Our two granddaughters declared their intention to come and have a “two nights sleepover” at nana and nani’s house this past week. I took time off from work and my wife ensured that we had their favourite fruits, pastas and cereal etc., stocked up. As this would be the first time for both of them to spend extended time with us, we were a little apprehensive whether the three years old J would be up to it. We need not have worried. The two girls had a blast, as did we. Fun activities like drawing and colouring, craftwork, making “secret hideaways” from chairs covered with bedspreads and telling stories while hiding inside from the bears and witches prowling just outside, kept us all busy. They loved playing in the park and used our driveway as a canvas to create their masterpieces with coloured chalks. The mandatory visit to Chapters to select a book each of their choice always serves as icing on the cake.
On the second night, feisty J wanted her nana to tuck her in to bed. The usual stories were repeated while trying to stick to the earlier version and nursery rhymes sung but she was in no mood to sleep and kept prattling on, just to delay her sleeping. A tad firmly, I told her that she had to learn to behave like her older sister who was being a good girl, as she had finished reading her book and gone to asleep. I told J she would not be able to have another sleepover at our house if she could not learn to go to bed by herself.
Little J sat up and in a small girl voice said, “Nana, when am I going home to my mummy and daddy? You told us that we would be here for two days, but it is three days now already.” I told her she had slept at our place the previous night, that this was only the second evening and we would go to her place after she woke up in the morning and had her breakfast. J responded, “No nana. It is three days. My mummy and daddy must be out, looking for my sister and me. We have to go home to them.” By now, I was starting to worry that she might soon start to bawl and then we would have to call her parents or even drive the girls home that very night. So, I offered to send my wife in to tell her another story and J said, “Nani is chattering with my sister in her room, that’s why I can’t sleep. Please send nani to come here and sing me the song my mummy sings.”
My wife replaced me in J’s bedroom and only emerged an hour later, saying the little one had used up every trick in her book to keep up a conversation and delay falling asleep!
The very next day we were visiting with our son and daughter-in-law. Their one year old son is already well-versed in the art of getting us all to tow his line and keep himself entertained, even as we enjoy his antics.
Forget the millennials; even toddlers seem to know exactly what they want and how to get it. Growing up, we were handed wooden blocks and left to use our imagination and entertain ourselves.
Here is Sudarshan Faakir’s gem recollecting one’s lost childhood, beautifully sung by Jagjit and Chitra Singh: