The woes of a travelling mom

Being the eldest in a family has its pros and cons but nothing prepared me for the inexperienced advice I was to have shoved down my throat when I had my children, particularly my firstborn. It’s funny how people who don’t have kids (i.e my younger siblings) think they know all about how to deal with children, and are convinced that they will be the perfect parents when the time comes.  What exactly is this assumption based on?  The few hours a WEEK  spent coochy cooing to two unspeakable brats who know that the best way to get goodies out of their doting aunt and uncle is to behave with some semblance of sanity? And so, on the basis of their temporary good behaviour, the said uncle and aunt become convinced that what THEY are doing really works and mum doesn’t know how to deal with her own kids at all.  HA!  What fun it is when that bubble bursts.

Of course it won’t burst, keep blowing now.

Since I had my two boys,  I learnt that travelling with the two little rascals can drive me and those around me stark raving mad.  From crying non-stop from takeoff to landing time, needing to pee at least a dozen times, tottering about like drunks in the aisles chasing each other, yelling at the air hostesses  “This is MY plane!” they effectively ensured that my travelling days were over and done with.  So now if I need to travel anywhere I prefer to go in my own car, where I can howl at them without any discomfiture and  stop anytime they need to pee, buy snacks or just stretch their legs.

But my siblings refused to understand this point.  A thousand times I was accused of making all this up, of being “paranoid,” a word that I’ve heard so much it makes me want to scratch my skin right off!

Until a trip to Lahore changed all that. We were going to attend a wedding and in the excitement of it all my parents decided to go early and join in the festivities. I decided to go at a later date and my sister agreed to accompany me.  Despite having a foolproof plan which involved driving down in my own car to ensure that no hiccups would occur with the children, no-one had much faith in my ability to make it in one piece to Lahore. So we ended up taking the local coach. Fine, I thought grimly, time for them to learn.

We set off.  My boys decided that their mum was old hat and their aunt was the person they both wanted to sit with.  Much flattered, their hapless aunt agreed although there was only one seat next to her.  Never mind, two good little boys would sit together wouldn’t they? she said, the boys’ good behaviour adding weight to her confident tone. Of course they would, they assured her.

Misbehave? What a preposterous notion madam!

I lounged luxuriously on my seat and an hour later looked over to my sister only to see her neatly tied hair now a thing of the past, clothes rumpled, with a desperate and exasperated expression on her face trying to settle (yet another) fight over who got to sit next to the window.  The older one lashed out catching his brother neatly on the shoulder, causing him to simply ERUPT into screams of indescribable agony as he clambered frantically into his aunt’s lap, demanding that “bhai” be punished.

Twenty minutes later, friends again, they both wanted to come to mama.  What they really wanted was to be allowed into the aisle between the seats which promptly became a pathway for running, hysterical giggling and excited shrieking.  People turned to look at us disapprovingly, to be met by my cold, unmoved glare and my sister’s apologetic, harassed face.  You see, I’m pretty much hardened to this sort of behaviour. I don’t like it of course but I know that the torture doesn’t end till the journey does.   And they’re little kids for crying out loud.  What does one expect them to do, sit cross-legged poring over the Encyclopaedia Britannica for the entire journey?

The coach stopped halfway through the journey and the boys fell over each other in their eagerness to get out.  Both needed to pee and eat but took so long that by the time we got back the bus driver was honking away as though his life depended on it and my harassed sister was chewing her nails to the quick.

And so it went on.  By the time we were neared Lahore my sister was slumped in exhaustion in her seat, the boys were standing on theirs, noses pressed to the window, oblivious to the jolting, swaying bus, and I…well, I was feeling pretty triumphant really at having proved my point.  As we rolled into the stop at Lahore, I thought to myself that it would soon be over and I could almost hear my sister breathing a prayer of thanks when the unthinkable happened.  My older son, having spotted some cows in the distance, turned to me excitedly and announced as loudly as he could, “Mama, when people are babies they drink milk from their mommy’s udders, don’t they?”

What did you just say?

Frozen silence.   As I debated between giving him my fiercest glare or dissolving into gales of laughter, my sister turned, almost in slow motion, to look at me.  Her expression was one of stupefied horror, such as the one, I’m sure, on the face of the proverbial camel as the last straw slowly broke his back. There was nothing that either one of us could but giggle uncontrollably.

Now my boys are two very cute, loud, opinionated, boisterous young men.

But since that statement my family hasn’t asked me to travel anywhere with them, unless of course I take the children in my own car. But even then the kids either have to be separated – one with the grandparents, one with us. They’re less lethal that way.

Rumina Iftikhar is a working mom who waits patiently for her siblings to learn the true meaning of parenthood.

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Categories: The World I Know

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12 Comments on “The woes of a travelling mom”

  1. maliha kashif
    August 25, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    i love this and can totally and completely relate to this. bless all moms who go thru this. love u rumi, zabardast writing yaar.

  2. Saadia
    August 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Soooo funny. I loved the ending 🙂
    But, little boys do not need to be running up and down the aisles, other than the fact that its disturbing to the other passengers, its also dangerous. I’m also a mom with young boys and there are options other than the encyclopedia.

  3. Samana
    July 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Oh Rumina,do I feel for you..being a mum of 2 myself..ok ok the 2 are much older now 7 and a half and 10 and a half…believe me it gets better with age! :)..A great read!

  4. Kiren
    July 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    This had me in fits – poor Aliya! Great great article Rum! Keep writing.

  5. salmeen
    July 9, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    udderly funny../ interesting..keep it up babes..:-)

  6. Ayeshah
    July 9, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    hahaha… i loved the cow bit!! 😉

  7. July 8, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Hahaha….funny, They remind me of their father and uncle. LOL

  8. amina alavi
    July 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    hahaha…hilarious! Hoping to read more articles written by you.

  9. Faraz
    July 8, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Ah……..ending was totally…..100% Excellent!

  10. Alliya
    July 8, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    😀 funny

  11. Bilal
    July 8, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    That is scary!:P I hope I have girls. Nice article.

  12. Najaf
    July 8, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    love it..great article Rumina 🙂

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