We've spent the last two days hanging out with my sister, Nikki's C Paachi, who flies out to the US today for higher studies. While I restricted my goodbyes to a semi hug and a rather eloquent grunt in my characteristic expressive style, I'm sure C knows that we're all going to miss her lots. What makes this whole going away business a little better is that she's going to be back in under six months to get married (hurray!), an event everyone in the family is quite looking forward to. Nikki had a fun two days spending time with C Paachi and her grandparents which got me around to thinking about how important it is for kids to spend time with family growing up, to know that there are other loving, dependable adults they can confide in and look up to, apart from their parents. I'm hoping Nikki gets to spend a lot of time with close family as she grows up and have been making an effort to get together with family I have in and around town whenever I get the chance. It is specially fun and also a little touching to see Nikki bond and thoroughly enjoy herself with my little nephew R, who's a couple of years older than her. I have a photograph of C Paachi with R and Nikki in which C is holding Nikki and R is standing next to her. The snap beautifully captures R grinning mischievously at Nikki while she grins right back with an equally saucy, exhilarated expression on her little face, a testimony to the fun times they've shared. We're lucky that P also has a large extended family, with lots of kids close to Nikki's age and even though she was too small to really interact with them the last few times we met, I'm sure she'll enjoy her time with them as she grows older.
I shared these thoughts with P last evening as we drove back home after saying goodbye to C and we got around to talking about what we'd like Nikki to grow up with, the important stuff, the stuff that really matters. We were both agreed on the importance of family and close friends; I hope Nikki has a wonderful, loving set of friends she knows she can rely on and turn to anytime as she grows older. Growing up, we were always moving cities and I would often be the new girl in town or in school or in the park, the girl who was left out of birthday parties and sleepovers and movie nights because nobody knew her well enough yet. Sure I would settle in eventually, get to know people and make friends but it was always difficult those first few days when everybody was comfortable in their own little groups and you were the only outsider who didn't fit in any where. In retrospect though, I feel this has always made me appreciate my friends more and I am truly thankful today for the wonderful group of friends I have.
A love for books and reading is another thing I hope to pass on to Nikki, followed closely by a love for music. There is no greater joy than losing yourself in the wonderful world of a beloved book, retracing the adventures in an old favorite, the thrill you feel when you connect instantly with a new book or the quiet anticipation of an evening tucked up in bed with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book left half way. Except perhaps, the joy of waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the strains of a ballad by Richard Clayderman on a Sunday morning. Or some smooth jazz or perky funk beats on a Friday evening as you wait for dinner guests to arrive. Or the instant mood lift as you listen to an old favorite on a rainy afternoon or on a long drive back home. So Nikki gets a generous dose of Floyd and U2 along with Wiggles Dorothy the Dinosaur and she seems to enjoy both equally well! Of course The Papa Man ensures that there's a generous dollop of 'Tere Liye' and 'Singh is King' thrown is as well and both those numbers have little Miss Nikki doing a vigorous shake-that-booty each time!
I am hoping to celebrate all of the major festivals in a big way now that Nikki is here. Before we had Nikki, festivals were equated with days off, a chance to get away from the stress and pressure of daily life but now I look forward to spending these special days in a leisurely manner with Nikki. Enjoying the beauty of colors on Holi, basking in the warmth of family and togetherness on Diwali, always a gala family event, discovering the magic of Santa Claus at Christmas, making modaks together for Ganesh Chaturthi and beautiful jhankis for Janmashtami. Festivals, also mean holidays and holidays are another important part of growing up happy! Long and lazy summer holidays, short winter breaks, even weekend getaways, I want to ensure we take some time out every now and then to get away from our regular routines and travel the world and spend time together, sometimes to meet new people and do different things, sometimes to just enjoy a slice of solitude.
Which brings to me to the importance of enjoying your own company and being comfortable with yourself. That wonderful place where you know you can step out and have a great time over coffee with friends knowing equally well that you can go right back and have just as wonderful a time all by yourself. I hope I can teach Nikki that. Along with the power of dreaming big, beautiful dreams, believing in them without being afraid of failure and taking risks. Living the most exhilarating life and being the best person she possibly can be. And always knowing that two people, mom and dad, will always be there for her no matter what.
This list could go on and on so I thought maybe I'd leave it at this. Or maybe I'll keep coming back and adding to this if I feel I've missed out on something that really should be here. What about you though? What are those special things you know you want your children to grow up with?