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In this heartfelt birthday letter to her one-year-old nephew, the writer demolishes the many casual sexist ideas that persist around raising a boy.
First, let me wish you a very happy birthday. You will turn one-year-old this month. Hurray to that! You know dear, our home in Kerala is a beautiful place to be in. You get up in the morning and look around and you will find beautiful greenery and warm people. The atmosphere is quiet and serene and the temple in the premises completes the picture. You will love it there and there is no better place in the world to celebrate your first birthday, if only your parents do not plan to have a lavish adult party at some star hotel.
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You are the first child in the family and lo! the first ‘boy’ in our home. You must be wondering what’s so special about the latter, but that’s how many people around you will perceive you. So, you need to be prepared for the ‘role’.
Honey, I want you to be ready to face the advice that will come your way. And trust me, most of them will be unsolicited, but still they will come. At best you can ignore them. Here are some pieces of advice that will come, and this is what I want you to know about them.
This is one sentence you are going to hear every time you want to howl. But I would say, go ahead, sweetheart, boys do need to cry. Everyone has tear glands and a soft heart. They are there for a purpose. Let the tears flow because that’s what will make you more humane and a better man tomorrow. That’s the purpose of tears, to make us better.
You were born just a year ago, but this one advice that has stuck forever and may be in the future too, it might be offered to you. It is just not true especially with Sanjeev Kapoors and Vikas Khannas around. As you grow up, spend some time in the kitchen, lend a helping hand, clean around a bit and try to master the nuances of a fabulous journey from simple grains and vegetables to a mouth-watering dish. You will love it, I can assure you that. Actually, a kitchen is for everyone because we all need to eat. Enter, cook and eat. That’s the way to be.
Honey, with six cousins around you and all of them smart and intelligent girls, you will be intimidated once in a while. But do you know what? That’s fine. Just because you are a boy doesn’t mean you have to be the bully. Have fun with your sisters and take turns in playing pranks. When you are a grown-up trying to figure out the meaning of life, these memories will help in your quest.
Forget the fact that you are just one, these aspirations might have come up the day you were born. But, just because you are a boy, you do not have to choose a certain career. Do what will make you happy. If it is painting or fixing a bulb that will enchant you, go ahead and do it. Of course, you need to pay your bills but I hope you have a job that will be more fun than work.
This is one dull advice, Honey. When they say that, it doesn’t mean giving back to the society but rather ‘hitting back’. Every argument need not be won nor dealt with anger or violence. A true human being is one who can win an argument without much effort. Be that man!
Yes, dear, be a man by all means but one who will blush once in a while, who will feel embarrassed at times, who will look at girls with respect and pride, and most importantly, be a man who does not hesitate to display his soft side once in a while and who will be a great son, brother and grandson. Be that man, my child!
These pieces of advice will forever be showered on you, but you will have to decide what you want to follow in life. I just want you to be prepared and based on how much I know you in this one year, I know you are going to be just wonderful. You just need reaffirmation, that’s all and that is why this letter.
Happy birthday again, sweets!
Cupcake with a candle image via Shutterstock
Rajlakshmi Kurup is a freelance writer based in Navi Mumbai.
Lovely and most valuable! I wish if every parent and kid read this; one of the best piece of advise you should keep in mind
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