Growing Up With Grandparents
Growing up with grandparents is a privilege few are blessed with. I grew up in a big house, a comfy neighborhood and in a town that is more progressive than many cities I have lived in. But the one thing I missed in my childhood was growing up with grandparents. I never saw my maternal grandfather as he passed away soon after my mother got married. My paternal grandfather passed away when I was a little more than a year old. So, I had two adorable and doting grannies. Still, I did not get to have them around as both chose the South as their permanent residence. As for us, we settled in Gujarat where my father got his dream job. Hence, I grew up in a nuclear family.
During school vacations, I visited my grannies every year and, in those short memorable visits, I was pampered silly by both. I am a single child and having arrived biologically late to my family party, I have craved for my grandparents’ presence since childhood. At one point, I have even craved for an elder sibling with whom I could fight. (That was what my friends told me about having siblings)
Well, God has been kind but in mysterious ways. I am blessed with a hubby who is my best friend! I have an adorable three plus year old son, Arjun who treats me like his sibling. And then, there is my extremely patient father-in-law who is always ears for my dramatic monologues no matter how boring they are. Last but not the least; I am blessed with the world’s best parents, who are exactly the grandparents for my son, hubby and I had always wished for, ourselves! This post is totally dedicated to all the cool grandparents in the world!
Whenever I visit my parents during vacations, I can immediately sense a power surge in the atmosphere. It is as if, age did a turn around and they suddenly descended into toddlerhood. They play with my son, eat with him, sing for him, even fight among themselves to make him laugh and frequently buy him ice creams and candies! Yes, the latter part often raises my apprehensions about my son’s sweet tooth to which my mother quickly ripostes, “This is his age to enjoy with us. When he grows up, he will be busy with his life, friends, girl friends and a lot more! We are reliving our childhood with him. And don’t worry about the chocolates and candies! Depriving them of little pleasures will harm the body more than satiating their innocent desires.” Well, she definitely has a point there!
During vacations, they take him to the Ayyappa temple in the early mornings, where they answer my son’s incessant questions, patiently. And the questions continue on the way home as to, “Where is God?”, “How does he look like?”, “Why does Hanuman have a gadhayudam?” or, “Why does Lord Shiva have a snake around his neck, wrists and hair?” and so on and so forth.
There is great joy on his face when he cuddles into my mother’s lap post lunch, to hear my mother narrate to him stories from epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Sometimes, he also runs small errands for all of us like adjusting sofa covers or switching off the electric gadgets when not in use, sans any prompting. It was in one such moment; my father subtly remarked, “See, children don’t learn from what you say to them. They learn from what they see in you.”
And, that reminds me that this post would be utterly incomplete if I do not mention about the pure bond of friendship between my father in law (FIL) and my son. My FIL is a widower. He lost my mother-in-law to a debilitating medical condition almost two decades back and suffered severe symptoms of schizophrenia in the aftermath. With my husband who stood by him like a rock in those challenging times and with good doctors and a caring neighborhood, FIL healed slowly yet erratically. However, today he is on a lifelong medication. It would suffice to say, he is not a people’s person and he loves his space more than anything else. But ever since he became a grandfather, a change that we never expected happened. He gave a part of his space to my son. An incident that happened last year made me comprehend how becoming a grandparent was a curative experience for him.
Last year, when FIL suffered a relapse of the same disorder, he was on the verge of total collapse, to the extent of having forgotten almost everything about himself, except that he had a grandson named Arjun. It was a tough time for all of us, as we did not know how his condition was going to unfold. Patients with mental afflictions are not predictable, to say the least. By God’s grace, things got better but only after they had got a whole lot worse. For his betterment we helped him move in with us.
In course of time we realized, how his role as a grandfather healed him slowly and this time, steadily. Also, I had explained to my son that his grandpa was not well. Hence, Arjun was prepared to help his grandfather out, as much as he could. Like, post dinner he would tell FIL to take his medicines. Or, he would subtly remind FIL to wear shoes for walking, an advice that falls on deaf ears, if it were to come from hubby or me. Surprisingly, FIL would listen to my son. With time, he improved and took to reading stories to Arjun or even sharing lunch and dinner time with him. In the evenings, FIL, Arjun and I would go for long walks, with me power walking and with them chatting like long lost buddies.
Their bond is like true friendship where two people understand each other absolutely. Although my FIL does not express himself at all, I know for a fact that he is an amazing grandfather and my son is extremely lucky to have him around.
As a mother of three plus year old son, I have realized that children need a little bit more than the regular parenting. They need that occasional pampering from grandparents. They need that someone who understands their questions, their fears, their anxieties, their achievements and their imaginations and all that we parents often fail to understand. It is in such delicate moments, grandparents step in! After all, grandparents are parents with many layers of frosting! I for one, totally agree! What about you?
Narayani Karthik is an army wife who is a software engineer by profession. After a three year stint in the IT industry, she dabbled in content writing for a while before she embarked on the most beautiful journey of her life – Motherhood. After having been a Stay-At-Home-Mom for about three years, she took to teaching pre-primary children. This experience helped her gain an insight into toddlers’ behavior and psychology. Besides being a book lover, she loves to cook for her man in olive-green (Yes, she is a Proud Army Wife!) and loves to spend a lot of time with her hyper active son – Arjun. And then, in some free time that she manages from her busier than busy schedule, she loves to blog.