That we have got an explorer in our home we learned very early in parenthood. The first exploration by Princess was in Digha in West Bengal (please don’t forward this post to Ms. Banherjee, as I may be grilled for not using the new name of old state, also please don’t like this post on Facebook, else some over worked cop tired of capturing terrorists, scamee netas and their brawny betas, may knock on your door).
As mentioned Princess went on her first major exploration trip around 2 years of age, when she has barely started speaking and walked with a gait. We were in a hotel in Digha in West Bengal (Oops I did it again!) and I was trying to take some pictures of flowers in the garden Missus was chatting with receptionist. Princess was admiring the fishes in the aquarium in the lobby. The total physical distance between me, Missus and Princess was less than 5 meters and the world was perfect or so I thought.
I turned around to call both of them to pose with flowers, only to find that the princess was missing in action. A massive hunting party started searching in every nook and corner of hotel, and after great difficulty we found her in a room on first floor which she has found open and sneaked in thinking this is our room. What we could understand was that she was testing her newly acquired skill of climbing stairs.
Her tendency to explore the surroundings puts us into various situations, she had a knack for sneaking away in a split second and when you are in a mall with tens of shops with a labyrinth of aisles it only compounds the problem. Every now and then she will vanish in a mall and to her this all remains a game. No amount of counseling adulterated with thinly veiled threats to stop her daily dose of aimless animation yielded any result and her solo jaunts in the mall continued each time giving me and Sasha a panic attack. We were never able to understand how she can vanish in less than a second. We debated about getting a leash for her having seen some moms using them in US, but unanimously decided against them. (Yashoda at times kept Krishna on a leash)
I came with a trick or so I thought to make her realize how wrong it is to vanish without informing parents. One day in a mall while Sasha was busy shopping and I was on sentry duty, I let Princess to be ahead of me in her elements. As usual she soon forgot that she has parents with her. She started going from one aisle to another, toy corner, to dresses for little girls, then she checked some sandals, moving to kitchen section and so on. All this while she did not showed any signs of missing her parents even once. One of the mall attendants approached her and quizzed where her parents are. She confidently replied they are shopping and they will find me when done.
This answered my question why she is never bothered about being lost, in her childlike innocence (actually she is a child), she never understood the danger of getting lost and had full faith that the parents will find her. Now I was very worried as this means she could easily be lured by a stranger that your parents are calling her and she may walk with him. So I waited for some more time at a safe distance where I could keep an eye on her. I guess after some time she got hungry and now looked a little puzzled where the grownups are? She started looking in every direction and suddenly I could see panic on her face (she was 4 or 5 at that time).
After a few moments of panic she composed herself and walked up to an attendant at the store and started talking. I could not hear what she was saying as there was some announcement on the PA system. Next thing I noticed she took out my card from her pocket that had mine and Sasha’s number written on it. The attendant took her to the small cafeteria in the store and gave her some water to drink. Soon a few of other girls working in store collected around her, and Princess was again in her normal chatty self.
The PA system started announcing Mr. Prasad and Mrs. Prasad please come to the cafeteria as your daughter is waiting for you here. I like the UPA government continued to wait to take a decision and just waited to see what next. Suddenly I could see Sasha dashing towards the kid with phone to her ear trying to reach me as my phone started ringing. There was a mother daughter moment lots of hugs and kisses, at this moment I decided come forward. Even before I could say anything the kiddo started her lecture on good parenting.
“Papa where were you? You left me alone in the mall? What if somebody takes me in a bag? Where will you get another baby? You should stay close to me I have been looking for you everywhere, since you were missing I had to get announcement done for you.” I could barely say anything and was looking at my daughter who has just repeated the lecture I gave her a week ago.
At this moment one of the sales girl recognized me as the guy who has been following the kiddo for some time, and wanted to know why I did not came forward on seeing her getting lost. I meekly tried to explain the lesson I was trying to instill in the kiddo but was pooh poohed by the staff. Sasha was also furious and wanted to leave immediately. The entire lecture that I had to listen in the car on way back home I have been warned not to repeat here (damn censors!).
Till this day Sasha refuses to go to that mall for the fear of being recognized. Well something good came out of the same; we must have saved thousands by now by not visiting it. As for the mall exploration of the kid they stopped once we made her in charge of the shopping trolley. She loves to stay near it and arrange the loot neatly in the trolley arranging and rearranging the stuff in it. This is one game she still is not bored of and it costs nothing.
Sasha and Prasad Np are proud parents of 2 girls whom they fondly call Princess (11 yrs in Feb 13) and Pinkette (4 yrs next month). He wears many hats after taking a break from being corner office critter for a long time. He is now entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, traveler and an investor in startups with unique concepts. He blogs at Desi Traveler, and can be reached at Facebook and Twitter.