A father-daughter bond to cherish

It has been more than 6 months since my last post, which some of you may recall, was a desperate plea for help. Before proceeding any further, I would like to wholeheartedly thank each and every one of you for coming forward to help us. Those few weeks were the worst days of my life. Having an accident like that at home and losing a life in such a tragic way, even the mere thought of it gives me goosebumps. At a point, nothing seemed enough to justify why it happened. But in the end, life as it is has a way to move on. Scars heal.

And in the midst of all this, what really helped retain sanity and pulled me through, was my beautiful little angel. I am a father. Been one for the last 4 years. But I cannot even begin to describe being one to my little princess.

The adorable look that she gives when I walk into the room, the way she chuckles and throws out her arms, her chubby smile, her eyes and the peace I find when I look into them and the absolute heaven-like feeling when I hold her face next to mine.

I always thought I had gone through it all with Ibrahim. And being my first born, the experience I had with him could not be taken over. But all I have to do is hold Zainab close to me, whispering into her ears, rub her cheeks against mine, and I know this moment is going to be etched in my memory forever. Just me and my daughter. Not sure if a wise man said this before, but I am saying it, you’re not even close to being a complete man till you father a daughter.

Have often wondered what is so special between a father-daughter relationship? I know my little sister totally adores and worships my dad. But I do too. My dad is my hero. So what is it about her relationship that differs from mine? She always said its a father-daughter thing. You will not understand. Till a few weeks back, I did not. Just took her word for it. But I think I am beginning to get the drift now. Don’t think I’m going to question my dad anymore for his absolutely irrevocable and unconditional preference over his sons love to my sister. That’s the kind of father-daughter bond I’d like to have with Zainab. Unconditional. Irrevocable. Absolute.

Some day, Ibrahim will be old enough to read this. Old enough to understand? I am not sure. It took me all of 31 years. Hopefully, he’s smarter than his dad. But son, if you can’t, then don’t fret it. Deal with it like I did. And if you need an ego-massage, just click on the ‘Ibrahim’ tag of this very same blog.

I also have renewed respect for all daddies out there with little princesses ruling their lives. Love them. Cherish them. Protect them. You are blessed. In every way a man can be.

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!!!

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.

The amazing rollercoaster ride of fatherhood

I’ve never had a blogger’s block before. That is, not until now. Often wondered how could someone not have anything to post. This whole week I wanted to post but didn’t have the faintest idea on what I can write about. I do have a few thousand thoughts running up and down my mind though. And so I choose to do what every one does at such times. Take up a tag.

Btw, there haven’t been too many tags lately. Why’s that? Just curious.

Anyways, I have a few pending tags. Some of them from a different time line I think!! Taking them up now.

The Amazing, crazy, fun, rollercoaster ride of motherhood fatherhood, tagged by Smitha, a zillion months ago. I need to list 5 things I absolutely love about being a dad. I’ve done a few posts on Ibrahim but never a tag. So here goes:

1. Putting him off to sleep at night. This is easily my favorite activity of the day. One that I do almost daily. I love preparing his bedtime milk formula. Then lie down next to him till he finishes it. And the best part. He turns towards my side, cuddles in nicely and goes off to sleep. It’s the best part of my day. His face, in all its innocence while asleep, gives me peace.

2. I love the fact that being a dad has, in many ways, completed me as a person. The entire experience of parenthood has opened up channels of emotions I thought never existed. And I am a fairly emotional man. So that is something.

3. The way he tries to catch my attention when he’s hurt himself (or pretends to be hurt!) making that innocent face, patting the place where he’s hurt and says “eh eh” till I go and pick him up. I absolutely adore that. How do kids know these things about their parents?

4. And the way he follows me every where I go blabbering all kinds of gibberish. Btw, he started walking a couple of weeks back, a few days after his 1st bday actually! And now all he does is walk all around the house. From one room to another. From the hall to the kitchen. He’s all over the place. And irrespective of what he may be doing, he follows me when I leave the room to wherever I may be going. Even to the bathroom. And throws a tantrum if I don’t take him in.

5. The responsibility of making him the man he will be one day. In more than many ways, he is going to be what we mold him into, depending on the values, morals and fundas we instill in him now and with time. Till he is ready to make his own decisions. That’s a heck of a responsibility. But I like that about being a parent.

There. Done. Wasn’t that hard, was it? So why the blogger’s block then? I don’t know.