As the summer holidays for kids draw to a close in a week’s time, something that I am awaiting with a bated breath, I can’t help but look back at how my own summer vacations transpired in my childhood years. Yes, bouts of nostalgia are hitting me frequently even though I am in my late thirties only. Looks like age is catching up :).
Yep, summer vacations meant lugging bag and baggage and the entire family of 5 to my maternal grandparents’ home. We spent almost the entire vacation in that house with my grandfather, maternal uncle, aunt and my cousins. There were other relatives too who stayed in the vicinity. The times were so much fun in those days. Luscious mangoes in large drums soaking in water, musk melons and water melons awaited us every day. The hot gulab jumans from the halwai in a large earthern kullad — can’t seem to forget its rich, sweet and luscious taste even now. And so many other treats not to forget all the pickles that mom churned out. We would climb up shahtoot trees, pluck mogras and custard apples, admire the delectable varieties of roses, hang around with the maali and gorge on homemade gur. We kids would quarrel, make up and again quarrel and find time to play in all this. We were blessed to have huge lawns and also play area where we could yell and scream and yet not disturb the adults. As long as we kept to ourselves, the adults left us and our mischief alone. We were out of the house and their hair.
I distinctly remember the joy on those rare occasions when my dad and uncle would also join our cricket matches. Oh yes, girls and boys played together. My uncle also loved flying kites, and we fought over who would hold the charkhi. Even when we moved out of UP, we tried to keep up with this routine for as long as we could. Now with my grandparents gone and also my uncle and aunt, I haven’t visited my nanihal for more than 2 decades but the memories are as fresh as rose dew.
Compare that to the vacations of my kids. The sizes of houses have shrunk and so have the playgrounds and parks. Where are the trees to climb and pluck fruits from? Yet, I see many women I know taking off on month-long holidays to their hometowns with kids in tow. I guess, both the husband and the wife could do with some change :). For women, it is a great opportunity to put up their feet and put behind the harsh routine of daily lives. The whole rigmarole of cooking, cleaning, planning, sending the kids and husband to school and office respectively,to get some good old-fashioned pampering from their parents and feel like kids themselves. This option is only open to women who don’t work professionally or like me can work from anywhere :). Those with desk jobs can’t take so many offs. Yet, I cannot do this. For one my mom passed away, so that feeling of maayka is sorely missing. Dad is welcoming, but he works even after retirement. Since all us siblings work, the vacations are not the same anymore in any of our homes. Kids meet and have fun but feel a bit constrained in smaller spaces. Also our vacations have now shrunk to below a week. We are so comfortable in our own homes and settings that we begin to get antsy elsewhere. I for one, need my own system to work. I hate working on laptops that I have to do when I travel. I have become so intolerant to harsh weather having been spoiled by a decade of living in Bangalore, that is the only home I know now.
So yes, vacations for kids are more about summer camps than about reconnecting with their extended families now. This year, I decided not to put both of them in summer camps. Let them monkey around, sleep late, get up early, do what they wanted. It was a brave decision considering that both of us work from home. But it worked out! The elder one ganged up with other kids to play cricket or football. The sessions extended for hours together. The younger one either participated there or did his own thing. Either way, I got more time on hand to complete my work. It wasn’t easy but hopefully they had more fun! And now the annual routine is staring me back in the face. The same getting up early and rushed mornings. Sigh!
What are your summer vacations memories? And if you have kids, how do you keep them engaged?
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