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.

Top 10 Beach Safety Tips from a Pro

We heard on the news that 5 young men tragically lost their lives out on Camber Sands Beach in Sussex, England while in the sea yesterday, 24th Aug. They appear to have caught out in a possible rip-tide which dragged them out to sea.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost their sons, siblings who have lost their brothers in this tragic accident.

Speaking on the BBC Asian Network this morning, I was joined with Aaron Dhanda who is a Community Drowning Prevention Officer with The Royal Life Saving Society UK who gave some great advice on safety when out at the beach, and in particular this applies to parents with young children.

Here are his top 10 tips for beach safety shared with daddydze.co.uk

  1. Seek advice from your travel agent when booking a holiday to ask if the beach is safe and whether trained lifeguards will be on duty
  2. Be aware that the most common time for children to have accidents on holiday is within the first hour of a holiday when parents are unpacking and distracted. Parents should take care during this time to make sure that they know where their children are
  3. When you have unpacked, visit the beach and look for yourself what the potential dangers are before going into the sea
  4. While at the beach, never let your young children out of your reach –supervision is the key to preventing serious accidents
  5. Always ask for local advice, for example from lifeguards, tourist information offices, local coastguard stations, or even local fishermen, on where and when it is not safe to stroll on the beach or enter the water
  6. Do not swim near or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater and coral
  7. Water safety signage can be very different in different countries, so find out what local warning flags and signs mean – and adhere to them
  8. Inflatable dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard – there have been drownings as people on inflatables are blown out to sea and get into trouble. Do not use them in open water. Use them in sheltered and confined spaces, such as rock pools
  9. If you get stuck in quicksand or mud do not stand up. Lie down, spread your weight, shout for help and move slowly in a breaststroke action towards the shore
  10. If you witness an emergency, whether it is in the UK or overseas, know how to call for help

This is not an exhaustive list – but with all things, be sensible, know the risks and precautions, and be safe.

Case #3 heart vs mind – to have a second child?

Last night in told my wife how lucky we are that Sid sleeps through the night, and that we get to at least have some time to ourselves from around 7.30.
I was at that point immediately flooded with the emotional trauma and painful memories of the nights that Sid was up, through the night, and the constant battle with fatigue for about 7 months.

I was also reminded of all the graft during the days- all the food prep, the milk, dinners, house tidying, nappies, buying formula at 10pm from the co-op, eating crap takeaway at 11pm in between Sid falling asleep and then waking up again. Just so many memories.

And funnily enough, they’re all negative ones.
When did I move from loving my son, to just having bad memories and trauma from his early months?

What about the first time he said “hello”? Or the first time he grabbed my finger? Or the first time he crawled and then walked? Or the first time he said baba or muma?

Of all the beautiful memories, the ones that are more prominent in my mind are the negative ones.  And these come out, when I’m thinking about whether or not to have a second one.

On a purely selfish note, I wouldn’t want one. I think it would be an absolute game changer if we did.

But in my heart I feel that Sid needs a sibling or two. The world can be a lonely place and you always need family.

So I have this dialogue within myself about whether to have a second child, it’s primarily between my heart and my brain.

It’s triggered pretty much everytime I see a newborn, or smell baby lotion, or see sid’s baby photos (damn this ridiculous amount of hormones in my system!)

It goes like this

Heart: ahhhh isn’t that an adorable baby…? I remember how Sid was at that age so adorable and …

Brain: dude are you high?

Heart: NOOO… but Sid smelled so nice,and he was so cuddly

Brain: Stop smoking your socks dude…
Heart: Hey you know what’s a good idea?

Brain: Sleep?

Heart: No… I think I want to have another one…

Brain: High as a kite …

Heart: but don’t you think Sid needs a sibling? Someone to play with, to cuddle, to look to for friendship? What happens when we aren’t here?

Brain: hmmm

Heart: I’m telling you… We need a 4th musketeer..
Brain: you remember the movie right? Remember how much of a pain d’artanegn was to the 3 musketeer? He was an ass…!

Heart: but he made them cool…
Brain: meh!

Heart: let’s consider this… Remember how much fun we had making Sid…??
Brain:…
Heart: Dude …

Brain:…

Heart:GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER MAN!
Brain: sorry … Good times… 😉
Heart: let’s give it some feeling … Have some hommones…!
Brain: dopamine? Serotonin?
Heart… You know I’m right … And you know I’ll win …