Be a lazy bum. Walk around things. Don’t put anything back in its place, not even your phone.
Children are born to rebel, if you stay committed to un-neatness, they will rebel and clean up the house, at least the parts of home that are their domain. What else do you want?
Wake up late. They will soon learn to wake you up. They will remind you many times before sleeping that it is an important morning the next day. “Wake me up at 5am, okay, I have to go for flag hoisting…” Or whatever it is that early morning people do.
Be forgetful. They will remember things for you.
Whatever you do, stop being so efficient, man. You are ruining the plot.
Efficiency breeds discontent. Then you will complain about the rest of the world. People are never on time. They are so callous. They forget to make thank you calls. They block traffic outside the school gate.
Come on, join the party. I’m not recommending being late and thankless. Carry a book. Eat an apple. Write notes on your phone. Draw or something. I mean draw something. Or just go ahead and be a whine-bag. Whine because it makes you happy. Let the sun shine from your face after you have had a good whine.
Relax man. Relax. Big Daddy is not watching you any more (and if he is, look right back at him. He craves your attention).
Cook carelessly. Either be very good at washing dishes, or at tossing salads. Don’t be consistent. Learn from the great masters. I know it’s hard. It can take years to bring the carefree carelessness back. Maybe you will surprise yourself.
When things overwhelm you, take a break and cry a little. Whether you have done your best or not, things will overwhelm you. If you don’t start crying, you will get angry. I know anger is easier than vulnerability. Accept the challenge.
Be good at work, be terrible at home. Sleep in the daytime, wake up at night. Unleash the energy of your inner teenager. If the house plants keep dying, toss them across the boundary wall. Let weeds grow. I’m not going to tell you why each time. You’ll figure it out.
Make friends with losers. Winners are of no use when you have children. The artists and the misfits, those are the ones who will make children laugh. The ones who know how to make funny fish faces with their lips. The ones who sketch wigs and moustaches on faces in the newspaper and tinker away on the Casio. Bake chocolate cakes. Discover the joys of casual creativity with people who never learnt how to market theirs.
Let children speak at the dining table. Answer their questions. Don’t panic when you feel you don’t know the right answers. Figure things out aloud. You will be amazed at the things you figure out. Reserve your right to stay quiet.
Parenting is unlearning. The home, an institute of unlearning. Growing up has trained all of us to be anxious, self-doubting, approval seekers. We deny our discomfort and camouflage our fears. We assume that we will get away with our pretensions while we can teach the next generation to confidently “be themselves”.
If you find yourself working very hard, and still can’t get things to happen your way, please don’t work harder. You don’t need to do more, you need to do it differently. And in between the two, don’t do anything.
Don’t instil values in your children. Don’t teach them how to be happy. Don’t bother with basic etiquette. Don’t tell them to be fearless. Children reflect their parents, in the beginning they show us everything that we hide from ourselves.
Lie fallow. Because fallow is fertile. The season will change, your earth will renew itself. Give yourself a chance to learn by unlearning.
Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three.
Write to Natasha at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also Read | Natasha’s previous Lounge columns