In the little patch of green that we have created on our balcony, we have a potted jungle geranium. It’s a flowering plant that I am sure everyone is familiar with. The funny thing with our plant is that in all the years it has been with us, it has never flowered. The gardener in our house sometimes mutters that it was quite useless. But last week, the plant finally bloomed- bursting out into a riot of flowers. We were pleasantly surprised. “We have a late bloomer,” I thought to myself, pun totally intended.
This got me thinking about the parallels in our own lives. How often had I waited for signs of incipiency! When my little one was a baby, I would sometimes wonder when she would walk, talk and do all the things those other kids her age could do, even though at a rational level I knew that her hypotonic muscles impeded her progress. And though she learned to walk and talk pretty much when she was expected to, she’s still trying to ‘catch up’ in some areas. So I still wonder occasionally... As if by providence, I came across this beautifully illustrated book,’ Leo the Late Bloomer’ by Robert Kraus (available on Amazon). The book is about a little tiger cub, Leo, who just doesn’t seem to be in the same league as his peers. While all his peers can speak, read, write and draw, Leo can’t do any of these. Leo’s parents’ reactions are diametrically opposite. His mother is calm - she knows that Leo will be just fine, but Leo’s father is all angst. I could relate to the parents. Sometimes, I am like the father, anxious about my child’s development and sometimes I am like Leo’s mother - all quiet confidence. “Patience,” Leo’s mother tells the father “A watched bloomer doesn’t bloom.” The season’s roll by and Leo shows no signs of blooming. But eventually, when no one was looking, Leo the Late Bloomer does bloom. Not when his father wanted him to, certainly not when everyone expected him to, but in his own time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N71anhqS_Cg Though one might find the story too simplistic or even a bit patronizing, I felt this book is a good read for children in the 4 to 7 age group. Many children would identify with Leo’s feelings, being as they are in the rough and tumble of growing up with other kids. It could possibly help to teach them not to get discouraged and to persevere. Personally, I felt the book had something for the parent in me too. It reminded me that childhood is not a rat race. That the important thing is to support my child and to have the faith that she too will bloom, in her own way and in her own time.