I am submitting this on behalf of my husband, Manu, for the #kbcADayWithDaddy Contest. This is his story, in his own written words, I’m just submitting on his behalf.
The sound of the door shutting still rings loud in my ear, but I think my heart was beating louder. It was the first time I would be alone with my 8 month old (and two dogs) – my wife had back to back skype sessions for 9 hours, and had just shut the door on the four of us!
I knew how to change a diaper, I knew how to make his milk and Neil was just a baby – what could possibly go wrong!
All illusions about my ability to look after him properly went out of the window when I saw him and Candy (our golden retriever) happily sharing a meal from Candy’s bowl!
The manager in me kicked in, I just needed a plan – separate the dogs and the baby, and make a safe zone for Neil. I quickly had Neil in his high chair, with his favourite book while I gave the dogs their favourite toys and treats, and hustled them into the balcony.
Neil was happy with his Jungle book, and I contemplated for how long I could leave him in the high chair – could I take a quick nap with him safe in there? Neil was in no mood to let me. He banged loudly on the jungle book, and since he was the king of this jungle, we read the book on repeat.
Neil has always loved me reading to him, because unlike his mother I don’t read the words – it’s more of picture reading, storytelling and talking. So we growled with Sher Khan, and danced with Baloo, till Neil started crying!
Did I growl too loudly? Or was I not loud enough? Maybe, I should read the words? It was a book after all! Why would he cry so loudly for a book?
Then it struck me. Milk! He’s hungry. Oh, the relief that washes over you when you have cracked the code of what a baby wants! You feel like Einstein!
With a full tummy, we were now all set to have some block building fun. Out came all the megablocks, and while I started building, Neil started throwing. He hadn’t yet figured that blocks were for building. One by one, all the toys came out, which ones would he not throw – stacking cup? rattle? a battery operated toy?
Then I realised that he had made a game of his own – throw, crawl, fetch, toothless smile at the recovery, throw again. It was at that moment that I had the biggest realisation of my parenthood journey,
we don’t need to constantly engage our children.
This realisation has served me well with a child who constantly wants us to engage with him, but with a little bit of encouragement, uses his imagination for creative self play.
With my wife’s meeting extending past Neil’s bedtime, I decided to put him to bed (we had a floor mattress at the time for the safety of the baby). There was a strange happiness within me, knowing that the past few hours had been only Papa’s and Neil’s.
I knew then, that this day was going to be one that I would cherish for a long time.
With a smile on my face, I patted Neil to sleep.
This last part I have only heard from my wife, and I deny it till date. She says, Neil crawled to her room and banged on the door, and when she came out to check (and stepped over the toy hurricane), I was fast asleep. I think she’s making it all up, but she hasn’t stopped rolling her eyes for the past 3.5 years!