Thursday, December 31, 2015

Diary 1 - leaving the kids home alone

I have taken vacations. My kids have always been a part of those trips. As babies they have slept peacefully enroute and gurgled happily to strangers in foreign lands. As toddlers they have walked away hand in hand with anyone who had candies on offer. As pre teens they have kept themselves occupied with diaries, sketch pads or cameras. In short they love to travel as well. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me when this time they wanted to stay back. The reasons could be many - we were going to Kolkata and not some exotic land that was part of their 'to visit' list, Most of the trip would involve ailing, elderly relatives and the one place that held promise of joy with cousins was already struck out as 'been there, done that'.

"Are you both sure?", I asked one last time.

"Yes ma," they said in unison.

And so it was that I left my 16 year old daughter and 13 year old son for a ten day visit to Kolkata and Shantiniketan. They were not completely unsupervised. My maid stayed the nights and our dogs - all the time. That was safety enough for me. My husband seemed to think I was in charge of this decision and left me to think it through in whatever limited capacity he feels I possess.

The day before the trip :


"More like brunch, ma, we won't be getting up before whatever.."

"Okay brunch then.. any ideas of what you want me to cook?" I asked ticking breakfast off my list.

"Don't worry, we can make maggi, toast and eggs. Also we love milk and the corner store is open 24*7," said one while the other nodded consent.

"I will keep some frozen parathas just in case you feel like.." I said thanking almighty that Maggi was back in stores.


"What about dinner? Sangeetha will cook dog food and she will make the basics like rice, dal and some vegetable for you both. She will not know fancy stuff, so tell me and I can cook and freeze now,"

"It's just ten days ma, you make it sound like forever. We can survive on dal and rice. Food doesn't excite us,"

' I am sure' I thought feeling a little silly. 'Think of things that excite them and then forbid them from doing those' my instincts told me. 'Aaah so now I am being clever,'

"So what do you guys plan to do while home alone hmm?"

"Not like we can party, so just sleeping, watching movies on the laptops.."

"Hmm are you planning on calling friends over?"

"They are all travelling, well most of them are.."

"Well, rule number 1 is that you guys are not going to anyone's house and neither is anyone coming home. Okay?"


"It is just 10 days and it will pass, once I am back I will take you around,"

"Okay," they said and I walked away wondering if I had missed something.

I did take them shopping for supplies and for someone who said food doesn't excite us, they managed to buy two cart loads of junk. On the drive back home I went through the drill once again.

"Check on all the doors and windows at night. Switch on the lights after sun set, don't read in the dark, please, I don't like to think of you both in a dark house, it's so gloomy the way you just stay on and on without switching on the lights.."

 "We do switch on the lights ma, it's just that our eyes can see better than yours.. " they giggled at their joke.

"Not funny.."

"Walk the dogs and always have clean water in their bowls,"

"Will do," they said ripping a bag of chips from the rear seat.

"All the emergency numbers are stored, right?"

"Yes," they said giggling at some private joke.

"I will be in touch, ofcourse, keep your phones handy," I said not expecting a response but did catch the eye roll on the rear view mirror.

Day of travel :

We were packed and waiting at the front door for our pick up. The dogs were stressed about the suitcases and pranced about the house trying to decide which one of us was travelling and which one was responsible for their food now. They finally reached the correct conclusion and settled at my daughter's feet, vehemently licking her.

My husband hugged the kids and so did I. Mine lingered till they let go. The car honked and we were on our way. The kids waving in their night dresses, the dogs panting with tongues out and the winter blooms cheerful.

Then like a flash a thought struck me. I had in my best ability ensured that the stay here was as  safe as possible for my kids but what if our plane crashed? what then would happen to these two, alone in a country far away from everyone. My throat dried up and I knew it was too silly a thought to even share with my husband. I allowed it to tide over me and eventually pass.

An over active imagination is not very wholesome when you have kids.