Lakshmi at the soft ball play centre

“No fireworks, no fireworks” Lakshmi cried. She didn’t want to see the sparkles in the night sky. Having her hair washed has left her traumatised. She shielded her eyes from the distant exploding glitter. Fireworks night is on Monday officially but the celebrations have already started.

The day started with breakfast on the stairway, Lakshmi’s favoured seating position for her morning porridge. “Would you like to visit the farm animals today or play with the soft balls?” I asked. “Soft balls, please” come the reply.

It was almost lunchtime time by the time we got to the soft ball centre. The place was heaving. Children celebrating birthday parties. Happy whoops and the occasional tearful whimpers filled the air. Lakshmi’s eyes widened with excitement. Off she trotted to the older children’s section. She was fearless the last time she was here, gliding down the steep slides. The first attempt seemed to go well, but the second attempt saw her freezing at the top. I waited to see the response. The minutes passed and she stood there wanting to be rescued. I had to go up and get her.

We stuck to the area designated for children her age. She played happily for a while till she decided it was time to try out the older section again. This time it went smoothly for a while at least till she started coming down while the slides were still not clear of children. A couple of bumps and tears later, I sat her down and explained. “Wait till the slides are clear before coming down”. I wondered whether she took in the advice. I watched her from the comfort of my seat.

This time she waited patiently at the top before making her way down. Others took the opportunity to push in front of her including adults till a young girl realised that Lakshmi was waiting to go down and stood aside for her to go down. Lakshmi didn’t mind. She waited patiently till she was able to come down safely. Soon she found out a way to beat the bullies without creating any fuss. At times when the waiting was too long, she walked away and came back when the coast was clear. I sat there watching proudly. Not only did she take on my advice but she did it with grace. My little girl stood firmly and patiently waiting her turn without letting the bigger children bully her. At one point a child pushed her before she was ready to let go. She was facing the wrong way. She clung on to the top, heaved herself up, composed herself and came down when she was ready.

The joy on her face, each time she hurtled down the slide was priceless. At the bottom she bounced with delight before scampering up the steps to have another go.

We stayed for almost four hours till Lakshmi decided it was time to go home. A day I realised how simple child’s play can achieve great goals. A day which has moulded her a step further in coping with the stresses the future holds for her. A day she taught me how to be patient, the child’s way, and to do it with finesse.

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