This Father’s Day, we have an interview with Chhimi Tenduf-La – author of The Amazing Racist and The Panther. Chhimi is the father of two beautiful children – a little daughter and a son of whom he shares the cutest posts on FB (you’ll see what I mean when you read the interview below!).
A writer, father and working currently at Elizabeth Moir School, Chhimi wears many hats and all of them with sense of unique humour.
Read on to find out about Chhimi’s journey to Fatherhood.
How prepared were you to be a father?
Rather well because of my nephew and niece. I spent a great deal of time with them before I had kids of my own. I have always loved children and am very confident that I always know what they want because I think like a child myself.
What words best describe you as a father?
Committed, patient, selfless, playful. Before I had kids I was none of these things – except playful. I was always very good at manipulating situations in my favour but now life is much simpler because almost everything I do is for my kids. Even if I want to watch cricket, I will play with them while doing so. Basically I have gone from being a bit of a selfish creep to a reasonably nice person.
Was there anything that scared you about being a parent?
Not really. I am much more confident about being a parent than I am about anything else. I guess the only thing is the worry. I knew that I would worry a great deal about my kids getting sick, or them being driven in the car by my wife.
So night time feeds, diaper changes, how willing were you?
I did it all with the first child but less so with the second because I want to annoy my wife. Honestly though, my daughter is a massive Daddy’s girl so I do almost everything for her and my wife does everything for my son. If he wakes in the middle of the night I carry him back to sleep because he is very fat and too heavy for my wife. I have no issue changing diapers though. As I always say to my wife, ‘it is just baby poo.’
I know some fathers who will not carry their babies in a Baby Bjorn because they think it is not manly. I have no such issues. I have huge respect for what mothers do and want to be a part of it and do as much of it as possible.
How do you keep your little ones entertained?
My fat son by throwing him in the air, surprising him and just talking. He is extremely jolly so very easy to keep happy. With my daughter I take her on a lot of outings; swimming, Fun Factory, Cheers etc. At home we play in the garden and on the trampoline (sometimes with me jumping while she is on my shoulders – we may need a new trampoline soon). Also reading, card games, puzzles and gymnastics (which involves her jumping on me). I am also not ashamed to say we watch a lot of TV. I think TV is very educational; my daughter’s vocabulary is excellent and if you have heard me speak you would know she did not get that from me.
What would a typical Sunday be like for you and your family?
Normally my wife is drunk… just joking. We take the kids for a swim with their cousins then have a family lunch. Then we go home and do the things I mentioned above.
What are some important lessons/values that you would like your children to learn from you?
The one thing I cannot stress enough is politeness and manners. I honestly do not mind if my kids end up being lazy, but they must always be well mannered and kind people. The other day my daughter asked me if she could give all her money to people who didn’t have any, which was very nice to hear. Certainly better than my wife wanting to give all her money to online clothes shops. I also do not want my kids to be driven by money. I want them to make choices for better reasons than that.
I also want them to always be fair. When I say fair I mean treating people equally – not their skin colour!
What inspired you to write?
It is just something I greatly enjoy. I have always done things on my own terms, which is easy since I am not obsessed with money. Writing is something I can do on my terms, when I like. I pushed for sales of my books not for money but just to save embarrassment – i.e. to make sure I sold more than 5 books.
How do you manage to find time to both write and bond with your family?
Rather easily because I put my kids and, to a lesser extent, my wife first. I would not allow writing time to encroach on family time. If my daughter is busy watching something I may edit what I have written, but that’s about it. I am under no pressure to write to a deadline and also I have not set very high standards so can write my rubbish very quickly. I also have a job, and I have found having kids makes me so much more efficient. I feel I can do in 4 hours what used to take me a whole day, so I can get home in time to spend quality time with my kids. Most fathers are not so lucky as they work much longer hours than I do. Some fathers work long hours to avoid their kids. For me, there is no greater joy than being with my kids so I have sacrificed my friends (not literally) and going out. It’s not something I need at this stage in my life whereas my kids need me. When they’re off at university I will start clubbing again with the other hands-on fathers I know.