Monday, November 11, 2013

Being a Father – Five Years Later

Boy showing five fingers to his father

It seems both baffling and amazing that a handful of years have already passed since that fateful and fortunate day fatherhood with all its thrills and responsibilities was heaped upon me. My son has started his path of formal education this year, his kindergarten. And I am thrilled to say that he has a general and overall liking and enthusiasm for learning and that he enjoys being in an educational setting. (I myself was never able to sever my ties with education, which is why after my own studies I embraced teaching, an occupation that continues to be my passion.)

On the down side, we have been plagued with a number of diseases and infections that resulted from the sudden social mingling of many kids in closed spaces. It took its sad toll on the health of my son, who very regrettably missed most of the first two months of school because of it. I sometimes wonder whether it is a good idea to start school in the fall right in the midst of 'flu season.

In terms of my relationship with my son, I must say that I find it even more pleasurable and satisfying than a few years back, my last post chronicling events and happenings around age three. My son's reasoning skills and imagination have taken interesting leaps and bounds, and I often find myself more on the defensive when confronting his many questions.

To give an example: My son has been told and is aware that pregnancies mean that there is a baby inside. We told him that he too appeared from his Mommy's belly. Now since I as a father need my share of contribution as well we told him that it was I who put him there. This explanation seemed to satisfy him ... until recently.

The moment and question I had been afraid of had come: Daddy, so how did you put me in Mommy's belly? Through hugs and kisses was I believe my answer. Now I am awaiting more grueling questions on the subject perhaps sometime soon.

He also surprised me with the observation that certain animals are meat. He claimed that cows and chickens are forms of meat and hence different types of animal altogether, whereas dogs and cats are simply animals and not meat. Part of me shuddered as we are decided non-vegetarians at this point of our lives, but he took it as a matter of fact that some animals are meant to be eaten, and that's that.

The other day the matter of tails came up. My son expressed the desire to have a tail, so I told him that we used to have one at some point of time. That must have been cool, he claimed, but so what happened then? This led me to introduce to him the theory of evolution. I said we have evolved from apes and monkeys and all he did was look at me with a quizzical look and say: You are kidding, right, Daddy?

As such, you can tell that our conversations have become a genuine pleasure. I do not try to overburden him (if he still cannot embrace natural selection I am fine with it for now) and I am ready to merely listen to him and marvel at his ways of reasoning. The other day I told him that our dead goldfish was an angel in heaven; I was hoping to carefully tread or perhaps circumvent the painful topic of nonexistence, and he turned to me and said, Oh, I thought that sort of thing was just a fairy tale. On many occasions I get schooled by my own wee one.

Yet it is through his own desire that he has discovered the pleasures of reading or at this point, being read to. I know that some parents try hard to instill a love of books in their children and have their bedtime stories routine dating from the stages of infancy. I have never been a fan of that because I do not like forcing things upon my child even if it is meant for his own good.

So when he asked me to read the story of Chip, the little teacup from the Beauty of the Beast, I did not hesitate a second. For the past year we are taking out books from the library, and I read to him almost every night. His literary taste has gotten more sophisticated over time and now he has taken a liking to superheroes, ranging from Spiderman (who he dressed up as for Halloween) to Iron Man and X-Men; these days he is curious about all the characters of Star Wars, instilled and awakened by his most favorite game of Angry Birds.

Here is my five-year-old boy who listens to Abbey Road nonstop (love the album and choice of music but listening to it ten times every day is a bit too much) and who beats me when it comes to the iPad. I have told him that I cannot wait for him to take computer science classes so he can help me to try to make heads and tails of this thing called technology. I can't wait for that to happen, but at the same time, I enjoy the path there. No rush for my little one to grow big yet.

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