Children with grandparents around are the luckiest people. Grandchildren look up to them as role models
The other day my newest grand daughter called me ‘tai tai’. I was puzzled. I could not figure out why she said that to me. Then my son said to me, ‘you do realize you are ‘tai tai’ now. Initially it did not make much sense to me. After thinking for a while I figured it out. It so happened that every time she saw me on Skype I would say ‘tai tai tai’ and clap my hands. She would be happy and clap her hands too and say ‘tai tai tai. It had become a game. I enjoyed it and she enjoyed it. Yes I became a grandparent one more time eighteen months ago. So the last time I visited my son in Boston, she was 18 months old. It was so much fun playing with her. I looked at her and remembered how my parents reacted with my children. I could very well visualize that. I remembered my father playing with my sons. At that time it was difficult for me to describe the feeling, but now I can easily identify with it. I looked into her eyes and thought, ‘yes it’s time now to acknowledge that I am a grandparent, and that am not getting any younger.’ It took me quite a time to realize that fact. Well if you ask me how I feel I say my feelings are mixed.
I am sure you will understand me better if I said, ‘being a grandparent means I am getting old.’ But I’m not ready to be old yet. You know what I mean. In one corner of my mind I still remember the day I had with my son. The feeling of becoming a mother is still there. What an achievement that was—a mission accomplished, a feeling of Déjà vu when my baby was given to me for the first time. I was elated, upon being suddenly elevated to the status of a parent. I also remember my tussle and disagreement with my parents and in-laws regarding the upbringing of my children. That was a long time ago. Now I look at my son and daughter in-law raising their daughter together, sharing every aspect of feeling of being a parent.
Watching them grow
It took me quite some time to realize that being a grandparent was all about watching my children grow up to become caring and nurturing parents. It does not take long to see your children become parents within a span of nine months and the parents elevated to the status of grandparents. As I see them handle their baby skillfully, I am swept back in time remembering how difficult it had been for me without the skills needed for raring a child.
We did not have the opportunity that these people had of getting some information and training to handle a child. Still, as I watch my kids do the same things I had done, what now feels like centuries ago, I unwillingly compare their mistakes and gains with mine.
Suddenly, all this makes me smile as I remember the time I handled my children for the first time. It feels like time has just swung back one more time, as I watch with awe, pride and even trepidation, as my children do their best at parenting. Sometimes I smile at the mistakes, knowing the remedies, yet unsure of telling the consequences of actions opted by them. Sometimes I even think of putting in a suggestion or two, as to how to handle the particular troubling situation, and still staying away, give them space and opportunity to learn from their mistakes, thus finally accepting the fact that they will do what they can, just the way I did with them. In the process, acknowledging the fact that now its time for me to sit back and enjoy the moment of becoming a grandparent and not meddle with their way of doing things.
I quietly remember my reaction when my parents tried to help me. Then I used to think ‘why do they have to be so obtuse when it came to raising my children?’ But I listened to them with due respect. I smiled secretly when life became easier because of their advice. Now I look at my granddaughter and think of cherishing the moments and wish to last for eternity.
I know she will grow up just as all children do. Despite the realization that time indeed does not wait, suddenly I realized with a jolt, that I was ready to make way for the new generation that’s pushing me to make space for themselves. I decided it was time to move on to the next level of being a grandparent. Even though I had seen many individuals happily enjoying being a grandparent, for the longest time, I wasn’t so sure about it. I gradually found out that being a grandparent was all about watching my children grow up and become caring and nurturing.
Children as parents
It is time for us to accept our children as parents and respect their parenting skills. Also understand the fact that we are there only for a short time, the rest is up to them to face. Granted they have learned a lot from books and their friends the things which took us quite some time to learn. But a grandparent’s heart has a hard time accepting that. Of course it is always a good idea to let them know that we are there to help, if they need any help. That’s what I did and life was much better.
We all know that God has entrusted the most important job of raising children to the most inexperienced people, fully confident that the more experienced older generation, including the grandparents of the newborn will help in raising the children. We have all experienced the contributions grandparents’ make in the process of raising children are extraordinary.
Children with grandparents around are the luckiest people. Often times, grandchildren become very much attached to grandparents, and look up to them as their role models.
It is not easy being a grandparent. It takes thought, finesse and devotion to do justice to the role of a grandparent. It also requires one to be emotionally flexible and nurturing. We need to take our role modeling very seriously for our children and grandchildren. It does sound like a burden but believe me it is worth it.
Having said everything, I have to agree when someone says being a grandparent is one of the best blessings in the world. I am pretty sure by now most readers are already saying ‘we know all that.’ So now if you ask me ‘how do I like being a grandparent?’ I would just laugh at it and say that is a different story all together. For me that word still does not exist, when it is referred to me. I am still ‘Usha ama’ or anything else for that matter, rather than hajur ama or even amboi. Yes, my mind refuses to grow up beyond that point. No I am not faking Peter Pan, defying my age. But I would if I could.
Pokharel is an educationist and author of several children’s books