I never paid much attention to Mother’s Day. I had a mom who was there for me 24/7. Coming from a middle-class nuclear family with no outside help, “being mom” was indeed a full time job. And she was more than happy about giving up her interest in an arts and interiors practice to be with her babies, my brother and I.
When I became a mother, I was glad to have my mom baby-sitting my little one when I did outstation shoots and a day care that took care of afternoon naps while I was away doing my news shows. But I was also aware that too much of an absence from my child wasn’t a healthy practice. So I slowed down and made a few amends. We named him Kazuo because it means Man of Peace, knowing the world needs a lot of peace today.
Until I became a parent, it never crossed my mind to think about a legacy for my child. As parents, as mothers, we give what the child needs in shaping his/her character and personality — a strong grounding, a secure upbringing, good values, positive memories and all that jazz that folks have done for generations. I’m doing the same too. But given the digital world obsession that this generation faces, I thought it best to keep some family stories alive through a blog instead of just a pendrive full of images and videos. My husband suggested that we start a blog for Kazuo in which we documented his travels. It was a brilliant idea and I jumped on to with full gusto taking pictures, storyboarding and captioning them. Soon we got an audience that religiously started tracking. (www.kazuo-on-a-roll.blogspot.in) It’s true that the blog cannot be restricted within the family since it’s online, open for the world to dip into, enjoy, step away and perhaps learn something from it. Was I worried that my son was overexposed? A bit, perhaps. But aren’t we all overexposed on Facebook already?
This blog is about his travels and interactions with the arts and cultural world. Each blog is a diary entry in the first person. I make sure it remains true to his conversations and experiences. Right from his first trip when he was five months old, to now when he is four years old. It follows a narrative of a child waking up to the wonders of the world that is why you’d find many milestones such as “my first trek” or “my first art show” etc. I call myself the “blog-mommy”. I am waiting for the day when he is old enough to take over and start blogging himself. But more than that, I am anxiously waiting for him to say that he loves the blog and is not embarrassed about it. A digital legacy for him to look back at and realise how cool or awkward his folks were to believe that he was their best travel mate. It also strives to digitally bridge the generation gap between kids and parents. It’s perhaps one of the unwritten rules of nature that says no matter how ahead of your times you may have been, for your kids you’d always been oh so passé. Kazuo is already way ahead of us. He chooses and watches his own kids videos on YouTube, alternating between his dad’s iPhone and my Microsoft Nokia. He has already introduced us to new animation characters and filmmaking techniques through these videos.
He frequents art shows with us and has his own take on art works. It’s especially nice for me to see him interpret abstract forms and things. Sometimes a fallen leaf will become a car or a stain would remind him of face. He also understands the difference between a painting and an installation. He’s had his first TV shoot and learnt how to give re-takes. He takes pictures from our phone cameras. He loves to trek and fish with his dad every summer. He spotted a book with his name at his first literature festival, written by his namesake Kazuo (Ishiguro). He surprises us with his recognition of logos even though he can’t read right now. In his first heritage walk in Lucknow, he learnt what it means to walk through a city’s bylanes while talking about its history. He prefers watching the sunset on a lake and waking up in a moving bus in the hills. He loves flying in the plane but wants to use the spacecraft next. Well, at least I’m sure space tourism will be a far frequent reality in the years to come. The most recent on his list of firsts was a forest safari, in search of a tigress and her cubs. He ended up spotting the leopard instead.
In the past few years, his blog has received a few nominations and many gushing responses. It is followed by people looking for write ups on parenting, travel, arts and humour. It’s also been a two way process with all sorts of suggestions. We were told the least stressful way to fight baby’s ear pops in a flight is to give a lollipop. Someone recommended the Tristan da Cunha to pitch camp next. I was spooked to learn that it’s the most inhabited place on earth with a group of volcanic islands! We know it’s too early for big-wave surfing right now.
So it’s been a global parenting experience through this blog which makes me a strong advocate of the digital medium for raising a child. On Mother’s Day today, I wish my child a healthy real life and a safe digital life.
Sahar Zaman is a senior newsanchor at NewsX and an art critic. She blogs for her son at Kazuo-On-A-Roll.blogspot.in