School is back in session after a week long holiday in our part of Dubai. I kiss their precious chubby cheeks, told them I would miss them every second and to have an amazing day. All of this before running at the speed of light away from the school & nursery as fast as my legs would go. I run not because I’m trying to get away from kids, I run because I need to get away from my kids. This doesn’t make me any less of a Baba, but it does let me regroup and figure out what my next plan of attack is to ease my endless thoughts about ‘what can I do better for my kids’ or drown my sorrows about the latest ‘father failure’ over that iced dark chocolate frappuccino whipped up magically by my friendly barista.
I was on a mission. I was determined to find something special for each day for the kids during their week off. We hit the park, we did the whole Kidzania thing with friends, we bbq’d, we brunched, we hung out with friends, we played ball, we rode the bikes -unless you are the 2 year old in which she is much better at being run over by her older sisters’ bike than riding it. We read books and colored pictures. We painted, had sleepovers, movie night and picked up a few new pairs of shoes along the way as well as replenishment of the continually dwindling supply of Princess Bandaids.
I really had a great time – for the most part. There was a moment with a tantrum at the mall and I was almost ready to leave her in the arms of any compassionate looking motherly type.
It made me realize how different quality of life is when you are living in different countries. Although each locale has its own unique offerings, until you start deciding what YOU want to do with YOUR kids and what they think is actually fun (the latter is not necessarily the former), it becomes a really expensive and fruitless endeavor trying to satisfy the whims of bored children.
It brought back up a story of when my oldest was around 2 years old and we took her to the desert while still living in Qatar at the time. She was so happy just playing in the sand, feeling it between her toes and throwing it at everyone and everything. It was such a trek to get out there and usually so crowded because that’s also what everyone else in Doha was trying to do at the same time, we didn’t go back out for another 6 months or so.
In saying that, I suppose one of my parenting fails was not actively trying to find new and fun ways to entertain my daughter (at the time). Plus, everything was so expensive in Doha because the supply never met the demand so people could price things however they liked. I was left frustrated and completely lacking in any and all creativity when it came to entertaining my own child.
Fast forward to Dubai and although things can be expensive at times, the vast range of activities from visiting zoos, museums, water parks, creative outlets or just getting out the endless energy is amazing.
So what was a parenting fail in my first daughters’ initial years has ended up changing since we made the move to Dubai (or wherever else a change may take you). We simply found stuff to do because it was fun. I started taking a lot of joy in the fact that I could make them smile just by hanging out with them.
I look at those toddler tantrums as opportunities (well, of course I say that now, after the fact) because it helps me understand when too much is just too much for the 2 year old or that I timed a really awesome activity at the time she normally needs a nap. I was also able to use that time to spend time with my older daughter. I really changed my focus from just ‘getting through the day’ as a Baba to actually looking for new ways to have fun with them.
We are always doing something different but yet we are always doing the same stuff. We do stuff that we want to do because we can (and at times, even when we can’t). Perhaps, it can be periodically commercialized but when it’s what opens up a conversation I never thought in a billion, trillion, ubermillion (as my daughter counts) years would ever happen (“Baba, what happens if the sky falls down?”), everything else takes a back row.
I’m watching them grow up. I get to be part of what they are doing every day.
Yes, I really wish I had some big office, conducting cool meetings and travelling around wow-ing people with my amazing charisma (stop laughing). I wish I could afford to whisk them off on a private plane to head to Disneyland for the day. I wish I could converse a lot more with adults and head out with friends on a 2 minute notice. But, you know what? I get to see them smile. I get more than other dads do when they barely see their kids for 10 minutes before they are tucked into bed (no matter the reason). I get to be the one that they share their ‘School Pickup” dramas to at the end of their school day. I may be constantly looking at what I do as a failure or have lamented over raising my voice and whether this will put them into years of therapy but at some point (in the ‘constantly-on-repeat’ words of Elsa) I need to Let it Go. What is done is done and I need to choose to change my thinking or some action in some way going forward.
After a while, there really becomes nothing more important. It’s love, plain and simple. It’s pure love. And if I can keep making them smile as I try to come up with new ideas (and a mosh pit of parenting fails sometimes), then I think I can strike up a couple of points on this Stay-at-home-Baba thing.
21 Feb, 2016