Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson 10 – Friendship is priceless.

They say that you can identify the characteristics of a person by meeting the 5 people they are closest to.

I was talking to my wife some days ago, about how as we grow older, some of the friends we had as children, teenagers, young adults, seem to drift out of our lives, and we are, we hope, left with a few, strong ties, peers, family extensions we call friends.

I grew up with a few close friends.  I wasn’t particularly inundated with friends, but I had taken the decision (somewhat much to my regret) to have a few close friends, and not to cast the net out too wide, incase I became friends with someone that took me down a wild path of drugs, booze, promiscuity, for which my parents would surely whoop my ass.

No, I chose the normal path.  My closest friend in secondary school, or high school as it is known now, was a guy called Jonathan.  You may have seen Harry Potter right? Well basically this kid was the spitting image of Harry Potter, brown hair, glasses and sharp as a tack.  As we grew up, he seemed to age in much the same way as Daniel Radcliffe did in those films.

Yes JB was a good friend, perhaps the best mate a guy could ask for.  The thing I regret the most happened when we completed our GCSE’s and we were all deciding on where to go for 6th form, and much to my sadness, JB moved out of the school to a better 6th form, leaving me to, at this late stage, to start to formulate new friendships.

I really found it difficult to relate to the groups and cliques forming at school, and felt somewhat as an outcast.  It just so happened to find friends in my faith circle, and I now have, of the friends I have made during my life, kept 4 or 5 people closest to me.

Son, take each connection you make, as an opportunity to better yourself and the world around you.  Each person you meet will teach you something about yourself, and the people you keep closest to you will be your support when you need . They are your companions to share laughter and memories with.

Friends are like family that we find along the journey of life.  Family that have different parents, backgrounds, cultures, norms – but ones we see beyond because there is something we connect with within them. It might be difficult to understand what I’m saying – but remember this;  Make good friends, and make time for them.  Take time to understand them and be there for them.

Good friends are diamonds that we collect in the journey of our lives that make us all the more richer.

 

Things I’d Like my Son to Know

Lesson 9 – Sometimes you just need “Me-Time”

After a tiring evening putting my son to bed I realised that in the past 3 months, i’ve not taken time out to go for a walk.  It was a bout 8pm and I was getting to that agitated point in my day where I felt as though I needed to expend some energy before I rest my head.

As I grabbed by jacket, keys and phone (for emergency) and exited the door and down the street, I realised I had left my prized partner at home – my wife.  For once, in a very long time, I was doing something that wanted to do, that was just about me and fresh air (as much as can be had in the suburbs of the UK) and I was actually glad for the time to myself.

It was only a short walk, about 25 minutes but in that time, I came to the realisation that in this world, I came alone, and I will leave it, alone, and no one can change any of that.

This thought continued and I began to feel slightly isolated, cocooned off from the remainder of the world and all alone.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a negative emotion, more like a free feeling, that actually being alone isn’t something to be afraid of.

Son, we live in a time where we are wired into the brains, phones, homes of millions of people.  Our thoughts, once put out into the social ether, are not solitary anymore.  They are listened to and answered by the masses, and this overload of opinion, emotion, connectivity, as often thrilling as it can be, is actually a source of much strain.

Be in tune with yourself, your own thoughts, vibration, and solitude.

If you find yourself needing to be disconnected from the over-connectivity, take it.  There are many that will say that this is a bad thing, or that it goes against the grain – but for your own peace of mind, find peace in your mind.

A spiritual teacher from India shared that peace in the home begins when there is peace within.  Find that which brings you peace.  Meditate, walk, switch off to reconnect with yourself.  Build yourself up so that you recognise your inner peace, a place where you find balance to face the world each day.

Things I’d like my Son to Know

Lesson #8 – No, Means No.

I was asked to comment on the topic of “Sex Ed – Should schools improve their delivery, including the topics of relationships, consent, abuse, sexting etc” on the BBC Asian Network. 

 I was thinking about my own experience of sex-ed at school and how poorly it was delivered. We never got any relationship advice, no support with dealing with the emotional turmoil that was puberty, and then counter that with the only relationship and sex ed that we did get -Growing up with Bollywood movies meant watching nearly each and every lead actor trying to win over the heroine of the film, and so on ….

Every single movie had this theme.

No matter what genre the actual movie was supposed to be, be it horror, or thriller, or even comedy there was this underlying seedy romance.

Now the problem with these films was that, they very nearly always had the male lead chasing the female lead, and no matter how much she rejected his advances, he pushed and pushed and pushed, and even through all the songs and dances, she would still say “no” or a variation of “bugger off”, he would still persist, and ultimately win the woman.

This left most guys with a warped viewpoint on how to score with women, and that was this.

“If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying, and even if she says No, she really means Yes.”

I remember an incident at school.  I was about 12 years old.  It was a regular Tuesday (maths was after lunch) and I remember some sort of commotion in the class room while the teacher had gone for the whiskey break.

See I remember this one guy, we’ll call him H, and this girl in class, we’ll call her K.  Now H had a crush on K, but K couldn’t stand him. After a lot, and I mean A LOT of encouragement from the other guys, he decided enough was enough and he was going to “pounce”.

And I remember this crazy chase around the classroom tables where H was chasing K and eventually he caught her, and kissed her, among the raucous applaud from the other kids in class, and I remember seeing K, thoroughly disgusted and stressed.

It was a given in school then, and it seems like it is now too, that if you want to get the girl, you keep chasing.

Son there is a massive problem here with this.  Sometimes a girl just isn’t interested.

If there’s one thing I need you to fully equip your mind with, that is that No means No.

We will always tell you “No you cant do this” or “No that’s not appropriate” and we may back down.  That’s because we’re your parents and sometimes just want an easy life.

However when a member of the opposite sex says it, back off. Immediately.

The world we’re in now is very different to the one I grew up in.  Nowadays, its all about texting and sexting, body-shaming,  unrealistic expectations from the opposite sex, relationship dysfunction and poor self esteem as a by-product, cyber-bullying and so on, and I can’t imagine what life will be like in 5-10-15 years time. Kids are being pressured into revealing things about themselves that they shouldn’t (because at this age its very illegal) sharing things about themselves that should stay very private, and being ridiculed, harassed, blackmailed and abused as a result.

If there’s one consistent rule I want you to live by, it’s that You are Your Own Property, and No-one is Your Property.  No will always mean No.

We all have our own boundaries.  Never allow anyone to cross your boundary. Never cross anyone else’s boundary without their say so. This goes for emotional and physical.

The well placed F-Bomb.

So I’m not a huge fan of foul language, (in front of children), but sometimes the little things can really annoy the sht out of you at times. One such time was a couple of nights ago when my phone decided to play silly buggers and not connect to the Wi-Fi at home. The story of what happens next will crack you up…

Its late in the evening, and I’m about to take my son for his bath.  I decide that some music is in order because, well why not, and go to get my phone from the kitchen where it was sat charging.  I had left it for about 40 minutes or so, and it had only picked up about 10% charge which was infuriating, as Sid’s bath would take at least 8% of the charge.

Anyway I realise that it is also not connected to the Wi-Fi and so I turn the Wi-Fi on on the phone, and wait.  And wait.  And wait.

By this time I’m seriously hacked off and under my breath, seeing that my son is now buzzing around me I mutter “why the fk isn’t the phone connecting to the Wi-Fi?!?!?!”. He was about a metre away from me and I immediately realised I had said those magic words a little too loudly.  He suddenly stopped what he was doing, stared me right in the eye and said “Daddy don’t say that. Don’t say fk. It’s not nice to say it. Instead say .. Hmm (looks at his book of planes) instead say helicopter.”

I was both amazed and mortified at the same time.

I wanted to swing my genius son around and at the same time cut off my tongue for using such profane language in front of my angel with horns child.

There was an itching curiosity within me as I rested that evening.

How did my son, my 2 year old, whom we never swear in front of, know that fk is such a bad swear word?  No-one told him, and certainly not me.  I wondered – did my son realise that my frustration, linked to the extremely well placed F-Bomb meant that the word I used was a naughty word?  Or has someone secretly been teaching my son things to just wind me up?

I did a very crude experiment with him the next morning.  I pretended to get really angry and shouted out “What the chin!?!?!” – and lo and behold – he stopped what he was doing (eating) and said – “Daddy – don’t say Chin.  It’s not nice”.

Could it be that children are that more sensitive to the way we say things compared to what we say?

If it is so, then it is both sentiment, emotion, AND language that has an impact on a child.

This relates quite nicely to what we hear about communication and arguments – most of the time arguments occur not be cause of what we say – but because of how we say it.

It seems like this is not a learned construct – It’s almost innate and we know what this “feeling” of negativity is, from a very young age.

If there’s anything I have learnt from this experience, that is to never underestimate 2 things.

  1. The value of a well placed F-Bomb
  2. The ability of your child at such a young age to pick up on emotion, more than the words.

Crap that people say to pregnant women (and their husbands)

You know when parents say that they fell in love with their child the moment they saw him/her? They’re like “aww it was love at first sight” or “it was magical” and so on …  
Not usWell not immediately. 

You see when Sid was born, I mean like the 10 seconds after he was lifted above the operating covers for me and sang to see, and for me to reveal the sex of my child to my wife (cos that was too much to do for the surgeon), I think our immediate response was “WHAT IN GODS NAME IS THAT!!???”

Followed by a silent ..”PUT THAT BACK AND BRING ME OUT MY CHILD!!!”

 He was long, covered in dark brown muck (muconium apparently) and almost alien like. 

It wasn’t until he was cleaned up by the nurse did I really see how beautiful, pure and gorgeous he was. He was a little angel. A little beige angel.

I fell in love with him when i could smell that ‘new baby smell’ that they should bottle up and sell.. And that love lasts to this day..

See we went through a mad journey filled with hyperemesis, SPD, house build, decoration, 2 trips abroad (Canada at 14 weeks and india at 20) and we got a lot of advice, mostly unsolicited from all angles. 
We had 9 months of listening to some rather interesting guidance from people (listened to – not acted upon) who put rationalised their arguments in an almost scientific manner. 

We got everything from “how best to get pregnant” to “how to make sure your child is fair skinned”. Basically from the ridiculous, to the just down right stupid.

Most of the superstitions and commentary that I came across were to do with “how to make sure your baby is white and fair”. Honestly if we had a white baby there would be some serious chuffing questions to be answered in my household!!!

The irony of it all, is that its Asians that project these superstitions to other Asians… like it wasn’t enough to have an India free of Empirical Rule, but we now demand to have white babies now too? 

I’m not sure where this fascination with fair skin has come from, and this obsession that the world (and by world, I mean Indian desi mothers) has with fair skin = beautiful. What is the cultural bias that Indians have towards fair skin? (see number 1 and 2 below). 

India is a country full of brown skinned people, who have varying degrees of skin tone from very fair, to really dark skin, basically 50 shades of brown. So when someone said to my wife, “keep a picture of a white baby in your bedroom and your baby will turn out white” I had to give them the ‘WTF’ glare and then share the comment with the whole world.

Here are some of the nonsense comments perpetuated by seemingly intelligent and educated people from the Indian subcontinent (and some from around the world in general).

  1. Drink milk and your baby will be fair skinned.- unless you’re lactose intolerant. Like you need to have more gas seriously!Keep a photo of picture of a fair skinned baby and look at it everyday and you will have a white baby. – Makes ZERO sense to me (or anyone else ive met) We didn’t, and Sid was born very fair skinned… mainly due to the amniotic fluid leftover on his skin.
  2. Eat greasy food will help you push the baby out – Now this one was just crap.. Eating greasy food would just give you heartburn, and high cholesterol, which is the last thing a pregnant woman would need!
  3. When the baby is born, put a little black mark on the baby’s forehead to ward off the “evil eye” – NO! All you do is dirty a baby’s head and expose it to germs. 
  4. My personal favourite – and I witnessed it a little so im surprised it’s a superstition – A baby will be more restless during a full moon, and not sleep properly until he is a little older. I felt Sid was more active during the full moon nights – which tbh were just like any other night – just Sid waking up 8 times and crying his head off..
  5. Wait until the baby is born before making the nursery – LIKE I’LL HAVE THE TIME!!! It look 3 of us 1 whole day without distractions to make all the furniture, and decorate the room. Nah ha. No way. Take the appropriate opportunity and get it out of theway. Baby needs to be in his own bed as soon as he can!!
  6. At an antenatal appt, a friend asked the midwife when her genetic results would be back.. The midwife turned around and said “don’t you worry about the results hun, just blossom and bloom!” Nice and clear … 

The whole obsession with unsolicited advice for during pregnancy wasn’t anywhere as frustrating as the advice we got given when Sid was born.. But I’ll share that another time…

A mothers/fathers love

So it’s Valentine’s Day…

  And I hear a lot about love. A husbands love, a wife’s love etc etc and one ting I heard over and over again is a mothers love. 

I get it. 

She carried her child, she gave birth to it, nursed it, and nurtured it. 

So when I hear that a mothers love is great, I get it.

But what I don’t understand, and this is what really frustrates me, is when a mothers love is considered, and made out to be greater than a fathers love. 

So while we can’t compete with the child carrying, birthing, nursing etc, I think it’s fair to say that as dads, we have as much love for our kids as the mums do.

So when someone says that “a mothers love for her child is great” let me correct you- a parents love for their child is great.

This plays directly into the hands of people  who consider dads as the accessory parent .. the baby sitter, the part time care giver. 

As a dad who works away a lot, I can’t get my head around the whole thing … Any other dads feel the same way? 

Home at last

  It took just under two hours to get back from leeds today. A pleasant experience given that it’s normally 3 hours. 

Having not seen Sid for 4 nights, I was wondering how he would be with me. This is the longest I’ve spent without him. 

I reached his Nani’s home and I saw him all dressed in his yellow rain coat and beige beanie ready to go. He was super happy to see me and jumped onto me and said the magic words “daddy home”…(in Punjabi I must add)

Remembering I managed to speak to Sang on my way home and said to FaceTime Nisha (sister in law) to see Sid I asked if she managed to. She hadn’t. So I grabbed my phone and got her on FaceTime before she went to dinner. It’s a 5 and a half hour time difference to india and Sang hasn’t seen Sid for a couple of days. 

We had about 10 minutes of FaceTime and Sid was very happy. 

I think it dawned on him that he hasn’t seen mummy in nearly 10 days. 

But our adventure begins tomorrow! We travel together by flight (my first long haul without Sang) and go to meet Wifey on her way back from Mumbai… 

The countdown begins!!