When I first became a grandmother ten months ago, I thought this time I would do it right. I was no longer a raw first time mother of 23 holding a baby for the very first time in my life. As a hands on mom who had actively brought up her girls, I thought that bringing up my grandson would be a breeze.
After all wasn’t I the one whose friends called up to ask for advice on how to get a child to read, how to get a child to eat and how to get a child to do what you want them to do without making them realize that it was not what they really want to do? I realized how wrong I was when I found that I couldn’t remember a thing of my mothering days and the things that I did remember are now terribly out dated and even forbidden. I actually began to believe that I’d outsourced parenting or had even imagined the whole experience! Over the past ten months I’ve also discovered certain truths, facts that I was unaware of (or at any rate had conveniently forgotten) while I was bringing up my own little girls.
- Baby boys are different from baby girls. Not only are they more smiley and more genial they are also more curious and less fearful. This innate curiosity and fearlessness makes them want to put their fingers into any kind of hole be it your harmless nostril (which can cause you immense pain despite their little fingers) or the electrical socket (which will definitely cause him irreparable damage). This means that they constantly have to be supervised without coming across as overbearing, over-cautious and paranoid.
- Forbidden fruit does taste sweeter and all babies love doing things that they are not supposed to do. In fact they carry this trait well into adulthood so as parents you should be aware that if there is anything you want your children to do say NO. Immediately their energies would be directed to doing the very thing that you have forbidden them to, thus getting them to do what you want them to. This tip knows as negative suggestion comes in very handy in later years when children present an undesirable choice of profession, career or spouse. Instead of shouting yourself hoarse putting forth the negatives which are blatantly obvious only to you, praise the positives sky-high. This will immediately set of the opposite reaction and the choice will become the least desirable goal and dropped like a hot potato.
- Babies will only want to go to the toilet when you sit down to a meal. As a mother I have spent endless hours in toilets of various restaurants and hotels staring “lovingly” at my baby on the potty while my delicious hot meal congeals at the table. This habit of needing you when it is most inconvenient persists into adulthood too and as a granny you will be called on to ditch your Bridge buddies at short notice or stop a conversation mid-sentence as you try to stop baby tumbling from your lap as you fumble with the phone and he simultaneously wriggles in an attempt to grab it.
- Thus talking to friends on your mobile is a long forgotten luxury. I normally keep the phone on silent so when I do find it vibrating, I pick it up only to find my grandchild wanting to grab it as well. So rather than have a disconnected conversation or a fight with a wriggly toddler, I’d rather talk to my friends late at night or early in the morning. Of course they don’t like being disturbed at these times which are either reserved for their morning constitutional or late evening session of meditation. Incidentally keeping the phone on silent has another disadvantage – I can’t find it when I can’t remember where I’ve kept it because it doesn’t ring when I call to find it. Similarly, I can’t find my specs because I can’t see them and I can’t wear them all the time for fear of him grabbing them or getting jabbed by them.
- You can no longer do squats and turns with the agility of a twenty year old even if you are the star of your Yoga class and can do a head stand without support or the perfect Maricchasan 1. You have to keep your wits about you while you are playing with grand baby and keep a sharp eye on his crawl that can suddenly speed up to quicker than lightening especially at the edge of a bed.
- Pulling an all nighter watching soppy movies on television is different from staying up all night with a baby whose teeth insist on coming at night. In fact I’ve often wondered why babies have noses that get blocked, ears that hurt and teeth that sprout only at night? The same baby who has a cold or who is teething will sleep soundly in the day but become a screaming monster at night wanting to be walked up and down or soothed in your loving lap.
So now after this diatribe which sounds like a whine, do I regret being a granny at all? No way Jose! I’m pleased as punch when I walk him up and down the garden and am thrilled that I can regale him with stories his mother used to love. I love seeing his gorgeous baby smile and trusting eyes as his mother drops him off at my house every morning. And as for those sleepless nights, well there are only 20 teeth that a baby gets and old people are insomniacs any way aren’t they? Who else helps me with crunches and bicep curls as I horse around with him in the afternoon. And as for my specs and my mobile – I’ve tackled that problem too with deep pockets in my trousers so that they are always at hand !
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