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About Me

I am an independent writer and multi-award winning blogger who writes on parenting, humour, fiction and general lifestyle topics. - Sid Balachandran

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Category: Daddy Journals

Daddy-Tagged

Daddy-Tagged

There seems to be some mysterious power at work here.

The more I tell myself that I shouldn’t do too many ‘tag and you’re it’ type of posts, the more they seem to find their way to me. Maybe I have a beacon of sorts that attracts tags. Let me clarify – I have absolutely no issues with ‘tag’ posts. In fact, I enjoy reading more about other bloggers and getting these little snippets of personal information that help reveal interesting details about other bloggers. But the challenge is this – as I’ve said before, I feel that people may not want to read about me or things like I like and dislike. Yes, I’m weird. Hence why I don’t take up many tag challenges.

So, once again, I’m making another exception. This time, it’s in response to a‘Daddy Tag’ that the lovely Suchitra, who blogs at ThePhdMama sent my way. She (and a few others) felt it would be an ideal fit for the Daddy Journals section of the blog, and after going through the questions, I agree. Also, I’ve been sort of stuck in a ‘non-blogging’ rut and figured, this may help me get out of it.

Suchitra – if you’re reading this, apologies for the delay in picking this tag up. I’ve just had a very rough September.

Though I’m not tagging anyone to take this forward, I would sure love to read some answers. Maybe some of the blogging mothers can get the answers from their partners and spouses and put it up on their blog. Just a thought. So here goes:

 


 

 

Are you a Stay at Home Daddy or a Working Daddy?

Stay at home dad. Well, started as a SAHD. Now I’m more of a Work from home daddy, provided my 4yo’s schedules and mood swings let me work on something.

 

Would you have it any other way?

During the initial period, I may have second guessed my decision to be one. The way that sometimes society and everyone else around you behaves can sometimes have an effect on you – positive or negative. But the more I’ve donned the hat of a Stay at home parent, the more I’m enjoying it. I’ve got time to be with my son, I pay more attention to my wife since I usually crave adult conversation after a whole day of toddler talk and generally I’m happy with what I’m doing presently. So no, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except maybe having some undisturbed me-time now and then.

 

Do you co-change dirty nappies? Even the very smelly ones?

I don’t have to now, but I have. In fact, I’ve even had him go ‘the unspeakable’ on me plenty of times. So all that malarkey you hear about men not knowing to change nappies and shy away and all that – I think things have changed a lot since then.

 

A little fairy gives you the possibility of breastfeeding? Are you going for it or do you run away?

Can i have a superpower instead? Well, technically this could be a sort of superpower, I suppose.

Also, if I hadn’t started working out over the past month or so, I was this close to developing the masculine version of breasts – *shudders at the thought*.

I suppose, I’ll do it. Why should women have all the fun? *Gulp*

 

What is the one must-have item for a daddy?

‘Unagi’  and Ninja skills.

If you want to defend yourself from stealth attacks and stray pieces of Lego blocks and Hotwheel cars that have been planted at strategic locations to be ‘discovered’.

Jokes aside, I’d say two things – a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and some sort of tablet or large screen phone with an internet connection. Oh, and some me-time to finally be able to use those. 

 

How many kids do you plan on having?

What? More kids? 😛

I think we’re good with one. Would have loved one more, especially since I’m a single-child. Single kids have their benefits – but having a sibling or two rocks too. Sadly, life sometimes has other plans.

 

Lads’ nights? How often do you have them?

Almost never now. When I do get to do a late night or party, it’s usually with some of my best friends – and they’re all women. So, not technically lads’ nights.  But even they are very rare. I do miss them from the time I used to have them. Also since I started blogging, writing and becoming a Stay-at-home parent, I find myself like a lost Krishna amongst a kingdom of Gopis. 😀

 

Your child’s favourite achievement?

I love the fact that he’s now able to read. When I say read, I mean me reading a book to him, while he browses the pictures of the story  book and then repeats whatever I say to him. But yes, at least he’s interested. Also at par is that fact that he’s starting to be a little independent and wants to do certain things on his own. While at times, it gives me a handy little preview of how the teenage years are probably going to be, it still delights me.

 

What is your best memory with your kid(s)?

Would it be a cliché if I said he and I make new wonderful memories every day? Well, most days.But my best memory would probably be these few years that I’ve managed to spend with him. Yes, I crib a lot  at times about not having some time for myself and how he pushes all the wrong buttons and makes me yell and scream. But the fact that I’m here for his formative years and have the opportunity to play a role in his upbringing – well, that’s pretty priceless and makes for lots of memories.

 
But if I had to pick a memory, I’d say our family visit to Goa last year. I can’t remember the last time we cut off from technology and did so many things together as a family. 

 

Name one thing you miss since being a daddy?

Only one? I can name a few. Sleep for one. Now, I have to defend my face and other sensitive parts because my 4yo has ninja skills that he primarily uses on my when I’m asleep. The other thing I miss is couple time with my wife and impromptu getaways. Once you’re parents, everything requires a lot of planning and then contingency for when the plans don’t work out. So yes, I miss that time with my wife where we could just laze around a whole weekend or just go for a movie without thinking too much about what the kid would do.

 

Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now? And we mean YOU DADDY, not the mummy!

Have you heard of ‘Couvade Syndrome’? It’s basically called sympathetic pregnancy which a condition in which a partner experiences some of the same symptoms and behaviour of an expectant mother. Most of the symptoms are disturbed sleep patterns, altered hormone levels and the mother of it all – minor weight gain.

 

If there was some sort of award – like an Oscar for ‘Best Actor – Couvade Syndrome’ – I would no doubt get that one. Because I think I lived and breathed that role, and a part of my mind and body forgot that the ‘pregnancy movie’ is now over and I need to stop gaining weight. 

So yes, steadily gaining weight. 

 

Dream holiday with your kids?

Oooh..a long holiday that involves a lot of nature – some trekking, some beach activities, some wildlife trails, and a whole lot of us time, with no pressure to try to fit in a large number of activities within a limited time frame. 

 

Dream holiday without your kids or even without the other half? (You’re allowed to dream)

Am I allowed to ‘take’ someone else for company? Like a hot female celebrity? Ooooh, Scarlett Johansson. 😛

A solo trip through Italy. Driving down those gorgeous coastal highways. Visiting Positano. So many.

I wouldn’t mind this being a couple holiday. The other place being a trip to Santorini. Oh…so many plans. So little money. And well, time.

 

How has your life changed since having kids?

On the positive side, I think I have some sort of a routine now. Mainly because, a lot of the  things I do now revolve around our son and takes his interests and dislikes into consideration. And yes, realising that you are suddenly responsible for another person can be a huge wake-up call.

 

On the other side, we travel a lot less, which I’m not a big plan of. I used to be a late night person – now I HAVE to be a morning person, which isn’t great. And some days, even getting to drink a cup of coffee in the morning undisturbed is nothing short of a miracle. 

 

Finish the sentence “It makes my heart melt when…”

…..when he smiles at me or says ‘Papa, let’s do something’ or gives me wet sloppy kisses and hugs with those tiny arms

 

Favourite beers brands and football team?

I don’t enjoy beer. So favourite drink – these days, Old Monk and coke. Cocktail – Long Island Iced tea.

But there are times where nothing but a good class of coffee will suffice.

I have some favourite sports, but I wouldn’t want to bore you with them.

 

Huggies or Pampers?

Neither. Now 🙂 Well, mostly no – we do have *accidents*

 

Have you always wanted kids?

Yes. Always have. Not sure why, but I don’t think I’ve ever imagined a life without kids. But that’s not to say that I was desperate for kids either. Somewhere in the middle.

 

Best part of being a dad?

Being able to relive some parts of my childhood with my little one and the fact that you have the opportunity to both be a good friend, as well as a responsible parent to your kid. 

Once again, thank you Suchitra for the tag and Shailaja & Jaibala for the push to take up the tag.

 



 

Note: I hope that this little ‘stand-in’ post will help break that writing block of mine while giving you some more details about the person behind Daddy Journals 🙂 So do show some love.

Of Girls, Boys, Dolls and Trucks

Of Girls, Boys, Dolls and Trucks

I don’t think it is in my nature to be confrontational. [Do I hear a snigger?]

 

Okay, let me rephrase. Unless it is with my parents or people who I know very well, I don’t usually pick fights or arguments; even if my opinion about certain things may differ from theirs. Many people call it ‘sitting on the fence’. I don’t honestly care what it’s called, as long as I don’t have to confront anyone about things or get into a conflict. Which is where sarcasm usually helps. And like they say, everybody doesn’t get sarcasm.  So, for me to get involved in something that doesn’t concern me or my loved one’s wellbeing, isn’t really my cup of tea. But the truth is that now and then, I do snap. Although, it’s usually in the comfort of my home or through this space on my blog, I do tend to react. And sometimes, on the rarest of occasions, I react in the moment. Like at the playground, a few weeks ago.

 

The regular readers of this section of the blog may be familiar with my reluctance to go to the playground with my son. While it is often a thoroughly enjoyable experience for my son, it is at times, a very traumatic experience for me. It rarely ever goes as planned, and I end up taking a lot of bruising – physically, emotionally and sometimes even to my ego. But sometimes, I have to. The reason? I call her Karma – and she’s a …well…you know the phrase.

 

Anyway, on this particular ‘playground adventure trip’, I came across a parent having a heated discussion with a bunch of kids. Well, it masqueraded as a discussion, but was more of a ‘telling-off’ session. The person was talking to two young boys (perhaps between 5-8 years old) and almost berating them for something. Naturally curious, I leaned in to find out why while pretending to fiddle with my phone. What I heard, both shocked and amused me.

 

The two little boys had been playing with a group of girls. Initially, I thought it was the ‘playing with girls’ thing that had gotten them scolded. But, soon it was evident that the reason was something else. In fact, the parent seemed to be telling them off for having played with the toys that the girls had brought – dolls and a kitchen tea set.  From what I gathered, they were all role-playing together and having a ‘high-tea’ party. Which I suppose is a ‘fancier’ version of the game that I’ve played as a child – coincidentally titled ‘House’.

 

So, what’s the problem I hear you ask? Exactly. That’s what was going through my mind as well. I’m sure this ‘parent’ too had played ‘house’ with cousins, friends and the rest of the gang. While I was pondering over this, I heard the remaining part of the conversation. Apparently, this particular parent was bugged because the boys had continued to play ‘house’ with each other, when the girls disappeared. In fact, I heard them say to the kids : ‘Go and ride your bikes. Or bring down your trucks and cars. That’s what boys play with. Not with kitchen sets and dolls’.

 

And at that moment, I reacted. I chuckled. Not one of those dismissive, almost-quiet ones. But a guffaw of sorts, which soon turned into a snorting sound. In fact, I kept laughing for a few seconds until this particular parent turned around and saw me giggling away. As their eyes met mine, I stopped laughing and stood up. Before the parent could react, I pointed towards another end of the playground, where two girls were racing remote-controlled monster trucks with a bunch of boys. I mustered all the courage I could gather and look the parent straight in the eye and said:

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose”]Boys playing with dolls is as normal as girls playing with trucks. Stop #stereotyping! [/tweetthis]

 

Now, if this was a scene from a movie, THIS would be the point where I walked in slow motion, holding my son’s hand while a kick-ass theme song played in the background. At least, I like to picture it that way. 😛 But it isn’t. What really happened was that I held on tightly to my son’s hand and walked away, pink sand pail and multicoloured platic animals in tow, completely conscious of the fact that the parent was giving me a stare that threatened to curse me back to whatever land I had come from. I’m sure if they hadn’t been shocked by the fact that some strange man gave them a mini-lesson on gender parity, they would have probably asked me to sod off and poke my chubby nose in someone else’s business.

 

Of course, if they’d known that I’m a Stay-at-home-Dad, they would have probably shook their heads, shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘See! This is what happens when boys play with dolls’. Agreed that I’m assuming this, but based on the general reactions that I often get when I introduce myself as a SAHD, nothing really surprises me about what people are capable of.

 

The other day, my son insisted on getting a play kitchen set. He said he wants to cook like those ‘uncles’ on TV. (For the uninitiated, he was referring to Masterchef Australia.) We went to a shop nearby to buy it, and the salesman tried his hardest to distract him from buying the set and entice him with a remote-controlled helicopter. A stare from me put him back in his place. But that’s the thing – we shouldn’t have to get into arguments for things like these in the first place.

 

Pink is for girls. Blue is for boys. Women can’t be the primary wage earner in a family. Men can’t do household work. A working mother is evil for choosing career over her kids. A stay-at-home father is stigma to society. A single-parent isn’t enough. A divorced woman is a shame to the family. But a woman must want to have kids. The list just goes on and on. The ugly truth remains that we are still miles away from breaking these silly stereotypes and unwritten rules that our minds seem to be stuck on. 

 

[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]It will do all of us some good to realise that the quest for #genderequality always begins at home. #Parenting [/tweetthis]
Why don’t you listen to me?

Why don’t you listen to me?

It’s a question that I’ve pondered over for days, weeks and months at a stretch. A question, that has given me sleepless nights, probably caused my BP to shoot through the roof many times and at times, turn me into a less-cute-r (Yeah! I said it!), angrier version of me that nobody likes. Not even me.

 

“Why don’t you listen to me?”

 

Research (and by that I mean a large amount of parenting blogs and other confusing sources of information including Google!) says that most parents go through such phases with their kids. Especially during these toddler-turning-into-young-kids-with-the-personalities-of-a-teen ages. So in short, the terrible Two’s lead to the terrorist Three’s which in turn leads to the Fearless Four’s.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my son. In fact, there are days when I love him so much that I want to crush him into a little doll. (Okay, Sid! Stay cool!). And then there are the days where he pushes my button. No, actually strike that. He takes the invisible remote control to the ‘anger-inducing’ part of my brain and then dances on the said remote. And worst of all, when he’s in one of those moods, no amount of anger or love can stop him.

Most days, it ends with me being an emotional wreck, screaming the question at him : “Why don’t you listen to me?”. And he just stands there, calmly smiling. As if he’s just won the First prize in an elocution contest.

Well, today – and no, apparently, it’s no coincidence that it’s on Father’s day – my son (with some help with my lovely wife, Janaki) finally tells me ‘Why I don’t listen to you!’.

So, head on over to the talented Jaibala Rao’s blog and read what he has to say. Oh! And he’s totally holding her blog ransom for my good behavior.

Kids! I tell you!


 

Note:  The truth to this post would be that I had absolutely NO idea what my wife was upto, until I had read this lovely post from her, on behalf of Rishi – our son. She had been extremely secretive the past few days and kept telling me, ‘I’m going to embarrass you for Father’s Day. Yes, I’m going a bit red around my ears – but it’s not from embarrassment; it’s just from the thoughtfulness behind this lovely gesture. To say that I’m overwhelmed, will be an understatement. 

Thank you, Janaki ! And of course, thank you, Rishi – the one whose tales inadvertently catapulted me to whatever fame I enjoy presently.

And finally, thank you, Jaibala. My wife must trust you implicitly to ‘plant’ this dedication on your lovely blog. You’re a true friend.

*Now, all of you, turn around while I wipe my tears of happiness*

PPS:Hadn't planned on a post for 'Father's Day'. In case you were wondering :)
On Motherhood and Parenting

On Motherhood and Parenting

A couple of weeks ago, as I was penning down a parenting article for a magazine, a strange thought struck me.

 

When it comes to making a transition into parenting, Motherhood is not equal to Fatherhood.

 

In fact, motherhood is several tiers above fatherhood. But perhaps, that is one of the causes for many of the challenges that ‘mothers’ face in our society today.  This being ‘put on a pedestal whether you want it or not’ comes at a price.

 

Confused? Let’s look at this : Isn’t it strange how a woman’s identity suddenly changes as soon as they become an expectant mother? Yes, impending fatherhood changes your identity too, but only marginally so. Plus it is relatively ‘less exciting for society’ who seems to relate a woman’s identity with her ability to bear and raise a child (or children).

 

Take the next stage of this ‘pregnancy journey’ – up until the point where the baby can no longer remain a quivering secret inside the woman’s body, expectant mothers are treated just as how they would have been, prior to conceiving. However, once that skin across the stomach starts to higher and the tummy starts to expand, the stomach itself has a new identity. Suddenly there are strangers who want to reach out and pat the expanding stomach. Why? Do they expect it to be some sort of good-luck charm that could change their fortunes. The expectant mother continues to be given some attention because hey, the stomach is still hers.

 

And then of course, with the baby comes brand new identity – that of a mother. But most of the attention now goes to the warm, cuddly, fuzzy-haired infant who now holds the key to your identity closet. From being a woman who has carved a niche for herself in the professional world or having a number of degrees, you are now known as ‘the infant’s mother’. Suddenly, you are now this virtual ‘frame’ that holds the ‘picture’ that is your child.

 

Yes, a lot of you may say that it’s a biological process. And while I will award you 5 points for that ‘Life-Process’ reference from your Grade 8 biology text-book, here’s why I say motherhood is not equal to fatherhood. Despite all this, you wouldn’t hear a mother complaining about playing second fiddle to an adorable little munchkin.

 

As a man (and a father), I can almost certainly assure you – if a man’s identity was in question, adorable or not, the baby would have witnessed a tantrum from a fully grown adult male. So yes, mothers and women rock.

 

PS: The above example can also be used in the context of ‘marriage’, where a woman’s identity changes as soon as they’re married. For some inexplicable and bizarre customer, women are ‘expected to sacrifice’ their freedom, names and what nots. More on that discussion in a later post. 

 


 

The other day, while in conversation with a 30-something happily married woman friend who had no immediate desire to have kids (yes, they exist. Perhaps, you’ve heard of the this  thing called ‘choice’), we briefly touched on the topic of why she was apprehensive about having kids. And then she suddenly asked me ‘How it felt to be a parent?’. Now, if you’ve been a relatively frequent reader of this blog, you will know that I will never every quote parenting as being ‘full of rainbows and sunshine’. In fact, I try to focus on ‘real parenting’ – yes, the things that are difficult to sell. In fact, I’ve already written a post where I’ve tried to explain how it feels to be a father. Think of this post as Part Two.

 

I will not deny this. Being a parent is perhaps one of the better things that has happened to me.  While it’s not all fun and games, personally it is one of the most deeply satisfying personal experiences that I’ve had. Of course, there are times when I question the sanity of our decision to have kids, but yes, very often the innocence in his smile and the twinkle in his eyes are enough to make me realise that it’s a futile exercise to try to even imagine a life without him.

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]As a parent I’ll say this: It is entirely possible to have a fulfilling life without having kids[/tweetthis]

 

But once you have them, it’s a whole new experience unlike no other.

 

Most of the diaper, baby-wipes and kid-stuff commercials have already portrayed parenting as this ‘cuddly, cute lifestyle’. And that’s what the issue is. Those instances are far and few. In fact, the rest of the time, parenting is a constant battle between :

[stextbox id=”info”]
  • wanting the best for your kids yet understanding that it is imperative for them to fail in order to succeed

 

  • wanting them to be liked and respected by all, but also realising that there will be people that they absolutely do not get along with

 

  • wanting to step up for them when they’re bullied, v/s  learning to let them fight their own battles.

 

  • wanting them to find someone they love, while also preparing them to deal with the loss of someone they love.

 

  • wanting them to grow up so they’re less dependent on you versus learning to let go, when they’re ready to fly away.
[/stextbox]

 

But perhaps the most challenging part of being a parent is that you suddenly find that you have the ability to both mould and destroy your kids.

 

Use your powers wisely.  

65 days of Summer

65 days of Summer

I’ve been struggling with sleep for the past few nights. It arrives as expected – like Santa Claus on Christmas; but then it leaves quite unexpectedly, leaving me wide awake at around 3 or 4 in the morning. And, as anyone who has been awake at these hours can tell you, your thoughts start to wander aimlessly – sort of like us in a giant maze. It tries to find a solution to every imaginable problem that you have. And subsequently end up discovering more problems than you thought you had in the first place.

Of late, these 3am ‘wandering thoughts’ have been about one particular thing. It’s a parenting thing – a challenge that every  parent will have to go through at some point in their lives; one that baffles you more than when you saw a Rubik’s cube for the first time. But more on that, later.

Yesterday night was no different. No, I lie. It was a bit more intense. In fact, I almost wanted to get up from bed at 3, and start working on my articles, posts and deadlines. But as you’d have guessed, I let procrastination have the final say and just dozed off back to sleep, after numerous (and famous) techniques, such as ‘counting sheep’ and ‘counting backwards from 100 to 1’ failed to help.

As expected, today I woke up feeling a bit groggy. One thing I often find solace in is standing in the balcony and watching the world go about its business. Today was no different. I stand in the balcony and take a sip of the fuel that keeps me going most days – coffee.

I see the neighbourhood vegetable vendor set up his small shop. The newspaper boy rushes frantically, trying to make sure he delivers the papers before the world wakes up.  The milkman drives away in his little truck, having successfully made all his deliveries. And as I watch the sun rise, flooding the skies with its amber shades, I spot the last of the family of bats,  zipping away before daylight hits. It’s almost the same scene every day; the serenity of the mornings is what helps maintain my sanity. 

I watch the buzzards circling nearby, frantically flapping their large wings. Perhaps, they’ve spotted something to eat. It’s a new day. Everything feels peaceful; much like the proverbial ‘calm before the storm’. But my heart flutters uncontrollably, for it knows what comes next.

On a whim, I glance skywards. I pray for miracles. I look for the light at the end of the tunnel. And I quietly hope for the strength to see it through.

As, I drain the final drops of my elixir of sanity,  I feel a presence.

‘Good morning, Papa’, he says, his button eyes twinkling.

‘Good morning, Rishi’, I say, as I kneel beside him.

‘Let’s play?’ he asks. Don’t let the fact that it’s posed as a question get to you. I don’t have a choice. What he means is, ‘Ready or not, you’re at my beck and call. All day.’

‘Okay! But first, let’s brush your teeth. You stink!’ I reply.

He pretends to think for a moment. I must confess; it’s amusing to see him think. If we were in an animated movie, you’d probably be able to see the ‘lightbulb’ above his head go on. Slowly, he nods his head.

‘You catch me first..then I brush.’ He replies, as he scuttles off.

I let out an inaudible sigh and smile.

Today is Day One.

Only Sixty-four more days to go.

The Summer holidays have officially begun.


You remember the part where I mentioned that every parent will have to go through this phase at some point? Yes. You will.

Imagine a 3ft tall genius with the energy of the famed Energizer bunny, coupled with the mischief-skills that’ll put Dennis the Menace to shame and the questioning (and negotiating) ability of Calvin (From Calvin and Hobbes). Now imagine this for 16 hours or more, every day for 2 months.

Welcome to Summer Holidays with a toddler.

And trust me; at the end of the holidays, both you and your kid(s) will be looking forward to their return to school.

PS. Thank you, Summer Camps!

Of Kids and competitive parents

Of Kids and competitive parents

I’ve said it before. And I’ll say it again. Having a kid changes your ‘life as you know it’. Whether it’s good or bad (or both) – I’ll leave it to each one to find out for themselves, but nobody will deny that the change is inevitable. Let’s look at this very simple thing – fears/worries. All of us have our own list (or in my case, a whole diary) of scenarios that make us uncomfortable and often worried or even scared. Now, once you become a parent and your kid moves into that precious ‘toddler age’ – there are certain ‘fears or worries’ that take precedent over your previous ones. No, the older ones don’t go away. These merely, and slowly, move up the ladder and displace them temporarily.

 

So all of a sudden, your toddler’s unexpected school holiday seems more of a worry than being alone in the dark. Or your fear of spiders may suddenly now come second to the fear of your toddler running around the house with an open permanent marker. And of course, we keep on adding to this list of ‘parental fears’. I know parents who are extremely worried to take their kids to a shop or house with plenty of breakable objects. Or in my case, a simple note from the school that says ‘Fancy dress competition will be held on xxx’.

 

Now, if you’re wondering why such a simple (and what should be a fun) event ranks high up on my list of paternal worries, here are two simple reasons why:

I’m neither artsy nor craftsy. Or crafty either, but more on that in another post.

When it comes to kids and such events, it becomes a very fierce competition. 

 

The first one is pretty self-explanatory. Just like you’ve all read (and laughed over) my trysts with D-I-Y furnitures, arts & crafts do not come naturally to me. In fact, if you gave me some glue and some art objects to stick on a chart, you can be absolutely certain that not only will they be stuck in some haphazard order that is in no way pleasing to the eye, but also that I will somehow manage to glue my fingers to each other or myself to the chair I’m sitting on. Of course, that’s another reason why I still use ‘kid-scissors’ at home; most people think it’s because we have a careless and hopeless kid at home. We do – Me [On a different note, I’m relatively good at designing logos, banners and websites – go figure. So hire me, maybe?]

 

Now, fortunately my wife is a creative wizard when it comes to arts and crafts (and generally anything D-I-Y). So between us – i.e. me staying out of her way, and she taking care of the artsy and craftsy stuff entirely – we have point 1 covered. Which brings me on to point two – competition.

 

These days, thanks to social media and what I’d call peer-and-societal-pressure, everything is a competition. Of course, when it comes to kids, the word competition is no longer enough to describe this impending battle that will soon take on epic proportions. Right from the moment that an event is announced, the forces are geared up for combat. Plans are drawn out, strategies are charted, spies are despatched to obtain information from the enemy camp and of course, the weapons are sharpened. And incase you’re still wondering, it’s the parents who are getting ready to compete.

 

[stextbox id=”info”]I’d like to state a couple of facts before I go on; Yes, I’m generalising – I personally know parents who are so laid back and relaxed and all they care about is the kid having fun. And secondly, and probably the more sad fact, is that the larger number of the general parenting populace falls into this ‘competitive category’.[/stextbox]

 

This is the thing – as far as my little brain can comprehend, competitions like fancy dress events for toddlers (we’ll talk about elder kids in another post) are important. They’re important because it breaks the monotony of the ‘Go-to-school >> Study >> Do home work >> Go back to school’ cycle. It also a good platform for kids to showcase their talents, boost their self-confidence and of course, have some fun. Now, I’m in no way qualified to judge another parent, but I think a lot of parents these days seem to have missed that circular – yes, the one that says it’s meant to be a fun event.

 

For example,

To the parents of the kid who is decked up as a mythological hero, complete with a quiver full of arrows, bow, helmet and adorned with enough jewellery to make an Indian bride go ‘uff!’ – did you forget that it’s 39 degrees and fun is that last thing on your son’s mind now?

Or to the parents of that little girl who is crumbling under the weight of that tree-shaped structure and is struggling to even smile – maybe that’s fun for your daughter?

 

I’ve come to realise that this is the truth:

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]Fancy dress competitions for #toddlers exist so that #parents can showcase their creative talents.[/tweetthis]

 

And that exactly is my pain point. It’s bad enough that my son has a father who is more capable of accidentally gluing his fingers together than making him a ‘winnable’ costume; but what makes it even worse is that fact that most parents have started to treat it like battle and go all out to make sure their kids emerge victorious.  So you see, I’m sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. My kid is not longer competing with other kids; rather I’m having to compete with parents who are creatively gifted (and obviously have the lavish gift of time).

 

But then again, none of this should surprise me, should it? We live in a world where there are beauty pageants for 2 year olds and fashion shows for 4 year olds. We are no longer living in a world where we were happy and proud if our kid has a talent. Now, we’re starting to ‘coach them’ as soon as they’re out of the womb. These days babies are shown flash cards even before they can say mama or papa. In fact, I’m even given to understand that there’s a book that’s aptly titled, ‘How to have a smart baby!’ – a bestseller, I’m sure.

 

For some unfathomable reason, the parents of today are starting to relate the  success and failure of their parenting on the success or failure of their kid(s). I’m sure it was there previously too – but surely, not to this extent. I’m left wondering if in today’s fast-tracked world, parents wake up thinking, ‘What can I do to make my child more clever?’

 

I won’t deny. I believe the education system is to blame too. From day one of pre-school, they’re worried about the school’s reputation , ranking and feedback. And in this process of chasing ranks and reputation, I’m sure it rubs off on the parents too. Parents are probably told that they’re not doing enough to support the teachers and of course, not-so-subtly told that their kids may not succeed in today’s cut-throat world.

 

I understand that not giving a child any kind of stimulus or support is a terribly bad idea. It’s akin to locking them in a darkened room and waiting for them to wither out. But surely it doesn’t also mean that you bombard them with so much information trying to make them smarter and brilliant. All it does is make them good at memorising things.

 

But you know what. Just like I refuse to let people label my child, I also refuse to let my child be guided by competitions. I’ve always believed that it comes down to participation and whatever experience and lesson he gleans from it – that’s what matters. And I’ll stop this post with a humble request to all my fellow (and future) parents – everything is not a competition; and very often, you learn more lessons from failure than from success. And most of all, don’t make learning and playtime so stressful.

 

PS. For anyone who’s curious, Rishi was dressed as a Panda.

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Yes, we (and by me, I mean my wife mostly) painstakingly stuck white cotton and gauze all over a black t-shirt and did everything we could have possibly done to make him remotely resemble a Panda.

No, he didn’t win. And seeing what the other kids were dressed as, I’m not the least bit surprised. Nor upset.

Yes, he forgot some of the sentences he was meant to speak about the panda.

And yes, he said he had a lot of fun and has tucked his panda costume away safely in his cupboard.

And to be honest, I think that’s what matters the most.

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