‘Hey Better half! You forgot to praise me for one thing. I am more watchful than you think.’ What happens when a dad decides to look after his kids just for a day?
Dear Rohit (My Better Half),
Last Sunday you told me to be happy like Mrs. Mehta, that I should be as enthusiastic and social as she is. What a happy realisation it was! I cannot thank you enough.
So today, I am all set to embark on my social life. Since it is a Saturday and you are on leave, what could be a better day than this? It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
As I set out on this blissful escapade today at 5:00 a.m, I am leaving this note for you as I know you will be alone. Although our kids are staying back with you, I know how lonely it can get.
At 7:00 a.m Nia will come to our room. She will not find me, so she will wake you up. If you don’t get up, she will whack you hard on your face with whatever she has in her hand. Don’t be too upset with that, she is just two. Hope you read this before she wakes up.
Tia will be up soon too. You will have no time to sip your tea, even if you manage to make it. Tia will talk more than listen to you. Keep your cool, she is just three and a half.
You will feel like you have woken up to hell but believe me, this is just the beginning. There will be a mess in the washroom when you make them brush their teeth. Make sure they don’t slip on the wet floor (don’t forget about yourself either!) Make oats with banana for both of them. Don’t give in to their tantrums if they refuse to eat it. You will feel like you are at war but that’s how it is.
Clean up the mess of the food and water scattered all around. You might have to change their clothes too. Don’t lose your mind, you will have to change them multiple times throughout the day. That calls in for a lot of laundry to be done. Save that for the next day.
By 10:00 am you should be done. I know it’s your Netflix binge watching time. Hang in there because you might have not realised it but you haven’t gulped down anything since morning. Give them something to play with or whatever you think can distract them while you brush your teeth and grab something to eat.
When they see the cup of tea in your hand, they will jump for it. Maintain good balance so you don’t spill it. Or better you might just want to teach them not to do it. Remember you told me that I should be teaching them not to? Well, I leave you to do the magic. There’s a list for their lunch plan stuck on the fridge. Prepare accordingly. They might not want to eat what you have cooked. So check out on alternatives.
Chances are, you will be cooking more than one item for each and end up with the same fuss they created at the breakfast table. They will resist the afternoon nap too. Don’t make the mistake of playing the rhyme, ‘no more monkeys jumping on the bed’. They will jump and bang their heads.
Your heart will be in your mouth and your blood pressure will rise. Try not to shout your lungs out. They will not listen. Just distract them with something better. I have made lunch for you since you are a novice. Heat it and gobble that down.
When it’s 5:30p.m, you will watch Nia and Tia fall asleep themselves. Don’t thank your lucky stars. The devil will tempt you to sit back and relax while they sleep. Do not allow them to nap. If they do at this time, you will have to be up with them till two or even 2:30 a.m.
No matter how exhausted you get, take them to the park. Throughout the day you will have to be alert. Nia throws stuff at the TV. Stand guard! She scribbles all over the walls, jumps on the glass table, takes out all the utensils from the kitchen and throws them on the floor. Keep the forks and knives away.
See that they don’t take off the child proof safety seals from the plug points. Yes! They are experts at it.
Nia will get very irritated if you don’t understand what she is saying. ‘Maaki’ is monkey, ‘wish’ is witch, ‘akeepoo’ is peekaboo, ‘tar’ is star, ‘toklat’ is chocolate, ‘poons’ is spoon. Some words so you don’t have to decode it all.
Oh yeah! And when she says ‘haa-o-win’, she means she wants to watch the Halloween rhymes. If she says ‘punkin’, show the jack-o’-lantern pumpkin song to her and ‘duck a day bear’ is Peppa pig’s, Doctor Brown Bear.
Tia will narrate some imaginary stories about herself, don’t take them as real. The rest you will just be a surprise. Just go with the flow as things unfold.
I am out with my girls after ages. And I will be back by tomorrow night. I bet I will be ten times better than Mrs. Mehta.
The little intruders will follow you to the washroom.
Your Battered Half,
Dear Ritu (My Better Half),
Looking back at our journey, at the end of this year, all I want to do is to give you a big hug and thank you. But I just have to leave this note for you because that’s how you like it (I suppose!)
It’s the 31st of December, 2019 and I see how well you’ve trained our kids to nap in the afternoon. You’ve come a long way, honey! It is afternoon and I do not want to wake you all up, my sleeping beauties.
I am sorry I compared you with Mrs. Mehta. But as they say, everything happens for a reason. And I am looking forward to New Year’s as I look back at all the things that went wrong this year.
The day you left a note for me and went out with your friends, I did feel lonely with the kids, just as you said. Wifey, you were so true. Nia did not whack me on my face as she woke up but she did throw the phone at my head without warning. I had a bump on my forehead all day. Then, I wondered, how many times you must have been shot, my wounded soldier.
Nia and Tia wet my clothes as I made them brush their teeth. Tia also made me jump on the wet floor because Peppa Pig’s Daddy loves jumping up and down in muddy puddles. Now I know why your pressure drops early in the morning and why you feel weak.
I am really grateful that you made lunch for me before leaving. Sipping tea on that day was out of question. I must confess, I was so tired that I did not even have a bath that day. You said they would follow me to the washroom!
Everything was a mess. Oh, I was a mess. I wonder how you keep your cool and work like an invisible hand each day.
And I could not prepare alternate meals for them and gave in to their tantrums because I was tired, both mentally and physically. Nia ate a lot of sugar from the jar and I did not stop her because that kept her quiet. Tia threw the remote on the TV. Yes! My favourite TV! You read it right.
That crack that you see on the screen is the outcome. I lied to you that it was me. The truth is, it was impossible to stand guard while cooking. You know what I mean right? Juggling is not my cup of tea. I admire how you do it. Yet, I tried and I was exhausted.
I was dying to sleep but had to fake my laughter. I laughed at Nia when she covered her face with the pillow and said peekaboo. She continued saying peekaboo more than 50 times and I had to laugh each time. My jaw ached. Tia kept telling me stories and I almost felt like an Elf while she made me pose like one.
How much I longed for adult company that day. My ears were ringing with the noise of the nursery rhymes and cartoons all day long.
So, now that I know how much you deserved a holiday, I am sure you would know how much I deserve one too. Though I would not compare it to the 365 days that you go through. And what can be a better time than New Year’s day, while I look back and look forward to the new year. None of my friends are free, so I am venturing out alone. I love to be a solo traveller and make friends on the way.
Happy New Year to you from Goa.
Later in the evening, Rohit checked in to his hotel for which full payment was done in advance. His phone beeped. There was a message from Ritu, that read:
“Hey Better half! You forgot to praise me for one thing. I am more watchful than you think I am. Since I take care of your wardrobe too, I found a lot of your clothes missing. Then I found a packed suitcase hidden in the corner.
I unpacked it and forgot to tell you as I slept off in the afternoon. Well, I put all the old books back into the suitcase you had emptied. I am afraid, you’ve taken books all the way to Goa.
And I saw you have cash in your wallet but hopefully that’s enough for your extravagant holiday because your debit card is with me. I took it out to pay for the groceries. You were binge watching Netflix and couldn’t hear what I was talking about.
So I did not care to tell you that I had taken your debit card. Please borrow money from someone and also buy some clothes. Paytm and GooglePay will not be your friend everywhere.”
Rohit glanced at the 2000 rupee note he had and painstakingly replied – “Maybe you can take the earliest flight to Goa and join me. Please, don’t forget my card and clothes.”
A version of this was first published here and here.
Picture credits: Unsplash
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