fatherhood

The Young And The Restless

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 There are days when I look at my soon-to-be five-year-old and be awed about ‘how mature he is and how logical his thought process is.'

 

And as I sit there and virtually pat myself on the back for having managed to do a reasonable job with him so far, the mood suddenly changes. From someone who perfectly understands what you’re trying to tell him, to someone who pretends to be dumb - the swings in mood are both amusing and scary.

 

Amusing, if you’re an on-looker.  Scary, if you’re the parent.
You’ve probably heard that phrase -  The Terrible Twos. Well, I did too. And then I experienced it and found out the reason why they call it that. Of course, what I didn’t realise was that it would then turn into the ‘Terrorist Threes, where a lot of things (including the lovely glass Bric-à-brac in my showcase ) would develop a tendency to blow up without any warning.   But then again, a lot of people continued to tell me that things would only get better. Someone, even told me that the worst was over. And I believed it. Until he turned four.   Year Four too has been one of many discoveries and learnings, much like the ones before. And just like that, I’ve also discovered that my son has graduated from the illustrious League of Ordinary Toddlers to a gang of the Young and the Restless. If you too have kids in this age range, you’ll probably be able to relate to some of these. For the rest, enjoy the laugh. After all, one person’s **** is another’s entertainment ?
 
You will be subjected to almost-FBI type enquiries, at any point in time. Where did you go? What did you do? Who did you meet? What did you eat? Why didn’t you take me? What did you bring for me? I don’t think even my wife and I have asked each other so many questions about our daily activities, despite having known each other for so many years.
  https://twitter.com/iwrotethose/status/829684157336793089  
You’ll find yourself constantly pitted against your partner, despite your numerous conscious efforts and decisions to not say yes when the other one says no. Somehow, they always manage to find the weak link with the precision of a CIA Interrogator. In our home, I am always the weakest link.
 
Your phone calls will be constantly monitored and interrupted by a tiny dictator who orders you around. You will also discover that most of your phone conversations will frequently end with ‘I’ll call you back later, okay?'
 
Remember the time I told you about my adorable little munchkin using the wall as his canvas? Well, the little Picasso has moved on from there. Now, he’s into free art - where anything from the television screen to your white shirt is a possible canvas to express his artistic capabilities. Might be a great time to invest in a painting company.
 
 The moment you walk in through the door carrying a bag - any kind, really; from luggage to just grocery shopping - it will be scrutinised in great detail, and even more thoroughly than the security officer at the airport.
 
 You will also soon discover that they love reading. Yes, they used to earlier too, but most of the times they would just turn the pages of the book and just admire it. Now, they love it when you read to them. The same thing. Over. And over. And over, until you’ll be muttering the lines in your sleep. [Also valid for movies  - *sings the Minion theme song*]
 
At some point, you may also find yourself having to explain to neighbours about how the screaming in the bathroom is merely the result of failed attempts at getting your kid to brush their teeth.
 
Your cardio workout involves running after a tiny human being, trying to keep up with them. And sometimes, you will be holding the pants that they were supposed to be wearing.
 
You constantly find yourself negotiating - from food to sleep. It’s like living with a 3-foot tall salesman, who is damn good at their job and isn’t afraid to twist your arms to get what he/she wants.   Time and again, you’ll find yourself sitting outside the loo singing loudly so ‘someone’ can poop; that is when you’re not answering questions about what you are doing inside the toilet and if they can accompany you.   You will be always prepared for a tantrum at the most public location that you can imagine - from malls to train stations.  
You’ll wonder why they have to wait until the absolute last fricking minute to tell us they need to go to the bathroom. It’s always like an episode of ‘Nina Needs to go’  
The likelihood of them repeating something you said is directly proportional to the kind of the crowd you’re with. The more 'politically incorrect' the phrase, the higher the probability.  
Your idea of a holiday is now having a lie-in and breakfast in bed, without having to worry about anything else.  
You're constantly being threatened to be poked in the eye by an object they want you to 'see'

 

The probability of you wanting a hug from them is inversely proportional to them wanting to give it to you. Prepares you for rejection.
 
And of course, if you do happen to catch them on a good day, put on your most charming smile and ask them why they behave the way they do, you’ll probably get an answer like this:
‘Because I can!’
Suddenly, everything makes perfect sense. Your 'Because I said so!' now has a valid counter argument.

 

[tweetbox design="box04" float="none"]Someone smart said: Parenting guides should end with recipes for strong cocktails.You will need it.[/tweet_box]

"How does it feel ?"

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When I became a father, a few male friends asked me a question. A question, if I had to confess, I just hadn’t thought about. It might also be worth pointing out that these friends were largely unmarried twenty-something men who were in semi-serious relationships. Anyway, the million dollar question was: “How does IT feel?”.  

The first time I was asked this seemingly good natured query, I was rather perplexed. For I didn't quite know what he was referring to. My idle mind honestly thought that either he was referring to the timely procreative act that had successfully borne fruit (kids - if you're reading, you're too young for that now!) or  about having survived the nearly out-of-body experience of actually helping a doctor and a set of maternity nurses hand-deliver my little one.

 

Yes, I'm very aware that my 'experience' isn't even a drop in the ocean to what my wife could have possibly endured, but more on that in another post. Anyway, since I was usually in no mood to discuss either of those two points, in the interest of giving myself an exit window from the clutches of the above-mentioned question, I would usually just smile and shrug my shoulders, as if 'IT' felt like the most natural thing in the world.

 

Eventually, after a lot of contemplation (read as: man-ing up and asking my wife), I figured out that what they were actually referring to was in fact, 'How does it feel to be a father?' And truth be told, I did not know. For I'd never really given it any thought. I mean, how does one define these things? These feelings to be precise. It's not as if you've just been given a bar of chocolate and had to decide whether you want to eat it slowly or devour the whole thing at once. It is a wee bit more complicated than that.

 

How does one describe the feeling of realisation that you have just been elevated from the role of a normal, happy-go-lucky chap to someone who is now responsible (at least partly) for this new life form that you now hold in your arms? And that the little person you're looking at, with those tiny little fingers, toes, snouty nose and crinkled up forehead, is perhaps going to decide your schedules and social calendar for the foreseeable future. Also that while there may be times when their smile could make you feel like you're on the proverbial cloud nine, there may also be times when their shrill cries could keep you up all night wondering how you ended up in such a pickle in the first place. 

 

No. I did not know how to describe that feeling. And I still don't, even after 33 months of wholesome and hands-on parenting. But here's the thing. To me, fatherhood has been a discovery of sorts.It's a journey of constant learning, adapting and yes, sometimes just thriving.

 

There are times when you can be both amazed by and angry at the same little person. At the same time, that too. Other times, you discover that you have this storehouse of patience that is the only thing stopping you from wanting to bang your head against the wall. There are also moments of self-discovery when you surprise yourself with how good you are at telling stories, sometimes even making them up as you go along. And then of those pangs of jealousy that you feel when you kid temporarily chooses someone else to bother. 

 

And that there will be times when you just want to go to the supermarket under the pretext of doing some shopping, just to get some 'you-time'. Or how your inherent radar just goes off when you spot other parents with kids in the same age group. Of course, there are also moments of joy, when you discover that your ability to make the weirdest noises is a source of entertainment for the little one. Or the strange looks that people give you when you are busy having strange and intimate conversations with inanimate objects. Sometimes, the discovery is something more simpler. Like replacing your otherwise overpriced cup of latte from Starbucks to plain, strong coffee in a mug that says 'Daddy, you're the best!'.

 

And sometimes it is the fact that you can actually hear your own voice, after they sleep.  Or how you're constantly trying to evolve from being the guy hanging out with your best mates to the guy that your kid wants to hang out with. Or that even the simple act of getting out of the house with a child requires more planning that your annual vacation. Often, it could be  a more serious realisation. Like how this little thing called 'money' is suddenly a criteria for everything. Or how sleep, something that you managed without for days at a stretch, is now a luxury that you'd gladly give an arm or a leg for. Or how your relationship with your better-half changes. When sweet nothings become all the more important and every chance that you get for the simplest conversations are more precious that all the talk you've ever done before. 

I could go on and on, but I won't. The thing is - 'Everything in parenthood is a discovery'. For no parenting book or journal can truly explain what you're getting yourself into. Only that you'll always come out stronger.

 

And as for this said 'feeling'. that takes on new dimensions ever so often. Sometimes every day. And at times every other hour. I suppose, it is pretty accurate to say that depending on the time of the day, you may receive a different answer for that question. Right now for example, as I sit nursing my wounded pinky toe, that 'feeling' is :

 

I can't wait for him to grow out of the 'I shall leave my Lego blocks lying around so Dad can step on them' phase. Trust me, they hurt!


M for Mischief - Part 2

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(Continued from M for Mischief - Part 1) I notice that the sliding door to the balcony is open. I get  excited since it's a territory that I don't usually get to explore. I have always been curious to find out what it is, that Ma and Pa are so defensive about. Strangely, I don’t discover anything unusual at first. I stand up on the step of the balcony trying to put my head in between the identical columns of bars that seem to block my view of the world beyond.  After a number of unsuccessful attempts, I sit down, tired from all the effort. A rather unpleasant squishy feeling on my backside reminds me that I have gone poo-poo. I look around and discover, in the corner, hidden from view, a row of tiny pots. There are a few green bits and pieces coming out of them. But it is what’s in the base of the pots that interest me. Something dark and soft beckons me, almost daring me to give it a go. As I put my hands in to the pots and try to squeeze the softness that adorns it, I hear my name being called out loud from the other side of the glass doors. In my panic to get out, I push the pot away and get to my feet. Before Pa can rush into the balcony, I walk into the living room and climb on the sofa. That’s when I notice my little muddy foot prints, all the way from the balcony ending right where I was standing, on the sofa.

At this point, I’m sure Pa is going to give me one tight whack. But he just stands there wrinkling his nose up in disgust. That’s when it hits me that he must have got a whiff of what was in my diaper. He gingerly picks me up and takes me into the loo, where he washes off my poo (Hey, that rhymed!). But not before I manage to get hold of the soap dispenser, a few tooth brushes and a tube of paste and throw it on the ground. After a quick (but rather vigorous) body wash, he gets me all dressed up again. I follow Pa as he rushes off to the kitchen balcony and puts my clothes into a rather large machine, throws in some white powder and hastily presses some buttons. Oblivious of my presence, he gets back in to the kitchen and closes the door after him. I do not make a sound and watch him disappear from view. I wait for a few minutes by the door to check if he notices that I’m missing. But if I know him well, he’s probably chatting away with those lovely  ladies and the handsome cartoon man. Now, even though I am only 22 months old, I believe in making the most of the time I have. So I go exploring this very tiny balcony. I notice there are three sets of buckets, one of them more brighter than the others. I open the lid and peer inside. Since the area is quite dimly lit, I end up putting my hand into the bucket in an attempt to discover its mysterious contents. As my fingers grasp hold of something slimy, I hear the balcony door opening. I turn around to see Pa waving his hand at me and muttering something which sounds like “Why…something….I…something ..you. something...bath…something…” I smile at him again as he picks me up and washes my hands with soap.

Holding me tightly, he warms up my milk and gives it to me. Since I am usually a slow drinker, this gives Pa about 15 minutes to get his act together. Once I finish my milk, I push the cup away and watch for a few minutes as Pa once again furiously types away on the laptop. Once I’m convinced that he’s engrossed in his activity, I slow slide off the bed and make a hasty exit. I quickly run back to the my favourite  place in the house - the kitchen, and look around at the kitchen counter for something interesting. After a quick scan, my eyes settle on a cylindrical glass container, that I've seen Ma use plenty of times. "There must be something interesting in it" I think to myself. Alas it’s a bit further away from the edge of the counter. Never one to step away from a challenge, I pop back in to the hall where I manage to get hold of a stool that Ma sometimes sits on. From experience, I know it’s pretty light and something that I can move easily. I slowly push the stool towards the kitchen counter, and climb on it. As I grab hold of the container, Pa shouts out my name, causing me to drop the container in fear. Needless to say, the container cracks into many different pieces and I look around in shock, only to discover Pa staring at me. If he was a cartoon character, I am sure at this point I would see fumes come out of his ears and his nostrils breathe fire. (I think I may have been watching too many dragon cartoons). As Pa comes over to pick me up, the door bell rings. Quickly grabbing hold of me, he runs to the door. It’s Ma. However one look at Pa’s face, and her smile vanishes. “What did he do now?” she enquires pointing at me.

Papa shrugs his shoulder, points to the kitchen and says “Oh, the usual!"


Let's Bond

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Is it me, or did that title just sound a bit....off? (grins sheepishly) Image from freedigitalphotos.net/arztsamui

But then again, it's been a while since I've written a parenting post, also known in my circles as "A Daddy Journals" post. So I've decided to write about something that's rather close to my heart. About bonding with your off-springs. I know what you're thinking. Why? They're are our kids after all; the bonding part is quite natural. Unfortunately it isn't always the case.

And I'm talking about the post-toddler, pre-teenage years here. The period that most parents tend to overlook. Simply because they can. The kids are not so young that you need to watch everything they do. Neither are they that old that you need to worry about them straying or going down the wrong path. But why ignore? Let's bond, I say.

Click here to view my seven easy steps to rekindle that connection with your little one(s).

Oh, and before you leave. The link opens in a new page, so do come back and leave your comments here. I'd love to hear what you think. Off you go now.....

This post is part of my monthly contribution to Parentous, the fastest growing parenting community

Baby, smile please

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It’s often said that kids, especially when they are little, are great teachers of the lesson of patience. There’s nothing that you can do to hurry them along. You just have to bow to their wishes. When they’re ready, they’ll be ready – be it the time to come out of their mother’s womb or be it when they’re ready to pose for a photograph. I’m not sure why, but December’s always been a month of reminiscing for me. It’s the time to sort of look back on the year gone by, chuckle about those wonderful moments and pride yourself on getting past those not-so-wonderful moments. Plus it was almost time for my bi-weekly Parentous post, and I was trying to dig up ideas. That’s when something caught my eye. It lay there silently abandoned in the corner of my desk, gathering dust. I picked it up, looked at it and then smiled. I’d found my next topic.

If you’re a parent, then the following is kind of a known fact to you. Baby pictures are an absolute treasure and it’s often said that new parents have been known to take more pictures of their kid(s) than NASA takes of the moon. Yes, it’s true. We love to capture those moments, don’t we? But here’s the fun fact – taking pictures of a baby can be a daunting task. If you haven’t noticed it already, they are extremely unpredictable, do not follow any instructions, have an extremely limited attention span, and worst of all, cannot be bribed. Now taking the occasional pictures are actually not that complicated. If there’s something that kids know, it is to appear naturally cute in photographs. And no matter, how unflattering the angle, they are always cute. Of course some parents do go the extra mile, and try some Anne Geddes inspired shots while they’re sleeping or half awake.

But the real fun (or not) of photographing a baby is when you take them to get a passport size photo done. If only we could just crop one of those cute photos and change the background. Well, to be honest, with a little bit of photo editing, it can be done. But where’s the fun in that? No, we need to take them to the studio to get the ideal picture.

Want to read more? This post was originally written for PARENTOUS. Click here to go there 

Don't forget to tell me how your kid's passport photo experience was :)

The Parenthood game

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It is often said that the road to your parenthood becoming a fruitful reality is approximately 40 weeks long. Try as you may, you just cannot go above the nature-regulated speed limit - doesn't matter if you have a brand new Ferrari or a decade old Toyota Supra. Me, I say it's more like a board game - more often than not, you go from starting point to the winner's circle on a set path, and lady luck occasionally throws you a few lucky rolls of the dice, the outcomes of which are anybody's guess.

Though others may choose to disagree, I would broadly split out this 40 week path into 5 complex yet beautiful phases.


Phase 1: Wonderful beginnings

From a man's point of view, this stage almost always starts with either a "Yay, we're pregnant" or a "I'm pregnant with YOUR child" phrase. Since I am a staunch believer in the institution of marriage and/or any kind of serious relationship, I am going to use the former statement as the basis going forward. (Another reason is that mostly the latter statement has a 50% chance of going either ways - i.e could be good or bad news.)

Great, you're expecting! This has to be amazing news. Your partner (for this example, I am going to go ahead and assume it's a woman - to ensure biological accuracy) and you are excited beyond words, and suddenly everywhere you turn, you can't help but notice expectant couples everywhere. You personally want to shout out the news from the top of a very high building - however your sensibilities make you understand that only immediate family / friends need to know. You dote on your partner and are available at her beck and call. Their every little "ooh and aah" are a cause for concern for you. If you are a couple that enjoy the occasional drink, you voluntarily solemnly vow to take a detox till the little one(s) is/are out. This phase usually lasts till the first proper scan - say for about 12 weeks from conception, or possibly 6 weeks from when you discover you are expecting


 Phase 2: Ups & Downs

You've just accompanied your "expectant partner" for her first scan. As much as you'd hate to admit it, you would have been jittery for the past couple of days - after all, this scan is black and white proof of your impending parenthood. The scan goes well, and your excitement (or fear) is confirmed, and you've now officially got an ultrasound image of something that resembles a cross between a reasonable sized squashed coffee bean and a baby chimp. Though you are vividly aware of both the scan technician and your better half squealing in delight at the "apparent features of your baby", you probably are squinting at the screen, unable to differentiate the baby's head from its feet. Fear not - research has shown that more men struggle with inkblot tests, which would probably go some way to explain our lack of skill in this field. Having said that, more often than not, you'd tend to play along and try to imagine what the baby should look like.

Once the confirmation of the scan is done, you'd most likely be ready to let your close friends and acquaintances know about this momentous event that is now slowly taking over your life. However phase 2 is not entirely stress-free. As your baby grows, so does your partner, albeit very slowly. And invariably so does your partner's pregnancy related syndromes - Nausea, tiredness, an absolute aversion to some previously well-liked aromas etc. just to name a few. To add to your misery, your partner now starts to show signs of weight gain; Unfortunately the worst part of this, is that she now starts to look more fat than pregnant. So be prepared for a lot of "Do I look fat in this?" and plenty more "I don't fit into those jeans anymore". Be patient - she deserves to whinge. However this is where the luck of the dice starts to come into play for the first time in this board game of pregnancy. Your partner could have all, some or none of these symptoms at all. This phase also sets off a round of maternity related purchases - maternity clothes, baby toys etc. Though fear not, these are the occasional spur-of-the-moment purchases.


Phase 3: Calm before the storm

You as a couple, are now approximately 7 months into your pregnancy. More than likely, your partner has now either been set free from the vicious holds of the initial pregnancy related symptoms, or both of you have made peace with it, so much so that you've accepted it as part and parcel of this wonderful journey. By now, the signs of pregnancy are really starting to show on the both of you - Her with her cute round bump and you with those monstrous dark circles under your eyes as well as your overall unkempt dishevelled state. Personally this is one of the best stages of the pregnancy - your partner gets a lot of attention from everyone, loads of congratulatory messages and plenty of " You look so beautiful / You're glowing" messages; It's great because these feed her good ego, and hence you are invariably much more relaxed.

Through the midst of all this, you can't secretly help but wonder if you should invest in a larger king-size bed, in the hope that this might stop you from being kicked out at night. Have fun while this lasts - which is for about a week or two.


Phase 4 : " I hate you …and everything else" phase 

At approximately 8-and-odd months, starts the penultimate leg of this "lovely" journey. Be prepared to hear this phrase, at least once a day : " I hate you!". She finds it difficult to breathe, and everything that can swell, will start to swell. Maternity clothes stop fitting and she even finds it an arduous task to wear any kind of footwear that involves straps or a pair of laces. And you….you find yourself at the receiving end of every single outburst. You're torn between wanting to take care of her, and secretly wanting to stay a bit longer at work, till she possibly goes to bed. But at this stage, even a simple thing like a nap is excruciatingly difficult for her to come by. Once again, be patient - we men can whine and whinge all we want, when we are able to reciprocate with the production of life inside of us. Until then, be as loving and kind as you can be. At this point, you're very likely starting to regret the whole " I vow to detox and restrain from having any kind of alcoholic beverage" episode from Phase 1. Also get set to hear a lot of " Haven't you guys had the baby yet?" from the rest of the world. Phase 4 culminates with both of you secretly harbouring the same thoughts - " I don't care if that baby needs to be pulled out through the ears, I just wish it'd hurry up!"


Phase 5: The miracle of birth

This phase often starts off with a long resounding "aaah" from your better half, which progressively gets repeated every 10 minutes or so. So you do the best thing possible - call the Maternity suite/wing and let them know you think the bun's had enough cooking in the oven. Depending on your luck, you'd either be asked to come in straight away, or the duty nurse will insist on speaking to the mother-to-be to assess the situation. For the sake of simplicity, and sanity, let's assume that both of you have been advised to come to the labour suite. This sets the stage for "Let's wait and see.."; Your partner is now "comfortably" (yeah, right!) settled on the hospital bed, dressed in their traditional maternity gown, bed at a half-elevated position. As for you, you're just sitting around by the bed waiting for the inevitable push to come through. Apart form the occasional visits from the maternity nurse and the doctor-on-call, the both of you have some quality time to pass. Unfortunately, neither of you are in the mood to have lengthy philosophical or romantic talks. Sooner or later, the fated push will materialise, and riding on these waves of pushes and deep breaths, shall arrive the answer to the age-old travel question " Are we there yet?" -  your little bundle of joy!

Sounds simple, doesn't it ?

 

Image Courtesy : RGBstock.com/johnnyberg