The Grandparent Effect
This is my first post of the year for Parentous, so let me begin by wishing all of you a very Happy New Year, filled with joy and peace.
The year began on a hectic but pleasant note as we spent the end of last year and the beginning of this one, on holiday, with family, visiting both sets of parents, and all manner of relatives, zig-zagging between three states.
Now, you might wonder, why I am mentioning something which is so common for many of us, namely spending vacation with family. After all, quite a few of us have probably grown up that way, spending summer or winter vacations visiting cousins and grandparents or enjoying their vacation visits. Well, you’ll just have to be patient, because I’m getting to the point, a little slowly, but surely.
Other than spending a few vacations with my grandparents, for reasons beyond anyone’s control, I’ve grown up with a very limited exposure to them. In fact, when I got married, I had just one living grandparent, some memories of letters and cards received on birthdays, and hazy recollections of having hounded my grandfather for stories as a kid.
My husband, on the other hand still had one set of grandparents around, and whenever we would visit them, they were very loving, not only towards him but also to me. Needless to say, I liked the attention and thanked my stars that I had lucked out, not only in the in-law department but also in the grandparent-in-law territory. However, between the novelty of married life and the nature of my husband’s job, they too existed only in the background of my life.
By the time I became a mother, many of my friends already had three or four-year olds, and I had heard quite a few stories of how most grandparents “spoil” children, totally undermining their own children’s efforts to maintain some semblance of order, etc. Having been brought up by a loving, but somewhat strict set of parents, I knew for a fact that this wouldn’t happen to me. So what, if my folks seemed to be all mushy around little babies and kids whom they met on social occasions! After all, other people’s children are always cute, and even if they aren’t like my husband said, (when I very gushingly told him after the kid was born , that my doctor and all nurses in the floor were of the opinion that “our child was the cutest baby they’d ever seen”)
“Nobody‘s going to tell you that the kid actually looks like a shriveled up little monkey! “
For the record, my son was and continues to be, the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, but even I thought he looked a little shriveled monkey-ish when the nurse put him over her shoulder, to burp him.
Anyway, meandering back to the point, I was very sure I’d be firm with the folks and folks-in-law and not allow too much straying from the straight and narrow.
Well, here we are, after a month of vacation, and a certain little person seems to think that mamma is not doing things the way they should be done. After all, when he asked for snacks in the evening, to his horror, mamma did-not-give-him-homemade-cupcakes, like his grandma did, every evening! And how dare Baba go out anywhere without him? Didn’t grandpa wait patiently, with a smile on his face, instead of making scathing remarks about certain people, such as his daughter’s, lack of timing, while his grandson stopped him at the door and demanded that he wait for him to put on his red shoes (on my own) and take him along for the ride, EVERY time there was some outdoor errand to be run!
So what happened to all my plans of keeping a tight rein on things? Apparently, the hubby and I were victims of the ‘Grandparent Effect’. If you haven’t heard of this particular effect, let me recount some of the symptoms, in self and spouse
- Existing in a state of blissful inertia when the kid needs feeding or entertaining, because a grandparent is already there, doing that.
- Turning a blind eye to things like making the kid take his nap because he’s already snuggled up in a “mmm razai otherwise known as mazai ” between his grandparents, or supervising the making of “grounnn not white cukcakes” or repeatedly asking his ever patient and rather electronics savvy grandpa to fix his “helicotter with the kontrrrol remote” or exploring his other grandpa’s rocking chair!
- The ability to take afternoon naps or morning naps or just naps in general without waking up under the weight of small feet or a small head on the center of gravity (or other points southwards) or with a cramp on my arm from having the kid stuck there for a few hours.
- Time to read books without interruption, in the middle of the day while baking self on a sunny cot.
- Ability to hug spouse without having to turn it into a group hug to include small somewhat outraged person.
And in case of grandparents, a few of the symptoms are
- Lost or broken spectacles, dismissed with a laugh instead of loudly accusing “someone” of having been careless with the other’s things.
- Taking an absolute pleasure in the artistic re arrangement of fridge ‘Magmets’ or any room in the house by grand kid, and leaving it that way instead of making the grandkid tidy up the mess.
- Remembering long forgotten childhood no-no’s such as making rude noises with mouth etc. and gleefully teaching them to grand kid, with instructions to demonstrate the new-found ability, ad infinitum to long-suffering parents.
- Infinite patience to pander to kid(s) whims and fancies, instead of using the familiar “Maybe” or the absolute “No” .
So, have you ever been hit by the Grandparent Effect ?
Monishikha Roy-Choudhury is an intermittent blogger, a book lover whose latest passion is creating watercolours. In her spare time, she is also a wife and stay at home mom, and you can find out more about her life at http://minisblog.blogspot.in or see her artwork on her Facebook page, The Coloured Wall.