Everyone celebrates their birthday once a year. That is not the case when it comes to our dear darling daughter – at our home we have monthly birthday celebrations that comes on the 29th of every month. Then there is the actual date of birth, and the birthdays as per the Gujarati and the Malayalam calendars – so when it comes to birthday celebrations, our little princess is an every month girl!
The reminders start the moment the previous birthday celebration ends. It commences with a wink-wink nudge-nudge from our daughter at the end of every month, and steadily progresses to obvious, but cute little cues of the approaching date. There is usually a cake involved as a part of the revelry – which has to be cut at midnight precisely, but this is not mandatory. A small gift, a lunch or dinner in a fancy restaurant of her choice, or even ordering food from her favourite restaurant will do as part of these celebrations – the important thing is that she celebrates the day. Where and how did this ritual originate? Well, it all started with her maternal aunt starting the trend of wishing and giving her “small” gifts on the 29th of every month – this rite caught on, and has now become a monthly sacrament. The big day is on the 29th of October every year, when there are grand and epic celebrations, which can put any socialite’s party to shame. The planning for the October birthday celebration starts way in advance. Our darling daughter sits back and enjoys watching her parents and aunt go bonkers over deciding the venue, the theme, the menu, the decorations, the cake, the return gifts, etc. Her biggest contribution – and I can assure you it is BIG – is the guest list, which usually includes all her friends! For a few weeks we are in this frantic state of mind where we break our heads deciding all of the above, occasionally indulging in heated arguments while finalizing all this. It is not that our daughter gets upset if we do not celebrate her birthday, but from our side we indulge her in these little pleasures of life. On her part, our princess also showers us with so much of love that we get inundated in it. Every time we take a dip in this ocean of love, we emerge refreshed and rejuvenated. Though we also have our occasional disagreements over certain matters, I can personally vouch for the fact that as parents we could not have asked for anyone better than our princess as our daughter!
When we were kids, our birthday revelries were limited to celebrating at home with immediate family members, sometimes also calling a few friends over, and treating them to wholesome home-cooked meals. On some occasions, that were as rare as rains in UAE, we were allowed the privilege of taking our friends out for lunch or dinner in some local (mostly Udipi) restaurant. From the time I remember, I have never had any of my birthdays hosted in a hall, with party-like jamborees. But those were different times, and to tell you the truth, doing all this now for our daughter is totally acceptable to us. Our motto has been, and will always be, to create exultant occasions for her, which she will remember throughout her life – occasions that will be permanently etched in her memory and will brighten her face every time she reminisces over it. After all, is that not what we as modern parents aspire to bring into our children’s lives? All of us, in some way or the other, want our children to experience the delights that we, while growing up, missed out on. We are not exactly the “wishing-well” parents who can fulfill all of our daughter’s desires, but being well-wishing parents we try and fulfill her wishes to the best of our abilities, while ensuring that her demands are within our economic capabilities. By doing this I do not believe I am spoiling her, but only attempting to craft an enchanting experience that will be hers to cherish forever. As our daughter turned ten and went an alphabet closer to being a teen, we would only wish the best for her. I hope you will agree with me when I say that our lives are all about our children, because they complete our families. I have always believed that a successful marriage is made up of a lot of love, affection, mutual respect and dedication to each other, with a little bit of incompatibility, some compromise and a sprinkling of farcical incongruities thrown in. Our children are that perfect amalgam that strengthens the positives and evens out the negatives in a marriage.
As I have written in one of my earlier blogs, the established methods of child-rearing are now obsolete. Many of us were looked at as a blank cheque, cashable at a later date, by our parents and any deviation from their established norms was treated as being ungrateful to them. I personally do not subscribe this canon, because I have always held that parents and children need to be the best of friends – if the child is brought up correctly, he or she will remain your friend for life. Of course, as parents we have to be practical and draw a fine line that prevents children from getting overtly friendly with you. Also make sure that your child recognizes and respects this line. But children also need their personal space, and it needs to be ensured that both meet at this line, with neither party trampling over to the other side (if this happens then chaos will reign at home!). This line is also a tight-rope that we as parents sometimes have to tread, and take some tough decisions that our children may not accept – this is required and it is so because technically “we have seen more summers than them” (as my wife often likes to quote). This may lead to the afore-mentioned disagreements, but as their friend is not better that we “agree to disagree” rather than “disagree to agree”? Guiding them towards the right path is our responsibility, walking down that path is theirs. If they trip or stumble on this path, or if the path does not lead to their desired destination, it is for them to course-correct themselves. I have noticed that today’s generation stridently detests someone holding their hand and leading them to some place they would rather not be in – this upcoming generation is way smarter than we were at their age (and in some of us continue to remain naïve even at this age). We, as parents, believe in being around for our daughter whenever she needs us, and leaving her alone when she is up to some caper of her own. As parents we recognize that she has a mind of her own and respect it wherever reasonable. It seems to have worked well so far, so hopefully it will in the future too.
We neither reside in castles, nor do we live charmed lives – but our children make us live a fairy-tale, and make us believe in the magic of life. So, why can we not become the proverbial queens and kings, to our alluring princesses and princes?