Since Amit left for a whirlwind trip to Calcutta on Saturday morning, it meant no tennis for me. It’s hard to see this as a good thing, but it did mean that I was done with our breakfast by 8 a.m. The kids ran off to get themselves dressed, while I had a leisurely cup of coffee. Around 9 a.m., all three of us trooped downstairs to clean my car. This should ideally be a weekly ritual, since we haven’t found someone to do the work for us here, but so far I’ve only done it once before. That was last weekend, so my car wasn’t too terribly dirty this weekend. The kids helped me with it, then went off to play while I finished it off. By 10 a.m. I was bathed and ready to start making a cake. Why? Just because. The girls, of course, “helped” me mix it, and by 11.30 it was done. Meanwhile, L had come and done her act, so the house was clean, dishes washed, and laundry sorted. Time to go out.
Out was only grocery shopping. Managing the girls in the shop was the usual chaos, but we got it done without too much bloodshed and tears. By 12.45 or so we were home and the girls went off to play together – without fighting! – while I got some cooking done. Lunch was a beautiful affair – I guess the kids were hungry, so they ate without any fuss and with some good conversation to boot. It might have helped that they’d been promised chocolate cake if they ate “properly”. By 2, I packed them off to bed. Of course they were chattering and playing together, so around 2.30 I put them in separate rooms and they promptly fell asleep. I used the afternoon hours to catch up on my least-hated chore: ironing. (I almost enjoy doing it. Weird, isn’t it?)
In the evening, we walked out and bought some fruit, then we went to the park behind our house where the girls played in the sandpit while I chatted on the phone. Got home, they guzzled their milk and gobbled some grapes, then S&S came and we were all busy socialising till bedtime (9 p.m. for the kids, 1 a.m. for me!) The best part was that I was even well prepared for the evening – I had some crunchies, soft drinks, beer, cake and ice cream. All you could want, apart from the dinner, which was ordered in as usual and came terribly late, as usual. But at least they got the order straight!
Then on Sunday I finally undertook a very brave task, considering I was pitted one against two – I took out all the kids’ toys and ordered them to select the ones they would agree to throwing away (or giving away, since nothing is ever thrown away over here). At first they wanted to keep everything – of course – but I told them that if they didn’t get rid of at least five toys, they wouldn’t get two new ones. Luckily their math isn’t too good right now, so they didn’t argue that they should discard two old toys and get five new ones! Of course they wanted to play with everything I pulled out, even if it has not held any interest for them for the last eighteen months (yes, we still have many of those!)… but I got things under control, again without significant loss of blood or tears.
I’d wanted to leave home by 10 a.m. so we could hit the shop by 11, but we ended up leaving at 10.45 – a pretty standard delay if you’re leaving home with two kids on a Sunday morning and highly laudable, I think, if preceded by a toy-sorting-out exercise. I parked in Central, which, to my horror, cost 50 bucks! So then I had to shop there, to redeem the parking cost. Luckily I found Snakes and Ladders, which might do for the kids right now, though their counting isn’t quite what it should be (typically, it’s one, three, four, five, fourteen, lifteen, seventeen, twenty-one… ending in much giggling), and which gave me back the fifty bucks I’d spent on parking. Then we walked to (or rather, I dragged them to) Crossword, fielding about three hundred and seventeen questions of “where is it” on the way. First things first – a spinach and corn sandwich at Cafe Coffee Day, while Mrini sat like a young girl of 8 years of age at the table, waiting for her meal, and Tara squirmed around like a child of three. She did me proud, however, by throwing her paper plate, ketchup packet, and paper napkin in the dustbin, and some very deft handiwork was called for to prevent her from tossing Mrini’s china plate in the dustbin as well.
We went straight upstairs to the kids’ section. Me and the girls were equally delighted to discover that Crossword very thoughtfully provides a table for kids to sit and play at while parents shop. I have to say that finding games and activities for three-to-four-year-olds is really difficult! For the younger kids, there’s lots of stuff; and for 6+ and upwards, there are a whole lot of board games of various kinds; but for three and four years old, it’s mostly a range of jigsaw puzzles. The problem, of course, is that these kids can’t read – and mine can hardly even count – but they’ve already outgrown the building blocks and picture books and are rapidly outgrowing play dough too. Right now, practically the only thing that keeps them busy is drawing books. Given, of course, that you don’t want to buy any of the of battery-operated toys and that you don’t want them sitting in front of TV or the computer either.
I ended up buying them a sort of miniature basketball hoop – really, really miniature, about as high as my forearm I think. Then we all headed home, without a single meltdown and without even needing to visit the restroom once!
On Sunday evening Christina came and we spent a long time chatting, first with a million interruptions from the kids, then, after they went to bed, with interruptions only for bites of pizza. These evenings are always good for my soul.
Monday was the usual Monday mania. And then came Tuesday… an interrupted extension of the wonderful weekend, since it was a holiday. Amit was back and we took the kids to Monkey Maze. They had lots of fun, and we spent an hour just chatting, relaxing, and watching them from a safe distance. Then we went to Sue’s Food Place (what a name!) for lunch. The food was good, though we were all a little hungry at the end due to “Sue”s suggestion that the kids didn’t need a meal to themselves and could manage by sharing from us. Sue doesn’t know our kids too well – they ate all the chicken and all the garlic bread and we got the gravy and some greasy roti.
Our next stop was FabIndia, where we spent a cool 4k on clothes for all of us. Then, we drove around in the hot sun for a bit looking for the way to what looks – from a distance – like a very pretty little lake on our way home. It turned out, inevitably and disappointingly enough, to be a dirty little lake with the surroundings treated like a massive garbage dump and the shady areas used for shady dealings. But at least we found it.
Tuesday evening I took the kids to the park behind our house. In a tiny corner of the park, four swings and a zig-zag slide have been put up just a day or two ago. The kids were dying to try it out, but the area was so crowded and there was such a mad scramble between kids lining up for the slide that I looked safer to avoid the place. I took them to the “sand pit” instead. It is a large, squarish depression in the green grassy park that looks as though it might have been intended as some sort of dump. The ground is uneven – to put it mildly – and it has some coarse-grained “sand” (more like dirt) mixed with an equal proportion of pebbles and other bits of dirt. Since kids in general have a fatal attraction for anything like dirt, there were several kids there already, in spite of the newly-erected swings.
And that brought our interrupted extended weekend to a close. The evening was short and sweet, and then it was back to work again. But for several hours today, the happy feeling of a relaxed and pleasant weekend stayed with me.
Of course, a side-effect of all this shameless pursuit of pleasure was that none of the grocery shopping got done and we are now scrambling to get enough provisions in the house to provide the kids a decent lunch tomorrow. Well, you can never have it all, can you?