This is what Sammy says when she leaves the room and comes back. With her hand on her chest. Full determination. Anytime of the day. Anyplace in the world. And it stuck. Of all her shenanigans that she effortlessly performed at my parents’ home in India, this is the one that has become a lasting memory for my parents. Now every evening when my dad comes home from work, he says ‘I’m back,’ with his hand on his chest. Like it is a proud moment. And one of extreme importance. Clearly, it is. It replays every single day at my parents’ these days.
Well, so when I held a pen after almost one month and started to scribble on paper, secretly very proud that I haven’t forgotten to write, the first thing I could see flow on paper was ‘I’m back!’. Yes. I can still scribble and form somewhat meaningful sentences with pen and paper. It is a massive relief for me. It is about time.
I have had so much fun this past month. Spending time with the family is one of the biggest luxuries for me. Especially when my family lives so far far away from me. The luxury becomes sweeter with all the fond memories, good food, endless gossip, never ending conversations, and occasional bickering. I miss it so much now and am lamenting under the false pretense of extreme jet lag. I think my jet lag is much worse than Samaira’s, who by the way, is handling this whole thing much better than I am.
So, I’ back. Jet lagged. Wistful. Nostalgic.
Siddharth and Rehan did fly back to Seattle ten days before Sammy and I did. That somehow shocked everyone. ‘Rehan is so young. How will he stay without you?’ Well, these were my questions too. Me flying back with both the kids was not an option, in Siddharth’s mind at least. I think he was secretly worried that a 20+ hour journey with two toddlers all by myself would make me want to run back to my parents and I will never make it back to Seattle. So, well. We decided to do this social experiment, in which Siddharth would team with Rehan and fly back 10 days early. And Sammy and I would spend a few more days in India before flying back. One of the many perks of getting laid off. I was worried because Rehan is somewhat of a mumma’s boy. I am definitely hopeful that it will change. Because I don’t want him to be a mumma’s boy. I want him to be his own boy. But that’s besides the point. The point is, he tends to get really attached to me and does a wee bit of yelling and shouting if he doesn’t see me. Well, little did I know that all my speculations about ‘How will my Rehan do?’ were going to go down th drain. Within a day of reaching back to Seattle, Siddharth told me that Rehan is doing just fine. He is happy. He is eating. He is playing. He is running around. He is excited. He is cranky. He is throwing tantrums. Just as expected. Perfect. I was relieved to know that. But a tiny part of me went ‘Whaat !?! When and how on earth did that happen ?! What happened to all his love and craziness for me ? Already over!!’ I thought I had 5-6 more years before that would happen. But for the most part I was relieved. In fact, very happy. Daddy and Rehan formed a great team. They had a blast. I was so proud. Of Rehan. And of Daddy.
Daddy and Rehan ?!
You know you have been married for a long long long time when you start referring to your spouse as Mom or Dad. Even when not in front of the kids. I have known my parents to do that ever since I can remember. I just saw myself refer to Siddharth as Daddy in a complete sentence. In the absence of my kids. When did I start referring to Siddharth as Daddy? Oh dear! We have clearly been married for a long time. Feels kind of unbelievably unrealistic. But very tangible nonetheless.
Samaira did miss Siddharth a lot toward the end of the trip. Especially when she was upset and didn’t get what she wanted. She would then cry ‘Daddy, Daddy’ in such a tortured voice that I would start to feel guilty. Of nothing specific. Guilty nonetheless. Isn’t that how it goes though? Unnecessary. Unwanted. Stupid. Guilt. Showing up absolutely uninvited and unapologetic. In our face.
But this made our reunion even sweeter. Four of us at the airport. Sammy and I were filthy, stinking and tired. Siddhu and Rehan were refreshed, excited and patiently waiting. Let me tell you one thing. That phrase ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is not a myth. It was so nice to see Rehan and his antics in person and not on Skype. It was so so so nice to see Siddhu! Sammy saw Rehan and Siddhu from a distance and ran toward them. Rehan started running toward me. Full speed. I was almost scared that one of us would get injured. As soon as he came close to me, he did not even pause for a microsecond and ran past me. Like that suitcase next to some random stranger was his destination to begin with. You want filmy? We got filmy right in our household. We can deliver. Very soon all four of us were giving each other a very tight, awkward group hug next to the carousel, waiting for our luggage. So warm. So sweet. Our reunion.
On a completely unrelated note, I have come to a conclusion. Siddharth and I have somehow managed to produce the most rowdy and tantrum-susceptible kids. Anytime we are out in the open or anywhere in the general society, our kids prove it over and over again.The other day, we were at our local grocery store to get some stuff. Sammy decided that she needed to look up some stuff in the toys section and Rehan decided that he wanted to buy some kitchen supplies. Neither of which, by the way, were on our shopping list. I played a slightly selfish card right then and told Siddharth that I was going to finish the grocery shopping (the real shopping) and he should go get the kids. What was I thinking? He somehow managed to convince both the kids to roam around in the furniture section of the store. At least they were within a common zone. They stayed there for full 22 seconds (which might as well be a lifetime in toddler speak) before they decided to run off in opposite direction. Again. This time two kind strangers came to Siddharth’s rescue and helped consolidate our kids. Thankfully I was done with shopping and we were two for two again. Take that kids. But how is it that I always see other kids behaving at least somewhat decently all the time. Remember that ‘somewhat decently’ has a whole different meaning in the world of a parent. These other well behave kids listen to their parents.They hold their parents’ hands in public. As opposed to try to pull away and run off as if we have held them hostage to our parental love and care. They don’t lie flat in the middle of the road to demonstrate their disproval. They don’t sit down in the elevator, refusing to move or be touched just when we arrive at the right floor. In a full elevator, may I add. Thankfully we have kind strangers helping us out and telling us ‘Oh, my kids do this too.’ God bless you kind strangers.
Siddharth and I have conversations after conversations about disciplining our kids. We are constantly trying to figure out and evolve our parenting style. There is this world of ‘don’t do this,’ ‘don’t eat that,’ ‘don’t touch this,’ ‘don’t say that,’ ‘don’t endless-verb this.’ We have definitely heard about the positive parenting style. About not using the word ‘no’ and other such negatives. Use the reasoning and logic. Why something is not the right thing to do. Etc. Etc. We happen to fully agree with this style too. In theory. But when your child dips paper towel in a glass full of milk, for the third time, just for fun, then that little voice inside you emerges way more amplified than you ever imagined yelling ‘NO.’ Then there is the world of ‘whatever! I don’t care.’ We have clearly been in both the extreme zones of don’ts and whatever. But Siddhu and I always strive to be somewhere in the middle. That thing about picking your battles - no joke, people. No joke. We try to pick our battles with the kids (and with each other :)).
At the end of the day, however, my Toddler-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles fill me up with so much mush and sappiness that it has got to overflow. In the middle of a scene that most people might refer to as an out-of-hand-mad-chaos, we find our sappy moments. Siddharth and I steal a glance. We smile. Or giggle. Or just laugh out loud. And there is always that sweet little pumpkin of mine, who can come right in front of my face, tilt his head, and say ‘mumma’ in the sweetest voice possible. And then there is my sweet apple-pie who gives me a hug with both her arms around me. A very meaningful, heart-melting hug. If you know what I mean.
That smile. That hug. From whatever it is that I am going. It brings me back into the moment. I’m definitely back.
|Sammy at the airport at 3am. That's how she rolls.|