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Even before I unlock the door, my family knows Im back from office because the 300 million olfactory receptors in my pet Labradors nose get activated even before my car drives into the garage, and the vigorous wagging of her tail, gives away my whereabouts.
Few feet behind her, is a now four-and-a-half year old Samaira, whos understood this signal, and is waiting eagerly - not for me, but what my bag has inside for her.
Its almost become some sort of rule now, that I have to get something for her when I come home.
Sometimes a chocolate, a box of crayons or a small toy. Many a times I have to get special orders, thanks to the heavily advertised products on cartoon channels.
I still recall hunting over 8 shops for a particular brand of soap that was offering a free Cinderella pendant. Obviously, Samaira wasnt interested in the soap.
On occasions when Ive forgotten to get anything, I fish out a five rupee coin from my pocket and tell her that I worked hard all day to get this for her. The trick used to work, till she realised that with five bucks you couldnt really buy much.
I think I went too far on one instance when I cusped both my palms together and told her I got some fresh air from the A/C of my office. Sadly, that one didnt work.
And before many of you will rightfully say Im spoiling her, I'll simply take cover, and wait for the bullets to fly past, till I can give you an explanation.
Guilty! Yes I am.
But thats what most fathers do, when the we feel we dont spend enough time with our kids - We try and compensate by buying materialistic things.
Much to the dismay of my wife, who tries hard to inculcate good values in her instead.
- - - -
A few days back, I got home something else.
I got home - my work stress.
I was having a bad day at work. Then I had to fight traffic to get home. Followed by a complaint call by a client.
By the time I reached home I was so tired that I just walked passed both, a very surprised Tiara and Samaira, and without saying a word went to freshen up.
I ignored her while she tried asking me what I had got her. So much so, that even Swetal, my wife, was a bit alarmed.
Then Samaira, came to me for a usual round of wrestling but I snapped back at her and asked her to leave me alone.
My wife quickly bundled her up into the other room and I stomped out to have my dinner which was already served.
By the time I was done, and a bit of my senses were calmed, Samaira was fast asleep in bed. I looked at her innocent face, and sensed her disappointment.
Swetal, my wife told me that she kept asking for me while she was dozing off. The next morning I left early to work, much before she woke up.
By noon, the pressure on the project cooled off, and soon I realized that it wasnt as big a deal than I had made of it in my head.
That evening, I went home with my usual gift.
Luckily, I did have the same wagging tail, and eager eyes looking at my bag when I walked in.
But there was a definitely a slight hesitance in the air, and I realized that Samaira was checking, if I was still in a bad mood.
I rushed in and hugged them both, and she giggled with joy on getting her present .
_ _ _
Knowingly, or unknowingly, we leave our footprints in the minds of our children. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Our actions, words, thoughts and deeds, impact their personalities.
But more importantly how we behave with them shapes their relationships with us.
How many times have we heard of people being close only to one parent, and sometimes to none. We too have made our choices, havent we?
But if asked, what was that turning point, itll be hard for us to recollect the exact moment when we picked sides.
As parents we try hard to ensure that our children love us both equally. We are careful not to argue in front of them. We work as a team to guide them to distinguish right from wrong. How many times have we heard that a childs mind is like clay. Its time we realize that at this tender age, our actions will shape their world, and ours too.
- - - -
A few nights later, Samaira cuddled up to me, and timidly asked me. Papa, are you still angry on me?
I hugged her tightly, and I said Sorry boo, it wasn't your fault at all.
I think at that moment my growing girl understood a lot more than I wanted her to.
For more stories: http://aleemmerchant.blogspot.com