SEVEN YEARS A FATHER

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Ray just turned seven
Exactly 7 years ago this champ here checked into the world, suddenly throwing me into the deep end of fatherhood – for the very first time.
 
I had rushed his mother to the St Mary’s hospital in the ungodly wee hours of the previous night after it became apparent that the champ couldn’t wait till the following day to announce his arrival. She had swung into labour without warning.
 
After the doctors assured me that her water hadn’t broken yet and it could be hours before the impatient guy in her belly finally made his dramatic entry into this planet, I decided to go back to the house and get some rest. It had been a long day for me.
 
You guessed right; I couldn’t get even a wink of sleep for the remaining hours of the night due to anxiety. I just lay on bed tossing from side to side, as I imagined what could be happening back in that hospital.
 
It was then that I discovered how one hour at night can be such a long time, especially if you are awake, alone and worried.
 
I must have finally drifted off to dreamland at around dawn. I remember, at about 8.00 am. the following day, waking up from deep slumber with a start, after my phone suddenly rang.
 
I squinted my sleepy eyes over where the phone was and when I saw it was my wife calling, the events of the previous night immediately came flooding into my mind. I jumped out of bed and received the call, with a mixture of fear and hope, eager to know why she was calling.
 
It was then, in a weak voice, that she gave me the sweetest news I had ever heard for a long time. I was a father to a bouncing baby boy! The champ arrived a few minutes past 7.00 am.
 
I rushed back to the hospital, went straight to her ward and sat by her bedside. As I nervously held the feeble poor little thing in my hands, too many thoughts raced through my mind. I couldn’t stop staring at the little bundle of joy that I was now carrying. My heart was swollen with pride.
 
Tears of happiness stung my eyes, but I fought them back. Where I come from, men don’t cry in public since It’s considered a sign of weakness – a taboo. At least, that’s what we grew up knowing. 
 
His body looked too fragile and his skin too pale. His innocent little eyes kept blinking- perhaps trying to acclimatise themselves to the new bright environment. When he cried, his voice was too weak and almost inaudible!
 
This kind of got me worried. I thought something was amiss with him until the doctors reassured me that the boy was in perfect condition. But why was his voice so weak? Maybe the journey from the other world, where he lived for nine months, must have been tiresome.
 
Seven years down the line, I can’t believe that the tiny and feeble creature I held in my arms that day, has grown into this robust and hyperactive boy. Sometimes annoyingly so.
 
I am now forced to shut him up from time to time, whenever I feel suffocated by his incessant questions and the occasional ruckus he often creates in the house.
 
However, the dad-son bond between him and me is unmistakable. I see a lot of me in him and, certainly, I know I am well represented in this champ.
 
Other than what I had read in books and magazines, nobody had taught me how to be a father – at least practically – seven years ago. This champ did. He forced me to learn on the job.
 
I can’t say that I am the ideal dad. No. I am a work in progress. With each passing day, week, month and year, there is something new to learn. And where did the years go?
 
At seven years, with a three-year-old little sister in tow, I sometimes find myself holding a man to man talk with this dude. I am amazed by how much he knows and his uncanny grasp of complex issues, thanks to modern technology.
 
Parenting digital children is definitely a challenge that our parents never experienced. Now, we have to grapple with it on a daily basis without any previous experiences to refer to. Regulating these young ones’ access to digital devices is an ever-present nightmare.
They know more than you can imagine just by watching their favourite cartoon TV channels. The internet and the pop culture all around us aren’t helping matters either.
It needs close monitoring to know how much influence your child is getting from this modern environment. This is almost impossible in the highly competitive modern world where parents must always be on the move in order to make ends meet. We can only do our best and leave the rest to God.
 
So, champ, as you mark your seventh birthday today, just know that mum and dad love you so so. 
I also love the fearless “bring it on” attitude you adopted from the first day I held you in my arms, with those little eyes defiantly staring right back at me. All you need to know is that the world is definitely not a very kind place for the fainthearted.
Now go ye and conquer the world. Like a boss.
 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHAMP

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