There are numerous blogs, websites, discussion forums on parenting held by and for moms. CMIIW, we never run out of women who tell us the stories on how solemn a mother is in carrying out her task of raising her children and managing family. As we know, parenting is not about mom and her child.
Parenting is a teamwork, a cooperation. The cooperation with many parties, with children, granny and grandpa, the whole family, neighbors, school, and any wider party. A woman commonly has a support group that consists of her fellow moms through various media. Either it’s on WhatsApp group, at school or at the small stall next to her house. Do daddies also have a support group on WhatsApp initially created based on their role dynamics as parents?
Through this blog, I’d like to hear the daddies’ voices in enjoying and savoring their role as parents. It must be interesting and fun to know their perspective.
A long-distance relationship (LDR) is generally perceived as a relationship between a man and woman living apart miles away. This first article about Dad is trying to find out a perspective of a dad in having LDR with his child. Teuku Ismail familiarly called Papin. He has been working in Arab since he hasn’t got married. Once two months he comes back to Indonesia. During his quite long holiday, he makes it specifically for his quality time with family.
Malik, his 3 years old son has been accustomed to speaking and interrupting in Acehnese language. The effective time for Malik to learn this language is during his Daddy’s return.
G: Papin, you’re not home everyday, but when you get back home, you encourage Malik to speak in Acehnese. What’s your motive? Why must Malik know Acehnese language?
P: I’ve read on a magazine that so many languages in this world have been lost. In my family, a generation after me is not able to speak Acehnese language anymore. So, I encouraged Malik to speak this language which is my little attempt to protect my mother’s language thereby it won’t be extinct. At the same time, it makes Malik know and remind him of his root.
Another motive is related to any reference on the advantage of introducing multi-language to children since early stage. Since my job makes me have interactions with people from various countries with different languages, while many of them can’t speak English, it (multi-language capability) really makes sense. I sometimes think of how easy things are if I can communicate with any people without a language barrier. I wish by making Malik communicate in not only one language can facilitate him to learn other languages in the future.
G: Then how to practice it, how come Malik seems to easily absorb?
P: Because it’s already in their nature if children can quickly absorb what they get. Communication with Malik in Acehnese started since his birth. It has been about three years, with some pauses due to my returns.
I speak with Malik slowly so that he can get any form of words. Particularly the word that is challenging enough to pronounce. While speaking, if there’s a word Malik doesn’t understand, I will search for its translation in Indonesian Language which he understands. It’s repeatedly, Acehnese to Indonesian, Indonesian to Acehnese, until he says, “Ooh!”
G: Has Malik been able to string words into a sentence in Acehnese?
P: For simple sentences, apparently he can. I say it’s apparently because it’s still very randomly and rarely. Once or two times he answered me with a clear sentence in Acehnese. It has been enough to make me happy because I didn’t expect Malik would do it. Someone asked him, “Malik already can speak Acehnese?”. I didn’t expect that he answered he could and mentioned some words in Acehnese such as “eating” and “going to the beach.”
G: What do you like the most from what Malik knows about Acehnese language? For example, is there any fun experience about Malik saying words?
P: It’s when last time we’re in Aceh having a gathering at our relative’s house. We’re joking in Acehnese, speaking of the behavior of one of us. Malik was playing around then suddenly he laughed too and replied with some Acehnese words. One of my sisters said to Malik, “how come you get it?” Then we laughed excitedly. It was funny.
G: A dad with a son usually has a tendency to see his son being strong like people say “boys don’t cry”. He tends to be hard on his son. Do Dinda and you adopt that way to nurture Malik?
P: Nurturing children in a strict way has different significations for each family. If “strict” means as physically, so we don’t. My wife and I have agreed to be firm in nurturing Malik when it’s about his responsibilities, such as tidying up his toys by himself and let him be widely free when it’s about his rights, as long as he doesn’t harm himself, property, and disturbing other people.
About being tearfully sentimental or strong, we’ve been supporting Malik to know his emotions. We give Malik the chances to express anything he feels about. Getting angry is allowed. Getting sad is welcome. Likewise, being happy. At the same time, we guide him on how to face or channel the emotions.
When he is angry, we give an advice and suggest him to solve it, “Daddy/Mom is seeing Malik getting angry, super angry, want to punch the pillows? Or tear the paper into pieces until Malik calms down?” Likewise towards any other form of his emotions.
Hopefully, Insha Allah, by knowing what he feels and what he has to do to channel his emotion, Malik will be ready to face anything in the future that might come out of his expectation.
G: How the nurturing style of your parents affected you as you’re a parent now?
P: My dad was hard enough on me and firm as a parent. I often was beaten with rattan, while my mom was spoiling me a lot. So here I am. Because these days we have lots of literature on parenting, so my parenting style is a result of reading here and there and then I brought them into the discussion with Malik’s mom. There’s hardly influence of my parents.
G: Was there anything that you couldn’t achieve when you’re a child and you expect to be done by your son?
P: I grew up without knowing what I wanted to be. I just recently know a little about what I want to do in life. I felt envious when I read stories of many people in this age in their below 30 years old have done many things. Not only do things for themselves but also for their surroundings. As listed in the 30 under 30 Socialpreneur by Forbes. So, as my ideal, I want Malik can follow their path. Being useful for himself as well as for the Earth and its inhabitants.
G: What makes you usually think about your son while you’re at work?
P: Our next meeting.
G: Before you return home, do you arrange an activity plan to be done with Malik?
P: I don’t make a specific plan. Just go home and play. While having a play date with Malik, I let him be in charge, up to him, I follow. Sometimes we ask Google to search for any fun activity. It could be something that we’ve never tried before and I suggest it to Malik while showing him how it looks like. If he’s not or not yet interested so I’ll keep letting him decide. Knocking on the pipe as usual. Hahaha…
G: Do you still remember the first time you had to leave your son for a long time?
P: Crying. Malik was still about a month old. Before Malik’s presence, getting back to work is somewhat burdensome, since Malik was born, such feeling has multiplied. I have a colleague whose child is the same age with Malik. Two months older. We cried together. Ha-ha. He frequently rang me to support me by saying that he felt the same. Having a conversation with him made me more calm.
G: How’s your communication while you’re apart? How often, and during the call or video call, what does Malik like to tell?
P: This one what makes me melancholy. The quality, and also the quantity certainly decreased. All I want is being able to make calls everyday, but the four hours time difference and internet connection at the office become the main barrier. Sometimes, when it’s time for Malik to go to bed, I was still dealing with my hectic duties. Otherwise, when Malik wanted to call me, I have dozed off. Malik doesn’t really like talking on the phone. He only says hello and some words, then back to be busy with himself. Maybe he hasn’t known what to tell. So it is, then the conversation goes with his mom.
G: What’s your biggest insecurity while having LDR with your son?
P: Our time together that was gone. I missed his first birthday. I’m anxious to miss other precious moments which makes me feel hard to be apart from him. Many things are possible to happen within seven weeks. However, I’m just grateful for everything. Insha Allah, it gives me a wisdom. Maybe by staying apart, each time I go home I feel so excited to spend time with Malik.
P: Yes. That kind of moment that makes a long-distance can be so heartwrenching. Ha-ha. But every meeting is a celebration. Hopefully. Insha Allah.
G: Do you have a plan to work in Indonesia, so that you can be with your son everyday?
P: It’s my greatest wish to be able to work from home. Mommy and I are making effort to make it come true. Insha Allah. Amen. Wish us luck.