Some of the oldest memories of my father involved me asking him rudely, “Which grade am I studying in?” and my father answering with a question. “Fifth?” he had asked, “Or is it sixth?” It did anger me but it was okay. This incident did not impact of his love for me, because he taught me more important things. Like how to recognize fresh fish from stale and how to clean crabs. Having said that, I did miss my father a lot while growing up, as did several of my friends.
So I made a list of observations in an attempt to make memories for my daughter.
Keep the wife happy: Your child will shower extra love on you during a weekend or a holiday. It is obvious because of the lack of face time and there’s catching up to do for the little one. And your wife is bound to feel left out. Be patient. Your wife needs your attention too. Give it, and most importantly, be expressive in it. Understand that everything that you do is being watched by your child. This will keep the good wheels of affection spinning when the child grows up.
And that extra cup of chai that your wife will give without asking for it is one of the greatest rewards. Appreciating what your wife does, telling your wife that what’s she’s cooked is really tasty, is essential – for your wife as well as your child.
Play the game: Have you had a tough day? Are you dead tired? You have no mind space for any questions? Well, tough luck! Escaping is not an option. No matter how bad your day at office has been, the child will never understand it. She will never understand your anger, or saying a NO to go out for an ice cream or forgetting to buy a particular book she had asked for. Get ready to face it.
Treat that 10-minute-game of hide and seek as therapy. Join in the nonsensical conversation that ends up in giggles. Read books, play games, paint with hands, be a child yourself. Take interest in everything that the child tells you. Be it about Doraemon, maths problems, friends and fights, clothes, shoes, socks and bags and countless other trivial things. You will breathe better and your child will sleep with a smile on her face. And yes, that’s one good memory to have, right there.
Answer the calls: Your child is most likely to call you when:
- You’re in a monthly review and your boss is preparing to skin you alive
- You’re buying vegetables and have 3000 bags in your hands
- You’re in the loo, in the middle of executing a satisfying bowel movement
At times such as these, when it’s impossible to take calls, make sure that you call back. During other times, there is no option but to take your child’s call. The sense of security, dependability and friendliness that your child feels when you answer a call, be it for as trivial as hearing a complaint about how there’s bhindi-bhaaji for lunch again, is immense! So answer the call, indulge and take interest in the conversation. Provide a solution if needed and close the call with a prospect of a review on the situation when you get back home. Yours as well as your child’s day will get better significantly.
You’re a hero: Everything that you do is being watched and observed by your greatest fan – your child. Every time you pluck a flower, every time you say “right lelo” instead of “right lijiye” to a taxi driver, every time you say “sorry”, “thank you” and “may I please”, you are being watched and it’s being recorded in that little mind. You, dear father, are the greatest, the strongest in this world for your child. Your actions are always right for your child and you are an ideal role model.
There’s great power here and with it comes great responsibility. I know that line was extremely cheesy and I was avoiding its usage. Sorry. But I hope you get what I am saying. But having said all that, you need to take some time off too. Don’t forget yourself. Keep your hobbies and your passions alive. Being around a child can bring you closer to insanity. You need to do things that will keep it together for you.
Rohan Sonalkar is an avid traveler, a wannabe blogger and a struggling guitarist who works with an MNC in Mumbai for a living. He is currently teaching his daughter how to reduce a chicken drumstick to a shiny bone.