Yes, they are cute but there are times when they can be such brats. I can deal patiently with their naughtiness and tantrums but when, in all their innocence, they make you go crimson in the face with embarassment, well – that’s when I could, with the greatest pleasure, give them a good hiding!
My mother used to relate an incident every time the conversation revolved around the ‘innocent’ utterances of children. Two of my siblings – shall we call them Georgy and Porgy?- had this habit of helping themselves to snacks served for guests at the dining table while the latter were being entertained. Once they(Georgy and Porgy) nearly cleared all the plates while the guests were still there, and so amma thought that the time had come to discipline them. She sternly told them not to touch anything on the table in the presence of guests, but could help themselves freely to whatever they wanted once they left. This instruction was given while waiting for some half a dozen very sophisticated (US returned) relatives who had terrible airs about them – you know the type that makes you uneasy, the type you have to suffer whether you like it or not, the type before whom your image is very important to you.
The guests arrived and the table was set and all the home made goodies spread out. The guests sat at the dining table and started helping themselves to the snacks. Georgy and Porgy waited, on the opposite sides of the room, each leaning on the walls on his side, eyeing the table. Amma was keeping an eye on them and she was quietly amused at the way they were ogling at their favourite snacks. It was torture for them, she could see, and every time they looked pleadingly at her, she’d shake her head firmly, a stern look on her face.
The guests took an unusually long time at the dining table, talking and picking something or the other from the plates now and then.
And Georgie and Porgy began to get impatient. Georgy appeared to be the one whose self-restraint had reached the tether end, for he would move towards the table as though mesmerized and magnetically drawn by something there. Amma would then be instantly at his side, gripping his arm firmly and directing him back to his position against the wall. Porgy did not leave his wall but the tortured expression on his face was so comical that amma had difficulty trying to control her laughter. But she was pleased - with herself that she could discipline them, and her little boys that they could exercise that much of control over themselves. Just then she noticed that Georgy had left his wall and was walking towards the table as though in a trance. She was on Porgy’s side of the table. She started off quickly towards Georgy, but before she could reach him, there he stood between two chairs, and with excitement bordering on hysteria , he was pointing out the various snacks dishes as shouted out to Porgy: ‘Porgy, when these people go, you take avalose unda (index finger touching the avalose unda plate) and cheeda (index finger touching the cheeda plate) and I’ll take achappam(streaching across the table to touch the plate) and cake and mysore pak”. The last two items were to his left and right, and he stretched out his hands to point them out simultaneously, making him look like a choir conductor in the grip of an ecstatic frenzy.
Poor amma. Though she could laugh heartily each time she related this incident, I can imagine how terribly embarrassed she must have been! She nearly fainted with mortification but fitted a plastic smile which she beamed at the American returned guests, who were quickly getting up to make way for Georgy and Porgy who had already launched a violent attack on the dining table.