This year was my grandson’s first Diwali. It was a quiet celebration with four generations and twenty-five people getting together to introduce the newest member of our family to the festival of lights. Obviously he is too small to know the difference between one day and the next and till he actually goes to school and out into the big bad world every day will be a party for him.
But this celebration was special for our family and the little tyke enjoyed being the centre of everyone’s universe, intently watching the flickering flame being waved in front of his nose by all the grannies and aunties doing the traditional aarti.
I remember several Diwali’s of my childhood – one which stands out particularly in my memory was that of my grandmother making Diwali sweets. Our kitchen was small and cramped and she had put the stove on the floor and was sitting on a stool frying all the stuff that had to be fried. I was particularly excited because she had promised to make special Diwali sweets for my dolls and had got six small boxes which she was going to fill up with goodies. And these were special miniatures which she was going to make for my dolls’ Diwali party – miniature ladoo, chakli and even karanji. I was thrilled to bits with this treat and couldn’t help dancing around in the kitchen. Of course it was a foolish thing to do and she warned me not to get too close “ Don’t come any closer,” she said , “Or I promise I’ll sting you with this hot spoon,” and she waved the slotted spoon used for frying close to my face.
But in the typical foolishness of a four-year old, I refused to believe that she’d carry out her threat and actually went even closer than I would normally have dared. And promptly I felt something hot on my hand as she carried out her threat and put the spoon on the back of my outstretched hand. I gave a yowl of pain and scooted as fast as my little legs could carry me – hurt both physically and mentally. Luckily it was not a major burn and settled down in a day but the lesson I carried with me was for a life time – that hot things really burn and that you should only make threats you can actually carry out.
Bringing up children is always hard as there is a fine line between indulgence and genuinely spoiling a child. As grandparents it is more difficult to play the strict, authoritarian figure and very often we let our grandchildren get away with things that we’d never have let their parents even dream of doing! My children remember me as being a real task master and are actually grateful for their strict upbringing. Like my grandmother, I never made empty threats and the children knew I meant business. So I never threatened to lock them in the bathroom or throw them out of the house because my threats were completely doable – eat up your dinner or go hungry and such like. But now with my grandson spending his days with me while his mother (my daughter) goes out to work, I wonder if I will be as strict with him as I was with his mother? Will I be patient with him when he dawdles or will I hurry him up? Will I smile when he scribbles on the wall or will I make him wash it clean?
And will I make good my threats as my granny did or will I just indulge him patiently while he gets away with a winning smile?
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood