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A classic Hindi movie song from the late 1960s comes to mind as I write this. The song goes like this – “Bachche Mann Ke Sachche, Saari Jag Ke Aankh Ke Taare, Yeh Woh Nanhe Phool Hain Jo Bhagwan Ko Lagtey Pyaare”. The song evokes mixed emotions though. I smile as I think how true the lyrics are, most of the time. Indeed, kids are angels who with their innocence and demeanour can bring smiles on the faces of even the grumpiest amongst us. However, I also hold my breath as I think how far from the truth these lyrics can sometimes seem to be - I can visualise the Devil himself taking cover from the havoc wreaked by kids in their elements.
My son turned two a few months ago. I can’t believe the months flew by so quickly, it seems like only a few months ago that he was born (I guess that’s what long working hours does to the best of us). He has started to bond with me only since the past 6 months or so. He even points at me and laughs hysterically whenever I ask him whether he loves me or his mum more (ROFL@wifey). He only recently started calling me ‘dadda’ (previously, he’d call everyone ‘Maa’, since that was the only word he considered worth the effort).
Before having a kid of my own, I’d always be anxious about dealing with them – I still shiver and wince when I have to deal with kids. Although more than two years of parenthood have obviously taught me quite a lot about how to deal with kids, there are still a lot of things you can do absolutely nothing about.
There are a few axioms (self-evident truths that do not require proof) when it comes to kids. If they do not apply to your kid, either consider yourselves blessed, or brace yourselves for the storm that follows a lull. Some of these axioms are:-
1) Feeding A Toddler = Feeding The Surroundings
Sometimes (read ALWAYS), it simply isn’t possible to make your kid sit still while feeding him/her. Kids like to be on the move, shuttling from one parent’s lap to the other’s, then jumping onto a couch, proceeding to the floor, and maybe even considering rolling into bed – all while still eating. In short, kids can get really choosy about the right ambience while having their meals. As a result, you end up with more food at the spots mentioned above than in the child’s mouth.
Here’s a tip on finding out whether or not any random person has a kid – check whether his/her clothes have food stains.
2) Ain't No Place That’s Out Of Reach
As adults, you’re always trying your best to keep things that are delicate, valuable or harmful out of your kid’s reach. But no matter how hard you try, your kid will eventually learn how to get it. So brace yourselves for a kid who will eventually figure out what to climb onto in order to reach mobile phones kept at the farthest ends of high furniture, who will reach out for door latches and lock you inside bathrooms and toilets, who will fish out that important document hidden in a secret compartment of your office bag and tear it to smithereens, and much more. There’s absolutely nothing you’re going to be able to do to prevent these things from happening. All you can do is try your best, resign to fate and keep your fingers (and toes) crossed.
3) Kids Say The Darndest Things
Kids can embarrass you in public. Since they are innocent, they rarely (read NEVER) think about the repercussions of their words or actions. Also, you need to be extra careful about what you say in front of kids. Like this one kid who got so used to his dad calling his father-in-law a gorilla that he one fine day messed up a family gathering by saying something like “Daddy, can I sit with Gorilla for some time?” Thankfully, I don’t point out animals at public gatherings.
4) Risky Affairs
There are certain risks parents of a naughty, quick or curious kid should NEVER EVER take. These are:-
a) Leaving a kid without a diaper on for more than 2 minutes; unless you like to clean freshly and generously released poop and pee
b) Leaving him/her in a room alone for even a minute, with easy access to things that could turn out to be recipes for disaster – Here’s a tip…if you’ve left your kid alone in a room and suddenly realise that your kid hasn’t made a sound for a while, you should get really worried and prepare yourselves to be welcomed by the sight of torn papers, missing laptop keys, talcum powder on the sofa and the floor, pain balm smeared on hands and legs, etc.
It might sound like an exaggeration, but even a minute of negligence on your part could potentially make your entire day’s schedule spin crazily out of control
5) Bura Waqt Aur Tantrums Kabhi Bhi Aa Sakte Hain
Here’s another thing about toddlers…when they are not allowed to have things their way, they resort to throwing tantrums. So whether it is wailing out loud, or throwing things on the floor, or flailing their limbs out to smack you in the face or lying down in protest in the middle of the road, these are all part of a well-devised strategy to convince adults. Sometimes, however, there might be no apparent reason for throwing tantrums. They simply make an appearance, almost like a demonic possession. So imagine sitting with your kid watching a cartoon show and all of a sudden he/she drags his/her body to the floor and starts wailing – you don’t know whether it was the visual of Jerry hitting Tom that upset him, or whether he/she hates the Hindi dubbing, or whether he abhors the ads, or whether you took more than your share of popcorn. All you can do is try to divert his/her attention and/or pray that it stops.
6) A Gentle Pat On The Head Can Be Moments Away From A Resonating Slap On the Face
It goes without saying that parents of a toddler don multiple roles. Yours truly proudly plays bath-giver, cleaner, feeder, football coach, first aid guy, hairdresser, shoe-fitter, mattress, jumping board, punching bag, complaint box, horse/donkey…as you can see, the job description does not explicitly and exhaustively define the required skill sets and tasks that need to be performed. Obviously, the job could leave you exhausted and out of breath. Accordingly, some day your kid might decide that dad/mom needs some moments of quiet and a head massage. So, while you’re sitting on the couch and your kid is gently patting your back and massaging your head and shoulders, make sure that you do not interrupt his little game, lest he/she lands a smackeroni (read slap) on your head and face.
7) Gadgets That Do Not Work Fast Enough Will Come Crashing To The Floor At Supersonic Speed
Pacifiers and Distractors (read gadgets…yeah yeah, judge me now) should not regularly get into loading or buffering mode. If patience is not a virtue that your kid possesses, a slow device could spell trouble, because for a toddler, things that do not work deserve to be dropped on the floor. Gorilla Glass is the greatest technological marvel I tell you!
8) The World's Fiercest Battles Are Fought At The Wash Basin
If you think the Third Battle of Panipat and the Battle of Haldighati were the fiercest conflicts in history, wait till it’s time to brush your little feller’s teeth. Flailing limbs and thrashing heads are known to inflict heavy damage on parents the world over. The Battle of the Pearly Whites is clearly right up there among the fiercest clashes in history.
9) A Face Wash Or A Hand Wash Could Eventually Lead To A Bath
Most kids love water. Some kids like to share the love. Like Saint Peter, they seek more than what’s offered in the original deal – “Not just my feet, but my hands and head as well”. Consequently, what was initially intended to be a mere hand or face wash could soon turn into a full-fledged bath. For the benefit of the uninitiated, that translates into additional tasks like wiping with a towel, making sure the hair is dry, changing into dry clothes, changing your own clothes (not exaggerating), and many more.
10) Kids Believe In Being Down To Earth
Imagine yourselves getting ready for a function at an open ground/lawn. You’re all decked up in your suits and sarees, your shoes are perfectly polished, your toenails are looking divine. You’ve dressed up your toddler as well, and he/she is looking like a miniature version of a Greek God/Goddess. The evening promises to be an opportunity for a perfect family picture. Alas, the first thing your kid does when he/she sets foot at the venue is to have a mud bath or to roll in the grass, and nothing you say is about to make him/her stop. Sounds familiar? Well, to say that kids love nature would be an understatement. Oh, by the way, this also means that your own clothes are doomed, coz guess who’s gonna have to pick up your dusty kid?
So, there you go. I sincerely hope this helps you, although I'm almost certain that no amount of preparation can guarantee you a smooth ride.
Toddlers will be toddlers after all.
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Previous posts in the A to Z Challenge - April 2016:-