The Old Man
Kyron's beginnings were what one might say rather coincidental. He actually tried very hard to arrive on my birthday, October 27. However, his mother, Ranjana wouldn't let him.
Ranjana wanted a natural birth and enlisted the aid and guidance of not one, but two midwives, Jane and Larry, as well as Kelly, her own medical doctor. Unfortunately, she didn't listen to anything they said and did her own thing, so one does wonder what the point of having them around really was. On Friday, October 27, she went into labor at home and the midwives arrived full of energy, enthusiasm and good advice. So assisted by them and our first child, Pericles the cockatiel, Ranjana settled down to what was supposed to be a simple process. After all, she had excellent help all around and Kyron was most willing to cooperate.
However, for some mysterious reason Ranjana didn't seem to execute any of the suggestions given by the midwives to her as the hours went by. Pericles, himself who normally went to bed by 10 pm, courageously stayed with her till 2 am, but then could hold up no longer and started bouncing off the wall (literally), so I put him into his cage and covered it.
After that first night, we thought things would surely wrap up on Saturday. She did still have excellent help, myself, Pericles, the midwives (who were still willing to work with her) and of course, Kyron was still quite eager to come out, though admittedly starting to scratch his head wondering what the delay was. All Saturday went by. Then Saturnight too with Pericles and the wall getting acquainted again at about 2 am.
Very early Sunday morning, it was decided that we would make the trip to the hospital and let the doctor have a go at this. Doing so was not an inviting prospect though, for it was unusually foggy and one really couldn't see more than a few feet beyond. The driving had to be done understandably with great caution. Then a fascinating thing happened as we rode over a bridge about 3 kilometers from our house. The fog suddenly dissipated and the rays of sunshine shone through lighting our way. I turned to Ranjana and said, "Kyron is coming". You see, Kyron was named as a conceptual combination of my name Pradip (light) and Ranjana (many colors), for Kyron means many colored rays of light from the sun.
At the hospital, it was more of the same thing, Ranjana in a standoff with the midwives as well as the doctor as the hours rolled on. At one point, Ranjana really felt that this had gone on long enough and that perhaps natural childbirth really wasn't the way she wanted to do it. The midwives too were thinking that enough was enough. However, in an astonishing move, the medical doctor changed this line of thinking. She said she knew how much Ranjana wanted to have a natural childbirth and that she knew that Ranjana could see it through ... just hang on a little longer, you really can do this!
And so, after 40 hours of labor, it finally happened! Kyron emerged!
Not surprisingly, the doctor required my expertise to cut the umbellical cord and I went with the nurse when they took Kyron for the routine tests for I didn't want them to accidentally mix him up with some other kid which is what I'm certain had happened to me. When we got home, I figured out why this whole process had taken so long. Ranjana was born on September 29. Now, if Kyron had come out on my birthday, she couldn't very well lay a legitimate claim. So she actually delayed the entire birth two days to October 29, so that at least her birthdate got into the picture. Very devious indeed!
Kyron took things nice and slow. He wasn't in any hurry to nurse which caused Ranjana considerable aggravation and required her to go to various means of getting him to do so. Nor did he sleep in a particularly uneventful fashion, for he would be moving around all night as though he were constantly travelling to some exotic location or other and we would find him in the strangest corners of his crib.
When he played, he'd sit fascinated by sand and water for hours with no interest in moving to other toys which were lavished on him by both sets of grandparents. He took extreme pleasure in learning to walk going from a crawl, to getting up, taking a step or two, falling down with total glee and repeating this sequence over and over again. This glee followed him right into his running, for even though he could move very fast, he'd burst into laughter during the run and invariably crumple into a giggling heap.
Though he enjoyed the company of his little human friends, it was clear that they were by no means necessary. Anything, a wisp of cloud, the moon, a street, a twig or the caterpillar lounging on it, could become a friend. Sometimes, the play was observation and he'd look at his human friends sitting in a circle engaged in some activity, except he'd be sitting several meters outside the circle, just watching and watching.
Now before you start to think that Kyron was a budding philosopher who liked to laugh a lot, you should know that he also took great pleasure in getting on the nerves of those who deserved it.
So when he was about two years old and we went to the shopping mall with my parents (you know the ones who didn't follow the nurse in and got me mixed-up with some other kid), he decided he'd go for a stroll. My parents having cultivated paranoia to an art, naturally thought this was the end of their grandson. My mother screamed at my father, who fuming turned to me insisting that I bring him back immediately, recovering the great gulf of 5 meters Kyron had put between us. Kyron figured he'd found a new game, for the further away he went the greater the commotion behind him grew. My father glared at me because apparently I was shrugging my shoulders and saying something to the effect of "What do you want me to do?". Well, this was just too much and my father feeling he'd have to play his role as the patriarch went after Kyron.
Going after Kyron and catching him even at two are entirely different concepts which my father hadn't quite reconciled. Therefore, I was left to watch Kyron running around a counter with my father in desperate pursuit. I was sure I would have heard him laughing in his usual gleeful way, but unfortunately, I was forced to listen to my mother, who also didn't seem to understand why I was still shrugging my shoulders with the "What can I do?" expression on my face.
Anyway, Kyron rounded one counter-corner, then another and then a third and stood beside me obviously elated that he had not been caught. Unfortunately, his grandfather was nowhere to be seen and it was really too much to expect that he'd somehow find his way back to us in his state of mind. My mother, though, didn't seem too concerned about finding him, since her grandson had come back and would have provided us with a reproachful lecture on parental responsibility had we not left immediately to recover my father, before he really did get lost. We were successful tracking him down, but I will say nought about the celebrations that followed that encounter.
Kyron also very quickly figured out that his mother was a lot of fun. In fact, he realized that she could be a never-ending source of delight. All he had to do to experience this delight was not do what she wanted him to do. One particularly pleasurable event was deciding what to wear. Ranjana has a very well-developed sense of aesthetics - I know this for a fact because she told me so. Having failed completely in educating me regarding clothing decor, she took to setting out my garments for me, which I unfailingly did wear, provided there was not something else within more convenient reach, of course.
Naturally, she was determined to bring up Kyron properly as far as clothing goes and so she bought him the most perfectly matching items sometimes with deep consultation with the saleperson, both relishing in mutual admiration of each other's undeniable wisdom. Kyron certainly was the most aesthetically dressed young lad up to the age of two or so. After that, he seemed to take quite a liking to things that were tattered or had stains (which he sometimes put on himself demonstrating his own aesthetic capacities) or, and this seemed to give him the greatest pleasure, any combination that his mother found horrifying. Was it not remarkable that his mother could provide such animated merriment by something so simple as wearing a tshirt inside-out!
Ranjana, not being one to give up too easily, tried to instruct Kyron in the finer points of childhood etiquette, which Kyron obviously appreciated for each provided a wonderful source of play. All these attempts concluded in much the same way with Ranjana sternly saying, "I'm not happy with your behavior" which caused Kyron to think solemnly for about 10 seconds and then with continued solemnity ask, "Mommy, are you unhappy with my behavior?" One should not think that this solemnity meant that he was no longer experiencing his pleasure, but it should be noted that he was receiving it from a different source - that of his father trying very hard to suppress his own pleasure.
A memorable moment occurred after a particularly strenuous encounter at the end of which Ranjana skipped the "I'm not happy ..." line, jumping right to an imaginatively created exasperation, "When are you going to learn to behave yourself?!!". Adeptly adapting to the novelty, Kyron, while continuing his business, quickly and calmly answered, "Oh about 4 o'clock".
Ranjana and Kyron attended the local Waldorf School's mother-and-tot program together. They both enjoyed it very much, Kyron because he liked to play and Ranjana because she liked the teacher, Patti, who was really very good and quite fond of Kyron and all the other children. Proof of her deep understanding was demonstrated early on when questioned about why Waldorf didn't try to enhance the 'giftedness' that some children seem to show at an early age. She answered that these gifts won't go away as kids grow older and a child should be allowed to remain a child for as long as he or she wishes to.
The following year Kyron graduated to Waldorf's nursery school. His teacher there, Carol, used to refer to him as King Kyron, because she found he had this ability to get the other children to often do work that he was supposed to do, such as cleaning up after play, while he took on a supervisory role. She was also the one who told us that she thought there was an old man living inside Kyron.
It seems that the old man had this ongoing experience with existence that seems to elude younger folk as they put increasing years under their chronological belt. When he observed the swirlings of milk in his grandmother's tea, he would exclaim, "Clouds!". When drawing, Kyron would never begin from the middle of the paper - it would always be from a corner and proceed dynamically inwards as though in constant motion and exploration. After Ranjana or I read a story to him, he would, at the end of it say, "Again!" perhaps to live out its deeper intricacies several times.
He rarely wanted things even though all the grandparents tried to give him the entire Toys 'R Us franchise. He never seemed interested in those objects that attempt to divert a child's investigations into life, beyond taking them apart to see what might be inside: a huge cardboard box offered much more promising adventures! When we tried to buy him things, the response was always "No, I don't need it" or "No, I have something like it". I think this is a child's way of saying don't clutter up my life.
Perhaps the following portrait best expresses what the old man was up to.
Each morning the kids would go to Waldorf along a breath-taking path that was at least half a kilometer in length. This path led from the parking lot to the school building and was bordered by majestic trees, vibrant plants and beautiful wild flowers. The children of various ages would walk down a sloping hill and then go up another, in a harmonious flow, many of the younger ones accompanied by their parents.
And then, amidst this stream of humanity, one would spot two figures going in various directions, sometimes with the flow, sometimes against it, sometimes across it, sometimes nowhere near it. One was Ranjana following the other, Kyron, who was much too occupied in discovery to be concerned with the bell that was signaling the start of class or that stream of bodies which had accepted its destination.
For the old man and his mother, a stone, a leaf, a butterfly, were all miracles waiting to be found again and again through endless eternities.