January 26, 2018
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
My kids are so weird sometimes.
Earlier this week as we drove home from activities after school, the girls got into a discussion about the documentary Madness in the Desert. It details the challenges and trials of the cast and crew during the making of the blockbuster Hindi film Lagaan. As a quick recap, the movie shows the (fictional) story about villagers in 1800s India who accept a challenge from the ruling British soldiers to participate in a cricket match; if the villagers win the match, they don’t have to pay their taxes for three years.
(And anyone who has Netflix needs to watch the movie now. It’s phenomenal.)
In any case, the kids recently watched the documentary about the making of the movie and were sharing some of the facts with me. Some of them I already knew, like how the crew had to overcome the intense challenge of making actors look like A-list cricket players (not all actors know how to play the game on a world-class level; go figure.) During filming, though, one of the British actors dislocated his shoulder while shooting the match sequences.
“Mamma, is it possible to dislocate other parts of your body?” Nine asked.
“Yeah,” I replied, “anything that’s in a socket, like your arm, your hip—”
“Your eye,” Eleven interjected. “Here, let me try.”
“Di-Di, blink really fast, and you’ll be able to do it!” Nine exclaimed.
There was a pause in the conversation. Then Eleven said, “I’m blinking, but nothing’s happening!”
They dissolved into a fit of giggles. I pulled the car into the garage and rolled my own eyes.
My kids are so weird.
Another conversation came up in the car on the way home from an activity. The kids told me about a student in their art class who didn’t listen when the teacher asked her in a polite tone to sit down. The student’s instant response was, “No.”
“She was so disrespectful,” Nine said.
“Yeah, why would her parents let her talk like that?” Eleven asked.
I wanted to be careful in answering. Whenever the kids bring up these types of questions, I always stay as neutral as possible while remaining truthful. There are a hundred factors that go into these kinds of situations, and it’s hard to answer the why without knowing more about the what.
“Well, different parents have different rules on things,” I said finally.
“You and Daddy don’t let anything slide,” Eleven said.
“That’s because we want both of you to grow up to be kind, courteous, empathetic—”
“Pathetic?” Nine exclaimed.
“Yes,” I said, chuckling, “our goal is for you to be pathetic.”
Eleven had started laughing by this point, but even though Nine got the joke right away she didn’t find it as amusing as her sister did.
“I said empathetic,” I went on.
“Okay, then, that’s better,” Nine said.
Last Thursday I picked up Nine from dance class, and we chatted as we walked back to the car. She told me about the only boy in her class and the conversation the two of them had that day. When she mentioned his name was Romeo, I smiled.
“Is that really his name?” I asked.
“Yeah, why, is that a problem?” she asked, and I could hear the rise in her voice that only comes from fierce loyalty to her friends.
“No,” I replied in a mild tone, “I just didn’t know that people actually name their kids that.”
“People name their kids Juliet all the time,” she said.
On Monday we normally go straight from school to drop Eleven at her violin lesson and then Nine at her cello lesson. This week and next, however, Eleven’s teacher is out of town, so we drove to Nine’s lesson and got there a little early. Both girls settled in the comfortable couches in the waiting area of the cello teacher’s studio to get started on their homework.
I had my computer with me and started reading a new partial manuscript sent to me by one of my writers. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nine shift in her seat and glanced at her. We exchanged a smile, and just then she dropped her eraser.
She knelt to the floor to get it and then sat back in her seat. Eleven glanced up and gave her an enthusiastic wave, as if they hadn’t been sitting less than five feet from one another the whole time. Or had ridden from school together.
Nine widened her eyes, filled her cheeks with air like a puffer fish, then raised her eraser in exaggerated slow-mo is if she was going to throw it at her sister. Eleven pretended to get scared and hid her face behind her hands. I heaved a huge sigh and went back to the manuscript.
Have I said that my kids are weird?