The regular readers of this blog would know that Satish writes guest posts on this blog, once in a way. But perhaps what many will not know is that he too has been published.
This piece he wrote about our daughter has been published in the 'Chicken Soup for the Indian Father's soul'. He had written this about an year back, when we were in the UK. I just love this piece.
Daily Star Quota
By: Satish Shenoy
My eight year old daughter is the apple of my eye. No actually that’s not true - she is my entire fruit basket, my universe, my life and my sweetheart. There is always a special bond between fathers and daughters as well as sons and mothers. Don’t know why that is so, for I don’t love my son any less, but that somehow feels like the general rule. And daughters I guess realise that special bond too and are able to wind their fathers up around their little fingers. Mine is no exception and manages to make me her willing slave in everything she wants to do.
Every Friday my daughter will without fail ask me a set of questions before she goes to school:
1. Will I get a star today in school?
2. How many stars will I get?
3. Will I be the star of the week?
The teachers in her school award a star to children, which could be for the work they did in class, good behaviour, patience or even for just holding a door open for another child/ teacher. Additionally every week one child is awarded the star of the week and I realise that, just like each of us adults try and shine in our work at office, at school too there is intense competition for this award between children. It can even break a friendship for a few days, if someone else gets the star of the week. When a child gets a certain number of stars they get a chance to put their hand in to a lucky dip box and pick out a gift which could be an eraser, a sharpener, a sticker or pencils all of which we already have hundreds at home, yet the one got from school is priceless.
My daughter believes I am a mind reader and we often have games where she will stand behind a door and raise a few fingers and ask me to guess how many fingers she is holding up. Sometimes I cheat by taking a peek at the right number when she is not looking or just guess and when I get it right her eyes widen in amazement and she runs and tells my wife that I am not only a mind reader but can also read the unknown much to my wife’s amusement.
My answers to my daughter’s questions are obviously quite predictable:
1. Of course my darling you will get stars today. In any case you are the star in my life, the sun, moon, planets and in fact my whole universe so even if you do not get a star in school you still are my star.
2. Hmmmm let me see - 1 or maybe 2 or maybe even 3 are my answers – I have even gone as high as 5 in spite of the fact that no one in the school’s history has ever got 5 stars.
3. Definitely and absolutely.
My wife is the practical one in the family and promises no such thing. She says if you deserve it, then yes, you will get it which I guess is the right advice. But until she gets a ‘Yes’ from the two of us, my daughter is never satisfied or willing to let go. I remembered when as a child asking my mother before I went to school to say a YES, especially on days when I had not completed my homework that the teacher would not scold me for not completing it. If she said yes then my worries just went away. On the days my mother gave me answers like my wife did I used to plead with her to say ‘Yes’ and this seemed so similar to what was happening now with my daughter.
While my darling has been getting stars every now in school and getting to dip her small hand in the lucky dip box, she had not yet received the star of the week award and was really hoping she would. When she did not get a gift I would immediately offer to buy her whatever she wanted, but that never was the point I guess, as dipping your hand in to the goodie box was what really mattered.
One day to my surprise, there was an additional request from her when I was dropping her to school and she asked me to make a special prayer for her that day so that she would get star of the week. I was in a hurry to reach office and did a brief two second prayer in my mind and told her that it would happen that day to assuage the pleading look she gave me.
I was in a meeting in the afternoon when I got a call from my wife. I couldn’t pick up the phone just then. I called her back immediately after my meeting and to my surprise it was my daughter who picked up instead. She was on seventh heaven and said
“Dad you are a genius!” I could picture her eyes shining with joy and the million watt smile on her face.
She had got the star of the week and in addition had received 3 stars, which was exactly my answer to her second question that morning. I got a lot of hugs and kisses that evening when I got back and I heard my daughter tell her brother that if you want something just ask Dad, get him to pray for you and it will come true – believe me she piped. The entire tension I had gone through in office that day, vanished instantly when I saw the joy in her face and the genuine faith and belief in her Dad. For a change, I was getting more attention than my wife and I was not going to relinquish that at any cost so basked in the glory of the moment.
Life goes on and questions continue to be asked without fail, especially so, now that there was a proven track record. Some things have however have changed a wee bit after that day. My son who is older to my daughter now asks me similar questions too!
My daughter’s faith in my answers, have now graduated to a different level and some of the questions I am now asked apart from around the stars are:
1. Will Cali be my best friend today and will she play with me more than with Lola?
2. Will I be able to play the full tune on the piano today?
3. Will I be able to find 20 pence today like Sam did yesterday (My darling does not ask for a £1 million lottery which seems to be less significant compared to finding 20 pence on the road)
4. Will I be able to draw the ‘best picture ever’ today?
5. Will you buy me a Ninetendo DS this week?
Well my answers remain relatively the same as they used to be in all cases – well actually, not in all cases. The last one receives a ‘hmmmmm let’s see’ instead of a straight NO which my wife would give.
After all Dad’s have to take some advantage over Mom’s once in a while, eh!?