Every year for the last two years, the advent of summer vacation for the older one has promised several things – slower mornings, road trips, evenings in the park, greater Jedi training opportunities, more sports, and more time for the wife and I together. As it happens, there’s the promise and the reality of it all.
Without prejudice to either of my children, here is the perception and the dreadful truth:
The Hope: Sleeping in, lazy mornings, breakfast around the dining table, a bit of chit chat before the work day with the family.
The Reality: You’re still woken up about half an hour before you’d like. You’re still subject to very early morning shrieking that peaks (seemingly especially) on nights you’ve slept late. There is no such thing as a delayed start. If anything, all energy not spent in school is conserved for an early morning burst of enthusiasm that is inversely proportional to your own. And yes, you miss breakfast and coffee in an effort to escape to work. Also, when you’ve seen breakfast splattered on a high chair and the wall next to the junior dining table, your appetite tends to wane.
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The Hope: More family trips together, seeing places a short drive away, and taking at least one nice, languorous holiday to the hills or a beach, if not an overseas trip.
The Reality: You attempt one family lunch/dinner together to ‘celebrate’ the start of the holidays. The four-year-old and the eight-month-old are excited by the idea. Yet, the follow-through leaves much to be desired. You arrive nearly an hour past the reservation time after re-negotiating your arrival time at least thrice with the restaurant even though you live less than five minutes away. In the process, the car has been transformed from a passenger car to a military convoy vehicle on the inside. Inside of blood, there’s juice and instead of artillery, there are puffed rice flakes. The anguish the adults feel though is probably is close to what one must feel in battle. Once inside, the children proceed to put on a song and dance show comprising flying food, tears, falling chairs and sometimes glasses that glide through the air in slow motion. Everyone is a combination of bemused and entertained. The wife and I are emotionally shellshocked. We return home, lock the doors, vow to never let the people see us as weak as they’ve just seen us. The beaches and hills will still be around when the kids are older. We decide to bide our time.
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The Hope: Family evenings in the park, especially on weekends. A stroll here and a fun session in the sandpit there, and maybe a Jedi training session thrown into really top it up.
The Reality: As you arrive at the park, the older child decides that she wants to go the bathroom. You’ve only asked sixteen times before you left home, if she needed to use the bathroom, but I suppose the real fun is in seeing how much your bladder is willing to stretch. So, as her mother takes her to the dirtiest toilet this side of Mumbai’s Dadar station, the younger child decides to want to lead a rebellion from the seat of her pram. The older one returns as the wife and I swap our detail. I sacrifice her to deal with a screaming countenance and thrashing limbs. I move on to secure the older child who is suddenly unmindful of the oncoming horde of walkers determined to mow down everything in their path. Oblivious to the dangerous fate she narrowly avoided, she is now determined to find the most inaccessible part of the park to play. After giving in and admittedly, enjoying the easiest part of the passage of play, she decides my break is over and then without warning proceeds to climb on a raggedy rope ladder. Within the flash of an eye (blinking slightly slower than normal due to lack of sleep and deprivation of downtime), she goes on to psych herself out. She won’t move and doesn’t want to helped down either. It’s a stalemate situation as you wonder whether you should call the fire brigade. Eventually, her muscles tire, she asks to be lifted off, you reunite with the wife, who has done everything short of using a tranquillizer to control our younger charge, and you return home. Once again, we lock ourselves in and chuckle at ourselves for thinking it might have gone differently.
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The Hope: More ‘date nights’ and time with the wife
The Reality: You’ve got to be kidding me.
Image source: The Poke
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Disclaimer: Certain events in the above retellings may or may not have been exaggerated a tiny, tad bit for dramatic effect.