THIS DAD IS ACCUSTOMED TO WAKING UP AT 5AM
Growing up, Muhammad Irfan did odd jobs like delivering newspapers and pizzas. It’s no wonder then that this dad of four is accustomed to waking up at 5am.
His day starts with preparing his daughter Dinny for school and having breakfast with her before the school bus arrives at 6.10am.
He then wakes his two sons Ziqry and Zaqyr up, showers them, and ferries his eldest son to school, before heading to the office, where he works as an operations manager.
“MY KIDS ARE ALWAYS DEMANDING MY TIME”
“All my kids are always demanding my time,” he says in a tone that makes it seem like it’s the first prize in a lucky draw.
They hide and wait to surprise him when he returns, or rush to hug him till he falls flat on the ground. “So, no matter how tough my day was at work, this itself is the most beautiful way to end it,” he gushes.
Irfan also makes it a point to spend time with his kids before putting them to bed at 8.30pm, either through playing zombies and monsters with them, or chatting about their day and what they did in school.
On nights when he reaches home late at 9pm, he comes home to a sofa full of kids who have fallen asleep while waiting for his return – and it melts his heart, he says.
“THERE IS NOT A SINGLE BOOK OR EVEN GOOGLE THAT CAN HELP YOU BE A FATHER”
What’s behind their strong bond? For one thing, Irfan believes in seizing the moment – like the time he was on reservist duty and his kids were in awe of his army outfit.
He took the opportunity to paint their faces with military camouflage paint, “which made them so happy”, he recalls.
“There is not a single book or even Google that can help you be a father,” he says when asked for his advice to new dads.
“The only thing I realised that works, and doesn’t change through time and the personalities of your kids, is to invest time in them.”
THE BABY WHISPERER
During the photo shoot for this article, Irfan takes Baby Jannah out of the studio when she cries; he returns two minutes later, having patted her to sleep.
“Baby whisperer”, a colleague remarks in amazement. But, Irfan refuses to take the credit for being a hands-on dad.
“They say behind every successful man is a woman, and my wife (Siti Jamaliah) is that woman.
There are times when I say I am crazy without much sleep; she is crazier with less sleep. “I don’t know how she does it; the sacrifice she makes, she’s definitely my heart and soul.”
The sacrifice he refers to not only consists of her waking up at 4am to manage the home, but also her decision to give up her job as a nurse in 2012 to look after their eldest son when he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at two years old.
He was later diagnosed with global developmental delay (GDD) at age four, and dyslexia at seven.
HIS SON’S CONDITION IS MORE OF A GIFT THAN ANYTHING ELSE
He looks at Ziqry’s condition as more of a gift than anything else. “I also had ADHD when I was younger, and I lived my life to the fullest because my dad was very patient with me. And now, my son has a better gift because he is gifted with GDD and dyslexia, as well.
“So, I recall how it was for me back then, and I strive to be that positive reinforcement in his life, like how my dad was in mine.” Even though family means everything to Irfan, he is determined to “do what it takes to not spoil his kids”.
Describing himself as someone who believes in corporal punishment, he says discipline is of utmost importance.
“I have dedicated my life to them, and I am willing to give them everything, but they need to earn it,” he adds.
“It’s definitely tough being a father as you have to be extra disciplined, and you have to set the right example for your kids. But at the end of the day, I will never want to change anything, because I love every moment of it.”
This article was first published in Young Parents.