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.