Shame Shame

Author: Ann Thomas

As Charming As one can get

People tend to fall in love with Yehoshua. He breaks every social norm. He disarms you with his smile before he makes a comment, either on the way you talk, look or stand. He then throws some questions at you and before you know it, there the two of you are in serious discussion. 

The other day, a bald person walked into the lift and before I realised what was running in the boy’s head, Yehoshua had spilled it out aloud, “Where is your hair.” I wished I could melt away and disappear, but ofcourse no offense was taken. 

The 30-odd-year old man and he are friends, as is the grandma of three who lives a few floors above and not to forget, the 5-year old girl who never misses an opportunity to complain about him to me. And it’s almost always about the yellow swing they both need!   New people don’t scare him or the fact that he has never met you before is not even a matter of consideration. You can talk, and so can he. So why not?

I stand next to him quietly, smiling, trying hard not to turn into shades of pinks, reds and violets as I am introduced to people of all ages, sizes and shapes. People I have never met before are invited home, embarrassing details shared with them and now it seems I am always smiling at strangers. They ofcourse know me; I am Yehoshua’s mother.   

A few days back, he was preparing for sports day. He wasn’t very excited. He wasn’t the fastest he told me. Some other boy always beat him. He was always faster. “I can’t win mama.”   “It’s okay baby, you love to run so run. As fast as you can.”   And he ran. He was the fastest. 

I was proud but he was not convinced. Everyone got a medal and he was unsure. A while later, he asked “Are you proud of me mamma or are you not proud of me mamma?” When my mother called to find out, he asked her the same, “Are you proud of me Ammachy or are you not proud of me Ammachy?”  

He showed his medal off but the doubt still lingered. Was he the fastest? For a while he was disturbed, and when in the park, he discovered a thirteen year old boy was faster, he decided he didn’t deserve the medal anymore. “Give the medal to him mamma,” he sobbed.   But as kids are, he moved on and by morning, the medal was long-forgotten.  

When my little one told me he wanted to learn Karate, I was only thrilled. We walked in to the class and there we were standing in front of the instructor and fifteen others maybe, all in their white karategis’. As I figured details, my son sneaked out of the room. I didn’t make much of it, something or someone had caught his attention I thought. But when I asked him to rush for the trial class a few days later, he refused. It came as a surprise. He had been looking forward to the Karate classes for so long. Was it the kungfu panda movie he had seen or something on television, I wasn’t sure but one thing we knew was Karate class was something he had wanted for a while now.   

I coaxed him, I cajoled. I explained but no. He had no intention of going. Finally he explained, “mama I don’t know Karate. They will do shame shame.”   

I was hit. Already?! Is what the world thought of him already figuring into his life? For so long, everyone I have known, I have seen struggle with it. I have myself battled this monster for a long time. Our need to fit in, to be applauded, to be appreciated and to be just accepted getting the better of us.  

I sound so silly as I write this. But here is a four year old already shying away from trying something new that he thought he had so wanted. Why, because he did not want to look stupid.  

Today it’s just a Karate class. In a few years it’s going to be the dream job or life. Nope, not when I am on guard. We are so getting him to Karate class even if it means he is going to make a total fool of himself. And together, he and I are going to laugh at ourselves with all those strangers he would have charmed into watching him.  

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