Many many moons ago, when Nikki was still a relatively young baby and not the fiercely independent toddler she seems to have turned into of late, the husband and I attempted an evening out without her. I had just stopped nursing Nikki, correction, I had been brusquely weaned with many an imperious shove and ear splitting shrieks by the child who was clearly more interested in the fascinating world of solids and other beverages that did not involve the mater and my indispensability quotient was at an all time low. To save me from the depths of misery in which I abjectly wallowed, P suggested we attend a friend's party cum art exhibition at an upscale restaurant that was also conveniently located quite close to our home. After battling several inner demons I finally took the plunge and decided to go. Careful arrangements were made to handle the most important part of our evening, namely babysitting Nikki. My parents who happened to be in town kindly agreed to look after Nikki for the evening and accordingly arrived at our house a couple of hours before we were to leave for the party. Our erstwhile maid S (a thousand curses on her pointy little head) was instructed to feed Nikki and ensure that she was sound asleep in bed before leaving for the day, since Nikki was used to be being put to bed by her. With all arrangements seemingly in place, we left while Nikki was having her dinner after kissing her goodbye. Or rather, P kissed her goodbye and then dragged me out the door as I threatened to turn into a clingy, sobbing mess. (Don't even ask me what I'll do on the first day of big school. Nikki, I'm sure, will be fine.)I still remember the panicked visions I had as we drove out of the society gates, of Nikki tearfully weeping for her mother who was far, far away. Fifteen minutes into the party and seven panicked phone calls later (yeah, I know I'm THAT mother.sigh.)my parents assured me that Nikki was absolutely fine and could I please put a lid on it and just enjoy the evening. There had been no tears when we left or thereafter and after devouring her dinner, Nikki was now cheerfully engaged in poking the eyes of her doll out, her favorite activity at the time (the chappie who said that stuff about sugar and spice and all things nice sure would've changed his mind if he'd met my little girl).
"I think YOU are the one with separation anxiety", a friend who was with us at the party announced as she watched me gaze anxiously at my phone for the umpteenth time. "Try to relax will you!"
And so I did. I had a drink. I ate an canape. I began to enjoy the music. And I was finally beginning to rid myself of the clouds of worry that had hovered miserably over me all evening when my phone rang. It was my dad.
"What is it?" I yelped as I answered, the canape turning to ashes in my mouth.
It was Nikki of course. She had been absolutely fine till that dreaded hour of the day, or rather, night: bedtime. Apparently, S, conveniently forgetting my laboriously spelled out instructions had vamoosed as soon as Nikki was through with her dinner and instead of going to bed soon after her meal as she was used to, Nikki had continued playing for well over an hour post dinner. As a result she was overtired, sleepy and cranky by the time my parents finally tried putting her to bed and not seeing either P or me around she decided to let them have it with a series of high pitched wails and cries for her mama and dada. Distraught with her crying my poor parents took her down to the park and took turns walking her up and down where she finally calmed down albeit temporarily. Several failed attempts to get her to sleep later, they finally called us. We rushed home only to find that Nikki had finally cried herself to sleep just minutes before we reached and was curled up miserably in her cot. She didn't sleep well through the night though, and woke up crying quite a few times with a tortured look on her face, refusing to be comforted by either of us. I wore my own tortured look for the next full week and needless to say, that was the beginning and end of any fanciful notions we may have had about being super cool parents cum party animals.
We took to going out in the day since Nikki was absolutely fine being left in the company of her grandparents then and took turns going out in the evenings. Or we planned evenings in child friendly locales so that we could take her along as well and life went on an usual. Until the weekend before last when we found ourselves in the possession of passes for a rock concert. P, the eternal optimist, suggested we try taking Nikki along, after all she was old enough now and our concerted efforts to avoid repeated replays of Rythmic Rhymes From The Animal Kingdom by getting her to listen to our music had ensured that she was developing an ear for rock too. And so we went. And had a blast! The venue was a well spaced out open air amphitheater with sprawling lawns all around interspersed with cobbled pathways and little tinkling fountains making it an eminently child friendly venue. We found ourselves a grassy spot, not too close to the speakers and settled down to enjoy the evening. Only to find that we were being quite outdone by our little headbanger who'd really gotten into the groove and was dancing around shaking her booty and thoroughly enjoying the music. She even got hold of some empty beer cans halfway through and was jumping around with them looking for all purposes like she'd just swigged down the contents, making another couple nearby give us incredulous, shocked looks.
"People nowadays, they just don't pay any attention to their kids!" I heard them mutter as they threw me a disapproving look. Which in a perverse sort of way made me feel like a REALLY cool mom. Because, you know, I'm SO not one.
And then after she'd had her dinner, Nikki obligingly went to sleep right around bedtime and stayed that way, enabling us to stay on till the very end when this amazingly talented band from Shillong played some of the best rock I've heard in a long long time. We were so kicked we actually considered going for the after-party post the show but then decided not to push our luck and went home instead.
The next weekend saw us at another concert, Gary Lawyer live this time round, paying a tribute to Elvis. And guess who turned out to be the biggest rock aficionado of all? Even though it was well past her bedtime by the time the concert ended, the youngest Elvis (and Gary) fan at the venue was enthusiastically clapping and going Woo-Hoo! after every number! She enjoyed the music so much that we dusted off some of our old Elvis CDs the next day and had our very own rock and roll party at home. I guess 'The Wheels on The Bus' are going to have a wait a while for their place in the music system!
Much encouraged with these recent successes, we're now seriously considering venturing out more often in the evenings with Nikki. Outdoorsy venues with great music work beautifully. Nikki as it turns out is quite the party animal and likes nothing better than hearing that we're going 'out in Nikkkkki's car!' as opposed to 'its bedtime!'
The quiet dinners and plays of yore are going to have to wait a while though. Not unless I can convince the parents to babysit again!