Bobo Papa, Toko Mama

Bobo Papa, Toko Mama

My first period of time living in Bandung were about a few friends, jobless, lack of activity, but I encouraged myself to take a walk as much as possible. Zen didn’t always have time to go with me. We didn’t have a car and moreover, there was no online transport. Having Daya in my womb, I kept my confidence to go around the city using public transport. One of the memories I have during the pregnancy was that Daya got so active when I stayed home, yet she got calm when I went out for a walk. She seemed to enjoy the motion of spinning wheel or stepping feet.

Not many places I’ve known since the first time I stepped in this town or that I wanted to visit unless Kineruku. One time ago when I was a college student, I made an acquaintance with Ariani Darmawan (Rani) for the purpose of my thesis writing. Rani was making a film Anak Naga Beranak Naga and I was searching any information about the chinese community of Tangerang and Cokek dance tradition. There was a very small number of references on Cokek dance so that I contacted the creator of the documentary film that tells about gambang kromong in which the dance is involved.

Maybe I’m not talented at renting or borrowing books. I always fail to return the book on time and more often, it’s me to be asked to return it. So does happen to the first and only book I’ve borrowed from Kineruku, Anthem by Ayn Rand. For months I didn’t return it until Budi Warsito decided to text me. I replied that I need to look for it first and since I’ve been keeping that book so long, I asked him again “How if it’s lost?”. He then answered that no matter how, buying the new one offline or online from the local market or abroad, the book should be returned. Of course, I didn’t mind with his kind of assertiveness, because it was my negligence. I finally found that book tucked away in the bookshelf at my home.

I got a good impression of him. He is a man of his words. And so he was with his consent to meet my request for having a talk. Meeting time would be decided later prior the day. One making the request for meeting with someone usually will ask for confirmation. Budi promised to let me know in the following week, so there was I waiting for him for contacting me first. And alright! Kriing! Here I got on my Whatsapp: “See you, Galuh” (After he decided the meeting time). Salute!

G: So how’s it going after having a child? Happy? Or happier?

B: Happy? Hmmm… It’s more likely to be fun. Having a child is indeed fun.

G: Do you have such a role model in a father-child relationship which makes you think like “I’m gonna do like that when I have a child”?

B: I don’t. About having children or not, we have decided to not be hard on ourselves. We didn’t have any target about when and how many. We didn’t pursue. Whenever it comes to us, it should mean a lot.

G: Same here.

B: You both think to have more child?

G: Hmm, Zen does, but I haven’t yet or maybe I don’t. But I think one is enough.

B: Oh, so that’s Zen who still want to, right? For us, one child is enough. I even have some female friends who firmly told me that they won’t have children. They consciously make such decision, I heard it directly from them.

G: Do you think it’s a “wow”?

B: To be honest, yes it is, but I’m not sure what makes it wow. It’s just wow. They have a clear reason and I respect it. If I’m not mistaken, it’s related to environmental awareness.

G: About overpopulation?

B: Kind of that. There is a blatant opinion from another friend though countering the previous one, despite the fact that they’re based on the same concern. According to this friend, people with certain privilege, or maybe they who are well-educated and have the opportunity to give good education for their family or surroundings should have children. “It should be us occupying the Earth with children who would be posibble to be useful for others, not they who love breeding without having a plan for the education of their children!”. That’s interesting. The previous friend of mine who is absolutely educated, smart, with a wide circle of acquaintance and suppleness, with a lot of skill and chance to do the good things, has decided to have no child instead. So, this is not about right or wrong, but it’s wow for me. Human being is indeed complicated.

G: You love collecting old things, gathering vintage stuff. Then now you have a “new” stuff. I mean it’s as in you have a child, you get new things to collect either memories or stuff. What does it feel like about collecting old stuff and have a new thing (the baby born)?

B: Maybe it’s more challenging. Hunting vintage stuff, book and music collections, or any interesting things to collect. I usually check first what stuff it is, what story behind it, who’s the previous owner, in what year it was produced, what functions it has, blah blah blah… And about this one, my child, the “new stuff”, she’s my own flesh and blood. Born from me. It clearly becomes fun and challenging, because we’ve never known what the newborn will be like. For example, to dry a baby who has yellow skin. My first response, so I have to dry her, right? OK, I do it in the morning for several minutes. My next response, so I also have to turn her around, don’t I? Damn, how to do it? Haha… It’s certainly different from finding an old limited gramophone disc that I need to wipe carefully or wash with certain technique since it is almost 100 years old. It shouldn’t fall down and be broken. What makes it different, even how old the gramophone record is, when it falls and get broken, it’s alright. Meanwhile when it comes to the children, our own flesh and blood, blimey, it’s impossible if we let them fall!

G: As a person who likes to keep memories (ehem), whether physically or not, what do you think about parents in this day documenting their children and publishing their children on social media? Is it over published or overexposed?

B: Everyone has a distinctive preference. I got married when I was 33 years old while my friends at my age already had children. They use the pictures of their children as their profile picture on Facebook, and their albums were all about them and their children taking pictures together. At that time, I was thinking “Should it really be like that?”. Then now, when I have my own child, my handphone is full with my child’s pictures! My hobby at capturing my child is one thing, but posting the photos on social media is another thing. I have posted my child’s picture on it and otherwise, I’ve deleted it.

G: Is it more about safety?

B: Sometimes I just let my feeling work: “Okay, no need to do it.” In case I need to do it, usually, it mustn’t be frontal or captured from the front side.

G: Do you still print the photos?

B: I have a close friend who is really proud of having a small portable printer. He has a high tech camera completed with a remote-control applying an app on handphone, so he can do selfie without handling the camera. As he’s so in love doing such thing, he also printed some photos several times for us, including our wefie photos with Rani and Gati were in. Wow, it’s fun anyway! Every time Rani and I capture Gati, we often say, “C’mon, printed them out for our family album!” However, we’re too lazy even just for transferring to our computer. We finally enjoy them on the handphone only.

G: Gati prefers telling stories or listening to music?

B: Well, it’s quite funny when it comes to music. I think Rani and me are so into music, so we’ve figured out that our child should be musical. When Rani was pregnant, she tried to listen to, what we have in common, classical music from CD. But Rani was no longer want to listen to it, she preferred playing her dangdut cassettes! Can you figure out? It’s O.M. Pengantar Minum Racun! I have a lot of PMR’s old cassette tapes, more than 10 albums. Rani was really content, and Gati in her womb seemed to enjoy it!

G: It’s more shaking, isn’t it? Ha-ha…

B: Perhaps it is. I don’t really know whether it affected Gati or not, but Gati is a joyful soul. Cheerful and talkative.

G: Same with Daya. She’s like her father, a happy kid, outspoken, sociable.

B: Yup, she really looks like Zen! Ha-ha… Gati loves playing. All day long. Every time she wakes up, her first sentence is “Gati wants to play around!” She knows that her parents have to go to work and that we have a shop. She called it “Toko Mama”. Gati often waits when the Toko Mama is closed. Kineruku is closed every Tuesday, so that’s our holiday. Well, Gati always waits Tuesday to come. Once in several days, she will ask “Today, Toko Mama is closed?”, “No, Gati. It’s still open, Tuesday isn’t yet to come, right?” And then when she started to know about days, her question turned to be “Mama, today is Tuesday, isn’t it?”

G: She waits for Tuesday so that you all can have playtime together all day long?

B: Exactly. She’s completely with us for a whole day! Anyway, we have a nanny. In her first days with us, she posed a question to Rani, “Mam, I like singing. Is it alright?” We spontaneously said, “Of course, you can!” Maybe her previous employer didn’t let her singing. She then does singing very often while introducing many songs to Gati. Consequently, when Gati was 3 years old, she has memorized about 30 children’s songs and Indonesian national songs. And it has helped Gati to express herself. In the ceremony of the last Independence Day commemoration, Gati loudestly sang Indonesia Raya. As her parents we love music, but we can’t play any instrument, so what we can do is playing songs for her. The funny thing here is that Gati is less interested in vynil! Blimey, I was shocked enough. In general, children have a big curiosity and Gati often asks “Uh, Papa… Another one, please. Change! Change!”

G: Was she even not curious to the vynil player?

B: Uh-huh! I’m thinking now that it’s maybe because I liked to record vynils that I was playing for her by using my handphone so that it’s loaded with those videos. Maybe it annoyed her since I was so busy with my gadget. Then she started to get pissed off at the vynils or there might be other reasons. I love Remy Sylado’s songs, particularly the way he expresses anything. His songs are likely brave, vulgar, chaotic, rude. A friend told me that even though kids don’t understand the lyrics yet, they can grasp a melody with either a positive nuance or not. Remy works on controversial themes, doesn’t he? free sex, rebellion against parents, falling in love with the prostitute, interracial lust, and so on. His vocal characteristic tends to be annoyed. I have a tendency to like singers with “ugly” voice. It’s like what one of my favorite band from New York says, “…all my favorite singers couldn’t sing…”. I enjoy it, while Gati shows me her dislike towards it. “Play another one, Papa… Change!” Of course, I have to compromise to not play those songs when Gati is around, for example.

G: And then how about the role sharing between you and Rani? In my case, Zen is more able to fulfill Daya’s needs for having fun, while I apply more rules to her. How about you both? Moreover, people say that a daughter tends to be closer to her dad than to her mom.

B: I think it’s not a big deal for Gati. To be with Papa is okay, with Mama is okay too. When Zen is working, how’s Daya?

G: When she was a baby, Daya and Zen used to be side by side since Zen worked from home. Now, Zen’s office often turns to be Daya’s playground. So, Daya maintains good relationships with Zen’s colleagues, either they’re males or females. Sometimes it’s necessary and the parents need to keep being alert for certain.

B: Actually there was an unfortunate situation that I’ve been trying to fix it.

G: What is it?

B: An image of a father carrying her daughter must be lovely. I want to do likewise. There was a time when I could carry Gati on my shoulder. I still keep the picture of it and it was a delightful moment. Then one day my back pain relapsed and quite severe, almost crippling. It took too long to recover. Sometimes I had to use the stick to help me walk. That has been enough to create a significant psychological distance between us.

G: So it’s affecting?

B: It really is. During the recovery, I was not able to carry Gati. I can only take her hand. When there is a higher ground, it’s natural if she said, “I want to see around up there, Papa!” but I couldn’t lift her. It’s sad anyway. She’s getting bigger now, so I can support her to reach the higher ground then she can jump there by herself. Still, I can’t carry her. My back is getting well, but her weight continues to increase.

G: What you have learned from your parent’s parenting style and how you apply it when now you have a child?

B: Reading activity. My parents provided me with a great number of reading materials. I’ve been familiar with books since I was a kid. But how it doesn’t if I have read a poetry since you just got born! (Budi took a picture of his favorite poem from Bobo Magazine and posted it on his Instagram and the poem was issued precisely on the day when I was born).

G: Ha-ha-ha… Do you read about practical knowledge on childcare?

B: Rani does, as she is a mother. I hardly ever do it, only a cursory glance.

G: Do you rely more on your instinct?

B: Might be! He-he…For example, I google any tips about parenting or children. God, there are lots of pro and contra and it’s confusing. Questions and discussion go on different lines. Sometimes they debate each other for a long period of time the finally ended with “But all is God’s will, moms….” If so, why they made a fuss about it? Okay, I’ll let Rani take care of this thing. She is more capable to summarize and to measure out many things maybe it’s because of her intuition as a woman. This way is better for me. I usually ask Rani to tell me what I have to do.

Not to mention the clash of the mindsets between our generation and the older. On swaddling infants or not, for example, the arguments can take so long, and there are other things, too. As an older generation, here is their common credo. “We were once young, you have never been old”. He-he… At the end I make a conclusion that it’s alright, such differences are inevitable, technology is evolving and new discoveries continue to come up. No wonder if there are many pros-cons between the old and young people, while such pros-cons are also there the young generation like us. I take it practically. Basically, all of them wish the best for their children or grandchildren. So, just agree with them. If not, it potentially brings any conflict and creates a new problem. I’m pissed off. I have to take care of my daughter. To waste my time for throwing each other with arguments that end up with hurting feelings of each other, it’s clearly unproductive.

G: You and your wife work in the same environment. How do you manage your time and work rhythm?

B: We have our own business and our working hour is relatively flexible so that Gati is around us all the time. We live near the office. We even can work from home. When we must leave her for business affairs, we try to spare more time to play with her first. Rani’s parents also live near our house, so we can leave Gati to her grandpa and grandma.

G: Any stories about training your child to be independent?

B: Since she was 0 years old, she’s been used to sleep alone in a separate room close to her parent’s room. Of course, we apply it based on safety standard. Rani is a type of mother who requires her child to wear a car seat while riding car. Gati has been accustomed to be on her car seat, not on the regular seat for adult passengers. Fortunately, Gati immediately accepted it and get used to it. So, Gati knows her position, where her seat is, where mom’s is, where dad’s is. Gati still uses her car seat until now.

G: Even for a long road trip?

B: Yes, we have taken her out of the town riding our private car. It’s 5 hours trip. Sometimes she got cranky. We took her out off the car seat for a while. Rani let Gati sit or stand on her lap while holding her body. Gati wanted to get back on her car seat afterward. She already has a consciousness about her position.

G: I adore your story when you’re buying kumang. It’s at Lalu Lintas Park, right? Lovely! Does Gati love to read stories?

B: Yes, she really does! for certain! Her parents have a bookshop, library, how come she doesn’t. Although we have failed with music, ha-ha-ha…Fortunately, Gati love books so much. She enjoys the books we read for her while she is enjoying her meal. She goes to bed with books, wakes up with books. Some of our close friends often give Gati children books as presents. How sweet it is. Currently, I myself like to post pictures of old Bobo magazines. Oma is still subscribed to Bobo magazine, even though her grandchildren have grown up and lived in other towns. Gati and Oma have read those magazines many times. So I just do not want her reading the same magazines over and over again. As a variation, I took out my collection of Bobo magazines of old edition pile that I read when I was a kid by pile from archive room. Surprisingly, she loves it and calls it “Papa’s Bobo”. So, when she asks me to read Bobo for her, I will ask her, “Gati’s Bobo or Papa’s Bobo?”

G: Your collection started in what year? 1980’s?

B: Bobo was issued for the first time in 1973, but I haven’t found the first edition. The oldest one that I keep is a complete set of the second year edition. I intentionally collect old magazines and always get interested in keeping them. Basically, it’s for any kind of magazines, from their first edition to their publication in the 20th century or even in the millennium era. Every time I go to Jakarta, I will stop by at Blok M Square, on its basement floor. It’s a book paradise. If I live in Jakarta, I guess I will go there every day! One day on my visit there, I found a bundle of the 1986’s Bobo magazines edition, almost complete and sequential. I still apparently remember its contents page by page. I won’t forget how the first time I learned to read from that edition. In the name of nostalgia, I bought them all.

As far as I’ve observed, Bobo has its own aesthetic characteristics in each decade. In the ‘70s, it still looked a little bit old-fashioned. Entering the ‘80s, my favorite one, it looked modern for this era, one step ahead though. So, when we read them again now, after thirty years, their visual appearances remain good. The contents weren’t far-fetched and still relevant, like a timeless classic. Drawing phase and story of Paman Kikuk were at their best. Other text, for example, children’s short story, still goes well for a rereading. Ah, let alone the educational rubrics! The “Cici Bercerita tentang…”, “Ensiklo Bobo”, various articles on popular sciences, and so on. It’s a clear fact that Bobo magazine was Indonesia’s biggest cultural agent of the period.

As a little kid, I used to scissor out my “Ensiklo Bobo” pages, you know? Then I got them folded on my notebook. So I made it into some kind of clipping, and I’m still able to memorize it its content to date. Actually, it just contained some cheesy trivia. For example, what UFO stands for, why dead-fishes float upside down on the water, what is the difference between “malam tadi” and “tadi malam”, etc. It’s easy now to google it out, yet there was no internet at that time. I love that rubric so much and the little Budi often thought that he was cleverer than his pals!

G: How you could access Bobo in your childhood?

B: I’ve ever asked mom, “Why were you subscribed to Bobo?.” I don’t remember it exactly because the answer was unexpectedly not interesting. He-he… Whatever it is, I was so grateful that my mom tried to provide them to me while we’re living in small town. Back in my remote hometown in Central Java a long time ago, there might be one or two families subscribed to Bobo.

G: Your mom worked as a teacher?

B: Yes, my father also did. Both my father and mother were teachers.

G: To what extent does the parenting pattern affect the way you look after children in the current times?

B: Like I said before, my parents have given an access to many books to their children since the early stage of our life, so this one I follow from them for my daughter. Like most other girls, Gati has several dolls. Since she was a baby to date, her favorite doll was given by her grandma, bought from a small grocery store in my hometown. Sometimes it comes to my mind that one day, I would teach the Javanese language to Gati. About how the parenting style in Rani’s family affected us, I often ask Rani, “How did your parent nurturing you? Why you can be that cool?” I feel like I want to make Gati as a copy of Rani, especially in terms of expression, creativity, art. Maybe it’s because both of them are female. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to try hard, but after thinking of it for once again, “She shouldn’t be like me”. Still, we’ll try to make the combination work.

G: It’s likely the same with Zen and me. Speaking of values, I let Daya grow like Zen. I was asked by a friend, in case I or we died, who would be entitled to the parenting and Daya’s guardianship? Then I answered: Zen’s family, not my family in Jakarta.

B: Wow, that’s good. You have talked about it to that point. Rani told me that she was so grateful for having a daughter?

G: What is it about?

B: I’m the youngest of three brothers, we’re all men. Come to think of it, we, the three brothers are not close to each other. Our father has the rigid and firm traits, maybe it’s due to the certain situation. We respect him despite the fact that there is the psychological distance that difficult for us to conquer on. When people invite to speak of parenting, particularly fatherhood, like we have right now, to be honest, I’m confused. I think I’m not really good at understanding the fatherhood. Rani once told me, she couldn’t figure out what it would be like if our child was a boy. It’s such an worryness, “How Budi will treat him?” I think she’s right. I feel that it’s not been easy to interact with my father then I have to face my son? It takes a hard effort.

 

 



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