Every boy – big or small – wants to be a superhero. And when that is not possible, he wants people around him to make him feel like one. Meet Dinesh Vasanthkumar, a city-based professional, who gets his high from being called the best dad in the world after playing a round of “Avengers” and “Transformers” with his son and daughter. Read on to find out why Dinesh feels like a hero and why he is in the happiest phase of his life.
Dinesh Vasanthkumar, 37, Vice President in a bank, Bangalore
Interviewed By Poorva Dinesh
Why did you decide to give us an interview on fatherhood?
It’s the one role I enjoy doing the most. I love being a father. I love the attention I get from my children. They are probably the most loving children anybody could ask for. The first thing they do as soon as they wake up every morning is run to me, cuddle up and hug and kiss me. Every day they make me feel special. Just to give you an example, my son Rehaan tells me every other day that I am the best father ever, irrespective of whether I do something for him or not.But I am far from being the best father.
Why do you feel you are not the best father?
I have my own shortcomings and the children look beyond that. They just take me at face value.
What are your strengths as a father?
As a father I think I am very patient with the kids. I try and do whatever I can for them. All parents try to give their children ten times more than what they’ve got, and I am no different.
Do you consider this as a strength? The fact that you are able to give them much more than what you’ve got.
Absolutely. I am lucky to afford the things that they ask for. I hope they value that. But apart from that, I think it’s the little things I do for them. They want me to give them a shower, help them with their “business”, we even listen to the same songs. I become a child when I am with them. And I do a lot of stuff I never got to do in my childhood and thanks to them, they have rekindled other interests in me. For instance, I now go out skating with them, I have started playing the guitar, and the kids join in. We just play even if it doesn’t make any sense. My children and I play characters from the Transformers, or the Avengers. I even wear T-shirts like my son’s, and it definitely makes me feel younger. I am 6 turning 37.
You mentioned earlier that your children look beyond your weaknesses. What are your weaknesses?
I don’t discipline them enough. My wife is there to play the bad cop. I am lenient. There are times when I get angry with my son because he beats up his sister. But he will always come back to me later at night after he has realized what he did was wrong. I think the kids get upset when I show my anger. They cuddle up and apologize, and that makes me feel really weak in the knees.
They are not used to you shouting at them?
They are not. We are like best buds. Rehaan and Mitra tell me I am their best friend.
You said you like getting attention that the kids shower you with. Are you implying you didn’t get attention before the kids came along?
I don’t think anybody loves me more than my kids. But this love is short-lived. Sooner or later they will have their friends, and I’m just enjoying every moment of it.
Is it because children are generally quite expressive about their feelings and them jumping at the sight of you gives you a high?
It definitely gives me a high. No matter what stress or tensions I have, once I enter the house the kids are just jumping around me like little puppies, and that makes everything bearable. They look beyond the good, the bad or ugly, and see me as what I am. They’re non-judgmental.
Have you had to take any difficult decisions as a father?
I don’t think there are any difficult decisions that I’ve had to take when it comes to kids. The only time I freak out is when they get hurt or become sick. That’s when I panic and my wife takes over things. She knows how to handle such situations.
Do you think you’ve transformed as a person after becoming a father?
Absolutely. Fatherhood has made me more patient. It’s made me realize what my priorities are. It makes me feel younger.
As a father, do you have fears about the future or do you take one day at a time?
Absolutely, I think every parent in this day and age worries about the teenage years because there is access to just about everything on their fingertips, whether it is pornography or drugs. They’re exposed to it at a very young age, and that’s what freaks me out. They’re too little to get there right now, but I’m sure as they grow older my fears will only increase. That’s why I’m enjoying every moment I can now because this relationship is going to change. They will have somebody in their lives whom they will love more and move on.
What will you do then when you’re not getting that attention anymore?
My wife doesn’t love me any less. The love I get from my wife, family or friends is different from what I get from my children. I’m sure there’s no dearth of attention but what I get from my kids is priceless.
Is your father the role model you look up to?
In many cases, yes. There are certain values that he imbibed in me. For instance, being kind to people. My father was very patient and that has rubbed off on me. He would put up with anything. I have not met anybody as patient as he was. He was an honest man who lived by his principles. He would never do or say anything wrong.
What does love mean to you?
It means different things to different people. I can’t define love. It’s just things you do for people without expecting anything. It’s what I feel when my wife and children are around today. Love is the joy that I get by just being with them.