What a year 2020 continues to be! Most of us have pretty much lived this year cooped up indoors; while feeling grateful for the gifts of technology and social media that have helped us stay connected with loved ones.
My role as a virtual aunt continues, as I watch and interact with my niece and nephew through video calls.
I was on a video call with my sister last night when my niece, who had gone downstairs with her dad, got back home after getting some fresh air.
My niece, who is 22 months old, recognized me and came over to talk to me, her Pemma (mom’s older sister).
And she gave me the brightest smile ever, and said, “Hewwo Pemma, Hewwo.”
I blew kisses. And suddenly the screen turned black. After a few seconds, my niece appeared again, and I said, “Hewwo sweetie” …and the screen went black again.
I called out to my sister, and asked her to help my niece hold the phone properly. My sister told me that my niece knew perfectly well how to hold the phone, but the reason the screen was turning black was because each time I said hello or blew kisses at her, she was hugging me by giving the phone a hug.
Awwwwww….. “Bless you my little one.” Even virtual hugs can melt one’s heart.
It is the twilight hour. I stand on the balcony and observe the world outside. The world is slowly being enveloped in the dark purple of night. I turn around and look indoors. Warm yellow light fills our living room. My husband is on a work-related call, my son is finishing up his homework and my daughter is attending classes in her room.
The dining table is set for dinner. I wait patiently for all of them to log off from their virtual lives and log in to family time.
With all family members at home all the time, there is a false feeling that we are spending a lot of time with each other. In fact, we walk around the house leading our own lives, not engaging in quality family time.
I think back to the family holidays we took before the pandemic. Whenever we went to a beach, we would all imprint our footprints on partially wet sand, along with the date. A simple, cute memory of lovely times spent with family. There are many such pictures of our footprints on the sands of time. And just after we took those pictures, the waves would come and wash them away, and we would run back laughing.
How things have changed!
I head back in. All of us are done for the day. We head to the dining table to eat.
And just after dinner, and before everyone slinks away, I order a family hug. My teens react with incredulous looks and awkward smiles. They ask if a hug is really required. I insist. And the four of us gather around for a family hug. We fall into a beautiful silence. That hug, just 10 seconds long, rejuvenates all of us, though the kids will never admit it.
No footprints on the sands for now, but the hug will do quite nicely till then.
My children have just started their summer vacation. We are on day two of the holidays; still finding it difficult to make the transition from packed days to days where there are no deadlines to meet or targets to pursue. Time flows, like a lazy river, stopping here and there to rejuvenate, picking up speed at times but largely content with flowing along without any purpose.
In a week, we will pack up and travel to visit my mom and my husband’s parents. The children will spend many more lazy days talking, reading, eating, playing and sleeping.
Something transforms in the children and their grandparents when they meet. There is a syndrome both sides exhibit, which I choose to call ‘Extreme Love’.
Picture courtesy – ClipartAll
Where the grandparents can’t love enough and the children can’t have enough of this love. Where the grandmoms cook all the kids’ favourite dishes, ever-smiling. Where every question asked by the children is patiently answered. Where the children are allowed to experiment with flour and batter and make a mess and leave the mess without cleaning up. Where they are not nagged, where they receive hugs that sustain for many minutes, where they can be sure that whatever they say will be heard with unwavering attention.
Where each achievement of theirs is dwelt upon and appreciated. Where holding the grandfather’s hand to walk down the road for an evening walk is a great treat, as they come back loaded with goodies. Where they are tucked in to bed with many stories, repeated stories. Where they spend time teaching their grandparents to use new technology and smartphones. Where they are loved ‘extremely’, an all empowering love that can boost a child’s self-esteem, that can teach a child about unconditional love and acceptance.
This love between our children and their grandparents is to be cherished. There is no other love like this.
I was lucky to have received such love from my grandma and am happy that my kids are receiving the same from their grandparents.