“Mommy, he is playing Shadow and repeating whatever I say!” my nine-year-old daughter, Shriya complained.
“Mommy, he is playing Shadow and repeating whatever I say!” my five-year-old son Shravan mimicked.
I shut my laptop in frustration.
“Kids! Be nice!”
“He started it!” screeched Shriya.
“He started it!” repeated Shravan.
Shriya shrieked and headed upstairs. Shravan followed her. Screams and fighting ensued.
“Have another child, they said! They will play together, they said.” I grumbled.
My offspring got along just as well as North Korea and South Korea. When I first taught them Shadow, it had been cute. Cute as in two WhatsApp video lengths cute. Where cute ended, the squabbles began.
I marched upstairs with the air of a military general on a peace mission. My assistant general was absconding as usual. He used the excuse of ‘video call’ to hole himself up in his study, away from the battlefield, while I was tasked with unifying our warring progeny. He would turn up eventually, after the action was complete, not unlike Police in a movie.
“Stop it right now! Clean this room! It resembles a pigsty.”
I separated the two. The younger enfant terrible was dispatched downstairs.
“Shriya, you are the older one. You need to cut baby brother some slack.”
“Can we return him, and get a pet instead?”
As tempting as it sounded, I admonished her. I reminded her through clenched teeth, how much baby brother adored her. When I felt that she was sufficiently chastened and appreciative of the ties of blood, I headed downstairs.
Shravan was still playing shadow, but with a more amenable partner, SIRI. SIRI was patient to a fault. He soon discovered that while patience is a virtue, virtues can be boring. He set off to pursue fresh mischief that resulted in more skirmishes.
At dinner, the mood was largely sullen. An onlooker would have thought that we were attending Mickey Mouse’s funeral. The husband graced us with his presence. The two Koreas engaged themselves in a glaring match. The husband opened his mouth to ask, but rapidly shut it when he saw my face. My eyebrows had knitted themselves into a warning. He who igniteth, must also douseth. There was tension in the air. The innocent Shadow game had cast it’s shadows over us.
The next morning, I woke up all energized. I set up the breakfast table and poured cereal into the bowls. The children settled at the table.
“Eat your cereal!”
“Eat your cereal!” repeated two voices. I raised my brow.
What is worse than two children fighting with each other?
Two children teaming up together and fighting against you.
They were shadowing me! I reformulated my strategy.
“After breakfast, I will clean up my room.”
“After breakfast, I will clean up my room,” they blurted out.
Realization and regret dawned on their cherubic faces.
I swept out of the room, fluttering my invisible cape with panache.
“Mamma invented the shadow game. No one messes with me. Checkmate Moppets!”
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