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Dec 23, 2011

The Little One Who Wouldn’t Sit


“Yeah, let’s be naughty and save Santa the trip”

- Gary Allan


Dear Riddhie,
 
The title on this post is self-explanatory and I am sure you would have figured out what this is going to be. However, this is more than a story of how you drove us to our wit’s end in a span of few minutes. It is the harrowing tale of an experience that we are unlikely to forget for a long long time and something that shall make us think ten times over before planning any excursion together for the rest of our stay in US on this trip.
 
It was one of those rare New Jersey mornings in December when we woke up to a sunny and beautiful morning with bright sunshine predicted for almost the entire day. I looked up for a preferable outdoor destination for the day and we zeroed on a place called grounds for sculpture at Hamilton. From the information that I came across about the place from its website, it looked like a very delightful place for the day and we hoped to get a few special shots of you (our favorite pastime) at the venue.
 
The place was about 45 miles from our dwellings and we started well in time. Your mom made the usual preparations and packed your diaper bag and supplies for the day. It was early in December but the wind chill factor could get the temperature down by further 5 degrees in the evening, so she made sure that you were properly covered and warm. We set out in time and 15 minutes into the drive, you fell asleep and did not wake up until we reached the venue and were all fresh. The place was essentially a huge landscaped outdoor lawn with sculptures and artworks strewn all over the place with a couple of covered galleries. The lawns were neatly maintained and there were pathways leading to the various statues and art pieces. All in all, it seemed a day conducive for some good family fun outdoors.
 
However, our woes started as soon as you were taken out of your car seat and your feet touched the ground. You winced and grimaced at the sight of your stroller being pulled out of the trunk and broke free from your mother’s hand and rushed to the other side away from the stroller. We were worried about your still unsteady feet carrying you all over the place on slippery grass lawns that had slopes and curves all along and equally concerned of you falling and hurting yourself on the hard cobbled pathway.

I guess you were partially excited and partially overwhelmed at the sight of such open space before you and just wanted to break free and run all over the place. While we thought we would spend the day strolling along gently covering as much as we could and taking pictures at every nook and corner and doing the tourist thing, you on the other hand, had other plans and clearly, the idea of a leisure walk did not go down too well with you. 
 
First, you did not wish to sit in the stroller at all and squirmed and straightened your legs and cried and threw a tantrum until we finally gave in to your wish. Your mother walked along slowly holding your hand while I kept pushing the empty pram, stopping now and then to click a picture or two. And then the inevitable happened. You slipped your hand out of your mother’s clasp and rushed on full steam on the stone tiled walkway, tripped over a jutting corner of a tile and fell flat on your face. I was walking a few steps ahead and turned around at your mother’s scream as you fell. By the time we picked you up, you were crying at the top of your voice.

RiddhieYou had sustained a minor bruise around your temple and thankfully it was nothing serious. Had you been any older and perhaps any more intelligent to understand speech, I would have boxed your ears and told you it serves you right and this is what happens when you do not listen to your folks. However, we were so caught up in the moment that for a seconds we did not know how to pacify you. You kept crying uncontrollably while your mom tried everything she could - ranging from giving you water, handing a cookie and the milk bottle, shaking you up, hugging you, washing your face and wiping your nose. 

It was only after a few minutes of coaxing and comforting that you finally settled in. I now wanted you back in your stroller to avoid any more falls but I guess you were still in no mood to concede. The moment I picked you up to get you in your seat, you threw your arms about, kicked me as hard you could and even got my glasses off my face and threw them to the ground. You were the epitome of being a spoilt brat and we were a perfect example of how miserable the parents of an unrelenting infant can be. By the time I managed to buckle you up a small crowd had gathered around us. Other visitors were throwing us glances and snickering and talking in hushed whispers. A few of the good Samaritans had the nerve to walk up to us and even exclaim, “Is she alright?” Our parenting skills were totally blown apart and publically disgraced for sure.

Your mother tried to sit aside on a bench to coax you – you straightened your legs and screamed even harder. She tried bribing you with a cookie – you flung it back at her face. She tried getting you to sip some water – you filled your mouth and then let it out all over your clothes. She pulled out one of your toys – you threw it as far as you could on the ground.
 
After much persuasion when we finally could get you to an agreeable state, you decided to take it back upon us. As long as we kept moving, you chose to remain silent but the moment we stopped to admire an artifact or to click a picture, you would start with your hollering.

Eventually we had to have you back on your feet and walking all over but now you did not even wish to hold our hands and wanted to be on your own. There were couple of peacocks roaming around free in the lawns and I tried to distract you and walked you over to them. But I guess by that time you were through with the place. You showed minimal interest in the peacocks and went about hating us for not giving you your freedom and kept crying.
 
The place was being decorated for the upcoming holiday season and we were hoping to stay until the lights came on. The trees and sculptures were covered in various lights and perhaps you would have liked it too but then we never stood a chance with you then. Eventually we drove back just as about the lights were coming up. Surprisingly, the moment you were back in your car seat and we were on our way back, you settled down nice and easy and were back to your normal self. For the records, you slept easy within five minutes and we sat in silence all our way back contemplating what just happened.
 
I guess it makes for a funny read now and maybe we shall tease you about being such a brat in years to come but trust me, it was one of the days that reminded us of the day you attended your first important wedding in the family (Read Here).

Perhaps there would be days that shall make us look back on this day with gratitude and this definitely would be a good story to tell you when you would be screaming at your kids some day. Who knows? Maybe until then I shall look back and take lesson from the day to reflect that you are your own person with your own free mind. I guess as parents, we shall try and be cognizant of this fact and will let you make your own decisions and take your own path. But at the same time we would also like you to see our reasons, for ensuring your seat belt and safety nets are secure in the same light. Though at times it would be unavoidable but as your parents we wouldn’t want you falling down and getting hurt – be it walking down your education or career path or just running around in the lawns as the case is now. Hope you would grow up to be mature enough to know the difference.
 
Love,
Dad.

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