(My Guest Post for blog – Roberta Pimentel)
Someone said that vacationing with children are not essentially ‘vacations’ but just another day (all the fuss, tantrums, and routine included) spent at a different place or a different time zone. This fact was obvious as I spent an entire week going about my pre-vacation planning that includes my ‘to-do’ list, ‘to-buy’ list, ‘essentials-to-pack’ list and then spent the last 48 hours cramming suitcases with everything in and everything not in my umpteen lists. “Would it not be easier to drag our home instead,” pointed the husband tongue-in-cheek eyeing our bulging suitcases. “No thank you, I prefer to travel light,” I insisted.
The searing desert heat and the rising humidity were reason enough to escape into the cool and comforting monsoons of my home country, only that I usually prefer to see my airplane travels as one akin to an adventure with a mindset open to the challenges of being confined in a comfortable metal container that I share with a spirited toddler, a ‘bored’ tween and 300-odd strangers as it traverses through the stratosphere swallowing miles defying gravity and all odds. My racing mind does not stretch its imagination far enough to include hijackers or mentally ‘upset’ pilots or even carriers that simply disappear into thin air. My lovely children, in all their innocence, are enough to make every airplane trip one that will lie imprinted in the ‘(embarrassing/adventurous) moments-with-my-children’ memory part of my brain.
The last time we traveled, little Princess’s excitement on seeing a screen before her that played her favorite movies on a loop and even a remote that her Mommy let her fiddle with, lasted all of one hour. The color pencils kept her busy for the next ten minutes after the in-flight ‘kids meal’ was pushed with a disgusting ‘YUCK’ to the absolute surprise of the air hostess who was quick to walk away, her plastic smile in place. We still had a full two hours to kill. Taking a walk up and down the aisle seemed a good idea. So we walked down smiling at strangers who were quick to acknowledge a happy toddler. Then she stopped abruptly and pointed out, ‘I want chips,’ to my utter embarrassment. The toddler who happily munched on the object of my daughter’s fascination was quick to make up her mind, ‘NO,’ she screeched. A crying fit ensued that saw me dragging a vehemently angry toddler back to her seat and strapping her in place. ‘CHIPS,I WANT CHIPS,’ screamed Little Princess much to the amusement of the audience that she was quickly gathering. Little Princess had the tenacity of a terrier bull when her mind was made up. The toddler’s mother standing beside me, a packet of unopened chips in hand, had attained the status of an angel who flew down from the heavens to rescue a distraught mother and her words, “we just happen to have an extra packet,” were blissful music to my ears (my embarrassment taking a back seat).
That day, I mentally made a note of one more item that simply has to be included on the ‘absolute-essentials-to-pack’ list.
Sid, on the other hand, has always been an epitome of sweetness and obedience (well let’s just forget the fact that he can put a picky eater to shame with his eating antiques). As a toddler, he had his share of tantrums and angry fits, but in a more subtle manner, as in, not always gathering and entertaining an audience. During one of our travels when he was three years old, we happened to meet a sweet old couple who took a quick liking to Sid and soon we began chatting as we awaited the boarding announcement. Once inside the flight, they were seated a few seats before ours. As soon as the flight took off, Sid got engrossed watching ‘Cars’ on the in-flight entertainment system, headphones in place. Since I always prefer to use the washroom before the aisles got busy with lunch trolleys and the passengers queuing up to use the washroom, I instructed my son that I would be back in a jiffy with the usual instructions of not talking to strangers and steering clear of trouble. Since the washroom was occupied, I waited my turn my eyes on Sid. The old couple who up till then had been engrossed in a regional movie, happened to look behind and on seeing the toddler on his own, the old uncle was quick to enquire, “Where is your mother?” a little too loudly owing to the headphones which were blaring in his ears. My son in quick response shouted in a tone equaling his, pointing in my direction, “My mother has to use the toilet and she is there waiting her turn.” The next second following my son’s announcement saw at least a dozen heads turn in my direction. I managed a weak smile as I bit my tongue to fight the impulse to scream out – I am only answering a call of nature people, not going in to have a rendezvous with the Kardashians.
As I embark on another journey armed with overflowing suitcases and my dear children, bidding goodbye to the husband (who will join us soon), I cannot wait to breathe the fresh scent of earth after a spell of fresh monsoons, welcoming warm hugs and smiles that radiate pure parental love, hot delicious food (not to mention my mother’s special filter coffee), lazing around doing nothing, shopping sprees with my sister-in-law with the children cocooned under the loving care of their grandparents, late-night movies, a home that still houses memories of the innocence and silliness of childhood and so much more. So all the fuss that accompanies our happy break with family, relatives and friends are definitely worth it!
Do you have a story or a memory about your time away from home, work and routines? Would love to hear your stories too!
(Please note that this post was written before I left on vacation but remained unposted in all my excitement to travel)