So, this is what we did last weekend (Saturday and Sunday both!). We gathered up a few essentials: clothes, food, water, a few toys, Sunny’s bicycle and some other basic amenities and headed to our “Weekend Home”. This so-called “Weekend Home” is actually a 200 square meter plot, fenced on all sides and contains nothing much, except for a small single story semi-furnished house in 30 square meters (with two rooms, one kitchen, and one bathroom). Rest of the plot is just dirt and nothing else.
Or so we thought! But, believe it or not, this turned out to be one hell of a weekend for us with an awesome mud festival (which I am hoping we will repeat on a regular basis moving forward). How so? Well, here’s the inception story of “The Weekend Mud Festival”.
To begin with, the only reason we bought this place was because our current apartment is missing one very vital ingredient to our health and general well-being: Direct Sunlight. As you may infer, we could always go outside to the park to enjoy the winter sun, but with a three-year-old who refuses to stay out of trouble even for a second, this option is exhausting and no fun at all (at least for us, the parents!). The tall boundary of the plot is what turned the tide in our favor when we decided to spend some “quality time” there.
But, being eternally cynical, I had very little hope that this vast nothingness would be able to hold our child’s attention for more than an hour. I was prepared to bolt at the slightest outbreak of a temper tantrum. The fact that this “Weekend Home” was barely two kilometers away from our apartment was an added bonus! We could get home in five minutes…much before a full-blown crisis.
However, as shocking as it may seem, I could not be more wrong!
As soon as we entered the complex and closed the iron gates behind us to “secure the package” (read our son), he shrieked with glee, as if he’d discovered some hidden treasure! And there was no turning back from that point on. He delved into the mud with the fervor of a soil scientist. He studied it, shaped it, bathed in it, gauged the wind direction by slipping dry soil through his fingers and so on and so forth. I squirmed for the first couple of minutes thinking of the amount of effort it would take to clean those grimy paws, muddy body, shoes, and clothes……but gave in soon enough because we came here to have fun……and he sure looked delighted beyond words and completely bewitched by the mud!
So, free from Sunny’s attention-seeking (at last!), what did we, the grown-ups, do? Well, we paused……and we watched. You see, just like everybody else living in metros, most of our weekends are spent running…..running after our son, running errands, running to catch up with pending action items from the bygone week and so on. This weekend, we consciously stopped running, albeit briefly.
We had a very leisurely cup of tea sitting in the morning sun of this breezy winter day. We watched our son savoring mother nature’s brown gold. And then we enjoyed our breakfast outdoors. Sunny, who couldn’t wait to get back to his mud-pies, ate his share of breakfast quite hastily (contrary to his regular 45-minute schedule, to my surprise and amusement!). After that, we all went back to enjoying nature in our own ways! I, for one, saw many many birds, long forgotten from my childhood and tried, without success, to remember their names. The flock of birds here at our “Weekend Home” was in sharp contrast to the hoards of pigeons in our apartment complex (and to think that only two kilometers could make such a difference to the local flora and fauna!).
Anyway, what I thought would be an hour long outing at most, turned out to be more than three hours and even then, there was no sign of Sunny ceasing his mud fiesta! It was almost noon when I had to intervene and put a stop to his mud bath with an actual one. Again, to my surprise, cleaning up Sunny and his belongings turned out to be much easier than my fears. After the initial hosing down (on the stone pavement), which happened to be quite fun; giving him a bath was just like any other regular day. So, no sweat there!
Then came lunch time…..as I got busy prepping for lunch, I gave Sunny strict instructions not to get down from the bed and outside again in the mud (Pretty hard for a three-year-old to resist!). To make sure that he’d stay put and to avoid imminent boredom, we resorted to YouTube on my laptop and also gave him his iPad to play games on. But he was too psyched to stay inside. He seemed the least bit interested in his iPad or YouTube or his other toys and kept running outside! Exasperated, we closed the main door to the house and gave him a notepad and a few sketch pens to pass time. The pages ended up getting shredded to bits and the sketch pens were used on walls instead, but who’s complaining? Within ten minutes or so, Sunny could not keep his eyes open any longer. And much before I was done with my cooking, he was snoring soundly on the bed. (Yes, this is the same son who throws tantrums for his iPad and refuses to take naps in the afternoon every single day!). No sweat here, either!
Once lunch was ready (finally!), we, the grownups sat down to eat and to our bewilderment, Sunny was up…….ravenous and ready to eat! We gawked at him for a few seconds before it finally sunk in that our son was capable of feeling the sensation of hunger…for real! By the time lunch was over, I was on cloud nine. There was no running round and round the dining table like other days and forcing food down Sunny’s semi-clamped mouth. No sweat, at all! This was my paradise.
Then came the difficult part….keeping Sunny off the mud! That’s when his bicycle and outdoor toys came in handy. We asked him to ride it on the grounds and play with his football and beach balls. It worked (mostly) and we, the grown-ups basked in the sun while keeping a keen eye on the kid for any non-compliance! The same son, who consistently refuses to hold a pencil in his hands to do his homework, found a stick and started scrawling numbers and outlining shapes in the mud. He discovered shape rocks too….a few triangles here, a couple of rectangles there and even a square! He followed ants around, talked to them (and sometimes bullied them!), built towers with his shape rocks and so on; in short, he kept himself engaged without resorting to his iPad. Freed from Sunny’s whining and the idiot box (read television), we, the grown-ups, did something we don’t do much these days! We actually talked….not about the grocery list or Sunny’s deeds or office work, but about hobbies, passions and things that matter! And we listened to songs! And we planned for our future herb garden (as per my checklist in “The Beginning”) 🙂 ….We felt like two old souls growing older together!
By the time the sun turned orange and began its descent far west, all three of us were invigorated and feeling quite blissful in our very own little piece of heaven. We had a very relaxed evening tea and snacks did some basic cleaning of the house (in which Sunny participated with vigor!). And then washed the mud off Sunny’s bicycle, our car, the patio and the pavement with the water hose, to Sunny’s squeals and extremely animated participation!
It was dark and time for us to be home to our fast paced everyday lives. Going back was easy on Saturday Evening because there was the promise of an equally fun-filled Sunday next morning, at the crack of dawn. But, Sunday Evening was terrible. The weekend was over and we had to get back, reluctantly, to the treadmill of our lives to start sprinting all over again.
Nonetheless, we still have the promise of “The Weekend Mud Festival” for the foreseeable future……and that is something, I just can’t stop smiling about!
PS: In case you are squeamish about letting your child go bonkers in the mud, check out these links:
Still not convinced? Are you thinking: “How does my kid getting dirty make my life easier?”…..Well, here’s how:
- They will be less whiny and completely engrossed in their mud festival for a long, long time….so much so that you can forget all about them and focus on yourself for a change (provided you have proper maximum security fencing around the mud!).
- After mud-play, they will sleep better (This equals more free time for you!)
- They will be hungrier and eat better and faster (This is true for those moms whose children are extremely picky in their eating habits…again faster eating means some more free time for you!)
- They will forget all about Cartoons, Video Games, and Toys (One less thing to worry about for the moms like me who can almost see their children wearing thick glasses by First Grade!)
- Soft wet mud by definition is child proof (one less thing to worry about regarding child-safety!)
- Mud and mud creatures are great buddies…your child will stop seeking you constantly to be his play pal once he is introduced to them!
- You will stop spending money on play-doh and other such crazy “apartment-centric” inventions!
Still not convinced? Well, I give up… I did try hard enough…didn’t I?
To The Skeptics…….go ahead and find your own piece of heaven!
To The Believers…..come and join us this Saturday and Sunday for “The Weekend Mud Festival” @ “The Weekend Home”.