The Game Is Afoot!

Thanks to a re-tweet by a friend, I discovered a really well-written piece by Natasha Badhwar (Indian Express) on what it means for her to grow up with her kids. 

The essay is generously laced with humour and insight, and has a lot to offer, not just for those of you who may be trying to understand what parenting involves, but also for young parents like us who can use some welcome tips to help us make the most of our experience!  Here are some excerpts…

We are parents of three children, but don’t let the number distract you. The more they are, the better pictures they make. The more they are, the more time off a parent gets. The higher the sense of achievement when one gets anything done at all. Like being on time for the school bus…

Like everyone else around me, I embarked on parenthood with my own set of delusions. Eight years into the game, I’ve lost a lot of the wisdom that had seemed a natural gift. I feel lighter. My learning is inconclusive and contradictory and doesn’t work all the time. Quite like the children I learnt them from. After all, it’s still early years.

I call it a game, because that inspires us to play. Play demands creativity, one gets better with practice and if one keeps up the spirit, then laughter and fun comes along. Play can get difficult; it requires fitness and training.  

I especially love the analogy about parenting as a “game”.  Being a father of two kids myself, I know how much work can go into being a good parent.  And, at the same time, the act of being a parent can be so incredibly rewarding and filled with joy, that it can get quite impossible to explain to any non-parent, on a logical level, why so many of us opt to have children!  That’s why the “game” analogy makes perfect sense.

But, that’s not all you can get from Badhwar’s write-up.  Here’s some more…

Parenting demands that we have to be more present, rather than absent. It’s easier to be away at work, far easier to be stuck in traffic every day. Parents love Mondays. If you work at home, you get to send the kids away, if you work outside, you get to send yourself away. Monday is parents’ secret Saturday. But eventually, our children will give each other what they get from us…

So I make a game out of this too. We are all crew and cast on a film set. Sometimes I am allowed to raise my voice because I am the Director. I always make up for it with my crew and actors afterwards, because you know, I need them on the sets tomorrow. This film depends on their motivation, I couldn’t pay anyone to act in this one…

If you’re still wondering why parents enjoy parenting so much, I’ll offer you some more of Badhwar’s words, in response: “They remind us of what we were like when we started out. What we can be like, what can be reclaimed.

Simply put, children are reminders of the best that Life can be.

4 thoughts on “The Game Is Afoot!”

  1. The article by Ms Badhwar is really well written, I must say. But as I have seen all the time, a good writer can take any topic and with magical use of words and emotions, can make a lovely piece of literature.

    Her article seems to be a beautiful justification of having not one, not two, but three kids. The theme is centered around what a parent can learn from the kids, but not how it can ever be a contribution to the society at large. Three kids make an enormous ecological footprint. Regardless how well the author raises them, there is no guarantee what kind of persons they will be when they are adults.

    The concept of “game” sounds nice to other parents in their own justification. Maybe for some, a repeat of their own childhood is the goal of life. For others, an undiluted adult life beckons. No side can ever explain the benefits of their sides to the other. But one thing is more or less clear in this day and age – kids bring burden to the society. There are no two ways about this hard fact.

    Enjoy the parenthood 🙂

  2. * Editor’s Reply *

    Thank you for your comment, Joy. You’ve contributed significantly to the posts on this blog earlier. And, I do appreciate you taking the time to respond. However, this time, I do think it’s a case of seeing the world through yellow tinted glasses. When I read the article, not for a moment did I think that the author was trying to “justify” her having kids (or any number of them). As you rightly pointed out, her theme was about what you can learn from your kids – and she did a wonderful job of it. A writeup need not cover more than one theme, just like a photograph need not include more than one strong subject.

    As regards the “ecological footprint” argument, surely there are more ways to look at children than seeing them in terms of their ecological impact?! We all have ecological footprints – but we don’t stop living simply because it adds to carbon consumption or resource utilization. Don’t you recall the last time you rode your bike cross country or took a commercial flight across the US? Surely, you didn’t *have* to do that to go through Life! But you made a choice, and it brought some joy in your life. And, that’s ok.

    Parents and non-parents can co exist in this world, but it cuts both ways…

  3. Naveen,
    My 2nd piece for the Express Eye was to be published today, so I googled for my name and Indian Express together to find the article online.
    That’s how I found your blog.
    Thank you for your generous praise, its an extraordinarily illumined moment to meet another parent who understands where one is coming from and feels the same way. I felt that I had to invent the language of my appreciation as well as my confusion as I walked along this path….as I tried to separate the essence of the experience from the clutter.
    I’m going to savor the rest of your entries at leisure. I so look forward to free time for that. –that’s my article in today’s Eye.
    best, Natasha

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