x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

The fearlessness that comes with being a child

After 10 childless years of marriage, I’m still not sure that I want to have a kid, but I welcome the chance to “be” a kid any day.

A few days ago I was invited to a baby shower hosted by a cousin of mine at her house for a mutual friend. It was a lovely pink-themed affair in anticipation of the soon-to-be-born baby girl. As expected, I was the only one there not on child number two or three. In fact, I had yet to get started with even child number one. Of course, that brought on many discussions about what I’m missing out on, what a joy kids are and all sorts of things I’ve learnt in my 10 childless years of marriage to smile and vacantly nod at while letting them go in one ear and straight out the other.

While nothing that was said at the shower made me rethink my decision to not have a child, several things happened that made me think about wanting to “be” a child. Well, not technically “be” a child, but to possess some of their superpowers.

Brutal honesty, for instance.

My three nieces – ranging in age from 2 to 10 – normally run out to the lift to greet me whenever I visit. Baby shower day was no different. Within five seconds of me stepping out of the lift and being engulfed in a group hug, the 8-year-old announced that I was most certainly overdressed. And surely, I walked into a party where the dress code was decidedly more casual than what I was wearing. Oh well.

With this brutal honesty comes amazing confidence.

All the while I was in the living room chatting to the adults, the same 8-year-old kept trying to drag me to her room so she could show me a special dance routine she and her best friend from downstairs had ­choreographed.

“Please, please, please come see our dance!” she pleaded for the hundredth time as I tried to finish a conversation.

“We changed our whole routine for you. We’ve made it especially for you,” reasoned her tiny best friend.

Now I really had to go and see what they had put ­together.

“See?” said the best friend to my niece. “This is how you propose something. Not by begging!”

In the girls’ room, I witnessed a marvellously confident medley of ballroom dancing, hip-hop and a lot of randomly made-up stuff.

They didn’t even care what I thought of their dance, because they believed it could have been nothing less than stunning. I wish I had that kind of confidence – and their brand of fearlessness.

There is a lot of jumping off the top bunk of the bed. They do it with their eyes closed. They do it two at a time and holding hands. They even do it backwards. With no fear whatsoever. These kids are tiny and the top bunk is probably the equivalent of an adult jumping off a first floor balcony. Would I do it? Probably not.

Would I ever tell my best friend that the dress she has just bought and plans to wear to her birthday party does not flatter her figure even the tiniest bit? Never.

Could I ever dance with the confidence of those two 8-year-olds? No. Even in a dimly lit club, squashed on the floor with 100 other people, I’m conscious of every single move I make. Dancing like no one’s watching is never going to happen.

So yes, while I’m still not sure that I want to have a kid, I welcome the chance to “be” a kid any day.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi living in Dubai