The US President revealed his lighter side as he ventured into his concerns as a father. His worries about daughter Malia who turns twelve in July found the first mention. “Like most of you my prayers are general: Lord, give me patience as I watch Malia go to her first dance – where there will be boys. Lord let that skirt get longer as she travels to the dance.”
Life is such a great leveler. So what if he is the President of a country; he is a concerned daddy at heart. His dreams, his worries reverberate with most fathers in the world.
I remember friends in school bus, folding their uniforms with safety pins, lest they were labeled as behen jis in school. Their dads wouldn’t allow anything above the knees. And to think that short hem-lines catapulted the King of Good Times from breweries to high skies whereas the poor Maharaja of Air India is still wondering what hit him. The man in a turban was foxed by the girl in a red mini with a tantalizing slit to boot.
Fathers remain indulgent and protective towards daughters, but become coaches and purveyors of wisdom for sons. The love remains unconditional for both yet the former relationship remains verbal whereas the latter sometimes becomes muted.
Once children grow up, dads often continue to remain heroes for daughters yet seldom remain buddies for sons. The stereotypical image of a filmi father comes to mind where the righteous dad tells his wayward son, “Nikal jaa mere ghar se. Don’t show me your face….” All the while, the filmi mother sobs in a corner pleading,” Bhagwan ke liye, please stop him.” If the son is lucky he returns and all is well with the happy family.
Daddy’s girl or Mamma’s boy, whatever the status, the time spent with family remains precious. No one on his death bed has ever said, “I wish I had spent more time on my business.”
So whether it’s a son or a daughter the transition from an innocent child to a confused pre-teen, to an unpredictable teen is so sudden that it goes away in a flash. When was it that my child did not get up early to watch cartoon and slept off till noon? When was it that he stopped giggling at pee-poo and fart making jokes? When did he stop holding my hand in the market? Or when did he start conveying his disapproval with a studied silence instead of whining loudly? I never seem to have noticed. Yet these were milestones just like learning to walk or learning to ride a bicycle.
It’s been decades. At times it feels like yesterday. And at times it feels like a lifetime. I am talking about my first bicycle ride on the road. And who else but daddy was there holding the cycle as I nervously perched on the pink seat. I was nervous but confident. Dad wouldn’t let me fall. As I wobbled he jogged alongside enthusiastically. Within minutes the bicycle zoomed ahead and there he was, with both hands tucked in his pockets, smiling. He kept running alongside until he was sure that I won’t fall. The ever protective dad!
And then when I went to a hostel my dad turned up every week- end for the initial few months. My brother holds this grouse that dad never ever went to meet him. On second thoughts he should be thankful. I doubt any eighteen year old boy would want dad with chocolates in a boy’s hostel.
In the month of mush most daddies must be jittery and praying fervently for the length of the skirt to magically increase, while God must be in a fix.
Well the boys attending that dance surely must be praying, umm…well otherwise