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Parenthood is addictive. And if I take a birds eye view of my role as a parent, I suddenly realize why I sometimes thought (think) that my parents can be a pain.

Take yesterday for instance. I had planned to take Dhruv to visit an old dear friend of mine, who also has a 6 year old – Jaden. The plan was simple – let the kids wreck the house while we got a chance to catch up.

So while we were pulling out of the parking for the 15 min drive to my friends place, I told Dhruv that we were going to stop by Crosswords (a popular bookstore in Mumbai) to buy a gift for Jaden.

“Why?”

“Because it is polite to take a gift for the host when we go visiting.”

“Ok.”

That was easy.

“We are buying a gift for my friend or your friend?”

“For Jaden.”

“Not for your friend?”

“No beta (son in Hindi), only for Jaden.” (While quickly forming an answer for next inevitable question.)

“Why?”

“Because… because John uncle already has everything.” (And what he doesn’t, I probably can’t afford…)

Thankfully there were no further questions until we reached the store… something I knew would end once we entered what could be described as kiddie heaven.

“Go, choose a gift for Jaden…” I said to the already disappearing shirttail ahead of me.

As I caught up with him in the kiddie section – I could see him perusing through all the new arrivals.

After a lot of back and forth we settled on a hot wheels racing set, something he himself wanted to play with. I took the box and headed towards the cash counter – and Dhruv dutifully followed. No questions yet. This was so perfect for THE question… but it hadn’t come yet. I was impressed by my son’s maturity.

As we waited in line, he patiently hopped around (he doesn’t stay still for a second). I was debating whether to pay by cash or card – when his little hand caught hold of mine and the question came.

“Papa… why aren’t you buying anything for me?”

I was prepared.

“Because we are here to buy a gift for Jaden. Don’t you remember the cricket set we recently bought you?”

“I also want a Hot Wheels set.”

“No beta. Not today.”

“Why? Jaden is getting one.”

“Yes, it is a gift.”

He wasn’t convinced. It was then that I decided to play the know-it-all holier-than-thou-and-the-Dalai parent. “You have to understand beta that it is always better to give than to get.”

There, that should give him something to ponder. I turned back to the cash counter feeling mighty proud of my parenting skills and of all those wonderful things that I was teaching my child.

“Then Papa… you should give me a gift too.”

Another parent standing behind me gave me a triumphant smile, as if saying “Serves you right, you know-it-all holier-than-thou-and-the-Dalai parent! Now tackle this one.”

I don’t remember what I said at that point, because in the end it was his victory. It is so easy to take the moral higher ground when one is in the position of power. Maybe the trick with kids is to preach less and practice more…

(In the end, he didn’t get anything bought for him… and he seemed pretty ok with it. God bless him.)

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