Well, young Pickle is making sure he gets his share of mind-space.
He is ( and of course, his brother is) almost three now, and developing into a very sturdy, yet sharp young fellow with a real mind of his own. He is rather worldly wise and yet very sensitive. It's becoming a real issue, because that kid can really hold a grudge, and what's more, he's really got used to pushing me and Vijay until we crack. So it's a bit of a vicious cycle right now.
He'll do something fascinatingly thoughtful -for example, when he spots Papaji sinking into our sofa, he quickly scampers into his own room and fetches him a pillow so that Papaji can rest his head easy.
Little Pickle glows with pleasure at the praise he receives for this act from me. And then suddenly, his face turns belligerent and he tells me, as I bend over him to give him a kiss 'Aap bahut naughty baby ho.'
I reel a bit, not sure what brought this on and sit staring at him, confused and hurt. Peanut doesn't help matters with her interjection 'She's not a baby, Pickle! She's an old woman.'
The fact is that Pickle seems to have that thing which I had myself - a middle child complex. So much for my gloating that by virtue of giving birth to twins, I had neatly avoided at least that pitfall. Pickle is a mere minute older than Papad, and yet, he does behave like the older brother. This results in young Papad often getting his own way - because he cries louder, while Pickle eventually shrugs his shoulder philosophically - but apparently continues to carry a chip on it, choosing to blame his parents for the perceived favouritism.
His relationship with his own twin is fascinating, of course. They have about ten times more fun than any non-twin could, based on my observation of Peanut growing up. So even though they battle it out as much as they play together, they are connected in a way that it is difficult for the rest of us to understand. So there's no question of blaming Papad for getting more - Pickle just blames me for everything.
He was really pushing my buttons about something the other day and I declared that I wouldn't be putting him to bed that night. His response came pat 'Koi baat nahin. Main pehle papad ko sulaaoonga, aur phir Papad mujhe sulayega.' ( I will make Papad sleep first, and then he will make me sleep). He seemed very satisfied with this simple solution and spotted no logical flaw in the same.
I do my best to be understanding and affectionate with him, but at the end of each round of cuddling which he really does seem to enjoy, he'll stalk away with an inexplicable 'Katti, Mama.' At times I'll hear a soft sound from near my door and find young Pickle glowering at me.
'Stop it, Mama' he says in a low voice. Pickle is under the impression that 'Stop it' is a very rude thing to say, and I indulge that impression because it's better than his picking up other ruder phrases. But given that I know what he thinks, it does kind of hurt when he throws at me for no reason that I can understand at all.
I know the one thing that I should start doing is figuring out some one-on-one time with him, and that too on a regular basis. A couple of times, I took him out for noodles and to the park and so on, but after a while, he got fidgety and starting asking me 'Where's Papad?' and wasn't at ease until his younger brother was brought out ( a very angry younger brother, who couldn't fathom why he was being left out of the fun so far).
Papad is unabashedly affectionate with me. As he announces proudly 'Main toh Mama ka Chipku hoon.' His kisses and cuddles and wide toothy grins come with no strings attached, and even if he's scolded by me, it is me whom he will always run to for comfort.
Pickle on the other hand, if scolded even a little bit, feels so slighted that he runs away from the perpetrator of the crime straight into the arms of Kajal Didi, the one person in the house who would never dream of raising her voice at him. This drives Vijay nuts, but I'm glad that at least there's someone who Pickle trusts completely.
So that's it. There's always a new parenting challenge at every stage, isn't it? But I shall rise to it. Despite the various insults that young Pickle throws my way, including yesterday.
'Aap Anarkali ho...' to Peanut
'Aur aap Phooljadi ho...' to Papad.
Before I can remark upon the fact that from now on there's going to be no more sitting in the car for long periods of time with the radio on at full blast, he looks at me sideways and concludes 'Aur aap bahut bada Chipkali ho.'
Thanks, son. Love you too.
And note: I always win. So you're going to love me right back, or my name isn't Chipkali, I mean, Yashodhara Lal.