*I* think

On a recent vacation, tyke and I were strolling along the beach. He pointed to the ocean and said

“I think it is blue.”

And so it begins, I said to myself. His conversation has been mostly factual and direct so far, a product of pre-school instruction. Facts, axioms, cause and effect, give and take. “That is an apple” or “I want your phone”. Where did this “I think” come from? Is he beginning to develop the vestiges of opinion?

This is an intimidating prospect for me as a parent because I want to ensure he emphasizes the right word in the sentence.

It’s not “I think it is blue”, it should be “I think it is blue”.

Small problem though. I’ve spent 30 years learning the difference and its been a painful process.

There are two important factors to look for in a quest for the “I”.

Knowledge is the first and easiest to cultivate. I don’t doubt for a minute that I’ll be able to pass on my curiosity to tyke. I know he’ll read, trawl the internet to supplement his knowledge, know where to look for information and more importantly how to apply it. I’m confident when he voices an opinion, he’ll know what he’s talking about.

In any case I’ve been warned by the missus that excessive perusing of report cards or any disciplinary action concerning academics will be met with a proportionate response.

I know why.

It’s the second aspect, a cocktail of confidence, character and courage which will drive that “I“. And no amount of studying is going to supplement it. I know because I’ve tried. I’ve tried hiding behind my good marks at parties when I’ve been unable to muster the courage to ask someone to dance. I’ve harbored the delusion that my theoretical knowledge of the world will help me navigate it with ease, using my report cards and degrees as a shield to protect myself from ugly truths. I’m smart, nothing can hurt me.

But it did. Took me a while to peek out from behind my walled garden to notice the world walking along, gratuitiously not giving a fuck. I had the good sense to hang on to the few people who cared to stop, look me in the eye and accept me for what I was. A young man with a chip factory on both shoulders. One of those kindred souls is my wife and I don’t think I’ll ever get to thank her enough for the rest of my life. She helped me understand the meaning of believing in oneself. Standing up to intimidation by not retreating into make-believe infallibility, but to be aware of the circumstances causing those difficult situations. She taught me to gauge people and their motivations, consequences and the courage to deal with them. (You know, being aware of consequences is the first step to feeling confident and I daresay, invincible. Then nothing or no one can exert the power of surprise over you.) Mommy San, to me you ARE courage and I’m glad tyke will see this too.

Character. Sport. I’ve been woefully out of touch with any sport but I do remember my flirtation with cricket during my undergrad years or my obsession with tennis in school. It changed me from a sore loser to someone who could take defeat in his stride and appreciate others better than me; lessons I need to remind myself of from time to time. I want tyke to learn this sooner than I did.

Confidence. Fitness. Enrolling in a gym in my teens exposed me to one simple fact – if you are healthy, you’ll feel good about yourself. Maybe it has some connection to our survival instinct and the need to be fit enough to defend ourselves but there’s no doubt that a fit body exudes confidence. (Not the militant strain seen in over-enthusiastic practitioners like Salman Khan…..). I would really like tyke to discover its power in time.

By now I’ve envisioned my son to be some superhuman ubersoldat-like monster. I bet when he reads this he’ll say “Dad, WTF!? Even Superman hadn’t figured everything out – he wore his undies outside his pants!”

To which I’ll say, “Ah, but son, did he ever let his undies make him feel weak or stupid?”

And that’s the final piece of the puzzle. I want to tell him he’s always going to have faults. They are an integral part of him and some of them will never go away. As long as he never lets those faults define who he is, he’ll be fine. Be aware of them but tell them to grab a bag of popcorn and go sit quietly in the back somewhere watching a movie.

I think it will get the point across.

I think it will.

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49 responses to “*I* think”

  1. pooja sudharshanan says :

    goosebumps!! :)
    thank you.
    Makes me feel I can find extra-ordinary in my ordinary life too!

  2. Joe says :

    Absolute louw. =)

  3. danslango says :

    beautifully said.

  4. Abhay says :

    Khup chaan lihtos arrey! Far bara watala. Even I have a daughter about the same age.

    Abhay

  5. Harpreet Singh says :

    Wonderful posting.

    Nature has not been unfair to anyone. The common thing is that every personality is a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

    I have really loved this “And that’s the final piece of the puzzle. I want to tell him he’s always going to have faults. They are an integral part of him and some of them will never go away. As long as he never lets those faults define who he is, he’ll be fine. Be aware of them but tell them to grab a bag of popcorn and go sit quietly in the back somewhere watching a movie.”

    Not sure if you tweet for every posting like you have done for this. Please tweet everytime you post anything new.

    Harpreet

    • daddysan says :

      Absolutely.

      Also I do usually tweet one or two links on my Twitter stream for each blogpost. Thanks for following it and reading these posts!

  6. rohinee says :

    this was fairly profound- enjoyed the clarity and depth.

  7. bhatnaturally says :

    Fantastic read. As the father of a 5.5 year old child, this is all that I want my child to be.

  8. purplesque says :

    In one of those freak coincidences of life, this showed up in a book right after reading your post this morning.

    “The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don’t. If you keep saying your slippers aren’t yours, then you’ll die searching, you’ll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”

    Well said, Daddy san.

    • daddysan says :

      Ah, the thin line between ambition and dissatisfaction! Unfortunately there is no easy way to learn this except through experience.

      And thank you!

  9. Supremus says :

    As a new dad all I can say this is brilliant!

  10. Scarlett O'Hara says :

    What a beautiful post. I love how you expresses the thoughts and how you ended it.

  11. nothinggreat says :

    Knowledge.Curiosity.Character.Confidence.Fitness.Courage.Consequences.

    Depressing in a way that I rate myself below average in most of the above parameters.May be average in first two but that’s about it.And I am almost 24. OMG!!!

    Uplifting in a way that I way that the idea of learning the process is never too late.Especially when the process is articulated so beautifully : not running away from the defeat,feeling good about yourself through your body etc.

    Enticing in a way that I will always comeback and gauge my life and my career using this eloquent piece of yours as the tool.Thanks for penning your thoughts down.

    PS : Has anyone ever told you that you should try out Motivational Speaker as an alternate career.It might have more money than the chips anyway.Also, your son is a damn lucky fella :)

    • daddysan says :

      There you go mate, you answered your own question. It is never too late.

      Also, you’re ONLY 24, not ALMOST 24! (waves walking stick indignantly in your direction)

      On motivational speaking – I need to be motivated! I’m also curious about the ratio of sanctimony to screw-ups that make an ideal motivational speaker. How much of it is divine insight and how much is a life-lesson learned by falling over and over in the same ditch, a ditch conquered only because the person decided to climb out of it or die trying?

  12. gurprrietsiingh says :

    Oh to be able to write like this! You hit me on two levels. The parent I am today and my beliefs about what makes for solid grounding. And to the socially in-adept, nerdy, naive, shrinking violet I once used to be.

    Took me a decade to find freedom, but I’m a better man for it today, and a better father and husband too.

    Thank you for penning this down. This is not just your story.

    • daddysan says :

      “Took me a decade to find freedom, but I’m a better man for it today, and a better father and husband too.”

      Thanks for sharing Gurprriet. I wonder if my posts will ever be a substitute for experience. I hope they are. We were raised by a generation of loving parents who somehow weren’t very open communicators. Maybe if I change that aspect of parenting, Tyke will benefit.

  13. MommySan says :

    My son has no faults.

  14. namrata sehgal says :

    Wonderful insight!

  15. Prinks says :

    Oh my gawd! That’s just brilliant. Never knew fatherhood could be so brilliant and mature. Happy fathers day already :D

    • daddysan says :

      Many thanks for the wishes! It just sounds mature. There’s a lot of slipping and stumbling that happens in the background for these words to materialize :)

  16. Patrix says :

    An excellent read and very timely for me. Much thanks.

  17. Abhijeet says :

    I hope you write for a living. Else it’s simply unfair.

  18. Soundarya says :

    “It’s the second aspect, a cocktail of confidence, character and courage which will drive that “I“. And no amount of studying is going to supplement it.” – Well said! I also liked the Superman example :)

  19. temper temptress says :

    daddysan, as many have told you – this *is* beautiful. I’m sure tyke will be a sum of many parts… and some of those parts will be yours.
    PS: i typically read but seldom comment… but this was just too moving to leave without saying ‘thank you’.

  20. Priyank Mandavawala says :

    Bookmarking this one……..!!!!!

  21. shreyadg says :

    This post is brilliant. Simply brilliant.

  22. Rainbow says :

    hey what do you smoke? lovely post again!!!

  23. Purnima Rao says :

    Oh.My.God. May the heavens shower you with more of your favourite hooch because this was just the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s a lucky man who can see his good fortune while he still has it…it takes a wise man to embrace & acknowledge it. You’re both. Wow.

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