Friday, July 29, 2016

Interview with a New Born

Fresh, Young, Enthusiastic, and ‘just out of Tummy’. The candidate in front of me was one of the brightest I had ever seen.

“So, tell me about yourself”, I said.

Well I’m less than a week old. New to this world. I’m keen to learn new things. Explore my potential and give it my best shot.

Something about your background?

My parents are well-settled, well-educated and my mom and dad tell me that I’m a really great kid. They say I’m the best thing that ever happened in their life. We are a happy regular middle class family with our values in place.

Hmm. Middle class huh? So engineer, doctor, lawyer etc. That’s your life plan?

Not all all. I’m lucky not to be among those who feel that their kids should be restricted to what their parents say they need to be. My parents have a clear mind-set that I can be whatever my heart desires.

What do you want to be then?

I don’t know, I’m still young. I want to see the world, explore possibilities. Try a few things. See what I like. See what I’m good at. Only then ill decide.

But this world is getting fast and competitive. You can’t take forever to decide. In fact there are kids at the age of 5, who are achieving great things these days.

Are you serious? That’s insane. Maybe a one-off case.
I’m pretty sure that I will do only what I enjoy doing as of now.  

I think you live in a very unrealistic world my friend.

Things have changed. From the moment you are born, there are set milestones for you, which is more like a race actually.

Within a year, you HAVE to walk and talk. Your toys aren’t going to be just soft cuddlies, but educational and scientifically designed.

This doesn’t seem right. I have my whole lifetime ahead of me to learn and pick up these skills. What’s the hurry? Ain’t I a child who need to simply enjoy my childhood innocence and absorb the happiness of the best years of my life.

Like I said, a lot has changed. In a way it was a good thing when parents expected just one thing from their kids. Engineer, Doctor, or simply handle the family business.

You mean to say it’s a bad thing, when my parents say I can be whatever I want to be?

It’s not a bad thing. It’s just that its more confusing and pressurising. Since the world is an open canvas for you. We expect you to be good at not one thing, but at everything. This way we ensure you can become anything you want.

But at what price? This seems lop-sided. Frankly, I didn’t expect things this way. Can we make a few changes in this rigid system and go back to what it used to be like, in the good old days?

Unfortunately no. But you are not alone. Your parents are going to sacrifice a lot for you. Your father will work harder to earn some more money so you can be financially secure. Your mother will sacrifice her professional life to be with you all the time, so she can take you to the best classes and ensure you come back home and practice all that you’ve learnt.

That’s sweet of them. But I’d rather spend time with them doing things we enjoy. Like going for a walk. A picnic at the beach. Playing games in the garden. I’d love to learn how to pick mangoes from trees and taste them right there. I’m going to tell them this in more ways than one.

Oh! Don’t be disappointed. Not only will you get that, but more. The only catch is they will all be educational trips. Every outing will be about learning new things, knowing the world’s facts and figures.

Wow. That is a completely different perspective to what I thought childhood was about.

Anyway, so what value are you going to add to our world?

That’s easy. I’m going to ensure my parents and me are a happy family.  A child is supposed to bring joy and a greater bonding. I’m going to ensure I do my best to give them all the love I have got for them.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Five years. Well haven’t thought much about it. But I guess by five, ill learn to walk, talk, run, know what I enjoy most, and have lots of toys, and friends to play with.

I laughed loudly and exclaimed. My dear child, you’ve got this all wrong.

By five you would be expected to master at least one sport. Have a vast vocabulary.  You have to be good at music and dramatics.
Some of us, will expect a bunch of medals, trophies too.
You have to be disciplined, well mannered and have good habits like waking up early, sleeping on time, eating well balanced meals, no junk and few more other things.

That’s a lot of expectations you have for a fresher like me.

And what’s with no junk? So when do I get to eat all that yummy stuff? I’m sure by the time I get older, I won’t be allowed all that anyway.

Well, you know what. I’m not getting a good feeling about this whole childhood thing. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to survive with all this pressure.

Oh c’mon. We aren’t going to give up so easily. We will take you to the best of the best child psychologists. We will pay top dollar to ensure you get the best treatment.

Treatment? For what? I’m just fine.

That’s what you think, my dear. Latest research shows a lot of children of your age, get serious mental illnesses like ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism etc.

ADHD. Whats that?

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

You got to be kidding me. If I make you do 4 things a day with no quality time for myself. I’m bound to get a bit irritated and lack attention. How much can you expect from someone my age.

I’m not saying it. A few tests you take, will.

And what about belief in your own upbringing, values and teachings. You guys don’t trust that?

I think this discussion is going nowhere.

Lets get this straight. If you jumped in the water, you’ve got to learn to swim.

But I didn’t jump in the water. You are throwing me in it.

I cant express much. I can cry, have mood swings, show you I’m disappointed in my own way, sometimes even confide in you and tell you that I’m not prepared to do something you are forcing me into.

Don’t label me as a bad child.

Don’t give up on me.

Don’t say I’m good for nothing.

I wont be able to take this pressure. I’m small. I need your hand. I need your smile. I don’t need to be told that I need to try harder.

I need a hug and be told that its ok. If you don’t like doing it, lets just go home and enjoy ourselves. Lets take a break today, just you and me. Tickle me. Make me laugh. Lets watch a fun movie together. Lets go shopping for goodies.

Don’t wake me up in the morning by screaming I’m late for something YOU are interested in. Kiss me on my cheeks. Draw the curtain slowly. Tell me it’s a wonderful day.

Treat me like a child. Give me time. I will live up to all YOUR expectations some day.

Wait a minute. You just said, your parents have no expectations from you. They want you to do whatever your heart desires.

Well like you said. I guess it was better when parents expected just one thing from their child. I guess in the whole process I’m the only hope of all their expectations.

~ ~ ~

Breaks down. Inconsolable.

Mother comes running and takes him to change his nappy, feed him, check if he’s feeling hot or cold.

Enjoy these few moments while they last, little one. In their eyes you may be a prince or a princess. But in today’s world, with great love, comes great expectations.

~ ~ ~

World best Dad. World best Mom. Its time we stop taking the compliment so seriously. We have nothing to prove to the world. But one day we will have to answer our children.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Footprints in her mind

Even before I unlock the door, my family knows I’m back from office because the 300 million olfactory receptors in my pet Labradors nose get activated even before my car drives into the garage, and the vigorous wagging of her tail, gives away my whereabouts.

Few feet behind her, is a now four-and-a-half year old Samaira, who’s understood this signal, and is waiting eagerly - not for me, but what my bag has inside for her.

Its almost become some sort of rule now, that I have to get something for her when I come home.

 Sometimes a chocolate, a box of crayons or a small toy. Many a times I have to get special orders, thanks to the heavily advertised products on cartoon channels.

I still recall hunting over 8 shops for a particular brand of soap that was offering a ‘free’ Cinderella pendant. 

Obviously, Samaira wasn’t interested in the soap.

 On occasions when I’ve forgotten to get anything, I fish out a five rupee coin from my pocket and tell her that I worked hard all day to get this for her. The trick used to work, till she realised that with five bucks you couldn’t really buy much.

 I think I went too far on one instance when I cusped both my palms together and told her I got some fresh air from the A/C of my office. Sadly, that one didn’t work.

 And before many of you will rightfully say I’m spoiling her, I'll simply take cover, and wait for the bullets to fly past, till I can give you an explanation.

 Guilty! Yes I am.

 But that’s what most fathers do, when the we feel we don’t spend enough time with our kids - We try and compensate by buying materialistic things. 

Much to the dismay of my wife, who tries hard to inculcate good values in her instead.

 - - - - 

A few days back, I got home something else.

 I got home - my work stress.

 I was having a bad day at work. Then I had to fight traffic to get home. Followed by a complaint call by a client.

 By the time I reached home I was so tired that I just walked passed both, a very surprised Tiara and Samaira, and without saying a word went to freshen up.

I ignored her while she tried asking me what I had got her. So much so, that even Swetal, my wife, was a bit alarmed.

 Then Samaira, came to me for a usual round of wrestling but I snapped back at her and asked her to leave me alone.

 My wife quickly bundled her up into the other room and I stomped out to have my dinner which was already served.

 By the time I was done, and a bit of my senses were calmed, Samaira was fast asleep in bed. I looked at her innocent face, and sensed her disappointment.

 Swetal, my wife told me that she kept asking for me while she was dozing off. The next morning I left early to work, much before she woke up.

 By noon, the pressure on the project cooled off, and soon I realized that it wasn’t as big a deal than I had made of it in my head.

 That evening, I went home with my usual gift.

 Luckily, I ‘did’ have the same wagging tail, and eager eyes looking at my bag when I walked in.

 But there was a definitely a slight hesitance in the air, and I realized that Samaira was checking, if I was still in a bad mood.

 I rushed in and hugged them both, and she giggled with joy on getting her present .


Knowingly, or unknowingly, we leave our footprints in the minds of our children. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Our actions, words, thoughts and deeds, impact their personalities.

 But more importantly how we behave with them shapes their relationships with ‘us’.

 How many times have we heard of people being close only to one parent, and sometimes to none. We too have made our choices, haven’t we? 

But if asked, what was that turning point, it’ll be hard for us to recollect the exact moment when we picked sides. 

As parents we try hard to ensure that our children love us both equally. We are careful not to argue in front of them. We work as a team to guide them to distinguish right from wrong. How many times have we heard that a child’s mind is like clay. Its time we realize that at this tender age, our actions will shape their world, and ‘ours too’. 

- - - -

 A few nights later, Samaira cuddled up to me, and timidly asked me. “Papa, are you still angry on me?”

 I hugged her tightly, and I said “Sorry boo, it wasn't your fault at all”.

 I think at that moment my growing girl understood a lot more than I wanted her to.