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The Masti Quotient – The importance of Joy in parent-child interactions


Whenever we used to go for birthday parties of my kids’ friends or my friends’ kids my job was cut out. I had to manage the children. While the other fathers were busy with their cocktails and/ or gossip (if you think practicing the art of tittle-tattle is a female prerogative, come and stay in our township. You’ll revise your opinion before you can say Page 3!) about office politics and the state of Planet Earth, I would be enjoying with the little ones.
Many of the fathers would have a rather condescending attitude and not consider me man enough. The kids however regarded me as a perfect(ly mad) uncle and the hostesses as a male version of Julie Andrews.

My colleague Arpita and her 12-year-old daughter have invented some real fun games. Both of them are trained singers. But when they want to have fun they don’t do an in-house version of India has got Talent. Rather they imagine how songs on 78 rpm would sound like if played in 45 or 33 rpm and the other way round and sing these with all the chutzpah at their command. Now tell me how cool and mastilicious is that!

I too developed my own brand of singing. Whenever I caught a cold (which was all too often), I was prescribed gargling by my resident doctor. Whenever I used to gargle I would ‘hum’ a tune and ask the kids to guess what it was. Since the difference in their ages is four years, I would give Ankita the tougher tunes and Aniket the easier ones. This way, even a mundane activity like gargling would be elevated to an act of masti.

While moments similar to what I described, would be happening in many homes, I am not sure in how many homes the parents would be involved and that too with full-on masti quotient. There is a perception in most parents, particularly dads, that if they indulge in a bit of harmless lunacy with their kids, the latter would stop ‘respecting’ them and they wouldn’t be able to exercise discipline which is important to make your child a ‘winner’. So they spend a lot of time and effort in doing their ‘duty’ – one of the most dreaded four letter words in the art and science of parenting.

To unleash masti you need not be a writer or a clown – though I know I am a bit of both. You only have to invoke the child in you – yes there is one in each and every one of us. The problem is it has been chained like Prometheus by our sense propriety, dignity et al.

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Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is an award-winning writer for children and young adults with 27 books to his name. He also dabbles in satire, poetry, fiction and travelogues. His writings have been translated into several Indian and foreign languages and showcased in many text books and anthologies. Ramen is a much sought after inspirational speaker and storyteller. An Engineer and an MBA, Ramen is working as Chief of Communications, Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha. You can visit Ramen's website www.ramendra.in

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