Birthday mango

My son Jonathan was born in a small Indian village, during the time my husband and I were serving there as volunteers. Like many Indian kids, he grew up eating rice, dahl, chapatis, and the incredible, colorful variety of tropical fruit available at every street corner.

Although he wasn’t yet five when we moved back to Europe, it took him a while to get adjusted to the new environment and particularly the new foods. At first, he looked very suspiciously at and dissected every bit of pasta on his plate. He had always been a slow eater, but he surely took his time to embrace Italian cuisine! Eventually, his memories of India and Indian food did fade. In those days, globalization hadn’t quite kicked in yet, and the only produce available in Italian supermarkets was seasonal Italian produce.

However, passing by a newly opened delicacies store one day, I spotted a mango! It was quite expensive, but Jonathan’s 11th birthday was just around the corner, and I thought it would be such a great treat for him to get to savor one of his favorite early childhood fruits.

I bought and packaged the mango, and invited my preteen son for a walk. Then we stopped on a bench and I solemnly presented my gift, telling him it would bring back memories from the past. Jonathan slowly opened the package and held the colorful mango in his hands for what seemed like a long time. No reaction.

“Mom, I really can’t remember. Sorry.”

I felt a bit disappointed. “Well, you should still try it. I promise you, you loved them when you were small.” With the same suspicious look he’d given his first Italian dishes years before, Jonathan took a small bite. Then another one, then more. Still, no reaction. Then … the seed appeared, and Jonathan’s eyes lit up.

“Mom, now I remember! I do! I remember how fun it was sucking on the seed!” And along with that memory, many more started rushing through this thinker of a boy. We talked and talked, reminiscing on other events and memories from the past.

From this episode with my son, I remember thinking how important it is to hold on just a bit longer when things don’t seem to click or make sense. As a mother, it was another confirmation that whatever we sow in our children’s youngest years will never be forgotten. It might seem like it is at times … but wait till they get to the seed!