Tuesday, 13 October 2009
..grandfathers were once fathers, too..
..when this old coot first became a father, way back in 1975, the joy was euphoric..tending to the firstborn was a shared responsibility..many a nights this oldster woke up to make milk..once, whilst still half-asleep, I had poured hot water onto the milk tin, thoroughly missing the milk-bottle..
..burping the baby was an art in itself, as also getting the temperature of the milk just right..
..but being a father carried with it a lot of responsibilities, I was later to find out, and later to learn..for children grew, sometimes faster than a father can keep up pace with..
..even though bestowed with an almost unlimited power, to make rules and regulations, power alone was not enough to endear..it was then that I discovered in as much as the judicial system of a country must be fair, but also seen to be fair, justice, and meting out justice, in the home is more complicated, especially when dealing with siblings rivalry..a situation aggravated with a mother-in-law lurking in the background somewhere..its to easy to forget that she was adjusting to grandmotherhood as I was to fatherhood..
..but I coped, trying to strike a balance between being too strict and being too relax..not really having a role-model, as I was a posthumous child, I tried reading on the intricacies of parenthood..good for broad outlines, but details, no..so it was more of a learning on the job, the physical and the psychological sides of it..it was trial by error all the way..
..used to the wiles of a woman, this coot is not familiar with the wiles of children..their quicksilver mind, their super-ability to read adults situations, and their endearing and manipulative ways..but, as I said, I coped..and I hoped I had not been too bad a father..
..there are, of course, a few lessons learned along the way..mostly a series of nevers ..paramount amongst them is never to lose your temper with your children..never, full stop...anger removes your sense of judgment..children do not understand uncontrolled anger in fathers..it demeans the status of a father in their eyes..and anger makes you whack your child..which brings me to the second lesson learned...
..never whack your children..it leaves scars, if not physical, then psychological, more often both..a child's memory is long, as a father's regret is just as lingering..
..you know the oft-mentioned Malay adage about crabs teaching its young to walk straight?..true..very true..how was I to stop my sons from smoking, when papito himself reeks with stale smoke..? pollute the bathroom..pollute the hallways and the whole house, including the cars..? and I used to wonder why they grimaced everytime I offered my cheek to be kissed..huh..(Imagine the love that makes a woman put up with this foul-breath man)..
..but now that I am a grandfather life is more in cruise-controlled mode..I tried to keep my peace..I don't poke and I don't pry..I just enjoy and savour the innocence of my grandchildren..but sometimes, I wished they would refer to me...:)