Sugar, spice, chalk and cheese - a father of two little girls speaks.
Parenting is way beyond expectations when you let your little ones lead you where they will, says Vinay who juggles a demanding career with being an engaged father to two tween girls. All his expectations of parenting flew out the window when he discovered how each child is an individual and needs to be treated like one. Today he is happy to go with the flow and explore the world around through his daughters.
Every dad-to-be quietly wishes for of the arrival of Daddy’s little girl and I lucked out twice!
Our first daughter, now 12, was very clearly an outdoor girl. Evenings at the society park were a must in her daily schedule. As a protective dad I would get nervous seeing her on top of the big kids slide or monkey bars but she would just throw me an ‘I’ve got this’ look and slide her way down with a big shriek. Birthdays would bring well-meaning gifts in the form of puzzles and jewellery making kits and pink goodies in abundance but she would have none of it! The real smiles came with her first bike, first pair of roller skates (which she zips about in even today) and footballs! She always wanted to get out there and play in the open, getting her hands dirty. I was more than happy to join the fun.
Then along came our second treasure, now a little lady at age 7. She really taught us the meaning of ‘like chalk and cheese!’ Every parenting ploy that worked earlier, failed miserably here! In stark contrast with her sister, she simply wanted my attention as long as it was undivided of course! She loved spending time with each of us. The activity we did wasn't so much a concern as was the time we spent together. So if she caught me lazing around on a Saturday morning after a long week of travel, she would flash her pack of cards and get me to play. As my energy levels went up, her To-Do list for the day would fill with a family cricket session or swimming or board games! And I must admit, all of it was such a de-stressor. Don’t tell anyone, but my favourite moments are when the two of us are sitting on the floor and quietly colouring away in our colouring books! Try it, the strokes relax you like nothing else!
One thing common to both the girls is their unabashed love for books and bedtime stories. This is a ritual that brings such fond memories. Even today, while they prefer reading on their own, I will volunteer to snuggle up with our favourite Amar Chitra Kathas and Bondapalli book. I am pretty sure I know ‘Hanuman to the Rescue’ by heart! And when the lights go out, I get to let my imagination run wild and play to the audience. Wild stories of tigers and lions and flying heroes and lots of giggles in the darkness. And did I mention the wrestling and tumbling!
As a young parent, you start out thinking you are the one in control. You will mould and shape your kids and enrich their lives like every super-dad out there! Pretty early on I realised that the one being enriched is me! My girls, each with such distinct personalities and likes and dislikes, have opened my eyes to what the role of a father really is.
Apart from the stereotypically strong guy in the house, your job is really to provide a safe and warm environment for them to blossom in. You are definitely a role model and they are watching every move you make and hearing every word you say. You know they are watching as you chip in with household chores (Sunday night you will find me humming and ironing 3 sets of uniforms each J), support their mother’s career, take care of your ageing parents and more. You let your actions speak knowing that the decisions will be their own. And they know that you’ve got their back.
When the girls were small it was more about keeping them physically safe, comfortable and cared for. As they grow, you start to realise how much of their personality and beliefs is getting influenced by what you say and do. Allowing their individual traits to flourish has been a most enriching and satisfying experience. From so early on they have their own leadership styles, their own way of dealing with good time and tough ones.
Every child is different. Acknowledging this makes the parenting journey that much more fun. They respect that I know what they enjoy and am happy to spend time with them doing what they love. So from painting to cooking to swimming to football to books – I am always game for anything they suggest, and they know where to find me!