10 things my daughters are growing up without

Every parent would want to give the best possible childhood to their children. We are no exception, trying hard in our own way, unsure and wavering, but trying nevertheless our understanding of what parenting is. Whilst working on a list of what my daughters are growing up with, I also put together things that they are not doing, that they are growing up without. Some of these are well thought out, calculated decisions, whilst some are inadvertent.  Sharing with you, in no particular order, what O +ve and B +ve are not having in their life, at present.

Playschool: A WIP decision, so as to say. Our daughters are 3.5 years and my wife and I believe that they currently belong to their home space. They are in the familiar ground, exploring and learning at their own pace, adequately engaged and occupied. Eventually, they might go to school. When and where? We are taking six months at a time to get to that and are not in a hurry at all on that front. One thing we know for sure is that we want them to just enjoy their childhood. Whenever we go out or have people over, we are often bombarded with advice as to how much damage all of this will cause to our kids. More on this later.

Television: Barring for a year in Mumbai, i.e. 2008, we never had a television in our life. In the course of the day, there are times when there is too much of action around me, I do feel tempted to use the services of the idiot box to get them off my back and buy myself some time to breathe, some time to go to the washroom. But the repulsion that we have for the passivity that television brings along with it never allows us to put this thought into action. The result – our twins are growing up without TV. They do know about its existence, they get to occasionally check it out during their social visits and hospital visits where it is perpetually on. Thankfully they aren’t asking for it as yet.

Advertisements: This is a conscious one. We know that girls are growing up to be a part of a society which promotes consumerism in every possible way. Why do they have to know now – which detergent powder to use, which toothpaste to use, what clothes to wear and so on? I do not like “Pester Power”, the term used by advertisers to manipulate children and their thoughts. And I hate advertisements which show children vouching for a product. I googled and realized that there are countries that ban advertisements aimed at children, but as is the case in India – yahaan sab kuch chalta hain.

Pink: Since we began shopping for our daughters, we have had to buy two sets of everything to keep things separate and to ensure easy identification. Thanks for this, we were saved from the deluge of PINK. But soon realised that the only other option was Blue. The omnipresence of Pink and Blue across all kids’ stuff is just nauseating. I suppose that the gender stereotyping starts right from birth. Our girls have a right to all the colours of the rainbow – if it means getting them to paint their stuff in colours of their choice, getting stuff tailored and customised for them, then so be it. Our twins are not dependent on any colour for the identity of their gender.

Barbie: Girls play with dolls and boys play with cars, girls play with kitchen sets and boys play with blocks. O +ve and B +ve love playing with all 4 mentioned above and more. They have of course been gifted Barbies, which lie wrapped up in the cupboard somewhere, with the wife certain that she is not going to gift them to any other girl either. #NoBarbieForMyGirls.

Lays: No Lays, No Pringles, No Cheetos and No Kurkure. No Soft drinks, no canned fruit juices either. The twins thrive on homemade snacks and resort to packaged biscuits, candies, chocolates and ice creams occasionally. They love their sugarcane juice and lemon juice – fresh.

Smartphone: I have never used one, my wife has got two. The girls have been told that they are free to use their father’s phone, but not their mother’s, and somehow they seem to be at peace with this rule. So, they speak to their grandparents and extended family, all on a feature phone. They are well aware that one can watch videos and video call on the smartphone, but they have never shown any interest whatsoever in picking up the smartphone. So far so good.

Friends: This is an unintended one. Not going to a playschool, not having kids of their age in the apartment where we live, not having a park or a garden or any open public space nearby in a walking distance has led to this. We are still figuring out a way out of this on a daily basis.

Movies: Wife used to be a movie-buff but after being married to a person for 11 years, who cannot sit through a movie, she has lost interest. My kids have until now not been to a cinema hall to watch a movie. Friends and cousins cry foul, they strongly recommend that we should initiate the kids into this at a young age otherwise they will find it difficult to handle the sounds and lights at a later date. We don’t think the girls are missing out on anything significant in their life on this count. When they are old enough, they could decide for themselves.

Stay at home Mother: Girls are growing up seeing their father at home and their mother going to office daily. Till now, it has been fine as their socialization has been fairly limited. We are, however, not sure how they will respond once they figure out the general norm in other families, as they grow up. And yes, they do want their mother to stay with them at home, on a continuous basis.

Malls: Have never really understood the concept of going to a mall for recreational purpose or for anything else. We do not go to malls – simply put; it is not a day well spent or so much awesome.

Not sure how these omissions from their life are going to impact them in the days to come – good/bad/somewhere in between?

What are the things that your child is growing up without?

How to be a man – Raise a Child

Google search of how to be a man throws up 1,53,00,00,000 results (wonder who searches such stuff)? Now, I will also add my own version to this quest of discovering manhood.

A woman gives birth, a man does not. A woman nurses the child, which a man cannot. But, after nursing, which is gender specific, how and what led a woman continuing the primary caregiver role? How and what led a man to be what he is today – an arm-chair expert, bossing around the family no matter what his own capability is, carrying the belief that since he is the primary bread-winner, he is a know-all though he is actually a pain in all the wrong places. I have all the issues with this being of a man, which I was myself, rather still I am.

After the birth of twin daughters, I always wanted to be with them contributing to their day-to-day upbringing. Finally, after they turned 2.5 years; I put down my papers, my wife started working full-time with her own enterprise that she considers the first child, and I started my journey of a stay-at-home-dad (SAHD).

Now, I realize what this experience is teaching me. I recognize what a woman goes through being at home, taking care of the children and the house-hold – a thankless task, and if the woman is a working professional herself, consider that too. The man just for the sake of putting in 8-9 hours of formal work and only he would know, how much he actually worked in the age of whatsapp, facebook, tea break, gossip break, meetings etc, that he takes it for granted what the woman does in the house the whole day for his family and the bugger gets to order around everybody when he is back. Ok, ok, not all man would be such a**-holes, but many of them are, and all of us know it.

To be a man – I would like to propose a mandatory period for the man to be involved in the upbringing of his child / children till they turn 18. Every year, man should get to spend minimum of 2 months with his progeny so that he is aware of what the woman gives to the society and how he can contribute to the betterment of tomorrow’s citizens as an active parent.

Consider the benefits- Man becomes more civilized, becomes aware of the gender divide, understand what goes into what he takes for granted and moves his back-side and his mind, for once, for his own children. As this makes man more open-minded, his violent instincts will get curbed – less road rage, less aggressiveness, less spitting around – less of all unwanted behaviour. Assuming that man at the least, would not want to set a wrong example for his own children. Though he keeps doing this all the time when he is in public currently, for that matter, even private.

Man gets to be more accommodative, more progressive, more tolerant, more persuasive – more of all the wanted qualities, once he starts staying at home for an extended period with his children.

On the economic front, for the service class to get 2 months of paid leave means that organizations will have to create new jobs. For the current 6 jobs, one more job will be created, as a rule of thumb, meaning 16% more employment. For self-employed, they will also need to come up with their own replacements in this time-frame. See, job markets suddenly start looking better.

Of course, man will not be ready for this change over-night, as he has looked down for centuries on what woman contributes to the society. However, if we have to build an inclusive society for tomorrow’s citizens where there is mutual respect, peace and love, this change has to happen.

The man has to learn to be a man. The sooner, the better. Raise a Child.

I am living my dream as a parent

  • I am working 24*7, 7 days a week, for the last 9 months of my life.
  • I do not get any weekly off, rather my work increases on the days of festivals, national holidays.
  • I do not get to sit at a place for more than, say, 5 minutes, have to always be on my toes, running around.
  • There is no financial payout – no salary or perk or incentive.
  • My appraisals keep happening every day, every hour, every minute.
  • There is no fixed time for lunch. I am lucky that I have never had to miss my lunch though dinner gets missed out almost once a week, and breakfast is completely ruled out.
  • I have not slept continuously for more than 2-3 hours, at max, for more than last 3 years of my life, as my work requires me to be awake at all god-forsaken hours.
  • I do not get to toy with a smart-phone during working hours, which is 24*7, rather I do not have a smartphone at all, as my job does not require it as such.
  • I do not get time even for a loo break and have to hold back for hours if my work so requires.

Wondering, what is the connecting link between the title of the blog and the above statements? Do I sound like a typical rat-racer for whom the work is worship or what (barring the statement of no financial payouts)?

I tell you, I am a stay-at-home father for my twin daughters and I am living my dream.

  • I get to be a part of my daughters’ growing up, every day, every hour, every minute.
  • I get to do the most rewarding job – being with my children – feeding, playing, putting to sleep, waking up, cleaning up, bathing, dressing, putting up with tantrums, pulling my hair out.
  • I get paid in hugs and kisses at the most unexpected times and also when I cry for help.
  • I try to decipher the health of my children from the colour/ texture/quantity/smell of their poop.
  • I feel awkward, I provide entertainment, I feel out-of-place, I feel stupid – wherever / whenever I go out.
  • I have realized how many corners can a house have, how many minutes can be in an hour and how many hours in a day and how at times, sun sets even before I realize that sun rise did happen.
  • I am getting to know how to feel dead-tired and ecstatic, simultaneously, well almost, unless I bump into a wall with my eyes open.
  • I have started to know my own self better with all my weaknesses staring at me, point-blank and nowhere to hide for me.
  • I have started to realize how difficult a woman’s life is, how important a woman’s life is, how much taken for granted a woman’s life is.

I tell you, I am a stay-at-home father for my twin daughters and I am living my dream.

Welcome to my blog, where I try to chronicle my journey of parenting, joy and distress, anguish and fulfilment, happiness and misery, frustration and bliss; all at the same time as I try at growing up together with my daughters.