I am trying to write down what Maya does or says, as I notice there are some really surprising and cute things going on, that I might tell very few people about. And that in time would vanish, dusted by other moments – that become memories, and that then get dusted as well.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, December 2019
We were in one of the Indomarets, a local groceries store chain, where we used to spend our noon little walk, just to get an ice-cream (Maya strawberry, me durian flavor) or some fresh jackfruit.
Sometimes I was buying her some little animal stickers, just because we used to love sticking them in all sorts of places or parts of our bodies. And this time, looking for some new bits of plastic to play with, Maya noticed the little metal car models, for a change. She noticed one, and then the few ones underneath. I suggested her to pick one of her choice. I do that. I show her various options and then she picks. I think maybe this would help her develop her own style and taste, make her own decisions.
Just that, this time, Maya did not make up her mind on only one car. She really wanted two. One turquoise and yellow, that I was really fancying and this is why I specifically showed it to her, in the first place. And the other one dull and orange, with two black horizontal lines – such a classic car.
I asked her to make up her mind; and to make a choice. And she told me, after some dancing going on, on one foot and then the other, that she has made her choice. She wants them both. The turquoise and the orange. Not one, but two.
In my mind, I panicked a little bit. It didn’t show, though. But I felt blocked. And paralyzed. All sorts of questions popped up. What if I set up a precedent? How can I not impose my rules upon her? My adult control is out of order, and she is out of control. A series of affirmations and questions that, in that very second, summed up in my mind as the beginning of the end. What end? The end of my authority and power as a parent.
And then, I just felt a tiny bit of space in that mind. I doubted it, and then I forced it, and then it just became natural. That space was telling me to let it be. To go with it. To trust her. That space was educated. Perhaps my reads, perhaps Natural Child or Continuum Concept, perhaps the Circle of Safety philosophy. Hack knows. It was and is a space that was educated and that I work so very hard on maintaining, every single day. When I don’t mess up, of course. Just because I didn’t grow up with it. My subconscious mind is not educated with these freedom values for the child.
So here we were, at the cashier, still a little bit tense, both of us. Maya because she was still waiting for it to be for real, bought and all. Me because such a strong part of my brain was still fighting this decision. I somehow was not believing I was doing this. And didn’t get why.
Got out of Indomaret and opened the boxes for both cars, threw them to the garbage in front. And passed Maya the little metal wheeled toys. That same second, very serene, she passed me the turquoise car and said “mama”. She took the orange one to her chest and said “Maya”. I was just perplex. I asked her, Maya, what are you saying? Is this car mine? She said yes. And is the orange one yours? And she said yes, and started playing. She said “haide”, which is “common, play”, us already having the two little cars rolling, in parallel.
Yes, we are often times just the two of us around. In our travels. With her father also working. With no grandma or constant nanny figure or toddler friends around. And yes, I was perplex. This is Maya. She knows what she wants. And she wants such beautiful things. To happen. Not to have, but to happen.
Later that day, Maya agreed to give the turquoise car to Dion, her Indonesian 3 years old playmate. She has given it much easier than I did. The child in me needs to learn sharing and caring. So, each day, I need to learn and to work on it. Every single day. Thank God. Thank Maya.