Saturday, April 25, 2020

Not a child’s play!

April 26, 2020, 11:23 AM IST  in The WriteClick | Lifestyle | TOI
(Parenting is easier said than done but an investment worth priceless)
I remember the times when I would, as a bachelor said to myself, “I will make the best dad. I will play with my kids, eat with them, sing with them, bath with them, sleep with them- do everything with them and for them.” Some of the bachelors today could be pardoned for breeding the same thoughts. But what was fundamentally wrong with the above resolution is that, ‘It didn’t reveal the time frame-number of hours and days.’ It is not that I didn’t do all these activities with my kids, in fact, every parent would. The point where one’s weakness as a parent gets exposed is when these rituals are to be performed “everyday”. Yes, that is right, 7 days a week. “Chips are unhealthy, why do people feed their children?” would be an occasional silent comment on my mind every time I saw kids eating potato chips, back then. 
Fast forward into 15 years i.e. now and the picture is just the opposite; the other day I’d walked a mile in search of potato chips. “You should bring Chocolate, chips, ice-cream, burger, French-fries, and coke,” ordered someone, standing 3 feet tall from the ground. Lists of ideal foods for kids have all healthy foods and none of the items I was ordered to buy, featured in the lists. The challenge of letting kids ingest those listed ideal foods is another back-breaking task which demands planning, patience, hard-work and ironically a promise of providing those foods not included in the list, if they eat. Each spoonful of food to their mouth is a mission worth celebrating its success.
Vowels, consonants and use of different mathematical signs like addition and subtractions are in their syllabus while they struggle to write the ‘Capitals and Smalls of ABC’. All those dreams of telling your kids about the wisdom you thought to have attained in years will see the end of the day when after few words of you interestingly narrating a topic, they’d yell “Give me your phone.” Like potato chips, Mobile phone was the one thing I loathe seeing in children’s hands. “Irresponsible parents,” was usually my thought. But now, not only do we oblige their demands, but there are even times when we give them the Phone just to make them stop the maddening runs and wails, not to mention the ransacking of the house.
The most difficult part is when deciding how to discipline your child. They could be so mischievous that at times you’d feel like calling the cops to get your 4-year-old son. Then there are motivating tips on the internet which soothe your mind for a few hours reminding you that they are kids and they need time. But when those compassions are taken for granted and your neighbours started telling you, ‘had my child done the same, I would have beaten the hell out of him,’ it is not only tempting but appears justifiable at times to rather use sticks. But then you have that dream of raising your kids without a stick being raised, which will keep you in dire situations not knowing what is good or bad.
There is no perfect strategy in parenting. The last time I tried implementing something I have read on the internet, it backfired badly. ‘This must be for Americans kids,’ I said to myself, only to later accept the fact that one can’t even apply the neighbour’s strategy. All the kids are different- naughty in their own different ways. The number of unsolicited advice one received on parenting is overwhelming. Every parent is guilty on this count; both as a giver and a receiver. The usual- ‘Oh! My son sleeps late’ would be met with the obvious ‘make him rise early so that he sleeps early’ advice. It is not the lack of knowledge of what to do that is challenging but rather the question of how to do it, that makes parenting practically  tougher than rocket science. This must sound like a shocker to some as I often upload pictures of the happy moments with my kids on social media. What is not visible to all is the effort rendered by parents to get that one shot- which is a different struggle altogether. The number of deleted pictures and its selection process thereof behind every uploaded picture is a tale in itself for another day.
Having said all, the best thing to be busy with is on children. They are undoubtedly the best gifts given to parents. The best moments of a parent will surely involve those times spent with the kids. The magical feeling of your child coming to you and hugging you when you returned from work is comparable to none. With all the stories of the roses and thorns, parenting is one experience which all parents will eventually missed. It is without doubt the management of an investment of one's most precious wealth. Only that the terms and conditions of parenting are subjected to changes every day, if not every hour. The returns, though mostly non-quantifiable are worth a thousand times the premium. #HappyParenting

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