I love paati…

I love being a grandmother. In fact, I used to insist on my great nieces and nephews calling me paati (grandmother), when I had been much younger. So you can imagine my joy when I became one in the true sense – when my granddaughter Diya had been born. While I had been overjoyed when my first son had been born, this joy was somehow sweeter. Perhaps it had something to do with my acquisition of the title that I had been hankering after.

Why me alone? The bond between the grandparent and grandchild is a unique one. The reasons could be many. For one thing, there is no sense of urgency in the relationship; no responsibility; no bus to catch, no office deadline to meet; no whistling cooker needing one’s attention – all of which can rob a moment of undivided attention that the child craves for.

As a mother I remember surreptitiously glancing at the clock even as the little one nuzzled me with sleep filled eyes, making me reluctant to get out of the bed. And still I would be  impatiently coaxing him to get up, fretting about the possibility of missing my 9.03 fast local, which would consequently delay my arrival at work by 25 minutes at least due to the chain reaction of missing one mode of transport after the other.

No, sir. I have no worries now of such things as a grandmother. Time has lost its iron grip over my life. So what if I take bath half an hour late? Where is the rush? Even if the cooker is whistling, I shut off the gas and rush to cuddle the little one if she calls, ‘Paati…..!!!!’ Sometimes we end up giggling under the quilt like two crazy kids. That’s pure joy.

One day, we both were playing some silly game when her mother called her. She ran to her mother but she so wanted to continue the game and so told her, ‘I love paati Amma!’ That sounded like warm honey sliding over my heart! Little Diya is all of two-and-half, the age when kids are at their adorable best. And know what her mother said happily in reply? ‘And paati loves you too!’ And we so love each other!

And then, as a grandparent, one can enjoy a child with complete abandon without being burdened by the responsibility of actually raising her or him. Somehow the dreaded generation gap seems to vanish when one is with one’s grandchild. It is amazing how one jumps one generation and bonds with the next so well!

And thoughTime has not completely lost its control from the times one was a parent it has changed hues now.

In days gone by joint families were the norm and the child got to live with the grandparents and even with the extended families. This is not to say that joint families don’t exist today – they do, but by and large they have undergone a metamorphosis. So the candies of togetherness are sweeter and have to be savored to the full, slowly sucking out the sweetness that then lingers for a time – till it is time again to visit or be visited.

An uncle and aunt, all of whose children live in the same city called themselves ‘weekend grandparents.’ They stayed with the one cousin whose wife also worked – to take care of their then young children — and spent the weekends by turns with other sons and daughter! Others are not so lucky and have to either make a trip sometimes across the seas to be with the grandchildren or wait for them to come to visit.

I also suspect that as grandparents we try to make up for the things we didn’t or couldn’t do or even did wrong as parents for various reasons.  Though at that time our actions might have seemed the right thing to do, we sometimes reflect on hindsight that they could have been done differently or better and that we had somehow failed then. I guess we get a chance to make up for such lapses by proxy.

This of course elicits remarks from our sons or daughters about us being partial to the grandchild! Why, I used to feel that way with my mother when she pulled me up for not allowing her grandson to sleep a while longer. The mother I remembered from my childhood never allowed over sleeping.

I recall an incident with my father as a grandparent. He was still working at the time my eldest sister was visiting with her two young sons. The younger one was a year-and-half and would only sleep in the traditional cloth jhula . He had to be gently rocked and loved it when my father did it as he chanted shlokas melodiously in his soothing voice.

On that particular day the child was unwell and wouldn’t fall asleep easily. Every time my father stopped the rocking or handed it over to one of us to slip away to work, he would start bawling. Finally father gave up and called his office to say that he was taking off that day! The child would have cried some and then gone to sleep with one or the other of us rocking him, but the grandfather could not bear to see the child cry, especially when he was not well! My older siblings vouch for the fact that he never took off from work, sometimes working two shifts in a row when they were small.

Naturally, priorities change. For instance, when I was with my son’s family, writing and blogging became something that I indulged in only when the little one was busy with other things or sleeping. I had no worries about putting a meal together on time, worrying about the clothes that needed to be washed and sundry other domestic chores, thanks to my thoughtful daughter-in-law who made sure I had all the time with the child without having to worry about any of the mundane details of housekeeping.

Being part-time grandparents comes with some responsibilities too. For one, it makes it necessary to follow the routine that the child is used to, instead of starting something new and confusing the child (not to speak of making things difficult for the parents once you leave). This sometimes requires one to look the other way when one doesn’t  agree with the particular set of rules, because interfering causes the child to take advantage of the situation, and grandparents being more indulgent, would surely give in sooner than later. And the child knows this very well.

I can’t tell you what bliss it is to enjoy a child without the compulsions of being the disciplinarian. All you have to do is generally be firm when the child is behaving in an undesirable manner and let her know that you are unhappy. It would turn my heart into molten wax when she said, ‘Please don’t be sad, paati,’ if I curled my lips as if I were crying and instantly stop doing what she was doing.

When they visit us, it is one hurried round of doing everything in the short time available, to enjoy at the time and then ruminate once they leave. Living and reliving moments, those nuggets of gold that will only get burnished with time, never fade.

I am taking the days, one at a time, enjoying my role as the grandmother. One day soon, my little moppet will grow up and maybe, we will do things other than playing and reading together. And I do hope that she will be as loving as the granddaughter,whose blog I visited this morning.

Blessed are the parents who get to raise their kids, but twice blessed are the grandparents, because they have experienced the joys of raising their children and then enjoying their children.

39 comments

  1. Archana · · Reply

    and best part.. they still treat me as if i am just a baby 🙂 narrating all the silly things i did.

    Just as you said “One day soon, my little moppet will grow up and maybe, we will do things other than playing and reading together. And I do hope that she will be as loving as the granddaughter,whose blog I visited this morning.” Its always fun for granddaughters also to feel like baby with the gramps. I used to look forward to talking to them over phone and meeting them every vacation. I really wish i can be with them forever

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    1. Good to know you got to see the ‘other side’ of the relationship too 🙂

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  2. Archana · · Reply

    Oh i miss my gramps 😦 they are home and my vacation is canceled bcoz of work 😥 This post really gave a peek into thoughts of a grandparent. Thanks!

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  3. First things first I must say your writing younger than you are …it took me some blogs to realize and definitely this to realize you are a grandmother….Enjoy your grandmother time because unknowingly you are leaving a mark in her life to remember forever(like the ones i mentioned in my post). Great rendition of the time spent.

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    1. You are as young as you feel, not as old as you are, I guess. thanks for the comment. I do hope that some day my moppet will remember me as wistfully as you do yours 🙂

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  4. Inspirational! Looking ahead to those lucky days and getting nostalgic about the past.

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    1. nostalgia need not wait for middle or old age. Even my little grandaughter, who is not yet three, has her moments of nostalgia 😀 so go ahead and indulge in it.

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  5. It’s a beautiful feeling..Even with the generation gap and everything,sometimes they understand you more than anyone else..Here when I say they I meant grandparents..Indulging,patient and caring..Nice post..I miss my Ammoomma (paati)…

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    1. Like I mentioned in the post, the generation gap magically vanishes when there is one generation in between 🙂 The lack of responsibilites also makes them patient and indulgent. A child needs that too.

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  6. A house needs a grandma in it. ~Louisa May Alcott
    How true is that;It is one of the most unique and fascinating bonds.The change they always give us for the ice cream which mom almost always warns us not to have;they help us sign exam papers, when marks are not good enough to be shown to dad;the best piece of cake they somehow always seem to save for us,the bedtime fairy tales they narrate;I could go and on because as they rightly say,”Grandmothers are just antique little girls”

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    1. Hey Witty Jester, you make grandmas partners in crime? Well, I beg to differ on the first few points. Today grandmas are more aware of the need to be partners to the parents in disciplining the children and so try to keep out of it in order not to confuse the children — at least that’s what I do 🙂

      But yes, as for keeping the best piece of cake, any time. And also true that they are antique little girls. My older son treats me on par with his daughter 😀

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  7. It works the other way around also.
    Its a blessing to have grandparents around.

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    1. Welcome here Joe.
      Yes, it works both ways, doesn’t it? It is one of the best sights to see the two generations bonding.

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  8. That’s a beautiful post ! You sure make an awesome ‘paati’- your grand daughter’s truely blessed !

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    1. Hey Chits, thanks a bunch for the compliment. It is more like the paati is blessed 🙂

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  9. You must be such a fun paati. I remember reading somewhere that as grandparents you revisit parenthood but sans the back breaking responsibilities.

    I still have special memories of my Didoon and Thamma…oodles of love ,pampering and lots of yummy treats. Am now enjoying my stint as Pishi to my 14 month old niece. Too bad that I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like to.

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    1. I am actually experiencing what you have read 🙂 Pishi is, let me guess…paternal aunt. Am I right? Btw, when are you taking up my tag to do a post on Bong nicknames?

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  10. What a heartwarming post! Yes, a child and her grandparents do share a very special relationship!

    I am not yet a grandmother, but I am looking forward to when I shall be.:)

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    1. Thanks for that Manju. It is nice to know you are looking forward to it. I have seen loads of them making their grandchildren call them ‘amma’, mummy’ and what not since they are not ready to accept their age and title 😀

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  11. hie!
    this was such a heart warming post…i was glad that my idea was so beautifully taken up by u. and grandparents r actually the best! ur grand daughter is very lucky and am sure that she would be a great support and a friend and confidante of sought in ur coming days.
    and another big thanks for linking my post 🙂

    sarah

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    1. You are welcome Sarah. I have written about generation gap as a young woman, a mother and then as a grandmother now. Isn’t that great that I got to see it from all angles? And the best part is that the view has remained unchanged — that generation gap vanishes between the oldest and the youngest.

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  12. Gayathri Krithivas · · Reply

    Loved you post.
    Grandparents are like chocolate…they always make you happy. I can still remember the smell of my paati’s skin- frsh with a hint of turmneric, my thaatha’s vibhooti…
    Enjoy your special time with Diya. Pretty soon, her interests will change, her days will be filled and paati will have to make an appointment to spend time with her. Naren and Vikaas love my mom’s visit here. They used to say that the one constant thing for them was that paati was there for them no matter how hectic their day was 🙂

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    1. Wow, two nieces commenting on one post 🙂 Thanks Gayatri. Toddlerhood in a child’s life is the best time for everyone, espeically the grandparents. And like you say, their interests widen after they start school and have new friends and activities which might not include the grandparents. I too remember my pati thatha — pati sitting at her place and keeping an eye on everything around her and thatha with his immense patience, putting the little ones to sleep with his ‘da da da da…In fact, it was his job to do it much to the relief of the mothers in the house 🙂

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  13. I miss my Patti. No one can make Mysore Pak like her or even peel the chikku and oranges the way she would for Shilpu and me.

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    1. Oh yes, you poor kid. She did have so much patience to do things that others hated doing — cleaning the greens, folding clothes…

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  14. The best of my life’s moments were the days we spent in Grand parents house with all cousins, uncles and aunts meeting at one place.It was a fun time and we anxiously used to wait for summer holidays to be with our grand parents.

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    1. We were lucky in that we lived in the same locality as our grandparents and had a lot many cousins with whom we could play throughout the year.

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  15. Z – my grannies are so so special to me…:) Feeling all nice and fuzzy after reading your post :)))

    I think i love them right up there with my mom…
    i think u first came to my blog when i blogged abt them.

    http://dropzofjupiter.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/the-grannies/

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    1. and i am sure Diya is going to one day speak lovingly abt her paati…u are 2 cute..who wont 😉

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    2. Yes, i remember the post you had dedicated to the wonderful couple that they are. Give them my best, will you?

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  16. loved this read!!

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    1. Thank you Magiceye. 🙂

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  17. B’ful post .. Loved the way u described things in the 2nd para…

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    1. Hey Mayank, thanks for the comment. You must remember your own, I am sure, for the post to have made a mark. Enjoy 😀

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  18. This is so beautiful. I am looking forward to that time in my life knowing that my boys have taken an oath not to get married. I still hope there will be children calling me granny . 🙂 :p

    I have spent some beautiful years with my aajji ( maternal grandmother) and I treasure those lovely moment .
    love the line” Living and reliving moments, those nuggets of gold that will only get burnished with time, never fade.”

    Nostalgia . Thanks akka

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    1. Oh, don’t worry. they will change their minds if they find the right one and the violins go off 🙂 There is a lot of time for your dreams to come true anyway. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment Tikuli.

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  19. Before I was a grandparent I used to joke with my kids that when they were parents and brought their kids to visit, I’d have the messiest chocolate waiting for them to cover themselves in. ‘Why?’ they asked, and I’d reply: Pay back!!!
    Of course, I was only joking …. honest 😉

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    1. 😀 That sounds like a wonderful way of getting even 🙂 If nothing you could have at least given them a moment of panic that you were indeed waiting with the said chocolate when they visited. But I am being really horrid aren’t I? 😀 😀

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