After the things that O +ve and B +ve are growing up without, now it is time for what they are growing up with. Again, some planned, some unplanned, some voluntary, some involuntary, basis the situation. Never sure, what is good parenting, what is not. Let’s see.
Father at home: O +ve and B +ve see me at home 24 hours, in my shorts and t-shirt with uncombed hair and unshaven face. They see me doing household chores, getting involved in all the action along with them, always consulting their mother before taking the final decision. Yes, they do want their mother around all the time, but they have never suggested that I should start going to the office again – I take solace in this and suppose that I am hanging in pretty ok. Wondering what impression they are going to have about Men as they grow up.
Free time: With no playschool, no daycare centre, ever so imaginative mother away for work; daughters have only their clueless father as a company for the major part of the day. I have no idea about the concept of no schooling leave aside homeschooling; I suppose that is what I end up doing unintentionally. Girls have loads of free time during the day with no structured activities, but 2 tasks – be a child and have fun.
Weekly Outing: With no parks, no accessible green spaces in the near vicinity that we can walk to, I take them out a couple of times every week ; to parks, gardens, grocery stores, by lanes in our neighbourhood, metro station, villages in which their mother works and of course, to their grand parents’ house where they get to immerse in their granny’s roof-top kitchen garden – watering the plants, digging soil, checking out insects and birds, collecting dry leaves and plucking tomatoes to their heart’s content.
Maggi: No Lays, no soft drinks but, we love our Maggi. The 2-minute convenience when the mother is down and out (you guessed it right – I am a stay-at-home father, but I don’t cook; yet to get over all the so-called man-hood qualities), Maggi has been the only saviour. I get over my guilt with the thought that it might have Lead, but if it has gone around for so long, once a fortnight will not hurt much. Sorry Girls, your father just refuses to learn cooking.
Sharing and Ownership: They shared their living space before they came into this world, and it continues and will continue. They have their dedicated sets of tooth-brushes, shoes, water bottles; the rest of the stuff is all shared. They eat food from the same plate, wear clothes interchangeably and when one falls ill, the second shares the medicine also (she will anyways require it in next 48 hours). Being a single child, I haven’t had to share most of the times. And even now, I don’t always get it right on that front. But I am glad my daughters have to experience the sharing bit right from their birth.
Sharing also leads to understanding the concept of ownership. The twins understand colour coding, so whenever there are two sets, they pretty much stick to their own. And for anything that is one, we have a concept of 80:20, 80% of the time young ladies ask, wait for their turn, give and take. For the rest 20% of the time, they push and pull.
Bi-lingual: With a Telugu mother and a Gujarati father, we were warned by many, including a top-notch paediatrician that the girls might get confused between languages and might be late-learners when it comes to speaking. Well, the opposite has happened. They speak both the languages fluently for their age, can translate instantaneously for our benefit and go on and on in the language of their audience. Hindi and English are currently waiting for their turn.
I-pad: Yes, we do not have a TV at home and I do not use a smartphone, but we do have an I-pad, that was bought a year before the girls were born. It was hardly used even until the girls turned one. After that, the I-pad just sprung to life. One of the girls is extremely finicky about the quantity of food, and the other one with the taste of food, enough to drive us crazy all the time. We needed help to get them started for their meal times and Little Baby Bum videos have been a life-line. Also, they are just the kind of exposure we want for our daughters. If not having girls interested in TV and smartphone meant that they will not have any screen time at all, then that has not been the case. They are currently outgrowing this need as well.
Sweet & Sour: They love their sugar, their sweetmeats. They adore their lemons and all other tangy stuff that they can pop into their mouths. Another advantage/disadvantage of having parents from two different regions of the country. I just cannot handle anything sour, my wife does not have a great liking for sweet, and the two girls have developed a fondness for both.
Hands-On: My wife runs an experiential travel firm for kids (https://www.facebook.com/Travelwithdirtyfeet). It is what we believe in totally. So, hands-on is what defines our parenting as well as our daughters’ childhood. They are involved along with us in everything that we do – dusting, cooking, doing laundry, shopping for groceries, fixing and repairing household stuff, running errands, whatever it is including tidying up their own clutter. In other words, doing things together is what describes us.
Thumb sucking: Both the girls have a habit of sucking their thumb and couple of fingers respectively when they are nearing their sleep-time or are tired and want to rest on their parents. Have seen complete strangers walking up to us and giving us home remedies to cure our children of this. Whereas the paediatrician says that it does not require any kind of intervention till they turn four. We are of course fine with what the doctor tells us and hence with our daughters’ sucking, but quite a few people around us just want us to pull their fingers out from the mouth. Another of our free advice syndrome.
What is your must-have growing up list for your child?