Wednesday, February 11

Some questions for fathers

I saw this list of questions that a mother asks and thought of actually putting down my thoughts in response to these questions. These questions were thought-provoking indeed, I have never thought of many of these questions before and even if I have thought about them, never had to actually answer them. Mind you, I am writing this from the perspective of a father of two children, 13 year old son and 5 years old daughter, born, living and growing up in a cosmopolitan middle class family in London.

  • Why do so many of us thank our husbands when they watch the kids? Is the corollary that men do not thank women while the women are raising the kids? Yes, I would tend to agree. Women do thank their husbands, my wife does. Is this because we have been brought up to think that raising kids is women's work and if husbands do it, it is surprising and this behaviour needs to be encouraged by thanking them? Or is it simply because the women are more polite? How about the animal and plant kingdom where the majority of child bearing responsibility lies with the female of the species, some important exclusions notwithstanding?
  • Why do so many men refer to watching their kids as "babysitting"? I am guilty of this as well, yes, I do call my time with the kids as babysitting. I shouldn't call it as babysitting, they are my children and I have as much responsibility of raising them as my wife. So what DO you call it? baby rearing? Is this because we are asked (or dare I say, allowed) to do so so infrequently?
  • Why are there so many jokes about fathers who are overprotective of their  daughters while handing out "atta boys" to their sons? Because it is true. I do it all the time. My little princess is my little princess, to be protected, to be adored, to be cuddled, to be kissed, to be kept safe and sound, never to cry. My son also gets protected, adored, cuddled, kissed, hugged, but I am more pushy towards him, I do things with him which I dont think I will do to my daughter, such as in small things. Letting him drive a bike with much more enthusiasm and letting him drive alone. With my girl, I am more careful. He can go off to the mall all alone, but I am much careful with my girl even in the local park. This is discounting the age factor. Is this because the media constantly tells us that the girls are princesses and the boys are little shits?
  • What happens between marriage and parenthood, and why are women so angry  about it? I think this is a situation where there is a massive expectations gap. When you get married, you are still a princess, and even after marriage, you are still a princess. You still remain a princess when you are pregnant (to a lesser extent, but still happens), but as soon as a baby is born, your princess days are done and over with. Then you have to handle sleepless nights, you have to worry about leaking breasts, you have to think about weight gain and MMR vaccines. You have to worry about food and vitamins and head lice and and and. By this time, and looking at the statistics of marriage, the man is now starting to get on the ladder of corporate life. Lets not forget that the man, after the birth of his first child, gets the biggest fright of his life. I did. When my son was born, I was scared witless. For the first time, I had somebody in my arms who was totally and utterly mine, and I will be responsible for him for the next few decades, till the end of my life. I am responsible for feeding, clothing, educating, sheltering him. I cannot simply go off and have a drink any longer or go see a film. I need to work my hiney off to make sure that we have sufficient funds for the little and big things that come with a baby. So the woman is, understandably, a wee bit miffed as they are no longer princesses, the man has suddenly gone from a fun chap into a man suddenly beset with responsibilities and she think she has been sold a bum deal. Hence anger.
  • Why has male-bashing essentially become an Olympic sport? Why not? female bashing has been an olympic sport since the old olympics, you girls are simply catching up.
  • Where do our husbands' paternal instincts come from? Genes. The desire for our genes to continue. But then, at end of the day, who will not have paternal instincts when given a little baby in your arms?
  • Who do our husbands look up to as examples of "good dads"? Their own fathers to start with, movies (3 men and a baby, look who is talking/look who is talking too, etc.), books, and their own friends.
  • Why can boys watch sports for days? Not sure about this question. Why not? My girl can watch Dora the explorer for days on end. Mind you, both kids could watch telly tubbies for days on end or Thomas the Tank Engine as well.
  • Why don't our husbands worry about the kids as much as we do? I am not sure this is the right question. I think the right question should be, why dont our husbands worry about the kids in the way I do? Why would you expect another person to be like you in terms of worry? I worry about my kids in different ways than my wife does. Does that make my worry better than my wife's? no, it doesn't, it simply is different. I worry about their financial security, I worry about how will they manage in this world? How their friends think of them? Are they getting all the abilities that they need? How about swimming or shooting? How about gliding? Or investing in stocks? Or cooking? Or getting into the habit of reading? Or excelling in every field? Or having a good life? Or is the question related to the magnitude of worries? That I need to worry 60 minutes per day compared to 120 minutes for my wife? Surely its the quality of the worry and what you do to fix it which is more important than the magnitude?
  • When did they become okay with living in filth? Ah!, guilty as charged. Why life in a show-room? It should be comfortable. And no, doesnt need to be filthy (a bit of DQ there???) but it doesnt need to be all spic and span either. I am sure we can get everything fixed and found.
  • Why don't I know one father responsible for buying the birthday  presents? Well, now you know one. Me and my wife buy the gifts for our kids, and I am the person who does the impulse birthday purchasing for the kids.
  • When did the things they love about their wives turn into the things that annoy them? Do you mean that I am not allowed to change my mind? Read the comments up in the list. Life changes when babies happen. Just like the things you loved about me when i was a boyfriend are now pissing you off, same thing happens when you move from a GF to wife to mother. Just have to be careful about not getting too hung up on these things.
  • Why do I have to explain HOW to take care of OUR child as if he is a  babysitter? Because we are not hard wired to do so. We tend to take things much more easily, I do. I will forget about putting the baby to sleep at the right time, and sit up with her watching tv or playing games or painting or reading books long after they should have gone to sleep. So I need a list. So here's the option. Admit it, you want the babies to be raised as you want them to be, not as men might have wanted them to be. So isnt it best that you tell us what to do? Saves headaches all around.
  • Why doesn't he learn himself like I have?? I am not sure this is quite right, they do learn.
  • Why am I the one who has to know when we are out of  milk/diapers/clothes/toilet paper etc etc etc.? Why? dont you have an online grocery list? and why would you be out? that's where a pantry or store comes in, simple inventory management system.

This reminds me of the time I was speaking to a friend of mine. He said, BD, here's a piece of advice from a man who has had 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls, all are now more than 25 years of age. When boys are born, they are like little shits. They will remain little shits all through their lives, a generalised level of little shittiness is to be expected whether they are 3 or 13 or 30. Girls on the other hand are little angels when they are born, and they remain little angels till they reach 12-13 years of age, when they turn into giant shits. They remain giant shits till they are about 20-22 years of age and then they turn back into angels again. As long as you can safely navigate this 100 odd years of time, you are going to be fine.

It was amusing, but reading my wife’s book gave me quite a lot of understanding of what women go through in terms of motherhood but these were just my thoughts. I wonder what the readers will think?

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1 comment:

deepa said...

Ha! Thanks for the responses to what I assumed were going to be rhetorical questions! I hope you'll check out the blog and see all the dialogue this week, about these questions and other gender issues. Thanks again for taking a crack at unlocking the secrets of the male mind...!