Another step forward

Another step forward

MM: They’re not old enough.
SM: We need to let them go.
MM: It’s dangerous.
SM: No it’s not. It’s just an amusement park for goodness sake.
MM: That’s the scary part. Don’t you read the papers? There was the time an entire ride came crashing down. And then there was the case of a child being molested. These are bad times.
SM: What about the hundreds of people, including children, who go to amusement parks every day, have a wonderful time and come home safe and happy? Hundreds and thousands across the world?
MM: Yeah well I’ll take them along some day. So I can keep an eye on them.
SM: Fuss around them, you mean! And nag them and caution them till they were driven out of their poor little minds and never learn to manage on their own.
MM: I don’t do that.
SM: You do and that’s why you need to let them go.

The subject of this grand argument was the children’s impending school trip to Imagica – an amusement park about 100kms from the city. And the two voices? Sane Mum and Mushy Mum. You do remember them, don’t you?

It took Sane Mum hours of convincing to get the Mushy Mum to agree.

Of course she had the backing of two very excited children who were in imminent danger of turning very very whiny if they didn’t have their way. Believe me when I say sometimes that’s the only motivation I need to do something. A reassuring call from the Husband sealed the deal.

Then began long hours of counselling and cautioning.

Don’t read in the bus you’ll get queasy.
Don’t go to the washroom alone
Don’t board a ride alone.
Don’t eat before a dangerous slide, you might throw up.
Don’t accept help from a stranger.
Don’t talk to strangers at all.
Stick around with your teacher.
Look out for each other.

Are you even listening?

Then they were off

Finally, with bags full of muffins and chips and mints they were on their way. Not once did they turn back to look after we dropped them to school, thought MM rather regretfully while SM thought that was a good sign.

Back at home..

..the house seemed a tad too quiet, even to SM. This is the quiet all mums, mushy or otherwise, cherish most days. But today it seemed almost ominous. I worked listlessly on a some half done articles, then roamed aimlessly about the house pretending to put things in place.

I checked the phone every few minutes for messages from school.

And then the phone buzzed. “The children had breakfast at McDonalds and have now reached Imagica.”

I cannot explain how comforting that was.

I focused on the mental picture of the children sitting down at McD’s with their best buddies around them laughing over fries and burgers, loud and boisterous and happy. And that was when I began to relax.

The anxiety demon did come by in flashes through the day but I managed to keep it at bay helped along by another message that all was well and finally a third one saying they were on their way back.

It was nightfall when I went to pick them up from school. H sat in his class reading his book, an assortment of weirdly shaped merchandise by his side. ‘I bought all of this,’ were his first words even as the hugest smile lit up his face, which morphed rapidly into an absolutely horrified expression when it seemed like I was reaching out for a hug. Oh okay, no hug then, thought I retreating. Just a smile and a hand clasp and we were on our way to N’s class who is way more forthcoming with her affection. She hugged me willingly and smiled saying, ‘I got you a gift and one for bua too.’ That completely warmed my heart.

We walked back to the car, H limping along from a bad blister which he didn’t seem to notice, as he fought with N for attention, talking nineteen to a dozen.

24 hours later the conversations continue to flow , the stories just don’t seem to end. They had stuck by their teachers, behaved responsibly and wonder of wonders they had even sought out each other to ask how they fared after the worst of the rides. I would gladly send them again for that one single reason alone.

Here’s what I need to remember:

My first trip out of town was pretty late in life – during graduation on a Geological tour with the teachers. I remember little things like ordering my own food or buying chai from the vendor in the train gave me such a thrill. When did you step out of home out on your own? Was it easy to convince your parents?

Picture Credit: Pixabay

23 Replies to “Another step forward”

  1. Letting go is never easy, but it’s inevitable, little by little we relinquish control, little by little we see them becoming independent people. And even though it’s a bittersweet feeling, the only way we can do it is by knowing it’s what’s best for them.

  2. I can relate to that .. being the only son I always had to plead and beg and what not to go out and being very outgoing did not help as it was always a pain to get permission from parents 🙂

    The kids had great funnnnnnnnnnnn 🙂

  3. I joined a college in the suburbs after finishing 12th and that’s when I really “stepped out” of my home. I would travel daily and feel as if I had gained freedom! It made me so confident of myself! You need to let kids go out on their own. I know it can get scary, esp when you read all kinds of stories in the newspapers, but I feel having faith in your kids that they will take care of themselves and be fine is equally necessary.

    1. Yes I know that Shilpa on a theoretical level :-). When it comes to putting it into part ice it is a whole different game.
      I know that feeling of freedom. I got it when I first left my hometown to go work in Delhi. it was like a whole new world.

  4. It’s interesting to read the other side! I was always encouraged to do things on my own and so I was travelling to school in local buses and paying my school fees or even going to picnics right from middle school, I think I was in 4th then. I found it empowering and made me very responsible. I think after two or three such excursions, you will find these changes in your kids too!

    1. You’re right Neha. My sister and I had a pretty sheltered childhood though we did board the city bus to school everyday but we were a large bunch of kids who went together so it never bothered me. Day picnics from school were fine but out-of-towners were a no no. But I’m glad I did this.

  5. I can remember how I felt when my mom hesitated to send me alone on picnics but now being a parent I can understand her feelings better.

    1. Oh we had some huge arguments at home, specially when I reached college but our parents were unshakeable. Like you, now I completely get what they must have felt.

  6. Tulika, maybe the first one is scary. But you can relax that atleast they are two of them together. For my elder son, I was like this but with the younger one, I am quite chilled. But again they have different personalities. The elder is always trying to push the boundaries while the younger doesn’t even want to touch them. But we need to let them learn to handle themselves by letting them go. P.S. My elder son still cribs that I am a worrier 🙂

    1. Isn’t it strange that when we have two children we get one of each kind? Though normally it is the younger one who pushes the limits. As for being a worrier, I know I’m one too, though I am trying hard to stop being one. It so saps ones energy.

  7. Awww I am glad mushy mom didn’t win this argument. And look how much they enjoyed. They must be feeling like a grown up. It didn’t take much convincing when I went to first overnight school tour to Karizanga. My parents were like thank god she is going outdoors

  8. My first out of town school trip was when I was ten years old. I probably had to do some extra hard convincing because of my disability and all the extra worry that goes with that.I’m sure both of my parents were internally biting their nails the whole time. They made it through and it sounds like you did too. Good job mom. The next time will be (a little) easier I promise.

    1. Kudos to your parents for letting you go. It’s a hard decision to make but one just has to do it at some point. The only thing parents have is their own instinct to figure out what the right time is.

  9. So glad that N and H had a good time. I could completely relate to the crazy, anxious moments you had on the day and also while preparing yourself for letting the kids be away, on their own for a whole day.

    My daughter started going out for day camps this year. I completely agree with you that if we parents can learn to tame our anxieties the time can be put to great use. Letting go is tough but necessary. As parents, we can only hope that this transition is rather smooth for us as well as for our children.

    1. The problem is that the things we read in the papers everyday are so scary it makes us reluctant to let the children go anywhere when we aren’t around to look out for them. And yet at some stage we just have to do it and trust that all will be well.

  10. It must have been such a relief getting to see both of them happy at the end of the day. I never went anywhere, neither from school, nor from college and never from work place too.
    It is a coincidence, as it has been many times previously also, that D is going on a school picnic tomorrow. I have given him a few instructions and taking cue from the additional instructions you have given him, I will add some more tomorrow morning. The picnic is at a resort, far outside Bangalore. The fun part for him is me allowing unlimited junk snacks for tomorrow and this doesn’t happen often. The mushy mum had tried to sell the idea of not going to picnic but the exuberance compelled her to give up.

    1. Oh yes junk food is still a big deal for H and N as well. Which is why I mentioned the muffins and the chips.
      You never went on an outing, ever? That’s a pity. It certainly is a lot of fun. Once I started working and living on my own in Bombay we did plenty of outings – Matheran, Mahabaleshwar and Aurangabad. It’s fun going out with friends.

  11. Aww this is what you meant on my post today about letting go 🙂 Uncanny how we seem to be on the same wavelength!

    This was a lovely account of how the kids must have felt on their first outbound trip. Gy has been going on those since Grade 1 and I confess the first time gave me butterflies! Overnight camp too, away from home, at the age of 6! I freaked out. V reassured me and took me for a late night movie so I’d stop worrying. In the morning, when we went to pick her up the beaming smile and the non-stop talking. Oh How I remember that!

    This reminds me that I have actually let go in the past without overthinking it. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of 6-years-ago Shailaja and just chill 🙂

    Oh and how cute of N to get you gifts! Big hugs to H too even though he doesn’t want one 😉

    1. Yup, we seemed to be thinking similar thoughts! Bound to happen considering we have kids the same age. An overnighter is still too much for my poor old nerves I think. Perhaps it would have been different had the Husband been here. Taking responsibility all on my own makes it tougher. Oh and the SIL took me for a movie too – Padmavat, it was. It so helped to pass the evening.

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