The Masti Quotient
Ramendra Kumar, author of the pioneering Indian parenting book Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm speaks about the equally important quotient – MQ or Masti Quotient. Comparing something as trivial as masti to something as vital as intelligence, emotion and passion, he emphasizes masti is vital especially when it comes to the relationship between you and your children.
You have heard of IQ, EQ and now even PQ. Let me share with you on another equally important quotient – MQ or Masti Quotient.
I know, I know, you must be thinking I have lost my marbles or else why would I compare something as trivial as masti to something as vital as intelligence, emotion and passion.
But believe me masti is vital especially when it comes to the relationship between you and your children.
Let me, as always, take my own example. I have always believed in having fun and indulging in unadulterated madness with my kids.
For instance, it was my pleasurable duty to drop Aniket and Ankita to school. When Aniket was around seven I would take him to his class and indulge in chutki with his classmates. This little ritual involved clasping their hands in mine, making a circle with my thumb and middle finger around their thumbs and go snap, snap! Everyone would queue up for this rite and Aniket would stand in a corner with a proud smile on his face.
Once, Madhavi and I had gone to collect Aniket’s report card. Madhavi was talking to his class teacher Geeta Ma’am. I was indulging in an extra session of chutki with a couple of his classmates. Aniket was hanging around looking with puppy-like devotion at his favourite teacher.
“Hey Ani, want me to do chutki with your Geeta Ma’am?” I whispered.
He looked at me, his eyes widening in horror.
This was just the motivation I needed.
“Aniket wants me to do chutki with you, Geeta,” I told her, holding out my hand.
Aniket shrank back shaking his head like a cuckoo clock gone berserk.
Geeta who had seen me perform chutki laughed and held out her hand. I indulged in the profound ritual, my eyes on Aniket.
He looked at me with shock and awe and I could almost see his lips forming the words, “My papa weirdest…”
To this day our entire family, including Aniket, laughs itself hoarse over the masti episode.
Madhavi and I work for the same Steel Plant and we usually come home together.
On several evenings when we returned the game of pittu or seven stones would be in progress with our kids and the neighbours’ children participating. We both would jump into the fray participating with energy and enthusiasm that would put even Gen Z to shame.
Whenever we used to go for birthday parties of my kids’ friends or my friends’ kids, my job was cut out. I had to ‘manage’ the children. While the other fathers would be busy with their cocktails and gossip (Sidelight: If you think practicing the art of tittle-tattle is a female prerogative, come and stay in our township. You’ll revise your opinion before you can spell Page 3!) about office politics, business deals and the state of Planet Earth, I would be freaking out with the little ones.
Many of them would have a rather condescending attitude and not consider me man enough. The kids however considered me their favourite uncle and the hostesses as a male version of Julie Andrews.
Here I would like to give the example of my colleague Arpita and her 12-year-old daughter who invented some real fun games. Both of them are trained singers. But when they want to have fun they don’t do an in-house version of India Has Got Talent. Rather they imagine how songs on 78 rpm would sound if played in 33 rpm and the other way round and sing these with all the chutzpah at their command. Now tell me how cool and mastilicious is that!
I too developed my own brand of singing. Every time I caught a cold which was all too often I was prescribed gargling by my resident doctor. Whenever I used to gargle I would ‘hum’ a tune and ask the kids to guess what it was. Since the difference in their ages is four years I would give Ankita the tougher tunes and Aniket the easier ones. Both of them would accuse me of partiality and we would end up arguing, with Madhavi playing Daniel. However, even a sublime act like gargling would be reduced to an act of masti. While these moments would be happening in many houses, I am not sure in how many homes the parents would be involved and that too with full on masti quotient.
There is a tendency with most parents particularly dads that if they indulge in a bit of harmless lunacy with their kids, the latter would stop ‘respecting’ them and they wouldn’t be able to exercise discipline which is so important to make your child a ‘winner’. So they spend a lot of time and effort in doing their ‘duty’ – one of the most dreaded four letter words in the art and science of parenting.
To unleash masti you need not be a writer or a clown – though I know I am a bit of both. You only have to invoke the child in you – yes there is one in each and every one of us. The problem is it has been chained like Prometheus by our sense of propriety, dignity et al.
I would like to reiterate that one of the key elements in a parent child relationship is masti. If you can have fun together you can bond far better.
As someone said, “Sometimes all you need is to break the routine and have some fun.”
This article was first published in ParentEdge Magazine.
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