Vishwanath Shenoi, a marine engineer and Sandhya Shenoi a retired nursery teacher, are grandparents to 8 year old Anoushka and 2 year old Ananya. With grandparents day just round the corner, Vishwanath shares his thoughts on what it is like to be a grandparent.
Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.
Shakespeare mentioned that we all go through the seven stages of life. In all his works however, he has not touched on the role of being a grand parent. A writer who has portrayed all possible emotions has not mentioned the most profound feelings experienced on becoming a grand parent. A feeling of love and being loved with absolutely no strings attached.
The arrival of my first grand daughter, Anoushka, was a strange experience. I was not quite sure what I was supposed to feel. Till that time I went through life judging or being judged and then came the first grand daughter. When I first held her, I understood the meaning of unconditional Love. Till then all my relationships was always a ‘give and take’ and then there was some one, I did not think twice about only giving with not a thought of taking.
The beaming look I got when her eyes picked me up in a crowd was priceless. Once when she protested the denial of a candy bar, and was on the verge of tears, I picked her up. She calmed down instantly, and her smile told me that for my cuddle she was prepared to sacrifice all the candies in the world. The bond has only grown stronger since.
At first, she would practice her speaking ability with her dolls, but if I was present, she would graciously include me in a three-way conversation and of course, I would happily join in.
My children often reminded me that I was spoiling the little one. I realized I was condoning behavior in my grand daughter, which would have called for severe reprimand in case of my children at the same age. My excuse was that I wanted everyone to be happy all around!
Yes, the world had changed with the arrival of my grand daughter. I remember the days when my child would invite me to play with him and I would tell him that I was all tied up with work. But when the little angel just looked up at me, I would drop every thing and get down to play with her. Seeing me horse around with her, people around wondered if I have reached my second childhood stage.
I was twice blessed after six years with the arrival of my second grand daughter, Ananya. By then experience had taught me to anticipate and enjoy all the milestones the child achieved, the things I sadly missed with my children. Anoushka, though only 8 years now, enjoys mothering little Ananya and I enjoy watching them or joining in with them, depending on what they choose.
There have been opportunities to teach and learn from them too. We might, for instance, reprimand our children for handling expensive equipment for the fear that they might take it for granted, but with grand children, it is easier to forget these fears and live just within the moment.
At times, I am the their conduit for circumventing their parent’s ground rules. Do I think including French fries in their snacks will cause them much harm? Does staying up a little beyond bedtime cause the skies to fall? Will making a mess with paints make my home less well-kept? As parents, we have to enforce the rules we make. As grand parents, we get to bend the rules knowing that it will all work out in the end.
Celebrations too take on a new hue as you see them through the eyes of the grandchildren. Every day becomes a leisurely celebration of life itself. Finally, as the saying goes,” Grandchildren accept us for ourselves without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends - and hardly ever our grown children”