When me and Sona were backpacking in India during our six-month honeymoon in India, one of the funnest (it’s a word) places we visited was Diu, in Gujarat. Not because there was anything particularly exciting about it, nor was the food all that unique. It all comes down to the bed-in, which we perfected to an artform, primarily in Diu.
There was a lovely beach across from us, tonnes of seafood, and a bloke who would cook up the most epic Indian-Chinese food in the evenings. It’s one of the only places in the otherwise “dry” state where alcohol was unregulated, so on the weekends there would be groups of Gujarati college students, who came to get plonkered.
There was some interesting Portuguese architecture, but we saw and experienced those things on the last day we were there, so we wouldn’t feel too guilty for staying there for a week, spending entire days indoors in sleepwear, ordering Rogan Josh and whiskey in our room, sometimes twice a day, with short bursts of fresh air with walks on the beach.
While the concept of a bed-in has undergone a major transformation during the three and a bit years Kavya has joined our team, nothing beats lying in bed on a Saturday. It’s half-eight, which is usually when we’re power-walking to Kavya’s school in the morning to drop her off for an exhauting day – she works harder than either of us- 8:30am-6pm. This morning, we’re still in bed.
Sona is catching up on much needed sleep, poor thing got a full on sinus cold on the day of her birthday (we don’t let things like illness stop us from popping down the corner for some epic ice-cream though). I’m watching Kavya, who is looking up at the ceiling and talking to herself, dreading having to get up and get dressed for school. When she sees I’m up, she pretends to be asleep. I do my part to support the gender re-enforcement of the passive princess narrative in her Disney shows:
“Wake up, Princesss!” I say as I violently shove her from side to side. She eventually opens her eyes, and irritatedly reminds me I’m supposed to kiss her.
One of the reasons I love Saturdays is because when she asks the inevitable question she asks every morning, I can give her good news.
“Papa, yes school or no school today?” she says, her eyes large like a Disney princess.
“Not today. It’s Mama’s birthday.”
“Mama’s birthday was yesterday.” Yesterday is her term for anything that happened at any point in the past tense, from a few hours ago to when she was a baby. In this case, technically Sona’ birthday was slightlly under a week ago. Clearly, Kavya doesn’t get how this family works. So I decide this is as good a time as any to parent:
“You’re right, Kavya,” I say. She nods her head. “Go brush your teeth and let’s get ready to go to school.” I clap my hands to emphasize the level of excitement she should be feeling. Her face contorts, her hands reach up and grab my hair towards her. “No,” she says. “It’s Mama’s birthday.” We look over at Sona with love as she sleeps. She flings an arm at us, nearly killing us like two good looking flies in their prime.
Narrowly escaping death, we decide now is a good time to get out of bed. “Do I have to brush my teeth,” she asks, “because it’s Mama’s birthday?
I think this over, and envision what a good father would do in this situation.
“Nah,” I say and she gleefully leaps out of bed. We go downstairs, still in our pajamas, stinky morning breath and all.
We have a quick meeting, in which we decide how to celebrate Mama’s birthday. “Shall we go for a picnic?” I ask. She considers this, but knows this will involve the hell of leaving the house, dressing up, potentially taking the train into the City. These outweigh the positives of slides and swings. “Let’s stay home,” she says after placing a fist on her chin for several seconds and loudly saying, “Hmmm.” This is the unambiguous sign that Kavya is in the process of making a monumental decision on a major issue.
Sona had made some offhand comment about how she was looking forward to October because it would be pumpkin season. So the day before I’d nipped into the cornershop on my way home and picked up a can of pumpkin puree. Sona loves scones, so I thought why not combine the two. Kavya helped with the batter and I couldn’t put the scones in the oven without her holding my elbow so I don’t topple over.
The plan had been to have Sona wake up to the aroma of fresh pumpkin scones wafting through the air. Instead, she woke up to the stupid smoke alarm and an empty bed. She comes stomping down the stairs as me and Kavya are busy swatting the alarm with dish towels and an oven mitt. “Surprise,” I say. “Surprise,” Kavya says. Then we wish her a happyy birthday. Then we go upstairs and have a big brushing our teeth party in the bathrooom. And to simulate some sort of authority without endorsing anarchy, we changed into newly washed pajamas.
We did have plans to go to the City to the bookshop or Union Square for lunch or dinner. But instead, decided to continue the day with a pizza party, where Kavya regaled me with tales about her play date with her friend, Suzanne, “yesterday” as we mixed up the batter. We made homemade marinera sauce and Sona chopped up some veggies, so we decorated the pies with smiley faces.
We paused for reading on the settee and even had dessert at home: cupakes with freshly sliced strawberries (that Kavya sneakily kept pinching) and pumpkin-frosting . Eventually, Kavya watched an episodee of one of her T.V. shows, we told some epic stories in the evening, where we all had to say a line. Kavya would often end the story in the second line with, “And then (insert name of protagonist here) was died,” which lead to a marathon of stories and a lot of dead dragons, giants, princessess, and host of other characters.
In case you are under the impression Sona’s birthday is finished, we’ll be at it all month. Probably longer. Besides, it’s pumpkin season. While we’ll also celebrate just me and Sona while Kavya vegges out with her Nani and Nanoo next week, everything is more fun with Kavya. Traveling and eating are two of the only reasons we leave the house voluntarily. But sometimes, it’s also fun to not put on your pajamas and put your feet up.
Anyone else pick staying indoors over going outside to play?