Like any other child, my children Peanut and Buttercup too love travels and the fun of exploring new places. This time around they also got to play a few new roles. We had a role reversal of sorts. There were days when I ceased to be a mother and my children became our guides. And what wonderful guides they were.
- The Explorer : Trekking guide:
On one occasion, a bunch of us decided to trek up to a national park and joining us were my 2 explorers. But some ground rules had to be set. Not by me, but by our mini enthusiastic self-proclaimed guide and his loyal follower.
Rule: He would show us the way. Sorry, not show, but LEAD the way. His logic was very simple. He was the ONLY one who had gone up with his grandfather, so only he knew the way. Even though we all knew the way we feigned ignorance and let him play the role of a leader. Along the way I happily asked him a few questions about the stony path and how long it would take to reach our destination, the solar panels on the roof of a house and what it was for, the cold stream flowing besides the path and where the water was coming from etc. He cheerfully obliged me and answered all my questions with a very assured straight face. He knew it all and was only too happy to show off. And then through that trek, a very proud little boy was seen walking with his chest out while his equally confident little follower hummed some tunes merrily.
- The Tourist guide:
On one of our many visits to a famous square, we entered the main Naga Pokhari. It’s a beautiful Royal Bath encircled by huge stone snakes. Before the guide could start his information download on the historical significance of this place, Peanut blurted out, “ This is where the Queen had a bath. But now the water has become dirty and there are tadpoles in it, so she cannot have a bath here anymore”. We were so amused at this little piece of information he had picked up in all our visits and was fairly accurate about it, save for the Queen no longer being there, tadpoles or no tadpoles. ☺ Buttercup quick to pick up on social cues also repeated her big brother’s learned wisdom in a very matter of fact – know it all manner.
Since we had visited this place many times before, Peanut and Buttercup had been listening when the guides spoke. I had ensured that before every trip we would sit down and have a chat about the place we were visiting (fun facts, quick trivia questions and always some silly anecdote) and before we knew it all this information had somehow found its way to the children’s mind and some got spewed out verbatim. They got to be confident guides and picked up some interesting historical facts. Fun learning!
- Shopping guide:
Travelling ‘must’ involve some shopping. What is the joy without it? ☺ Buttercup has her bag slung on her shoulder and is off for EVERY single shopping trip. The kiddos walk into familiar lanes as if they own them and in an unfettered way, direct our guests to the correct shops. They are surprisingly very patient and energetic through the shopping trip. But on one visit, Peanut was not taking too kindly.
Peanut (as politely as he could through his growing irritation, demanded): I also want to buy something .
Mother (scanning the many artefacts, distractedly asked): What do you want to buy?
Peanut clearly had not thought about this and said: Anything.
Mother (now not so distracted): But we don’t have to buy anything if we do not need it. I am only buying for the house.
Peanut: I will also buy something for the house. Saying this he started pointing at random things as we walked along.
Buttercup taking full opportunity to score some brownie points with her mother chips in, “ See, I am not buying anything.”
Peanut was not amused by this change of loyalty and continued to sulk and nag me. Finally caving in (talk about guilt), I asked my mom to buy him a little souvenir while we did the last of the sightseeing. He was presented a tiny earthen pot and his joy knew no bounds.
He excitedly proclaimed to me: “Mama, I have bought something for the house too”.
That is when I realized that he was serious about being involved in the whole shopping experience. He wanted to contribute to the house aesthetics and have his little part in the home. My house-proud boy ☺ or a budding shopaholic ☺. I’ll take both happily.
That pot has been made good use of. It has been filled with mud, a seed from the garden embedded in the soil and watered. It is kept in a ‘secret’ place till the seed germinates. Why the secrecy? Maybe it adds to the charm of the whole experience if no adults are involved and has a mysterious undertone. But mostly (as told to me by my two excited munchkins) its because a magic beanstalk will grow and they will climb up the beanstalk to find a room full of toys up in the sky! Creative imagination at its peak! Khuljaye Bachpan indeed. ☺
Truly there is no better teacher than travelling and this summer as parents we tried to ensure our budding guides got many opportunities to explore by repeatedly taking them to places, making facts fun by spinning stories around them and hopefully further empowered them to take on more roles. There were many bonding moments created, simply by me relegating my position as the one who knows it and letting them take center stage. As I look back at the summer holidays gone by, I am glad they had a #Khuljaye Bachpan with loads of playful moments, lots of on-the-go learning through their new experiences of being our loving guides.