Nursery to KG1 and 7 years on the job

Yesterday I completed 7 years with Oracle. Often I wonder if I am limiting my career sticking to one organization for all of my early working years. Most of my mates from B-school have made atleast 2-3 moves, if not more. Some have changed 5 companies in the last 7 years. And here I am, still with the one I started with.

Well, I am getting what I want from here (career growth, learning, money etc) so haven’t seen any reason to move. So for now, I start yet another year with Oracle and just like I’ve been loyal to you, Mr. Oracle, I know you will be good to me as well.

Moving on, Ibrahim has now completed 1 whole month in KG1. We’ve moved him out of the nursery into a bigger school. Apparently, in UAE, a child can start school from 3 years onwards. So being eligible, we decided to get him enrolled into a school and get on with it. He has settled in quite well. Cried for a couple of days and been fine since. His highlight of the day is the school bus ride. That is what gets him going. And too add, my elder bro’s son also goes to the same school. All these factors have helped him settle down quite well. He wakes up at 6am on weekends and starts throwing a tantrum to go to school. Every night, he goes to bed happily when we tell him he has school tomorrow so needs to sleep early. It’s been a blessing in disguise. For all the trauma we went through for a month in his nursery, his stint at the school so far has been extraordinary. Feedback from his class teacher is excellent. Apparently, he’s already become a teacher’s pet. Hugs the attendants, gives them flying kisses, gives them goodbye kisses when leaving for home, shares his lunch etc. He hasn’t jelled too much with his classmates. But he’s getting there. Every other day, he comes home with a new name, a new friend. We’ve seen remarkable development in him. More confident. Bolder. Smarter. Speaking english words and small sentences. All in all, it has been satisfactory month.

Last week, I posted latest pics of Ibrahim on FB. We had gone to take passport size pics of him and he ended up giving some amazing poses. So much so that we made portraits of them and for a couple of pics, I blew them up into 12×14 portraits. All still on FB if you guys wanna take a look.

Eventful couple of months coming up. I hope I will be disciplined enough to update my blog regularly. Otherwise, it will all be on Facebook! Cheers.

Ibrahim’s first week at the nursery

Last week was one of our most grueling and challenging weeks as a parent. We enrolled Ibrahim into his first nursery.

It was long overdue. He turned 3 in Jan. We wanted him to attend a few months before he officially joins kindergarten. Just so that gets used to the idea of staying away from home and his parents for a few hours. Maybe gel around with kids. Just to get him into the grove.

Not easy. The first day, we just took him in, showed him around, played with him, sat with him in the classroom, introduced him to the kids, teachers, attendants. He took it quite well. And we were optimistic. So on day 2, we got to the nursery, went with him inside to his classroom. And while he got busy with the activities, we then left. All was well for about 15 seconds. The moment he looked up and did not find us, that was it. He started yelling, crying, running around the classroom, totally panicked and scared. It was madness. Every room in the nursery is fitted with CCTV  cameras. So we were in the waiting room watching him on TV. And could hear his screams. How do you react in such situations as a parent? Just because it was for his good that we managed to stay put and not rush in there and take him in our arms.

This went on for an hour. The supervisor had suggested we leave him alone for an hour on the first day. When we went into his classroom, he saw us and started crying more. It was his cry of relief. Came running into our arms and kept crying. We left from there, took him to a mall (he loves the parking areas, specially the multistory ones where the car goes up and down the ramp). After which we gave him some of his favorite stuff to eat. All in all, he was fine by the time we reached home. The only real tangible proof was his voice, which was totally hoarse due to all the shouting. To the extent that he was not able utter anything.

The following day, he was due to stay for 2 hours. We kept talking to him about how it was such a good place for him to play, make friends, color, paint, play music etc. When we finally reached the nursery, he refused to go in. After a little persuasion, he finally let go. Went into the arms of his favorite attendant, Ms. Nes, and she took him into the classroom.

Then something so unexpected happened that I will never forget it ever. He forced Nes madam to come out again where we were still standing. He looked at us and started crying, forcing her to bring him to us. When he came a little close, I told him, ‘Ibrahim, mama and baba are going to office. You have to go inside now. You should not cry and come out. We cannot stay here na. We will come as soon as Nes madam will call us’. And I started to move back. He then said, ‘Ibamin baba ko kiss karna hai please’ (Ibrahim wants to kiss baba please!). I couldn’t muster a word. I walked quickly to him. He was still in Nes madam’s arms. He kissed me on the cheek. I asked him, ‘Let’s hug?”. He said yes. Gave him a tight hug. And he said bye. And asked Nes madam to take him inside!

I was speechless. Here I was thinking he is throwing a tantrum, refusing to go to his classroom and wants to come to us. And was moving away while he was insisting on coming close. His whole intention was just to give his baba a goodbye kiss. And I was telling him to go inside and don’t cry and what not!!! This one incident reminded me how innocent a child is and how simple his needs can be. Why it really shook me was because Ibrahim is not one to kiss and hug n all. His way of showing affection is different. More aggressive. He rarely chooses to kiss someone. Even his parents. Infact, as far as I can remember, this is the first time he has given me a kiss without asking for it in over a year. I still wonder what was going on in his mind that time. Was he insecure? Was he afraid that we were leaving him there for good? Or did he just feel like giving us kiss because he was going away from us? I may never know. But that one kiss has changed me as a parent. Never again I am going to take him for granted. Nor ignore him. Yes, I will do what needs to be done for the sake of his parenting. But with renowned vigor and strength. He is my son and I am a proud father.

He has stopped yelling now. But hasn’t stopped crying. But not crying with tears. He just making sounds. Today was more challenging coz it was the first day after the weekend. He is settling in. And I hope by end of this week, he will be fully acclimatised. When I asked him today if he wants to come back again tomorrow, he said yes. And was pretty cool about it. Last week when was asked the same question, he would cry and run around as if the house was on fire. So yeah, some improvement there.

I wish this phase of his life, his first foray into the real world, is full of excitement and learning. I wish the Almighty always watches over him and give him all the success, health and love he deserves, for now and the hereafter. Ameen.

 

On parenting and balance

Blogging has taken such a back seat in my life these days. I really miss the hay days. When each post by a fellow blogger was a playground for us bloggers. The fight to be the first one to comment. The leg-pulling and all the madness that unfolded. That made blogging worthwhile. It was the blog-samaj rather than the blogging that I enjoyed more. I am sure a lot is still happening out there. Just that I am no more part of it. Not up to it anymore. Work has engulfed so much of my time that I no longer am able to blog regularly. And now I think I may never be able to do so. Or atleast till I have another baby! ;)

Regular followers and readers of this blog have always stated that my best posts were on my son Ibrahim and my experiences as a father. Ibrahim is two and a half years old now. And though I still enjoy and relish this wonderful feeling of being a parent, I have gotten used to it now. And with Ibrahim getting mischievous with each passing day, most of my time now goes in stopping him and telling him what’s right or wrong. He still is a darling. And my only regret with him is when I have to scold him about something. Poor guy hugs me and cries. Heartbreaking but necessary for a balanced upbringing. Sometimes I wonder if I am expecting too much out of him? He still is only 2 n a half yrs old. Cannot expect him not be naughty. Infact I would be worried if he did not break stuff or be noisy or make a mess. Where do we, as parents, draw the line between parenting and pampering? Yet to figure this one out. I think I am mostly laboring, rather unnecessarily, in the parenting space than the pampering space.

What effect does too many ‘NO’ have on a child? Does it curb his natural instincts? Would it stop him for doing something creative just because he may get ‘yet’ another NO from his dad or mom? We have always tried to give a healthy, balanced environment for him to grow. But it is the nuances of life that end up dominating our reactions. Sometimes we may react harshly just because we had a lousy day at work. That is where I expect to balance myself. He should receive only what he deserves. Good or bad. Not more. Not less. That is what I am going to strive for. Balance.

We have four other kids in the house. Even that makes a big difference. Mostly in a good way. Though sometimes we have to scold him for being over-enthusiastic with his siblings. Ibrahim has an aggressive way of expressing his emotions. He will hug you but tightly, he will kiss you but strongly. And then there is the sibling rivalry. Everyone wants that one toy. Nevermind if there are 10 other toys like that lying around. They still want that one which the other is holding. A lot of our time is spent in just monitoring and mostly stopping him from doing things coz it may result in hurting his siblings. Sometimes it worries me. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I know it is always healthy to have kids around kids. But like I mentioned earlier, it also means over monitoring and over caution!

I think all I need is more patience. Kids are kids. They are going to get on your nerves. Like it or not. With a little more patience, I may be able to balance my reactions, both good and bad. And maybe then I can claim that I am half-good as a father. He may start kindergarten (or nursery) this coming April so that automatically reduces our time with him. What I  really want is him to be ready. Not academically. Let the teachers handle that. But I want him to be ready psychologically. To be bold and strong. And not be scared of bullies. I want this because I know he has some weird fears and phobias. And always seeks confirmation on things before doing anything (Not when he is onto something naughty or mischievous. That he does without a hint of doubt).

Or maybe I don’t need to do anything at all. I may just be reading too much into this. I am not sure. That’s for sure.

Baba office se aaaaagaye!

Last night, my wife and Ibrahim flew to India for a couple of weeks. My bro-in-law’s wedding next month and she’s gone ahead for the preps. I fly down on 15th July.

And the worst thing when she travels is the-coming-back-home-from-the-airport part. It is depressing to say the least. Empty seat next to me and empty car baby seat in the rear! And when you reach home and enter the bedroom, you see last minute stuff lying around, leftovers of the packing, packets, shopping receipts, Ibrahim’s toys which he could not take like his bicycle that he tried to fit in his bag, some of his clothes etc. Entering the room and picking up bits and pieces of the people who just left is painful. Even if it is just for 15-20 days. You somehow muster courage and clean up the place, put things back where they belong etc. All is in order? No. You start thinking about the day and the first thing that comes to mind is ‘why the hell did I scold Ibrahim when he was playing in that muddy water in the garden?’ or ‘I should not been hard on him when he dropped all the honey on the table’ or ‘I should have been more understanding when he was crying because he wanted to come in my arms!’

I always have regrets as soon as he goes away. It is painful enough not being around him but its the guilt that makes it harder. I know Ibrahim is going to miss me but what I also know is that I am going to miss him more. Does he know that?

He gets every bit of attention at his maternal grandparent’s place. They totally absolutely adore him. Plus there is a wedding in the family now. His eldest mamu is getting married next month. And I have no doubt whatsoever that the center of attraction will not be his mamu but it will be him.

He turns 2 and a half yrs old next month. Is talking freely. Able to express his thoughts comfortably. Is aware of what is right and wrong. But like all kids, always borders the wrong. Does not think twice before showing his affection. Be it with his siblings or the adults. Touch sensitive though. Does not forget things easily. Goes away from you if he does not get the attention or if he gets a scolding. Hates haircuts and birthdays! Yes, you read it right – he hates celebrating birthdays, his or others immaterial. Thinks we are going to eat out everytime we step out of the house. Loves his baby seat and always shifts loyalties of his favorite vehicle on the road – from cars (bhoom) to bus to trucks (tuks) to bikes and now his fantasy is the’ aeloplane’!

And regardless of where he might be in the house, as soon as he sees me or hears me come home after work, his face glows up, gives a big smile, starts jumping excitedly and comes running to me saying ‘Ibamin ke baba aagaye, ibamin ke baba aagaye’ (Ibamin’s baba has come). And a few seconds later, “Baba office se aaaaagaye” (Baba has come from office).

This is what I will miss the most. And that’s the reason why I am still in office and don’t feel like going home tonight!!!

And he turns 2 :)

The first thought that comes to mind when Ibrahim reaches any milestone is the fact that time is flying. Really really fast.

It was Ibrahim’s 2nd birthday yesterday :) My little tiger has turned 2. Since the end of December and specially after new year, all we do is wait for this day. Big party plans, gifts, clothes, cake, decorations, sweets, games, toys etc. And we, more or less, did all this yesterday.

A couple of hours before midnight, I handed him over to my mom and asked her to keep him till we decorate the room. Blew up the balloons, put a big ‘Happy Birthday’ banner on the wall, decorated the whole place and we waited. And kept the poor guy awake well past his bedtime.

Exactly at 12, we casually escorted him into our room. At first, he was a little rattled. Not too happy to see everything changed, balloons hanging from the top, banners and decorations everywhere. But after a while, he got used to it. We sang happy bday over and over again. Eventually had to control our enthusiasm coz he was sleepy and was beginning to get cranky.

In the morning, my wife cooked him his favorite meal – chicken noodles. Not maggi but the real deal. And she prepared a bubble bath for him with his toys and water guns. He spent rest of the day playing around. At around 4 pm, I came home (early) with Dunkin Donuts (another favorite). He quickly gobbled up a donut and fell asleep. When he woke up, we had his gifts ready. We decided to give him 1 gift at a time. And made sure a couple of hours passed before he got the next one.

Ordered pizza from Pizza Hut and some KFC (another favorite). And I got a strawberry cheese cake from Baskin Robbins (favorite again!). Had a hearty meal at home with family and cut the cake. Lots of photos. Lots of fun. Missed a few guys as well. Family was not on full attendance. My sister, hubby and her baby are in India, my elder bro is also in India while my other brother had a planned downtime at work (which he accepted after consulting with me).

Eitherways, we have plans to throw a big bash next weekend when everyone is back. So all in all, it was a great day. Ibrahim had a fantastic time. We made sure everything was as he likes. Now, waiting for round 2 on 27th Jan. Till then, we’ve got another thing to keep us busy.

Our wedding anniversary on the 25th :)

Which, thanks to my family, we are celebrating this weekend at the Hilton. My family has gifted us a weekend getaway at the Hilton resort in Al Ain, which is a 2 hrs drive from home. I am so looking forward to this weekend. Will switch of my blackberry. No laptop. No outside world. Just me, my wife and Ibrahim :)

Alritey then. Time to head home. See you all next week. Cheers.

My little fighter

We went to the beach last evening. It was well past sunset. Just wanted to take the kids out for some fun. By kids, I mean my kid and my bro’s kid. Anyways, on our way back, Ibrahim was seated in the baby seat while my brother’s son (Yaser) was next to him. Suddenly Yaser yelled that there is blood on Ibrahim’s foot. My wife quickly turned back to see and, yes, Ibrahim’s left toe had a big blister on it. She quickly cleaned it with a moist cloth and we decided to go home and bandage it. 5 minutes later yaser yelled again, and said, “Ibrahim’s other foot is also bleeding!”. Stopped the car to see what happened. And he had a similar scrub on his right toe as well. He was sitting and driving his little car on the pavement near the beach and must have scrubbed both his toes in the process.

But the most extraordinary part is that Ibrahim didn’t even know about it. He did not cry. He didn’t flinch. He just went about his business as if nothing happened. I was shocked. He is not even 2 years old, busted both his toes while playing and didn’t even realize it. I am so proud of him. That’s my boy. Brave and strong.

Anyways, so late last night, an uncle came to visit us. His 19 yr old son is a professional football player and plays for the under-19 UAE national team and is knocking doors for the senior national team. So quick understandably, he is a football fan. When Ibrahim was not coming forward to greet him, he took a ball and threw it towards him. And boy, did he respond. He kept kicking the ball towards my uncle and uncle kept throwing it back. He kept praising of how much control ibrahim has over the ball and the power in his shots etc etc. Don’t know what Ibrahim figured out of that, the next shot went whistling past my uncle’s head. The one after hit the wall painting. And the next one eventually hit his head before he could even react. To the point that he stopped playing and told me to keep the ball away. And kept looking at Ibrahim. Asked me his age and was like, “How can a 2 yr old kid kick the ball like that, so powerfully?”. Infact we all were a little surprised. And till the time he left, he kept praising him.

But my little kiddo didn’t even know he had stolen the show. He kept kicking the ball with his bruised toes. I can bet he would have knocked down the painting if we’d given him the chance!

I was so proud of him. I have not set any standards or benchmarks for him and want him to be his own man one day. If that means running around with bruises as a 2 yr old then so be it. If that means falling and getting up to fall again then so be it. He is strong brave boy. I know he will stand up again, but only stronger.

Not a day goes by when he has not hurt himself in one way or the other. He stands up, comes over to me, shows me where he got hurt, says ‘eh eh’ till I pretend to heal it by blowing on it, and off he goes again. I don’t even need to touch him.

The other day, while playing ball with me, he banged his head on the edge of my bed and got a big cut on his left eyebrow. It was bleeding and we thought he would need stitches. Yes, he cried. But within seconds, he stopped crying. And wanted me to leave him on the ground again. And off he went, running behind the ball again while he was still bleeding. We quickly cleaned it and took him to the doc. Thankfully the cut was not too deep and didn’t need stitches. He was back home in an hour, with some dressing and ointment, and a big swollen left eyebrow. And that’s it. Not once has he pointed or touched his wound. Or showed any discomfort. The wound has gone now and so has the mark. Quite deservingly I think. With the courage he showed, he did not deserve a physical scar for life.

I can go on and on with stories about him. But enough said I think. I love him for how he is. But more importantly, I am totally proud of him, for being so brave and strong, for being rough and tough, for not being a sissy, a cry baby but a fighter. A real fighter.

p.s. A small request to all. We have decided not to refer to him as ‘Ibbu’ anymore. Our family has a strict tradition of not giving any nick names to kids. Don’t ask my why :) I appreciate and know it is out of love that we all referred to him as Ibbu. Lets stick to Ibrahim from now. Many thanks for understanding :)

He said it finally

I realized last night that its been ages since I’ve posted something about Ibrahim. There was a time when almost all my posts were about him. I guess after his first birthday, the posts have been far and few. We will soon be celebrating his second birthday in Jan, and makes me wonder, where did all this time go? Its unbelievable how time is flying by. We will have to start looking for nurseries and even a school for him very soon.

Last night, my little kiddo, for the first time, used his name to refer to something about himself. Not that he never said his name before. He always repeated after us but never by himself. But he did so last night. Infact I put it up on FB as soon as he said it.

Here’s what happened. We were putting him off to sleep. And its like a pre-sleep ritual, he starts by saying ‘baba ko neend aayi’ and then ‘mumma ko neend aayi’ and says that for every member in the family (my parents, bros, sis, nephew, niece etc). And after he finishes, he slowly dozes off. But last night, after he completed the whole family, he surprised us and said, ‘Ibrahim ko neend aayi”!!!! Me and my wife just kept looking at each other! :) I thought I hadn’t heard correctly so asked again, “Kisko neend aayi?”. And he repeated again, ‘Ibrahim” :)

Man, it felt so good. Have no words to tell how great it felt. We just kept looking at each other and smiling. I think he finally created his own identity in his mind. Btw, he still cannot pronounce his name properly. He just says, ‘raa-im” and it really sounds like ‘naa-im’.

He ‘s growing up real fast. Almost too quick for my liking. But I knew that since day one. Glad that he is in my life today. He makes it worth it. Brings a meaning to my life and the future.

You guys must be wondering why the mushy post. Well there is a reason. I am traveling to Ireland for 15 days later this week for work. And as much as I hate it, I have to spend the time away from him and my wife. Well, we gotta do what we gotta do!

I will be posting some of latest pics on FB later today. I think most of you are on my friend list. So see you there. Cheers.