The summer vacations are upon us. Depending on which side of the parenting fence you find yourself, that announcement might have you taking out your laptop and doing sensible things like booking yourself alone to a cheese-making farm in the midst of the Nilgiris WITH NO MOBILE NETWORK, or do the cheap version and lock yourself into the bathroom and refuse to emerge until school reopens. If your kid is kind, he or she might even keep food in a tray outside the bathroom twice a day till you are ready to come back to civilisation with your sanity intact.
The full horror struck me when I went to pick The Brat up from school on the penultimate day of school before the vacations began. He emerged from the dank recesses of the school stairwell, shrugging off errant pint-sizes from his collar after a good, knuckle-limbering scrap, and gave me his standard expression of pretending to ignore me which denoted how delighted and ecstatic he was to find me waiting patiently like a good school-gate mom. "I gotta potlucklunch pahty tomorrow in school."
The words went straight to my heart, the beats of which promptly escalated to tachycardia levels. "Why? I mean, what is the occasion for a potluck lunch party?" I asked, acutely aware that this would entail cooking some delicacy in humongous quantities in pre-dawn disorientation, which could, like previous such potluck episodes have proved, result in kitchen fires of the level that require me to break down the conveniently placed fire extinguisher in the stairwell. The potluck lunch party, he informed me politely, was the end-of-term party with the summer vacations beginning the next day. It would not be far-fetched, dear reader, to say that at this point my heart did one of those alarming lurches straight into my throat and then collapsed into the pit of my stomach in quick succession, causing me to hold on to a steady surface to avoid collapsing into a heap on the floor. Summer vacations? Already? Hadn't I just finished hula hooping because the Christmas vacations were done with and I could finally get the "WottudoI'mBored" whine-on-a-loop out of my ears?
Two months, he informed me cheerfully, in the event that I had forgotten. He had 2 months of vacations. I kept silent, chalking out my strategy as carefully as I could. "Wot I'll do fer 2 months?" he asked me, in his mind hastily allocating a major chunk of his time to essentials like WWE watching and the PSP. My mind was swarming with how I could best utilise this time in super-efficient manner to help him catch up on his Math and Hindi and English languages, subjects in which he had fared so abysmally that I've been compelled to slink around the school premises wearing a hat and dark glasses with a false nose. His father, also realising that we have 2 months of no school, had his eyes light up at the prospect of being able to put in some additional hours of pool training, given an inter-club swimming meet is due circa the end of May. For one sinking moment, which passed very quickly, thankfully, I thought back to my own vacations when all we did was run riot in the neighbourhood, and did nothing that could be considered "constructive use of time", except perhaps in my case, read anything and everything I could lay my hands on. Given that The Brat is a complete non-reader, the long yawning days of his summer break need to be filled up with activity that is non-destructive, does not result in blood being spilt, and will hopefully, not end up with me being straitjacketed and frog-marched away by little men in white coats into a secure room with padded walls from where I can be released safely only when The Brat has hit adulthood.
"I wantudo singing classes," The Brat announced, striking fear and terror into the hearts of his non-musically-inclined parents. "Singing classes," said the father, drawing up all of his almost-6-feet-retrosexual-male self, "What kind of wussy thing is that?"
"Singing classes," I squeaked, having toyed with vocal calisthenics myself when I was younger and more ambitious than my tuneless self warranted, "It isn't as easy as you might suppose." I decided to be upfront, recalling with horror my brief flirtation with singing which had neighbors complaining to the building secretary about the distinct possibility of cats being tortured on our premises. We set a deal with him, he would perform a complete song for us (one of his choosing), and if we found it up to scratch, we would hire someone to polish up his vocals. He promptly began to belt out a high-pitched number which had us reeling from shock, staggering around with hands over our ears. That was the end of that.
Abacus classes and math classes-the pater suggested in a deep, thoughtful tone, an idea which had The Brat skittering for cover. Art classes, I suggested gently, knowing that the energy which had been expended in creating doodles with an indelible marker all over the light veneer frontage of his wardrobe, needed to be channelised in a better manner. He pooh-poohed this suggestion as all right-thinking little tykes would, given that it had originated from his mother. Perhaps the way to really get him to do something would be to tell him he must not do it, and then dust one's hands, sit back, and watch him burn the rubber on his soles trying to get it done. Much back and forth later over suitable activities to engage him with and have him pass the days fruitfully, we reached the consensus that The Brat was free to do what he pleased with his day, barring mandatory studying and swimming training. Which is pretty much what he does everyday when not in school.
When he grows up, I hope he appreciates the fact that he had a mom who let him grow up like a weed, and who was an equal-opportunity-sloth espouser given that the fewer activities he busied himself with, the fewer classes I needed to do the pick-up and drop-off routine for. Just 2 months, I keep telling myself on a loop, and if it does get too much for my limited supply of mommy patience, I can always lock myself up in the bathroom and refuse to emerge till the vacation is all over.