We are at dinner. The missus and me.
‘You know, she didn’t eat anything from early evening’. Her mother starts. Of course, I have heard this before. In fact, almost every evening. Except perhaps an evening when the Thar Desert has a cyclonic storm. Or something like that.
‘Don’t worry. She’ll be ok.’ I usually say. Usually, digging into the bowl of unhealthy short eats, all dutifully labeled FAT FREE in bold.
‘How do you know’, her mother asks today. ‘How do you know for sure that she’ll be OK? That we are on the right track with her diet’. She persists.
‘I hope’. I say.
She responds shaking her head testily. ‘HOPE is not a plan’.
‘That’s my standard line’. I say. For that’s something that I say often. Of course, not mentioning that I have borrowed it liberally from one of my bosses who wanted ‘CONCRETE’ action plans.
‘Now it’s my line’. She says. ‘But that’s beside the point. Don’t divert the topic. How can she ever survive on such a measly diet?’
And so on and on. This ‘discussion’ usually continues for some time. While our daughter is focused on pulling the shoes out of the shoe rack or tearing up papers that could decide my salary for the next year. Oblivious to the serious discussion that we are having. About her!
This is normal. Every night. Or evening. Or for that matter, morning. A variety of ‘issues’: Her diet. Her babble. New teeth. Etc! The central theme emanating from ‘hope-she-will-be-ok’ and trusting that whatever we are doing is ‘right for her’.
‘You know that website’? is a reasonably good question to indicate that the conversation is shifting gears. Then, the missus would at length describe what she had read that day. It could from a blog or a website or a magazine. Or Parentous. Or some ad. ‘Little-tricks-to-feed-a-child-who-isn’t-interested-to’. Food, you would by now know, is something that our daughter gives two hoots to.
At other times there could be a well-meaning comment from the neighbourhood uncle or aunty, who could have ‘recommended’ a certain portion of x to be mixed with certain portion of y, and fed at 2.53 PM. “For shapely canine teeth in babies and left toe to have the shape of Jodie Foster’s”, they would have said. Of course, am exaggerating. But then, you get the point. Don’t you?
It’s not as though the missus is the sole recipient of ‘advice’. I get my fair share too. Take the case of the genial gentleman in our apartment, who upon seeing me and my daughter together, always urges me to decide which school she has to go to, and get an ‘application form right away’. With (un)due emphasis on ‘right away’, as though it was the last ticket to the bus that was taking you out of Antarctica.
‘She is just one year old’, I tell him. Every time. ‘That’s why’. He usually says.
There are others. Like the co-passenger on a flight, wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, who proffered completely unsolicited advice on how to hold a baby if the plane was going to crash. There was no more proof required that pessimism could touch the sky too.
Once, an auto driver told us three things to feed her that will keep her healthy till she becomes a 100. Super sure of every word like the chairman of the local organizing committee who has a microphone thrust under his nose.
Oh, I could go on and on. Not for a second can I ever imagine that all the ‘advice’ is not well-meaning! Not even for a nano second. Not for a micro second do I think that all the advice is without basis. People usually, speak from their experience of what’s worked with them. (Except of course that guy in the yellow t-shirt who waxed eloquence on plane crashes)
Numerous books. Copious blogs. Uncles. Grandparents. Neighbours. Colleagues. Close friends. Chance acquaintances. Even airport security who would otherwise demand half of your wealth for a glimpse of their smiles, have so unsolicitedly offered advice when they see us with our daughter, that suddenly kindness seems rampant on planet Earth.
On her clothing. On her diet. On her habits. On her sleep patterns. On her doctors to approach. On her iron tablets. On her diaper brands. On how to get her to live till 100. On building her character. On schools. On whose advice to listen to. (Yes, that too, was advice). This obviously is a small sample to give you an idea.
All with an experience or two to share.
Now, if you are one amongst the many that have advice us, here is a grand confession. We read everything. We listen to everybody. Usually at dinner, we discuss everything. Yes, we do! We decide to check out a few! We don’t mean any ill will or hold any grudge. Please do not mind, but it’s just that we can’t do EVERYTHING and still stay sane.
We finally end up doing what we think is the best. Sometimes following what was suggested to the T and at other times, doing just the opposite of what was suggested. It has to ‘appeal’ to us! Logically. Rationally. Emotionally. It has to fit into our scheme of things. To our way of living.
‘Is what we are doing the best that we can do for her now and the future?’ That is the unasked question. Which am sure is the only question on the minds of all parents.
Sometimes we are dead sure. At many other times, it’s just a hunch that comes from complete wholesome love. A hope that our love will overpower all the ills that will come her way and that things will all work out. Eventually. That’s not rational. I know. But that’s how it is with us. I can tell you, it works. If you need to know more, ask me, I can have a few words of advice for you!
After a long discussion, the missus says, ‘I think we should give it our best shot. And hope for the best’.
‘Ah HOPE’, I say, ‘That indeed sounds like a plan’.
Kavi dabbles in writing, reading, traveling, photography, long distance running amongst other things. He and Shanti have their hands full with their adorable toddler, Kayal. In-between all of this, he gives an arm, leg and everything else to earn a living. Usually accomplished by punching keys, attending meetings and trying to sound profound. He blogs at http://kavismusings.blogspot.com & tweets @kavismusings. Just in case you are intrigued enough to know more about him please head to http://about.me/kaviarasu.