December 14, 2016 0 Chitra Doraiswami
This tiny lump of humanity is gently put into your arms. A gush of love swamps you. It is hairless, mottled pink and oh, so beautiful! You burst out, ‘It’s soo cute. Just like my son’. If you had held your tongue you would have three enemies less. The other grandmother, her husband and yes, even your son. He will recoil in shock and say, ‘Did I look like that?’The first lesson, Dadi, is that you are an inferior grandmother. Why? Let me explain.
First, girls usually go home to mother to have the baby. So, you are not on your own turf. Secondly, if you have had one kid, she has had two. If you have had two, she is the mother of the girl who is there, in the labour room, suffering. So there! She is a Mother and you are a mere mother. Never argue with a Capital letter.
Don’t say a word about the girl’s diet. I have known staunch Brahminical types who wouldn’t deign to recognize Mr. Garlic (even from the best of families), stuff the girl with loads of it after the birth. Conversely, Non- Veggies who find it tough to make coffee without the addition of it, forswear it with vigour.
Now, you have done enough damage, so don’t give them advice on how to feed the kid. Don’t say, ‘It’s crying. Just pick it up and feed it’. Tcah! How could you? Is it THAT easy? First, they must check to see what fb says about it, Google, their friends (ones who have had a baby a few months earlier) and then they will pick the baby up and suckle him. ‘See? They know modern kids, they have experience,’ they will tell you. Don’t say that you know what a crying baby usually wants. But your Enemy Number One, the Mother, will give you sympathetic smiles.
To swaddle or not to swaddle, that is the question. Some like to cover up the baby with lots of cloth to look like a dinner roll and take forty minutes to de-roll him to change his nappy or clothes.
Some others will pick him up like a plastic bag of groceries, his arms, legs and head any which way. Get Mother on your side to effect changes. But, if she has given the girl this ‘roll’ idea or ‘plastic idea’, there is little you can do.
Bath Time: That’s another Big Thing, a huge tibia of contention. You (a good South Indian) like to rub down the little’ butterball’(I mean the baby, who else?)with coconut oil,(down-est South), Gingely oil ( if higher up), Mustard oil if a Bengali but ghee, if you are a Punjabi. The debate won’t be that acrimonious if it’s a boy but it will get terrible if it’s a girl.
Don’t worry if you don’t win (chances are you won’t). You have the option of saying ‘I told you so,’ when the little granddaughter grows up and it is not colour prejudice, her height or lack of it, her acne, her lisp – everything is because of it.
And that is not all! The temperature of the water, piping hot (do you want to cook the baby?) to so tepid( you are turning him blue) that it is likely to give him a cold- even that is an ISSUE.
My suggestion is, just let them do what they want. Leave them be. Your son has been reduced to a blob of sentimentality, ‘My wife gave me a baby!’(The only one in the universe to do so, obviously). Your little daughter –in- law has given you a much longed for grandchild.
Forget trying to be right, you are there but for a short spell. So, pick up that sweetheart from her/his crib, kiss and cuddle her/him all you want, whenever they let you. Remember, you behaved exactly this way when you had your kid!
Turn around is fair play, after all!