Shalinder Taneja is an EtonHouse parent who works at Olam International in their internal audit department. He is a chartered accountant and has been living in Singapore for the past 10 years with his family of four. Shalinder and his family moved to Singapore from India. His wife is a homemaker by choice and a shopaholic by nature. He has two daughters: Sainna is 9, while Tanishqa is 3 and studies at EtonHouse International Pre-School Mountbatten 718.
Most days, life is pretty routine. I go to work from Mondays to Fridays and come home around 8pm. Like clockwork, my three-year-old daughter Tanishqa greets me at the door with: “Papa, follow me!” And to her room I go, where she will regale me with tales of My Little Pony and show me her latest toys.
I look forward to this moment every day. This is when I'm cut off from everything else, when I’m only enjoying that moment with her. That she wants to share this time with me tells how special I’m to her. This is also when I can be child-like, playing with her without caring about anything — basically unwinding with no inhibitions. This moment is special because I know how much she looks forward to it, and I’m reciprocating her love, innocence and cheekiness.
Because this routine of following my Tanishqa to her room every evening makes me so happy, I do it religiously — no matter how tiring or stressful the work day was. Sometimes, I also learn important life lessons from her, that I really ought to follow.
Here are some examples:
- She is back from a visit to the doctor. In order to comfort her, I ask her in a sympathetic tone, “So, how was it?” I was expecting a very sober response since she hates going to the doctor. “Gummy bears!” she yelled. “Doctor Malathi gave me gummy bears!”
Lesson number 1: She chooses to remember the best part of an experience which she didn’t like.
- Exhausted or perhaps bored from playing with her usual toys, she opens mama’s wardrobe and immerses herself gleefully in playing with anything she can get her hands on.
Lesson number 2: Happiness is around us all the time, it doesn’t need to be in new and expensive things, we just need to notice our surroundings and learn to find joy in them.
- It is night time and we take our usual post-dinner walk. I said: “Tanishqa, come we are waiting for you.” She was looking at all her sandals, deciding which colour to wear and wondering which toy to bring along.
Lesson number 3: Live in the moment and relish every minute of it. Sometimes, life is so busy we rush
through so many parts of it, never taking the time to smell the roses.
- No matter how many times we tell her no, she asks again. “No, I need to wear that unicorn dress only and not the physical education clothes!” Sometimes, we end up giving in to her and the unicorn dress it is.
Lesson number 4: Never give up. I mean, of course I insist on my whims in front of my boss, that’s a shortcut to trouble. However, I think I can take a leaf from her and be that persistent and ruthless about the goals I set for myself.
Parenthood is a two-way lane and sometimes we can learn more from our children than we teach them. That’s probably why there’s a saying that goes: “Always keep that little kid in you alive!”