‘Look! It is Grandparents’ Day today!’ The younger one noticed a glossy sign in the mall, declaring discount for grandparents and then dived into excited, hushed discussion with the older one.
The evening was sorted. There would be glitter, glue, and scraps of paper all over the floor much to our helper’s disapproval. And there would be phone calls. On our way back we saw pairs of beaming grand-folks stepping out of a playschool with a bouncing baby between them. On the other side of the road, I saw a lady gaze at them. I saw longing in those eyes. And my thought went back to the numerous people my age, drunk on youth, on ambition, on independence, on love for their children – the love that is fiercely limited just to them. Grandparents do not figure in the scheme of things for most. It might not be a conscious decision to shunt them out for most of us. But our lives usually push them to a lonely corner.
What is the big deal anyway? They do get to occasionally see them after all. We become myopic when we start assuming that our job as a dutiful child is done once we get the kids to say an occasional ‘hello’ over the phone, or take the children for a hurried visit to the grandparents’ place. First of all, we need to understand what makes them essential, apart from of course being an integral part of the family:
As a parent, I love the boys. My day starts with them and an exhausting night sees me collapsed after the day’s surprising twists and turns. I am responsible for their work, for their focus, for them learning, experimenting and growing. Grandparents on the other hand, are responsible for just one thing – Love. They are an essential respite for the children from the rights and the wrongs. They smuggle extra candies to them, let them watch mindless television, and allow them to just be. Now, I know, when this is an everyday occurrence, it can get counterproductive and a balance needs to be arrived at then. But if one does succeed in making and adhering to some order, the child ends up benefitting from both sets of adults.
The boys can talk to Nani about everything that bothers them, including her daughter. Dada is their counsellor when they want to know about a career in Civil Services. Nana tells them about options in Science. Dadi makes them the most delicious goodies and lets them know that they are her stars that will keep shining no matter what. The boys are lucky to have four friends that they know will support them through everything. Given the pressures of today, I think that is a crucial necessity.
No matter how doting we are as parents, we are also always wary. ‘What if my child doesn’t do well in studies? I hope he behaves well in class. He needs to be more confident on stage.’ – And more such things are forever nagging us. And despite our best efforts, the doubts sometimes seep down to the children. The grandparents, however, are besotted by the little ones and give them the much-needed booster from time to time. The rules, again, might have to be laid if everyone is living together. But over all, they provide the much needed relief and make the children feel like rock stars.
I can see a lot of us disagree, since grandparents staying with us presents issues of its own, but trust me, those are minor compared to the productive role they can play in the children’s lives. And we will get to ways to achieve that balance at some other point of time. But today, the ones that live far away need to be included for our children’s sake. This is what we do to make sure there is a connect no matter what:
- Phone call: The good or the bad, the boys are encouraged to call up the four grandparents and share their day with them every now and then.
- Postcard: Whenever we go on a holiday, the boys pick postcards, write to both sets, and then post it from there.
- Consult: When they are confused about something, they ask the grandparents – a fabulous way of staying connected.
- Technology: The older one regularly Whatsapps to Nani, Facetimes with her, and has resolved to teach Dadi the same.
- Special days: In case they are unable to make it, we make it a point to go over on birthdays and celebrate together. Or if that seems impossible, technology comes to the rescue again. Many a cakes have been cut via video-conferencing.
The older one just got off the phone with dada-dadi and is smiling from ear to ear. ‘I’ll call them everyday, Ma. They were just happy to hear my voice!’ He rushed off to write on Nani’s Facebook wall. The younger one is busy making a pop-up card.
I know that the four of them would be beaming today. And I know that the boys can sense that they are the centres of four universes. I can see the armour of love that surrounds the boys. They will be okay. Because they know that no matter how insurmountable life gets, these four will make it their mission to get them to shine across. Because they know that grandparents are the true superheroes. I, the parent, am a mere sidekick.
Originally published at ZenParents