About two months ago, while having afternoon tea and goreng pisang ( fried bananas ) in the dining room of our semi detached bungalow in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Tyler, my only granddaughter suddenly exclaimed: ‘ Grandpa, you and Grandma must be very rich! ‘
I was pleasantly surprised and at the same time perplexed by this statement coming out of the mouth of a smart, perceptive five year old and asked her why she thought we were very rich.
Variety of Goodies
Tyler’s answer pleased me and my wife greatly. She replied that every time she and her two brothers, Carlos, ten and Finn, two, came over to our house for the weekly, day long Sunday visit, we had something nice for them.
She said that our fridge and cupboards seemed to be full of chocolates, Snickers, Mars bars, fruit cheese from Australia, biscuits, mangoes, oranges, bananas, peaches in cans, watermelons etc.
That led her to the inescapable conclusion that we must be very rich to always have a fully stocked fridge and cupboard filled with a variety of goodies for our dear grandchildren.
Love Them Very Much
I took pains to inform Tyler that we are certainly not rich people. I informed her and her brothers that because we only get to see them once a week and also because we love them very much, we want to make their visits to our home an enjoyable and unforgettable experience.
The important distinction here is our unconditional love for the grandchildren. In addition, we also want to surprise them with a variety of food items that they like because this is one way of showing our love for them as only grandparents can!
An Enjoyable Visit
Very often when they come over, one or two of them will make ‘ an unannounced inspection ‘ of our fridge and cupboards. This is to quickly survey what is in the storehouse.
Later during the visit, one of them will nonchalantly approach me or grandma with a request. They will ask for a bar of chocolate, a fruit or for a drink of freshly squeezed orange juice. All such requests are duly met and with much satisfaction.
Lavish Love and Affection
Grandparents, in our case, usually get to see the grandchildren once a week. We now have the time, the energy and the opportunity to lavish some love and affection on them.
When we were just parents, we were busy with our careers as teachers, with extra curricula activities and the hum drum of daily living. Also as parents we were fairly strict with our children. We could not shower them with many toys and gifts partly because we did not have the financial means to do. Raising a family on two teachers’ salaries was a tough enough proposition but we did our best.
Now that we have moved on to this golden phase, we have the time, the means and the inclination to indulge in this activity and to do so with unabashed enthusiasm. Often there is too much noise and bedlam in the house during the visit and we just have to grin and bear it.
Our five grandchildren have much energy and derive great joy when they meet their cousins. Our eldest daughter, Rowena, has three children and our second daughter, Ramona, has two sons. Oftentimes, cushions are thrown on the floor and the chairs and furniture are re-arranged to suit their fancies.
When I look back, from time to time, I realise that I did not have the joy and luxury of knowing my grandparents. My paternal grandparents passed away before I could meet them. As for my maternal grandparents, I only got to know and interact with them for a little over a year! I was around seven years old at that time. They lived in Kerala, India. They also did not have a telephone at home.
During that time, I remember my grandmother taking great pains to make very interesting breakfasts and afternoon tea and cookies for me and my brothers and sisters. It was an all too brief but nevertheless enriching experience.
Little Things Mean A Lot
In the case of our grandchildren, my wife and I deliberately invest considerable effort and time during the weekly visits. My wife always makes it a point to cook a great and enjoyable meal. This includes making something special for the young ones.
This is a good time for bonding and all too soon this time will pass. The grandchildren will soon become teenagers, embark on other interests and spend more time with their friends and on facebook!
On looking back on their early, formative years, I do hope they will remember the unconditional love that we showered on them not just during their weekly visits but also on many other family occasions. Parents are there for a reason but grandparents are there to offer the extras… stories, outings, lunches, dinners, holidays, love, care, affection and the warm embrace of a loving, extended family.
This post here is the original submission to an international Huff/post50 call for submissions in line with Grandparents Day on September 13. My post was one of the posts accepted for publication and an edited version was published on 11 September 2015.