Ever since he started to speak, Jay has always wanted to be an adult. He pays careful attention to what adults say around him and deploys those phrases at will (I know). He also finds it very frustrating that the adults around him do not treat him like an equal. He always wants feedback and response — there are no silences, no pauses. If you have ever played the game of sending messages to somebody simply using AutoCorrect to finish sentences, you have a sense of what it sounds like talking to Jay. Sometimes, we worry that he’s speeding down the unstoppable conveyer belt to adulthood. What’s the rush? Stay your age, you can’t go back! But we know that his heart is not in it. He wants to be a grown-up.

He is almost 5. He discovered a couple of weeks ago that Cuckoos respond to you when you coo back to them. For the next 30 minutes, he followed the hapless bird around the street cooing right back at it, assuming I guess that he was having a conversation. I have read enough books on child-rearing to let him be, and answer his questions as patiently as I can (I let some snark in, but he’s cottoning on to it nowadays, sigh).

Ram, a couple of years older, is developing a sense of interiority. This year, he began to read books, and it delights us to see him curled up with a book, his brow furrowed and his spectacles discarded. He likes to play with imaginary friends on rollicking adventures, yodeling around the house. I had to drag Ram out and get him onto a cycle. Without support wheels. After a few days, as his brain adjusted to the cycle, it quickly got incorporated into his games. I was like this when I was young (I think).

Ram is the silent type, but is very clear about what he wants. I have seldom seen kids say no to chocolate if they are not in the mood; Ram will (I would NEVER do that). Reading did not come easily to him; his class teacher will testify. Math too is not an intuitive subject. He had to work on his reading. He sat down with a book, all by himself, and worked his way through it. And then another.

We threw the TV out a few years ago (I know) and that means they have to find ways to while away time. Ram reads books or plays games in his mind. Jay asks questions.

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