. I wanted her to have a space that she would find happiness and comfort in as an adult. A home of sorts, only made with words and pictures.
    Thank you – that you find joy in knowing us brings me much joy in return. Big hugs, and much love, back xx

  6. All for a tadpole – so you do it for a tadpole too πŸ™‚ I love the name. Though I'd love to know your name too.
    Thank you – for the note that made me smile, for wading into the archives, and for your sweet birthday wish to Chotto-ma. Every time someone discovers the blog, and writes in, it feels like my words have settled somewhere, connected with someone. So hugs for that.
    Come back again – I'd love that πŸ™‚

  7. Read it all in one single breath. The party bags and the cake – sigh! you have a piano at home? how awesome is that.

    Happy birthday to the little one. She is growing up so tall and beautiful.

  8. Much, much love, Esha. Your hugs and kisses have been happily passed on to Chotto-ma! But your response to the post, that I'll keep for myself.

  9. Happy birthday to the prettiest 6 year old!
    And, to the warmest mother with the loveliest heart..Happy birthday to you too, Pia!
    A daughter can never be what is turns out if not for the mother..
    Love..and complete admiration..

  10. Sambrita, blowing you kisses for the nicest, most heart-warming note. Thank you for her wish, and even more for mine – you're right, it's our day as much as theirs, isn't it? All doubled for you, of course πŸ™‚
    Much love to you, and cuddles and kisses to N and T from me and the six-year-old! xx

  11. Aww Pia you have made me all teary eyed , lots of love an blessings to choto ma and how i love her name.. she is such a joy…may God bless her with many many more happy happy birthdays and she is truly blessed to have both of you … such lovely parents… please pass on my wishes and hugs to her…take care

  12. Thank you for the nicest wish! Your warmth reaches us all the way here πŸ™‚
    And your blessings and love have been passed on to Chotto-ma.
    Much love back from us!

  13. You know what, I have always wanted a baby girl. Reading blogs like yours and the Mad Momma's only intensified that craving. Now, my dream has come true – we had a cutie pie of a baby girl last week. The husband and I can't get enough of her. Can't wait to explore worlds with her. Just thought of letting you know. πŸ™‚

  14. Oh my – Congratulations, and big love!! The 'gal next door' is a mommy – and a wonderful mommy you will be too! Much love to the little, new addition to the family. What a wonderful journey you're all going to embark on! Thank you for sharing your lovely news with me xx

  15. Happy Belated Birthday Chhota Ma! What a lovely letter for her to read one fine, grown-up day, P. My little guy just turned 8 and I haven't the words for it. Wish you'd write my letter for me.

  16. Hope you had a wonderful day Chotto Ma!! Wish I had thought of doing a totoro cake like that all those years ago, totally brilliant! I am always so enthralled by Chotto Ma's drawings, they are amazing! Can't believe she is 6! πŸ™‚ xx

  17. πŸ™‚ you'd write a fine, fine letter, Chandreyee – now you'll have to aim for the 9th birthday.
    And a happy, happy belated birthday to the little (big) guy. Much love!

  18. Thanks Emma!
    She's 6, yes πŸ™‚ How the last year raced by!
    This Totoro cake was the easiest version I could think of – some of the Totoro cakes on the internet were carved and complicated enough to give me an ulcer xx

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