Tan Keng Yao

Couple staycation sans the kid

Couples at a park in Bangkok on Feb 11, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Couples at a park in Bangkok on Feb 11, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Life for me and my husband can get just that wee bit hard with a rambunctious five-year-old around, in that we are hard-pressed to find the time or space to catch up with each other on most days.

This is for several reasons. One is that our son can't quite stop talking. Often, when we are trying to have a conversation, he'll interject with what are burning questions to him, such as, "Why do cars have seat belts but motorcycles don't?"

His need to ask becomes even more pressing if we are, say, taking a stroll and he sees something he has to point out before we pass it.

We haven't quite got the heart to stop him because we understand that at his age, many things are still new to him and he is plain excited. And it doesn't feel quite right to shush him when he asks questions.

Also, the boy has appointed himself the morality police in the house. If he sees my husband and I even trying to hold hands, he'll disengage our hands by slipping his in between ours. A married couple holding hands? Outrageous. Nope, not allowed.

Add to that bedtime battles in which the boy resorts to all sorts of diversionary tactics such as asking for a drink, another drink, a kiss, a hug, another drink and "Mummy! Got monsters! I scared!" - and it means we are often left too exhausted even after he goes to sleep to really catch up with each other.

One day, after a particularly trying time, with the boy's voice still ringing in my ears, I decided that my husband and I needed to run away from home.

"Let's take an adults-only staycation. We'll go to a nice hotel and get some quiet!" I proposed.

My husband, however, hemmed and hawed until I snapped: "Don't you believe in couple time?"

At that point, I thought I would have to force him to have alone time with me by taking a gun to his head or something.

But, as it turned out, his concerns were pragmatic rather than related to the fear of having to spend a whole day alone with me.

He pointed out that in our tired state, we are unlikely to stay awake long enough to enjoy the hotel's room and facilities.

Fair enough. Room rates these days do make sleep an expensive commodity.

So we settled for an adults-only staycation at home instead, with the boy going over to my parents' place. Couple time is couple time, no matter where.

We wanted peace and space to talk, but it nonetheless tore my heart up a bit to pack my son's overnight bag. This would be one of the rare times we would be spending the night apart and I worried that he would get clingy when we dropped him off and he would cry for me in the middle of the night.

My son, however, was excited when we told him he would be spending a night at his grandparents'. A sleepover! At a new place! Without the parents to boot! Oh joy! When we set him down at my parents' house, he ran right in without looking back. No separation anxiety there then (except mine).

My husband and I then headed out to a nice eatery for dinner. The unfamiliar silence in the car felt a bit awkward in the beginning; we could actually hear our own voices.

But after we adjusted to the new group dynamics, we had a rather nice dinner. And then we went home, dashed into bed and... went to sleep.

Ah, the sweet balm of sleep.

The next morning, when we woke up feeling well rested, we could hear birds chirping from outside the window, while sunlight filtered gently into our room. If there is a heaven, this comes quite close.

Over a lazy brunch, we talked. Not only about the things we never got to tell each other over the past weeks but also about random, off-tangent things that are the stuff of satisfying conversations.

Sans kid, we rediscovered the people we were pre-parenthood and learnt how to see each other as partners and friends again rather than just co-parents.

When we picked up the boy, he was all smiles and showed no signs of being traumatised by being dumped by his parents. He had fun, he said, chattering on about how his Ah Ma had taken him to the Chinese New Year bazaar in Chinatown.

So, in all, everyone had a good time. My husband and I got the chance to regroup, my parents got to spend time with their grandchild, our son thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of being away from home and no one was harmed in the making of our alone-time.

It was so good, we will be doing it again soon and, hopefully, without me having to threaten anyone with a gun.

kengyao@sph.com.sg