I was in a meeting with one of my business partners and she enquired about how my girls were doing. I said "Trying to keep them young a little bit longer". That was a strange thing to say, but kids seem to grow up much quicker these days. It's the premature teenager syndrome...thanks to television, internet and the works. My older girl is ten, but I sometimes wonder if she is going on thirteen!!!
Well, actually not. I have probably become the paranoid dad I promised I would never ever become. Never say never. All said and done, parenting in this era is different from some years back...not that I had kids back then. But that is my guess when one compares the environment and exposure that today's children have. So, what's different and is it really different? Don't know but, today's parenting experience is a collage of many things.....paranoia, hope, fun, friendship, freedom, discovery.....all in one.
1) Bedtime story on television
Television time. How much ever you want to control and monitor the exposure, it is a twinkling of an eyelid away. I grew up in an era where television was a luxury and had strict schedules about when to watch and what to watch. We fail miserably in enforcing that with our ever persistent girls.
2) Today's Little Red Riding Hood is a gum chewing teenager
Hannah Montana. Unfortunately, Hannah Montana is older than my daughter and will do things that are always a few years before my daughter should. But fortunately, the storyline also has a good father-daughter bond that it hard for me to resist. So, why blame my daughter that she is so hooked on to it. And when she picks up quotable quotes like "Life's a climb but the view is great" from Hannah, it is not as bad as I thought.
3) Beware - The Big Bad Wolf called Internet
Well, internet can't be far behind television in the "what's so different" list. In fact, this is probably the one chapter that is extremely different in the parenting guide revisions from a decade back. Disaster struck our loving family when my daughter opened her Facebook account. The battle-lines were drawn...father versus daughter and of course, mother is always on the daughter's side. I was just worried about what the big bad world of internet would do to my daughter. But then, I found an ally. Her school stepped in and made her and her friends shut down their Facebook accounts. That was a relief!!!
4) Learn the Dr.Jekyll side to the Internet
Not everything on the internet is bad. My daughter started her own blog. Her interest is creative writing and what better way to exercise that in today's times than start her own blog. I don't know if she inspired me to start this blog or I inspired her to...I guess, we inspired each other to give it a shot.
5) Paint a colourful world together
Sticking on a bit longer to the digital world, my daughter absolutely loves the digital camera. She clicked her first picture when she was four. A pretty good one of my wife and I which adorns our living room!! And hey, I grew up with a Dad who is a film technologist himself, but the first time I ever clicked the camera was certainly not when I was four.
6) Rejoin the culture club
English is the medium of conversation, be it television or internet, school or home...My girls struggle to talk in their native tongue. Well, the culprits in this case are absolutely my wife and I. And when I think back, we just don't realize when English became our first language at home. We are now consciously trying to salvage the situation here.
7) Rejoice, there is common ground sometimes
Enid Blyton, Famous Five and Secret Seven is what's common between my growing up years and hers. The difference is that at an age where I probably read my first, there are not many left for her to read.
8) "OMG" moments are aplenty
Sleepovers.... The word I dread. My baby is staying over at her friends. She enjoys it, but I am sleepless.
9) "It's my life" is no longer a Bon Jovi song you love
Never try to get her do something she doesn't want to. She has a mind of her own and that at an age when I didn't know what mind was. But, please....
10) Save the world...make it a better place
My daughter and her friends run a "save the world" campaign in our community. Walking in from office into a home filled with apocalyptic versions of what will happen to the world if we don't stop it.....phew, that is an extra load on my shoulders. But, my daughter is the warrior...and that feels good.
11) No tailgating
My daughter does not need me tailing around her anymore. I love her "yes I know...it's the hundredth time you told me" expression when I ask her to be careful. I love her complete "oh please don't fuss" attitude when I worry about her little scratches and bumps from her playtime or school.
12) She knows you better than most
I told my daughter I was writing this blog-post called "thirteen". I told her that it was because it is my thirteenth post..wow, already. I asked her if she could guess what it might me about. Within a blink, she said "About me acting like a thirteen year old?". My jaw dropped. How did she know? I asked her to which she said " I know you Dad !!!"
13) She is always your baby...no matter what
Thirteen or ten, it does not finally matter. She is always your baby and will be. So heck, why worry about it. She loves you, she is everything to you ...and that is all that matters. Thirteen is not too bad, so that's where I stop rambling.