N Day and V Day
Today I would like to write something more personal….Somehow, writing about being stressed took me back to several years ago.
If you ask me when is it that I felt most stressed in the so called balancing of work and home, I dont have to think. The first slot there goes to the times when I had to rush to office leaving my sick children at home. The clingy and cranky child who was down with fever and cough or whatever, but, wanting me to stay at home with him/her.
The number 2 slot goes to the vacation times. Holidays when children get up late and they want you to be there to play a game or two, to tell stories, to lounge around with them. After all these years, even now when I think of those days, those feelings come back for me!
But then, I remember those special days. I planned this for my daughter N, the week before I was to resume going for work after my son was born. N was already feeling that I was spending too much time with her baby brother and then this idea came. And thank God, for this idea!! I called her aside and told her we will have N day - a day, when, from morning to evening, she will decide what both of us will do. She was 6 years 2 months then. She couldn’t believe her eyes - N day !! What should I say - she asked. When I explained it would be completely her choice - she said, like what ? I gave her one or two examples - I told her she can decide not to drink milk in the morning, to start with. And she can decide what both of us will have for breakfast. Once these examples were discussed, she got it!! And wasn’t it fun!!
We went to a pizza place for lunch(until then she had eaten pizza only at birthday parties)! Later, we went to the Landmark store and spent lot of time going thru the book shelves. She took out so many books, made me browse thru them and she enjoyed that whole process so much.Every now and then, she would check with me if it was time to go. I told her she should decide when she is done with the books.. I still remember the wonder in her eyes and the smile that filled her face.
I remember a friend strongly defending her stand saying every day is her son's day as he decides what and when he wants to do something. No, this is different for the following reasons.
If every day a child gets to do only what he likes to do, would it be a healthy environment for the child ? In this design of N/V days, there are 2 important elements.
One, he/she schedules the entire day and since this happens once a year, there is a lot of anticipation around this. I remember them asking me many months ahead - this time, for V day, how about we do this ??
Secondly, you are committing your availability and your alignment to their choices, completely. And therein lies the beauty - you are not in a hurry to go to the next task, you are not checking your phone or asking them to keep quiet.
Every year we did this and we had amazing experiences. Almost always we planned this on one of the days during the summer vacation. Some of the experiences included eating raw/ripe mangoes for breakfast, eating only icecream for lunch, travelling by public bus and almost always, browsing at book shops. Once V was old enough to understand this, I did V day with him too. Sometimes they said let us combine N and V day and they together charted out the whole plan. Did we do it every year ? No - there are years when we did not end up doing it. But it was a big thing in my agenda and I would ask them what do we do for N day or V day this time. Sometimes they said its OK, let us not do it this time - this happened when they got much older. I am sure, they will have memories around these days forever. And me, I felt so much more better after these N & V days in the vacation. It was as if the vacations could be sailed thru if there was a N day and V day planned somewhere in there…
Do we have them now ? Yes, yes, of course… I somehow think we will continue to have this forever..
I invite you to try this out..if you are already doing something similar, I am eager to hear the same.