God asked him “What were you while on earth?” He replied, “I was a parent, God.” And the God said, “Such multi-talented person! You must have had quite a time. You may rest here.” God sent him to heaven.
Being parents is not only about procreating. It involves a lot of other things. A parent is a mother, father, teacher, friend, nanny, nurse, judge, referee, mentor, critic and a lot of other things. All in one! Not necessarily in that chronological order though. A good half of our lives are spent on parenting our own children and the other half parenting their children. When you think that you are through it, you have reached your golden years and you need parenting yourselves. If you are lucky enough, you land up being parented well and if you are not so, God save them. Or better still, God take them faster!
The life of woes of a parent starts the moment your first bundle of joy (read “bundles” for those very fertile ones) arrives the mortal world – naked, fragile, vulnerable and howling for attention. But you do not realise it then. Wait, let nature show you its ways. Your multi-role starts right from here. All the best, because you really need it! Nursing and feeding takes away most of your waking, and even sleeping, hours. Welcome to the world of parenting. The sleepless nights that you spend by its side, when it develops a slight fever, thinking and imagining the worst of the worst. When the fever is gone you are relieved and want to take a break but your ‘bundle of joy’ never seems to tire. What never ending reserves of energy! It intrigues you to no end. You play and run around with it till you think you will drop dead, only to find that it has found another way of playing with the same toy and you are back to square one. What ingenuity! The little genius!
Then your little genius graduates to being the “little devil”. He will want to test and taste everything (and sometimes everyone) around. He will try to do the unthinkable and the unimaginable. Instead of the little devil, it’s you, who will require all the vitamins and calories to keep pace with him. Where does this little devil get such reserves of energy? Is it humanly possible, you wonder? Its babbling unintelligible and disjointed little words here and there need your utmost attention. You have to take the cue what he signals and comply with it or else his little temper flares up and he will be reeling on the ground, wailing out at the top of his voice. If you have more than one little devil, your role of a judge is very much required here.
The first day in school is another memorable day, for both the child and the parent. Unwilling little feet, refusing to budge an inch, being forcefully dragged along and the parent, coaxing, cajoling and sometimes even bribing little goodies, is the scene. Past the D Day, the daily routine of reaching and getting from school keeps you on toes, literally. The little devil getting tamed by the day, but the school uniform on his hyper body never seemed to be getting tamed. A torn piece here and a missing button there is all part and parcel of the game and not to forget the loose ends of the belt dragging on the ground, with the edges of the dress sweeping the very ground on which his little feet trod. However tidy you dress him in the morning and however well the ends of his belt are knotted, somehow he will manage to untie them. The volume of the frills at the two ends of his ‘kera’ keep on decreasing till finally, there is none left.
As he grows up, helping with his home works, sometimes even class works, take up most of your ‘after office’ hours, if you are an office goer. The rest of it will be spent on your never ending moral lectures, which usually encounter deaf ears, and some plugged with those weird looking gizmos. The little devil has turned into a little adolescent and racing towards becoming an adult. His voice cracks and overnight he seemed to have grown a metre long! As you stretch up to equal his towering height to whisper some words of advice into his ears, he gives you that disdain look of “sorry dad, I don’t have time for you now. I have some important matters to attend to.” Your attempt at moral lecturing fails, and miserably. How true when somebody said, “Have you ever wondered that we spend the first eighteen months to teach the child to talk and walk and the next eighteen years to get the child to sit and listen to you?” He has hit the nail on the head.
Graduation and a hunt for a suitable job (he will usually be looking for a job with fat pay packages and less work) follows. Then your worries and your endeavours to look for a suitable bride, or your fears that we might walk the isles with someone not of your choice, are next in line. But who cares what your choices are? By then you have lived a better part of your life. Thanks God that was one life!
But wait, it’s not over yet. The little giant (he is still “my little” to you and these days they seem to be growing without an end) wants children of his own. So, they are in the family way. The little naked, slimy, wailing creature called your grandchild has arrived. Its parents have to attend office. The child is left on your lap. You are back to where you have started. Your role as a mother, father, teacher, friend, nanny, nurse, judge, referee, mentor and critic starts all over. Once again!
Note : For simplicity the pronouns ‘he’, ‘him’ and the possessive pronoun ‘his’ are used throughout the article. They also mean ‘she’, ‘her’ and ‘hers’ respectively. The noun ‘dad’ also means ‘mom’/’mum’. No gender bias is intended, in any way.