Luckily, there's a train that leaves really late at night and gets you in very early in the morning, so the kids spend most of their journey sleeping. I couldn't manage tickets to it this time around, and was terrified at the thought of 6 hours with the two of them in a closed space. It really wasn't as bad as I had made it out to be. A little bit of planning went into packing loads of stickers and colors and coloring books and toys. That really helped. Some time was taken up by the tempting snack trays courtesy Indian Railways. The rest was spent making friends with other kids scattered all over the bogey. Their parents were as happy as we were that the kids found distraction in each other. Vir is getting a lot better at starting conversations with new kids and even grown ups. In fact, he might be going too far. Still lacking the judgement to figure out whether his displays and conversations are welcome or not, he doesn't quite know where to stop. On the way to Dehradun, another mummy of a little kid was subjected to over an hour of poetry recitation and singing of artis by Vir echoed by Tara. She was really good about it and managed to keep her enthusiasm more or less constant. I briefly considered showing the same interest in her kid as a matter of politeness, but my book was so tempting and the opportunity to read it was too good to miss.
On the way back, he befriended two 6-year old girls. After showing off every car and sticker and color he had, he invited them to draw and color with him and they were all quite busy for a bit. That sight is way up there with all sorts of good things, I can tell you. Vir also makes me really proud in these situations because he's so willing to share...one of the little girls was hoarding all her colors and papers and the other one had nothing. As it happened, Vir also had only one sheet and 6 pens because Tara was hoarding the rest. Without another thought, Vir agreed to cut that single sheet into two and counted out 3 pens and handed them over to the little girl. Then, he found two empty seats where they both sat together and made little pictures for us. Tara watched and will eventually learn, I hope! Right now, it seems like a really remote possibility with her passion for hoarding every little possession.
All in all, I see light at the end of the traveling tunnel. As long as they can find some relatively enthusiastic listeners and admirers on trains and planes, we should be pretty good from now on.