Parenting is fun. For the first time, you’re totally in charge, teaching a young, impressionable mind right from wrong, good from bad, etc etc…
Or so we’ve been conditioned to believe … especially us Indian parents, who grew up on a healthy dose of ‘Because I told you so’ when we were kids.
But actually, ever since a precocious bundle called Aatish entered my life a little more than 4 years back, I’ve realised that I’ve been re-discovering and re-learning a lot of things I had forgotten. All thanks to a child with the infinite wisdom only a 4 yr old can possess.
“Mamma, stop working on your computer, or I will send you a mail”
‘What mail will you send me? ‘
“I sent you a mail but female is better”
During ‘life before Aatish’, I was a TV journalist, living life at a break-neck speed. I had a purposeful stride, and always seemed to be in a hurry. The stride remained purposeful and focused even when I had a toddler in a pram. I was still in control, you see.
And then the toddler started to walk. Learned to explore. At.His.Own.Pace.
I remember this long, never-ending walk with him at the Mumbai airport, where our man decided on a leisurely stroll even as other passengers raced by. He wanted to stand still on the (super) slow moving travelator and point out to every bus, plane and baggage-handling man he could see through the big glass windows. No amount of cajoling could get him to speed up. More so when he realised I seemed to be in a hurry.
Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And that’s when it actually becomes fun.
I took a deep breath, and slackened my pace. Hand in hand, we walked, making up imaginary destinations for every plane we saw. Thought of names for every baggage handler we encountered. Yes, our journey outside the airport took almost as long as the flight from Delhi to Mumbai … but it was worth it.
Boy, have I slowed down since then. Do we stop to say bye to the flock of pigeons on our way out from school? Yes.
Do we slow down the car just so we can get a better glimpse of the cow in the middle of the road? Yes.
Which naturally brings me to point number 2 –
The magic in the mundane
‘Mama, if we have Tiger biscuit, why don’t we have bison or ram or cow or any horned animal biscuit?’
‘Mama you said pigs don’t talk, but Peppa and her friends can talk. Only George doesn’t talk’
‘I want to sing Doe a deer, a Male deer, because I like male deer better’
Ordinary everyday things suddenly become magical objects with an elaborate story behind each of them. Talking pigs, bison biscuits or even completely turning a childhood favourite song on its head. I’m learning to see the magic in everything again.
The joy of missing out
My 20s were all about F-O-M-O or the fear of missing out, where I had to see the newest movies, go to the hippest clubs and restaurants, and basically be part of every plan my friends made. Motherhood has taught me all about the joy-of-missing-out. I couldn’t watch a new movie at the theatre for almost 6 months after A was born. I didn’t care. I cancelled on so many plans for a night-out with my friends. It was my choice.
Today, give me a quiet Saturday night in bed reading stories to A over any fancy things happening in the world out there. Because this is home, and I didn’t really want to be anywhere else. Ah, the joy of missing out.
To be a better person
Yes yes, it sounds clichéd. But only when you’re a parent do you realise that you’re actually a living, breathing role model for a very impressionable young mind. How would I ever teach him to be truthful if he saw me resorting to white lies? What would he learn about compassion if he saw me losing my temper and snapping at people?
Parenting taught me the truest meaning of ‘leading by example’ and I try, I genuinely try to be a calmer, kinder person just for him.
“Mamma are you strong?”
‘Yes I am’
“Are you strong enough to hit the troll? And then why did Mama Billy Goat Gruff have to wait for Baba Billy Goat Gruff to hit the troll?”
Ha! The most unexpected thing I learned from my bratty 3-yr-old. A nuanced understanding of how gender conditioning starts so, so early.
When not answering the incessant question of her 4-year-old, Priyanka Bhattacharya Dutt is a journalist and co-founder of Tura Turi, an art-inspired children’s merchandise brand