This is an incident that happened more than three years ago, when my daughter had just turned three.
A well-meaning teacher from her KG class showed me pages with multiple black blobs on it, and said in a concerned voice ‘This is what she drew in the drawing class. She said that her favorite color is black! She refused to pick another color.’ I probably responded with a blank look as I was processing this information. Sensing that I was not getting the point, she elaborated, ‘Usually, in my experience children pick pink, red, or some bright color, but never black.’ and repeated the concerned look. ‘ Hmm’, is the only response I could think of while my mind raced through multiple thoughts at the same time.
Since the whole revelation was playing on my mind I wanted to know what’s happening. So, that evening I had this interesting talk with my 3-year-old.
Me: Neha, what’s your favorite color (in the hope she would say something other than black, which would then prove that it is a temporary glitch. And her favorite color is not black!)
Neha : black
Me: (disappointed at the answer) Do you not like other colors?
Me: (getting frusturated) why?
Neha didn’t bother to answer me this time. She probably was wondering what’s with everyone asking me about colors! I wanted answers. SILENCE WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE! So, I took out the drawings with the black blobs and asked: “ What were you drawing in this?”
Neha: I was drawing you.
Neha: yes. (And then she explained the black blobs to me. Pointing to different parts of the blob) this is your hair, which is black. This is your black specs. This is your black dress, it is my favorite. You look cute in that dress.
And she promptly went to the cupboard, picks out a chikan work black top that I have and says,
‘I was missing you. I drawed you. I drawed you in this dress!’
Needless to say, I didn’t have any further questions.
Looking back, I can’t help but wonder, ‘How many such opportunities to connect with our children do we miss when we approach them with a ‘pre-conditioned’ mind, with foregone conclusions, with our so-called expectations of ‘normal’?