Friday, November 21, 2008

Signs of Fatherhood

The Nikhil series draws to a (hopefully temporary) end with this hilarious piece about how to recognise a new father in the crowd, since this is the last of the stuff that he wrote and shared with us when his daughter was born...

I have been observing my wife handle our daughter for the last few weeks, and it’s quite amazing to see her effortlessly take on the role of playing Mom! I was wondering if it comes easier to women biologically or is it because they hold babies in their wombs for 9 months and hence have a head start over men.

From a Dad’s perspective it is a bit different. The bond between baby and child takes a bit longer to develop! As I interact with Suhana, I realise that I feel closer and more bonded to her with each passing day. But it is equally true that it was not as strong a few weeks ago. That brings me to the all important question.

“So how does it feel to be a father?”

It is hard (and incorrect) to make generalizations on how men would answer this question from an emotional point of view. But its there are a few obvious strong physical signs and behaviors which help separate the boys from the real men… the fathers.

So here’s a quick and dirty guide on how to figure out if a man’s a father of small baby.

1. A man with a perspective on Poo

Till the time a man becomes a father, Crap/ Poo is basically the 3rd most popular topic for their corny jokes – sex and Santa Singh being the first two. But the baby comes and completely changes everything, giving a whole new perspective to Poo. So Fathers quickly realise that the quality, consistency and frequency of Poo will be a key determinant of the health of the baby and hence a key determinant of the rest of your day, week and even life. Fathers, can even tell you from the color of the Poo, whether the baby is consuming fore milk or hind milk! So next time you hear a man passionately talking about Poo, you know he is a Dad.

2. A man for whom everyday is a HOLIday

For the everyday man, Holi is a fun festival of colors celebrated once a year, that ends with color stained clothes and a 48 hour hang-over. For a father, everyday is Holi - the difference is that instead of colors, the stains consist of curdled milk & other unmentionable gore, spewed out by the baby. White patches of dried milk on the shirt are a true father’s hallmark. Who needs faded jeans?!!

3. A man who can keep pace with a US Marine

A US Marine is expected to encounter some dangerous situations and hence must learn to be swift and nimble. He is taught the art of catching quick naps between long periods of intense activity. He is also taught how to sleep, keeping a lookout for the slightest activity or noise. For fathers of young babies, it is much the same – the baby teaches them to train themselves. Sleep at night is to be had in 2 hour bursts between feeding and burping sessions. And you need to be on constant alert to hear every little movement and tiny wail. If you were wondering, what possible role could fathers have in night time feeding sessions, then that requires a new chapter in explanations. But suffice it to say that the role ranges from anything between a complex emotional dynamic called moral support to the wife to actual burping duty.

4. A man who looks like Hercules with a stiff neck.

If you thought that protein shakes and dumbbell curls was the only way to achieve those 16 inch biceps, then think again. In a gym you would probably start off with a 6-8 kg dumbbell and then keep increasing the weight, doing fewer lifts with higher weights. At one go, you are likely to do 3 sets of about 8-12 repetitions, with sufficient gap between each set. So that’s about 36 repetitions spread over 10 minutes. Now picture this – you have a baby that weighs at least 4 kg, who refuses to sleep until cradled and rocked in your arms for at least half an hour. That’s about 1800 repetitions in half an hour, without any breaks! So it’s not difficult to understand why fathers have strong, Herculean arms. But there is a strange twist to this – most of this half hour is spent either staring down into the babies eyes or straight up, praying to the heavens to make her go to sleep. That’s how fathers get a stiff neck.

As the kids grow, there will be many more signs that will added to this list and a few that will get dropped out e.g. if your kid is still causing Holiday for you at the age of 8, then you are in big trouble!

So the next time you meet a man with strong forearms, wearing what looks like a faded T shirt, talking crap… you know he is a Dad!

You can find the rest of Nikhil's stuff here.


  1. Fathers are the most besotted things on earth. Nikhil is so right - I think my husband spent more time on formulas, burping,cleaning poo and puke than I did ,he was so over the moon with the object he had co created !

  2. Perspective on poo LOL LOL LOL

  3. LOL... a very enjoyable comment on fatherhood. Esp the Hercules with the stiff neck part. Hope to see more of Nikhil's stuff in future.

  4. Hey Nikhil don't go away!

  5. Nikhil, you have a captive readership. Don't go away, please!

  6. Me three hold on to Nikhil !

  7. Nikhil- dads cannot eascape
    u make sure u are back with more astute observations okay?

  8. Brilliant. Hahaha. ROFL.

  9. very very cool!!

    and he CANT stop writing! we want more daddy dairies!! :D



  10. I ahev anjoyed each and everyone of his posts.. fatehrhood no exception. I hope he comes back with more!

  11. LOL.I hope he writes more!

    Heard about the attaccks on Mumbai Ro. I hope your family and friends are safe.

  12. just delurking to enquire whether you and your family are safe? you ARE safe, right? RIGHT?
    god bless.

  13. Anonymous8:02 pm


    Left a comment last night which I don't see. Anyhow it was to find out if you, ayaan and hubs and other fly are doing okay? I was reminded of your post about the 2006 blasts yesterday and felt a horrible sense of deja vu all over again. Be safe all of you.


  14. Hi Rohini,

    I too just saw the news about Mumbai. Hope you and your family and friends are safe.


  15. Thanks for checking in guys. We are safe and sound. Frightening times though :-(

  16. Anonymous9:25 pm

    Hope alls fine with you all there...
    Take Care


  17. hope you and your family are doing okay. take care.

  18. Glad to know you guys are safe and sound. Just came by to check.

    Wonder if this is the final straw. I hope it is.

  19. Heh. :) The father in this house remains as skinny as ever but he's quite the expert on potty, true, and he's got many, many more gray hairs than when we got married -- scant months before The Bhablet entered our lives!

  20. hey rohini..good to know that allz well at ur happy & be safe :)

  21. Being a mom of 4 I have to say hearing this from a father was extremely refreshing. You have courage, and strenght that I am sure your wife depends on. Be there together, and stand side by side. Watch your children grow. they will cause you pain, and gladness, but your bond between you and your wife will keep you solid through it all.

  22. Hey Rohini, Just writing in to say hi since its been a really long time. nice post on the TV watching and the week to yourself. I agree about the TV watching. actually, karan does not watch any tv at all...other than discovery or NatGeo with robi or me....but saturdays are his movie days- we put on DVDs for him and man, he really watches a hell of a lot on that day! Earlier it used to be only Madagascar, but now he has decided to be kind to us and has forayed into a wider range of animated movies.

    I heard from my mom, that you had narrowly escaped the mumbai terror attacks. (I have no idea how she knew.) Some other friends also had some close shaves. Gosh, that was one tragic and scary incident for all of us across India....and i'm sure it was even worse for mumbaikars. anyway glad to know that you are safe. has mumbai life returned to normal now?

  23. [Lawyeramma] Good to hear from you! Thankfully, there wasn't a narrow escape involved as we were are the other end of town. But lots of friends and friends of friends had narrow escapes...