Sunday, 20 January 2013

Asha is 12

Certain numbers have a ring about them.  12 certainly does. 

Our Asha now has the joy of being a dozen years old.  Her twelfth spin around the sun since the day she was born ended on 16th Jan 2013.

Having arrived back the night before from a quick visit to my parents in Mussoorie (they are doing so much better - thanks for the prayers) we started the day's festivities in the traditional way.  We got up at an unearthly hour and prayed with Asha and gave her gifts (with a few for Enoch as well - I was after all bearing gifts from Oma and Opa too!). 

Just like my Dad did for me when I was a kid - I had gotten up at an even more unearthly hour and had hidden the different packages around the room.  When the eager searchers came to the end of their attempts and wanted clues, the traditional 'hot' and 'cold' helped them home in on the treasures.

Each stage in life has its wonderful joys.

We are now at a point where its not only parents giving gifts, but our kids who gift each other.

Enoch had chosen a purple and white necklace for Asha which was approvingly received by his big sister.

A quick breakfast later and it was off to school!

Asha's school day starts at 7 AM and she likes to be there by 6.40 at least.   Left to herself, she would be the first at school - and is thrilled on the odd occasion that we actually end up there at 6.30 and find that the gates have not even been opened.

Since it's her birthday, she has a special concession - she does not have to wear the uniform she normally dons.  Instead, she is allowed to wear whatever she wants.  Today it will be her new dress.

Its a happy Daddy who for the first time takes a 12-year old to school!

When her fellow students see that she is not in uniform, the wishes come thick and fast.

Its the same when I picked her up at 1 PM and we walked home.  Boys and girls would ask her if it was her birth-day and then on hearing the yes - would say things like 'many happy returns of the day!'

The school does not allow the children to bring sweets to school to distribute - partly because it can get out of hand with each class having 50 students.  The 'arms-race' of giving more expensive treats can quickly kick in.  So kids are not supposed to bring a bag of sweets on their birthday to hand out to their friends.  Instead the birthday child is encouraged to donate a book to the school library.  Ever the 'law-abiders' - we chose a book off went Asha to school!

Later that evening - after some of the lady staff from Jeevan Sahara came over to wish Asha - we had Sheba's cousin Agnes over for a meal. 

Agnes was leaving for a month at home in Andhra Pradesh the next day - which means that she should be back in time for the next big birthday - our dear Enoch who turns 10 on the 19th of February!

We usually try to have a small party for our kids on their actual birthday - but this year it didn't work for Asha.  Her school has their 2nd unit tests this week - and being a mid-week night, none of her classmates would be there if we were to celebrate on the 16th itself.

So we just prolonged Asha's birthday celebrations till the weekend.

Today was the big day.

Early up and everything on war-footing.  The kids had been invited and vetted and planned for.  A menu had been made but last minute purchases were needed.  'Return gifts' (small token gifts given to each person who attends the party) were planned and bought and today Asha and Enoch packed the little goody bags.  And then there was the cake to be shaped and iced.  And the wadas and custard to be made.  And the house to be cleaned.  And on top of all of that - I had still not prepared most of the games.

One of the beauties of today was that we were able to do so much - all at once - with such harmony.

I can be quite the Mr. Cranky when the going gets rough - but was blessed with a coolness that can only stem from my sweet Lord Himself.  Looking back on everything that went on today  I can only say: Wow, thank you Jesus!

At 3.30 PM, there were only the 4 of us in the home.  Then a few minutes later the guests started to trickle in.  Since I was feverishly trying to put the last touches to the games I was happy for any delay. 

But after enough of her friends came, Asha dragged me away from my pieces of paper and we plunged into the main programme.

We had chosen 'mystery' to be the theme for the party and so all the games were linked in with one of the five Ws ('who', 'what', 'when', 'where' and 'why' as well as our other old friend 'how').

The party was almost entirely girls. Enoch was the only boy for most of the afternoon - except right near the end when the younger brother of one of the girls showed up.  At the end of the day Sheba and I had a chat and wondered how long this phase will last...

We are so grateful for this amazing daughter of ours who has brought us so much joy over these dozen years since Asha was born.

Birthday celebrations are great because they allow us to celebrate what we so often take for granted.  They offer us some of the few occasions where we can express our affection for a person without it being under a haze of suspicion.   While we hardly are a family that is stingy with affection - another opportunity never hurts!

What a joy it is to give back to the kids what we received when growing up.  I remember the almost feverish (no make that totally feverish) excitement we had in the run up to our birthdays - and the lovely games Dad would organise. 

It's great to be on the other side of the fence now and see the eager faces of Asha and her friends as we played together.

These twelve years of enjoying Asha have been very rich for Sheba and myself.  The Lord has given us the privilege of parenting a very special girl - who we know is already a blessing to many and will continue to be one in the steps ahead.
It seems like just yesterday we gathered around Asha's first b-day cake - a green parrot.

I don't think she understood much on that day.  Other than she was loved by many. 

But here as a 12-year old.  A girl the same age Jesus was when He talked about the temple being His Father's house.  A girl who is shooting up height-wise and for whom our previously used parenting skills are now in for a major revamp.

Welcome to the mystery of life - dear Asha.

We are so proud of you and all that God is doing in and through you.

We are thrilled by glimpses of the future that we see in you - and a bit scared too.

We know that this year is going to be a superb one for you.

You have brought so much joy to us already - we consider 12 years to have already been more than our portion.  But we are excited to see how God will be shaping and moulding your life in this year and the years ahead.

Its a mystery how we can experience the very presence of the divine in us.  But the joy we have is that this mystery is not some figment of imagination.  It's the gospel truth!

Asha flanked by her dear friends Nikita and Jasper!

Dear Asha, now we have a whole wonderful year to live together before we celebrate again on your 13th!

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