HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes
Sunday, August 12, 2007
These days, I am marinating in a special type of love. I am experiencing a facet of love that is both unique and wonderful. More than a facet, it can be better described as a flavor. I am speaking about my love, adoration, delight and fascination for Ananda, my one and only grandchild whom I call many names — Ananda, Dada, Dadadee, anak, palangga, darling and many other terms of endearment that I find myself spontaneously and unabashedly using. I call her by many names, not because I am becoming forgetful the way grandfathers are supposed to, but because she elicits so many shades of wonderful feelings from me.
I have lived over half a century and I can say that I have known enough about love and its many flavors. I have showered love and have received it — from my own parents and caregivers, friends, girlfriends, my wife, three children, relatives, peers, colleagues, people I have met and interacted with, fans, and the general love of humanity and life. To be sure, I continue to learn and enjoy love, and be grateful for it.
But let me tell you that right now, none gives me such joy as seeing Ananda’s gaze, hearing the pitter-patter of her tiny feet and her gleeful laughter, and feeling the embrace and affection of my little apo who can oh-so-easily charm her way into my heart and claim it.
Lolo love, to my amazement, can be so easily awakened, enticed and seduced to surrender and pamper its love object.
When Dada calls, I find myself dropping everything. When I hear her going down the stairs, I run to assist her or remind her to be careful. When she asks me to read her something, I readily do so. When she wants me to sit beside her and pretend to drink tea she has prepared from her tiny tea set, I do so with relish. This kid has me wrapped around her little finger!
Grandparents tend to love their own children differently from their grandchildren. When we love our kids, we commit to the pains and pleasures, the duties and obligations, the time and patience needed in raising them to be good, upright people who will do good in the world and do the world some good. It is therefore not surprising that such a task as parenthood can throw us in a tailspin of conflicting emotions at different stages of our children’s growing years. We feel pride and guilt, empathy and anger, joy and suffering, love and fear as we try to do our best in raising them to adulthood.
With grandchildren, it is different. Not only can we do everything parents do, we can do even more — and less! We get to enjoy our grandchildren, love them, play with them, teach them, and even spoil them and feel no guilt or worry about it. Why should we? They are not our responsibility — at least not in the same way that we were responsible when we raised our own kids. We can have as much fun with our grandchildren as we want to and when they begin to get cranky, needy and difficult the way children tend to be when they are spent, we have the luxury of simply sending them back to their parents! I can’t think of anything neater! No wonder a pundit once said that grandparents exact revenge on their children through their grandchildren!
I used to have occasional problems with my mother-in-law when my kids were growing up. The kids loved their Lola because she loved to pamper them. I used to worry that she was “spoiling my kids rotten,” at least in my view as a young, eager and inexperienced father. I worried because she would buy them toys for no reason. She also had a cabinet filled with forbidden goodies, which must have seemed like Aladdin’s cave to her grandchildren. She would make sure to store it regularly for her grandchildren to discover and indulge themselves. She would allow them to have as much candy and chocolate as they wished, even if Lydia and I banned them from eating all the cavity-causing stuff at home. When I think of how rigid Lydia and I were in the early years of our marriage, arguing with Mom about bringing up the kids, I can only shake my head and smile since I now very often catch Lydia doing the exact same things her mother used to do, like giving Dada chocolates, candies, junk food, and other goodies
Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God, Book 2 posits the idea that grandparents should be raising children in place of their parents. Why? Because they are more experienced and are a whole lot calmer, and yes, wiser. If not for the added responsibility on my part, I would agree with Walsch. I remember how easily and expertly my Mom would give my infant kids their baths right in the kitchen sink. She would handle them with such confidence and with nary a fuss from my little babies.
These days, as a grandpa, I find myself knowing what to do in many situations. I know intuitively how to calm Dada down when she is agitated without having to turn to the pages of our old baby and child-care bible by Dr. Benjamin Spock. And Lola Lydia can do it infinitely better than I can.
People my age who aren’t yet grandparents ask me what it is like being one. I explain it in a rather long-winded way, like this:
When a man marries, he feels he is settling into a territory that is new, radical and bold. Its landscape is varied and contoured and suitable for building a house with both heavenly and hellish rooms for its occupants. Marriage is the task of converting this house into a home where more angels reside than demons.
When he has children, a man knows that his decision to occupy this same house has now become more permanent. And it’s not just the house but even the garden seems to bear his mark more and more. He has begun to notice that some seeds he has planted have not only sprouted but continue to grow. And with the tender growth, he is filled with dreams and hopes that they will grow mightily and bear fruit.
With the arrival of a grandchild, the picture becomes more lush. The landscape begins to take the shape of something infinitely larger in potential. It is not just a garden with a few trees but a real budding, promising orchard with second growth trees. He feels the unraveling of an enterprise that has much greater rewards. All of a sudden, a man and his life are not just one small story of a moment in time. He may wither and die but his story is sure to continue as part of a grander one that could last forever.
As I write, little Dada plays with her tea set and Lego blocks oblivious to the musings of her Lolo Jim about her. In her little world, all is fine. And in my big world, all is wonderful because of her.
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