A 'grand' roller coaster

Liya, our granddaughter, has brought about a sea change in our placid, elderly lives.

It’s a mellowing experience that elders like us look forward to in the twilight of our lives – becoming grandparents for the first time. After almost four decades, my wife and I are joyfully reliving the experience of raising an infant once again, albeit with certain reservations.

Liya, our three-year-old granddaughter, whose parents are employed, has brought about a sea change in our placid lives as senior citizens. Gone are the days of undisturbed siestas, peaceful reading sessions and exemplary orderliness in the house. For starters, the little moppet has turned out to be a super-efficient paper shredder – our newspapers and magazines are gleefully reduced to unreadable strips within minutes, if we aren’t vigilant enough. In fact, she’s now wistfully eyeing my large collection of books – wedged tightly in the bookshelves to keep her from getting at them.

Hyperactive and given to unexpectedly wriggling out of one’s hold, Liya’s quite a handful to carry around. At our age, restraining her requires considerable agility and dexterity which we sorely lack. A doctor who examined her recently had his eardrums all but punctured when she gave his stethoscope – hanging invitingly within reach – a sharp yank! Incurably curious, nothing is safe from her grasping hands, not even my computer whose keyboard she loves to thump. She merrily leaves most things in the house topsy-turvy, if not broken or maimed.

Babysitting is quite an experience in itself. Liya’s sleep-time is also her story-time when I try out my yarn-spinning skills on her. When stories or rocking her cradle don’t work, I sometimes manage to sing her to sleep on my shoulder with a tuneless lullaby which she grudgingly accepts as a poor substitute for her mother’s crooning. However, more often than not she wears my patience thin by staying wide awake and smiling impishly at me – perhaps my croaky opera is more amusing than soporific! Once she dozed off with her head buried in a pillow, her knees folded under her tummy pertly propping up her little posterior – a charming sight that would’ve made a prize-winning snapshot.

Liya takes to water far more readily and enthusiastically than a duck, savouring every minute of her bath and doing everything possible to prolong it. In the process, she gleefully gives us an undesired and thorough drenching. And, much to our dismay, she’s remarkably quick at learning what she shouldn’t. The other day she picked up – and parroted – an expletive that slipped out of my mouth. Rightly has it been said that, ‘Out of the mouths of babes come words that adults shouldn’t have used in the first place!’

Needless to say, we doting grandparents often find ourselves at the end of our tether in dealing with Liya’s maddening tantrums, mischiefs and pranks.   Besides trying basic child psychology on her, we resort to every other trick we know in a bid to control her, often to no avail. And so we are now brushing up our rusty – and perhaps outdated – child-caring skills even as an age-old truism unspools before us, namely, ‘A grandchild firmly bonds a family together.’

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