Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Grandparents are NOT Parents

When Rahul was born and we were still in the nursing-home, both his grandfathers did the same sweet thing, albeit separately. Both came to visit during a fairly quiet time, and they came without their families. They pulled up the chair next to my bed, positioned themselves next to their precious bundle, and stared at him with adoration. Completely ignoring me, in fact, they almost had their backs to me, both of them.

But when I saw the look in their eyes I couldn't complain. That look I saw in my father-in-law's eyes is pretty much what kept me going all the months afterwards, when I wanted to give in, stomp my feet and declare that R need not have anything to do with his paternal grandparents. When I remembered that look, I knew it was not a lack of love for him that kept them from calling us. And when I remembered how each grandfather had sat, rapt, quiet, for quite a long time, then I couldn't very well let my ego come in the way of mending bridges either. For there were bridges to mend on both sides. My father and I have some terrible fights from time to time, and each time I promise myself that I will walk away and never go back to him. Unfortunately, it's no longer about me, is it? It's also about a son-in-law they have welcomed into their lives, a grandson who makes their whole day brighter.

We all know that grandparents are not parents. That to them, grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your children. But it was only when I had a child of my own that I truly began to understand how important a person's grandchild is to him/her. It's the culmination of their lives in a way. It's a reward not just for putting up with your children, but also for all the hardships you went through, the sacrifices you made. It's a chance to not make the mistakes you made with your children. It's the chance to love someone unconditionally, and get that same, all-encompassing, all-forgiving, unconditional love back. It's their chance to pass on their knowledge -- when their children were young they didn't have the time, but they do now.

And it amazes me how The Bhablet is never far from their thoughts. They are in the habit of picking up random toys or funny things just because it reminded them of him or they thought that he would like it. They positively enjoy him breaking these toys because it gives them a chance to buy some more. To their credit, they hardly ever buy him anything very expensive. But they also keep him in mind in other ways. My father rushes home after a long day's work, picks up my mother and drives through heavy traffic to battle the crowds in a mall because I mentioned that a certain store there stocks these diapers which suit R. My father-in-law goes to Bhutan on work and brings back a tin of mango juice ostensibly for us, but really so that his grandson can have a taste. My mother-in-law worries that we don't feed him the fish that is vital for his brains to grow and insists on sending him a fish curry every day. (I don't know how far the brains are being helped though -- my belief is that any good the fish does is immediately challenged by the addling his brains get from his head being banged all over the place.)

My father the confirmed male chauvinist actually takes pride in changing R's diapers, even the potty ones. My mother knows all the kids' stores in Madras by now and has gone through their entire stocks looking for funny things to dress R in, to amuse him with, to bring his grin out. I believe that of the four, she is the one who misses him the most and hides it the best. She looked after him for his first three months and then for a month this summer. That does create a bond.

It helps me deal with all four parents when I think of how they treat their grandson. It's easier to remember their good points then.

To them, he is this wonderful little boy:

(This photograph was taken by my father when R was seven months old.)


Grafxgurl said...

ooh redesigning? may i help ( eager puppy look)
i must say your boy has such huge soft eyes..

Yesh said...

and he looks really tall :-)
He sure will be a six footer.
First time here.Thoroughly enjoyed it.

dipali said...

Well thought out and beautifully written. Babies are magical creatures
and young Bhablet is particularly bewitching. Even the wannabe grandparents are under his spell:)
Truly, the tenderness and wonder in the eyes of a new grandfather are to be seen to be believed! Grandmothers are generally more practical in their loving:)

Poppins said...

That was a very awww post. Isn't the love of a grandparent such a wonderful thing?

shub said...

Such a tender, warm post. Made me a little moist-eyed :)

The boy is SO cute. Can I err...ask for his hand for my yet-to-be-conceived daughter if no one else has pipped me to the post already? [Look at those ears! He's gonna be one incredibly intelligent fellow!] And Rahul is my favourite boys' name too! Atleast until it was done to death in those ugly SRK movies. Bah.

shub said...

And can I use your comment box to shamelessly ask Grafx for help in redesign too? I'm a self-proclaimed web design dunce! Grafx, pretty please? :)

~nm said...

Quite an emotional but very well written post! It brings out your true feelings about grandparents!

How the grandchild precedes us in everything in the ways of grandparents is amazing. Anytime any side of the grandparent (maternal/paternal) will call, they will first ask about how Anirudh is doing and know about his activities before asking just just customarily if we are ok :D

Grafxgurl said...

email me with what you need, i guess i was waiting for an email from you looooooooooong time ago...tell me what colors, ideas etc etc that you would like...
sweetart2 at gmail dot com
my email is on my blog too.
looking forward to it!!:D

Suki said...

Beautiful post, Sue. :)

Kodi's Mom said...

Sue, I truly loved this post. especially the para on what grandkids mean to grandparents. God's reward for not killing your children :D

apart from meaning so much to grandparents, our kids offer us a second chance. at everything. including mending relationships. thanks for a touching and insightful post.

WishfulThinker said...

Yup, the relationship/bonding that exists between grandchildren and grandparents is truly amazing! And the memories that Rahul will make with his grandfolks will stay with him throughout his life! And they are among the sweetest memories one can have! This I speak from personal experience! :)

Sue said...

Grafx -- I'll mail you this weekend. Life is rather chaotic right now, can't think straight.

Yesh -- I wonder. V's tall and so am I (tallish). Welcome!

Dipali -- Yes, that's pretty much it. But it's amazing how much grandfathers think about what the baby needs as well. You know, food, nappies, clothes. My father went and bought him all these pajamas because he was bitten by mosquitoes. (Yes, we hope to move this month.)

Poppins -- It was an eye-opener. I had a very close relationship with my paternal grandfather but I never really thought about what I meant to him.

Shub -- I'm afraid you've to get in line. I suggest you stop tryin to marry off your daughter-that-isn't. She won't take kindly to it.

You can mail Grafx at sweetart2@gmail.com

NM -- It worked out very well for us in one way. V's mother forgets to obsess about V because she's so taken up with the grandson!

Suki -- Thanks :)

Kodi's Mom -- Yes, I guess I have a lot to thank The Bhablet for. Not that I'm ever telling him so!

Wishful -- Yes, I remember your stories. And you'll see it in yet another dimension when you have a kid. (muhuhuhuhahaha)

Rimi said...

Moving where?

Grafxgurl said...

yes, anytime is fine with me. was doing a couple of blogs which were in line for revamping so thats over with.. so im free as a bird.

Sue said...

Rimi -- Well, amend that to hoping to move to a new place in the same neighbourhood.

Grafx -- Goody-o.