Last Friday my wife travelled upcountry on a week-long work-related trip.
I suddenly found myself having to play both Mum and Dad to our three-year-old son, Saqeeb, during her absence. It is not that she has never gone on such long trips before, but somehow, this time round I was looking forward to having my son to myself.
He is quite an independent-minded fellow who is working hard to ‘grow up’ by trying as much as possible to sort out many of his issues himself. So I wasn’t worried about having to be around him every minute. Besides, he has a nanny who takes care of the more complex things.
I was always eager to get back home to this little boy whose mind always overflowed with stories from school – views about his interactions with friends and teachers and what he would like to do when he grows up. It is such periods that make me really appreciate the amount of time and effort my wife puts in to make this little guy the very interesting person he is.
As we are currently going through the month of Ramadhan, our evenings were quite structured and pretty predictable. I often arrived home quite close to breaking-fast time and always find him watching cartoons on TV. But as soon as I broke my fast and said my evening prayers, a round of negotiations on whether or not to change the channel would commence.
At this hour, we have an Islamic channel that broadcasts the evening prayers live from the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It takes some debate and explanations, almost every day, to get him to relent. My evening TV viewing is usually taken up by the World Cup, news broadcasts and any interesting documentaries I may come across.
But because these are of lesser interest to him, that is when he chooses to open up the chatter box. I am attaching more and more importance to listening to what he has to say, I therefore find myself switching off the TV and giving him my undivided attention. He really feels flattered by that and gushes out like a fountain.
Robert Enright, a Canadian psychotherapist, says this can be the biggest challenge for many fathers.
“You can be home but so distracted with other things, like technology, that you aren’t really present,” he says.
“It’s in those quieter moments when sons are likely to open up and talk about what is going on in their lives, their hopes and dreams, and their ideas for the future. Listen to what they have to say,” counsels Cassi Denari, an American freelance writer on children’s issues.
Our evenings have really been mutually beneficial, and I believe we have bonded even more as father and son. As the clock ticks towards midnight, he will ask for his milk and lie on the couch as the drink soothes him to sleep. After having my last meal of the day a little past midnight, I will pick the sound asleep Saqeeb, change him into his pyjamas and tuck him into bed to sleep next to me.
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Source : The Observer