I've been struggling with sleep for the past few nights. It arrives as expected -- like Santa Claus on Christmas -- but then it leaves quite unexpectedly, leaving me wide awake at around 3 or 4 in the morning. And, as anyone who has been awake at these hours can tell you, your thoughts start to wander aimlessly -- sort of like we might in a giant maze. The mind tries to find a solution to every imaginable problem, but succeeds in unearthing even more problems than you thought you had in the first place.
Of late, these 3am wandering thoughts have been about one particular thing. It's a parenting thing -- a challenge that every parent will have to go through at some point in their lives; one that baffles you more than when you saw a Rubik's cube for the first time. But more on that, later.
"Let's play?" he asks. But it isn't really a question. I don't have a choice.
Yesterday night was no different. No, I lie. It was a bit more intense. In fact, I almost wanted to get up from bed at 3am, and start working on my articles, posts and deadlines. But as you'd have guessed, I let procrastination have the final say and finally dozed off, after numerous (and famous) techniques, such as counting sheep and counting backwards from 100 to 1 failed to help.
As expected, today I woke up feeling a bit groggy. One thing I often find solace in is standing in the balcony and watching the world go about its business. Today, too, I stand in the balcony and take a sip of the fuel that keeps me going most days -- coffee.
I see the neighbourhood vegetable vendor set up his small shop. The newspaper boy rushes about frantically, trying to make sure he delivers the papers before the world wakes up. The milkman drives away in his little truck, having successfully made all his deliveries. And as I watch the sun rise, flooding the skies with its amber shades, I spot the last of a family of bats, zipping away before daylight hits. It's almost the same scene every day; the serenity of the mornings is what helps maintain my sanity.
I pray for miracles. I look for the light at the end of the tunnel.... I feel a presence. "Good morning, Papa," he says, his button eyes twinkling.
I watch the buzzards circling nearby, frantically flapping their large wings. Perhaps, they've spotted something to eat. It's a new day. Everything feels peaceful; much like the proverbial calm before the storm. But my heart flutters uncontrollably, for it knows what comes next.
On a whim, I glance skywards. I pray for miracles. I look for the light at the end of the tunnel. And I quietly hope for the strength to see it through.
As I drain the final drops of my elixir of sanity, I feel a presence.
"Good morning, Papa," he says, his button eyes twinkling.
"Good morning, Rishi," I say, as I kneel beside him.
"Let's play?" he asks. But it isn't really a question. I don't have a choice. What he means is this: "Ready or not, you're at my beck and call. All day."
I stall. "Okay! But first, let's brush your teeth. You stink!"
He pretends to think for a moment. I must confess; it's amusing to see him think. If we were in an animated movie, you'd probably be able to see the lightbulb above his head go on. Slowly, he nods his head.
Trust me, at the end of the holidays, both you and your kid(s) will be looking forward to their return to school.
"You catch me first... then I brush," he replies, as he scuttles off.
I let out an inaudible sigh and smile.
Imagine a 3ft-tall genius with the vigour of the Energizer Bunny, coupled with mischief skills to rival Dennis the Menace and the questioning (and negotiating) ability of Calvin. Now imagine this for 16 hours or more, every day for two months.
Welcome to summer holidays with a toddler.
And trust me, at the end of the holidays, both you and your kid(s) will be looking forward to their return to school.
This is Day One.
Only 64 more days to go.
The summer holidays are here again.
PS: Thank you, summer camps!
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