Our daughter Krisha, aka Pishu, just turned one. Anuja and I decided not to do the ‘traditional’ birthday celebration – you know the one that’s like a wedding, where one spends wasteful amounts of money and the child in question is MISERABLE! We went instead to Delhi to be with our friends, and on her birthday, we took Krisha to a playhouse and lunch. Later that evening, had her at a cousin’s place where we cut a cake and she spent time with her cousins. If I may say so myself, she had a great time!

The picture you see here is of one of many meals we ate out on that trip. Anuja and I, being relatively late to the parenting-party, had our reservations. A year into being new-old-parents, we’ve come to a few realizations. First, no matter how many books you read, sage advice you solicit (or get unsolicited) from family, friends and well wishers; parenting is subjective. Parenting is about a mutual dynamic the couple shares about certain core values. And parenting is about the equation the parents, together and individually, strike with the child, depending chiefly on the child’s own temperament.

While nothing, and I mean NO amount of planning and preparation can prepare you for the onslaught of a baby, know this – IT IS ALRIGHT. Things eventually work out. Last week Krisha caught a bad stomach bug that was in the air. Barely one, it was heart-wrenching to see our little joyous baby on an IV drip. But that worked itself out as well, no matter how unnerving and hopeless it seemed at the time.

The main point I want to make in this little write up, something I’ve touched upon in a few of my earlier posts as well, though now, being a year-old parent feel more qualified, is that try not to mollycoddle your newborn overtly. We have pets – 2 cats and a dog. We’ve never separated them from Krisha and despite huge protests, nothing, thank heavens, has gone wrong. We have not sanitized the environment – which is why I feel that Krisha’s immunity is developing strongly. We have not bottle/formula fed her – another reason she’s been mostly healthy and happy (touch wood). We have not given her any processed foods even though she’s now eating solids – each thing is home made, and I think she’s so much better for it. We have not restricted her movements. We take her with us everywhere, else we don’t go ourselves. We let her make a royal mess at the table, be it at home or out (because we feel that before we get too firm with her, which ought to be the preserve of a slightly older age), we should let her explore. She eats on her own, she plays the table by herself, she tries to put on her own shoes, she is opinionated about what she wants to play with (mostly wooden toys), what she’d like to read, what music she wants to listen to. We sing to her. We play all kinds of music for her. Each floor of our home as a result looks like a cyclone just hit it. And though I’m a bit of a neat-freak, I have happily relented in lieu of letting Krisha DISCOVER.

I suppose that is really what I am trying to say. Don’t thwart your toddlers. Let them loose. Let them be. Let them roam. Goes without saying under supervision (ideally not of a maid/staff, we don’t personally believe in that). But let them figure out things for themselves. The instinctive urge to ‘protect’ is the hardest thing in this world to fight. But fight we must, because just around the corner from the great-mess, lies greatness!

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