mom of all trades

mom of all trades

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Becoming Real

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” 
 Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit is a book, I read as a child and re-read with my son, as an adult. It is one of those books in which you stumble upon new nuances, when you read it at different stages of your life. When you are younger, you tend to put yourself in the shoes of the velveteen rabbit; wanting ‘It’ to happen to you, albeit rather slowly but surely.   You crave to be understood, even if you are inclined to break easily or have rather sharp edges. You want to be loved, for the person that you truly are; with all your scars and stories.

December 2011: It is early evening. I have been sitting in the same position for the last half hour, trying to get my six year old son to study for a spelling test. Nachikaet, who is a free spirited soul (which is a sugar coated way of saying, that he cannot stay put for more than a minute) is in his elements; producing written work which look like hieroglyphics, erasing the above mentioned hieroglyphics with such fury, that the terrified eraser has no option but to fly out of his hands and hit me squarely in the eye. Something snaps within me and the next in ten minutes involves   smacks and comparisons with ’smarter’ class mates. He doesn’t refute any of my accusations, he looks into my eyes, tears streaming down his pencil-lead stained face and whispers quietly “I still love you, amma"

Strangely, it is the Velveteen rabbit that I think of at that moment.
 Here I am, hurting him physically, wounding his dignity and labeling him, just because he couldn't memorize a few spellings and my little boy assures me that he loves me and accepts me with all my quirks, unconditionally. At that moment, I feel deeply ashamed of myself. I realize that I need to accept his weaknesses with the same attitude that I accept his strengths. I need to lace my fingers with his, rather than point it at him. From this safe position, we can deal with correcting mistakes, together.

When I read the story again with my son, I imagine the story from the perspective of the little boy, who loves the rabbit unconditionally, despite his shabby appearance and fallen whiskers. To love your loved ones so fully, embracing their imperfections and being thankful for their presence in your life, seems to me the best way to make them real. In the process, as the Skin horse says, though not all at once, maybe you become real too.