maternal instinct is at its worst at night. Which is not to
say that it is laudable during the day, but at night, you
simply can't get me to wake up every hour to check on my child
or to pass him the glass of water that he ever so categorically
asks for. My son has learnt the unkind way that snuggling
up to me once the lights get turned out only leads to an irritable-mother-syndrome,
best avoided, if possible. Predictably enough, The Hubby comes
into his own with his gush of mothering impulse at night.
us both fine all these years; I would get to do what I like
doing best - sleeping - and he managed those brief hours of
close cuddling up with a fast growing up child who increasingly
decries the thought of being treated like a little one. Ahead
of the arrival of the minikid, our son has established some
ground rules in his mind, and being smothered by excessive
nestling is unacceptable.
would-be big brother status got a further reinforcement when
we decided to start preparing him for sleeping separately
so that we have room on the bed for the minikid as and when
it decides to storm into our lives. To ease up the process
of physical distancing, we planned for a separate arrangement
in the same room, to begin with. He enthusiastically took
to the idea of having a bed of his own, and was quite content
with the suggestion of a 'down bed', which is nothing more
sophisticated than a fluffy mattress covered with his kiddy
evening, he gets to move his entire collection of books, small
cars, along with the trusted coterie of stuffed toys on to
this now most-sacred space, so he has every reason to be ecstatic
with this deal. Since big boys are strong enough to move mountains,
he doesn't mind moving his own mattress from the other end
of the house and then inhabiting it with his favourites (forgot
to mention his shoes, a newspaper, a magazine, handkerchief,
an alarm clock, and an empty tube of my face cleanser that
get added as frills on the fringes of his down-bed). It's
an interesting night time ritual he looks forward to. And,
he doesn't mind that bit of a squeeze he has to contend with.
this new down bed in place, the father and son have got separated,
with at least two degrees of separation between them: one,
this huge mountain of a matron (the down-bed gets laid on
my side of the bed); and two, the different levels of the
up-bed and down-bed. Which leaves The Hubby at odds with the
huge outpourings of maternal instinct that keep spilling over
at night. As can be figured, The Hubby doesn't know what to
do with it.
that into paternal instincts," I offered to help yesterday.
how?" he looked at me quizzically, perhaps not aware
that such a thing as paternal instinct does exist in this
world. The problem with our present days is that it glorifies
motherhood to such nauseating extents (and I am party to the
crime) that fathers feel like the most worthless nincompoops
around, especially when it comes to handling sons who know
nothing better than clinging to their mothers.
'like how' was difficult to answer. I pondered a little and
suggested, "Like checking out from the position your
son sleeps in as to whether he'll make a better cricket player
or soccer player. Or none. In which case, do not despair.
There is some room for accomplished chefs in this world, which
is my assessment of what he'll ultimately choose to become.
I have heard him talk of 'three tablespoonfuls of oil' and
'freshly grilled lobsters' in his sleep. In the process, make
sure that his sheets are over him, not under, and his pillows
are under him, not over. That is enough work for each night.
I can train him to call out for you in case he wants to visit
didn't seem convinced. "Why can't we lay his mattress
on my side. At least I can see him from here."
where is the space on your side?"
let's switch sides. Everything will fit in place."
down the suggestion as quickly as it had been made. "No,
there is no way I'm going to travel a mile ten times a night
to go to the loo. You stay right where you are, and so does
disappointment and resentment lingered through the day, made
apparent from his pout and his unwillingness to share ice
cream with us at dinner. In one of those rare waves of empathy,
I suggested that he take over the task of reading out books
to the child at bed time. That way, they get to spend a good
hour every night nuzzling up. The instantaneous sparkle in
his eyes made me wonder how stupidly we had overlooked such
a simple solution.
accepted the proposal, but, in part. He said he didn't mind
his father taking over the duty, but there was no way he would
have it on the down-bed. The only other breathing creatures
allowed to share the bed with him are his ant, spider, insect,
lizard friends and other creepy crawlies that strike his fancy.
Mom and Dad had better stay away. At the same time, he ruled
out giving in to being cajoled into getting his books read
out on the up-bed. The only option left was the lounge. Take
it, or leave it.
But he did not give up.
night, in the thick of the dark, I could trace the figures
of the father, the son and several inanimate spirits in a
deep embrace, oblivious to the cares of the world. The claims
of being a self-reliant big boy forgotten, the physical discomfort
of being squashed by toys and books from all sides ignored,
the two of them looked like they were having the most peaceful
sleep of their lives. Honestly, I didn't even realise when
The Hubby had left this up-bed for the down-bed.
The Hubby and I ARE made differently, after all.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005