The Drop Off

Within the next 90 minutes, my youngest will return to pre-school. She is 3 and turns 4 in a couple months. She has been at home since the pandemic. She and I are both mixed with emotions about her going back to school. For her to start Pre-K in the fall full-fledge, she would need to go back around now or so to start acclimating. Last night, she was telling me that she would miss me when she is gone. I told her I would miss her too and that I would wait in the parking lot for her. Then she said she would rather play with the birds. At the point when she was about to start an all-out episode of why she doesn’t want to go back, my partner brought in her lunchbox that had been dropped off at the porch by evil Amazon. It was purple and had mermaids. She forgot about being upset. The most common technique to calm her is distract her.

I wrote about her turning 3 in American Kahani last year.

My daughter turned 3 this week. We felt every inch of her being two. The fits. The rage. The laughter. The joy. The jumping. The darting. The crashing. The cries. The shrieks. The smiles. The tears. The squeals. 

She currently has a small bruise on her left cheek. She says it was acquired flying into a window. She jumps off the sofa. The coach. The bed. The chair. With very little regard for how she will land. Anytime I tell her not to, she becomes more emboldened. 

We tried the tactic of telling her we love her very much and don’t want to see her hurt.  She told us not to worry. 

When she potty trained in early spring, she was so proud and pleased of her independence that she packed up a bag and said good-bye. I gave her a kiss and asked where she was going. She said she was off to the moon and Mars, and she would be going by herself. She marched off to the front door and turned back, because she couldn’t open the door. I guess that Mission to Mars is on hold.  

This is a child conceived the month Trump won the election and born the weekend of the Charlottesville protest. I went to the hospital for my delivery, and the whole world had shifted. During her first year she grew and began to walk. And in her movements were resistance. She is every bit the resistance of the world she was brought into. 

We watch her in wonder and awe. This is a girl who we have only to stay out of her way. 

She walks around saying, “I want a revolution.” 

If things don’t go her way, she is singing, “Get up! Stand up! For your rights.” 

When her siblings told her she wasn’t doing any work during the pandemic. She said, “I work hard outside with dad with the plants. I do a lot of work outside.”

Last August after a Kashmir protest, we heard her chanting, “Cheen ke lenghe azaadi,” with the gusto only a two year old could have. 

I never quite imagined her first four syllable word would be “cheen ke langeh,” which is actually three words, but she says it as one and impeccably so. I don’t have to worry about my daughter’s broken Urdu/Hindi. If she just knows the utterance and can feel it, proper pronunciation is unessential.

We call her our “azadi baby.” 

Back to the Future: Where Girls Without Bounds Channel Their Rage for Change, American Kahani, August 15, 2020.
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Nadia Ahmad

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