I have to say that this was the first time perhaps that I was not embarrassed or cringing at his whacky ideas - to be the centre of everyone's attention. I just went with the flow and helped him put on the head gear and tail around his waist. I did not ask him why he wanted to do it or anything else about it. He was very proud and happy to be a monkey and played his part truly! He walked around the block with me, swishing his tail, stopping to pretend to eat bananas, jumping and prancing along, with a beaming smile on his face! :)
It was the time when there are usually a lot of people around - young and old - chatting, walking, playing etc. While he walked without a care, some smiled at him, some laughed, everyone turned and looked a second time, some asked "why are you wearing that dress?", some said "hey monkey!", while others called out : "Raghav! ha ha ha! Are you a monkey?!" and another said : "Raghav, did you make that yourself?" Raghav smiled and basked in all that attention!
After a round of walking, he wanted to go play in the playground. So we stopped there and he went on the slide, merry-go-round and swing, while I sat and watched him. A lady came up to us and asked how he had made it. I shared with her how we had done it together many years ago, when he was in school (as part of a Halloween's costume!) and she examined the head gear and tail. (The ears were thin cardboard cut outs stuck on a hair band, and the tail was a piece of wire bent into shape and covered with newspaper rolls and cloth, with a band with Velcro to go around the waist.) She told us how simple and realistic it looked and said that it had given her some ideas too! While we were there, Raghav asked me to click some photos and take a video of him - a monkey on the slide! Here are the pictures....
Soon, Raghav's friend and some other kids came in. They saw Raghav dressed up like a monkey and wanted to try the head gear on, wanted to know why he was dressed up and so on. To everyone who asked, Raghav had this same reply that he said with a smile - "...because I want to be a monkey!"
While Raghav wanted his friend to come and play with him, the others said that they were all going to play a game together and did not want him to go away with Raghav. While I asked Raghav if he wanted to learn their new game and play it with them, they immediately yelled in unison that he could.....and this was the turning point for me today - Raghav agreed! That was a huge step for him as he had so far always wanted others to play his game, listen to his rules, and never shown interest until now, to truly play with another child. Then the kids did a wonderful demo for him of the rules and how to play their own version of "lock and key" (which is really more fun than the boring game I used to play when I was a kid!). I watched while they spent the maximum time deciding who was to be the 'catcher' while mumbling a rhyme that had the words "....who will eat the shit" (to the tune of Inky Pinky Ponky...)!! The game that followed with Raghav as the catcher was fun filled with anger (because Raghav did not want to catch one of them who had got hurt on his hand, as he was worried about hurting him more), laughter (for Raghav was letting them off easily) and smiles (for Raghav was running much slower than they did and they wanted to know why). It was fun to be with the kids amidst all that noise, ranting and panting, while they let me help Raghav with strategies to catch them!
A little idea that had sprouted in my son's head, had brought a spontaneous smile on the lips of everyone who saw him - young and old...had given some ideas on how to make costumes....had earned him more friends who included him in their 'gang'....and above all that, had given him the space to be himself without any feeling of shame or awkwardness.......and little did I know when we left home this evening, that the day would turn out this way with so much magic and fun -