There is always a sense of mixed emotions that sets in every time you venture into something new with your child. A perfect amalgamation of joy and trepidation, which in most cases, the latter overpowers the former.
Ever since ‘Z Baby’ was born we had refrained ourselves from taking her anywhere overnight. We were being extra cautious but this time we were resolute, not because the child deserved to get out and we can’t be too over-protective blah-blah-blah, but mainly because we wanted to escape our parents “when-you-were-an-infant-you-could-sail-a-ship-just-by-looking-at-the-stars” kind of stories.
We really needed to get out of the city, away from work, away from anything that was chipping away our sanity. My wife had planned a weekend break at a tranquil hill resort, four hours away from the mad rush of Mumbai city. My sister and brother-in-law joined as well.
It was quite amusing to travel with a child, never correctly predicting how she’ll react to a new environment, you were always left guessing what will happen next. Top of the mind was the drive we pre-empted everything; what if she cried? What if she pooped? What if she was getting annoyed with the long journey? All we had to wait for was an action and we would have been ready with a reaction… or so we hoped.
At any other given time this would have been any regular weekend away; come back from work Friday evening, throw in some clothes and essentials into the bag and leave Saturday morning. With ‘Z Baby’ we had to plan a week in advance making sure that we had ticked the list of EVERY.LITTLE.THING.
My wife and I carried five pieces of luggage, out of which only one bag belonged to us, the rest was for baby – 1) clothes and diapers; 2) baby bag with toys, food, water and toiletries; 3) her dinner seat; 4) Car seat. And yes her clothes bag was bigger than our bag. We had enough luggage to put the Kardashians to shame.
We left at 9am, which is considered REALLY late according to weekend travelers. We travelled in my brother-in-law’s SUV so space was not a problem. And unlike the intra-city car trips ‘Z Baby’ had someone for company in the backseat throughout the trip. In India it’s quite normal for parents to place their toddlers in the lap, no matter how long the drive, because you know let’s just test what’s stronger, the baby’s head or the windshield. Better sense prevailed and we safely buckled our daughter in a car seat, we really needed the quiet, no passing-the-parcel, four and half hour ride.
She was a blessing in the first hour, after which she fell asleep for another hour. Things were going great guns. Then came the poop bomb, now the beauty about this is that as parents we can smell the initial waft before it transcends into a full blown gas chamber. We also have become adroit in reading baby’s facial expressions, when she screws up her eyes and grunts like a hog in search of food.
My wife had a tough time as the amenities for changing a child in highway foodhalls is next to zilch. Our daughter had to be changed on a plastic chair but thankfully my sister was there to help, while we boys were cleaning out the car.
I took the wheel in the second half of the journey. My wife and sister were happy in the backseat keeping the baby busy and vice versa. But it was during the last leg of the drive that ‘Z Baby’ started whining and feeling uncomfortable. I guess it was mainly to do with the car slowing down to a crawl thanks to the bumpy road, that was her way of back-seat driving.
The whining gradually turned to crying and it was starting to get unbearable. She was ‘hangry’ but mainly she was getting bored of being stuck in the car. We didn’t want to feed her in the car as we were very close to our destination so we tried to distract her by releasing from the car seat and giving toys. It didn’t achieve much.
Finally we reached the resort and the first thing we did was feed her. She felt much better and was sort of excited with the new place and was happily running around, bumping herself here and there, causing unnecessary alarm, you know, the usual baby stuff.
This is how we spent the rest of the weekend – eating, sleeping, eating some more and then sleeping some more. ‘Z Baby’s’ sleeping issues continued at the nights. Nearly a year old but she still doesn’t sleep for more than three hours at a stretch.
It was just such a pleasure to see how she explore every thing around her and because she started walking early no opportunity was let go to reach places that she shouldn’t.
Toddlers in their own environment become creatures of habit, they know exactly where to find the family members, and remember daily objects in their lives. But the moment you introduce them to a new environment, we see a noticeable change in their behaviour. Their curiosity reaches a new level and look at things with a certain excitement and inquisitiveness. They are constantly moving around, pointing at things, making inexplicable noises and doing things that you would normally wouldn’t expect them to do.
We were overly cautious with her as far as traveling was concerned, but now that we have seen her in action, we want to keep at it and discover new traits about her and ourselves.