Friday, 11 November 2011

Grandparents Are Losing Their Real Appeal

We were back  in my hometown, Ipoh, last weekend, where both my parents and my hubby's parents live. We try to make an effort to go back at least once a month so that we can catch up with our parents and they with their grandkids. This recent trip has made me realise that the grandparents are slowly losing their real appeal. And what I mean by 'real appeal' is that special charm and attraction that makes the kids want to be with them for being just who they are - older parents who pamper them, play and spend quality time with them. What has stolen this 'real appeal' from the grandparents, you ask? The iPad, the Wii and the T.V.

My kids get to watch unlimited hours of Playhouse Disney, or whatever you call it now, over at my hubby's parents' place. They have tonnes of DVDs to watch over at my Dad's.

My Dad whips out the iPad the moment he sees his grandson. The Wii is a 2nd alternative. The T.V. is switched on after too many hours of iPad and Wii playing. Sometimes, it is turned on the whole time.

It's all done in the name of love. The kind of love that wants to make their grandkids happy all the time. The kind of love that never wants to see them throw a tantrum over not being able to play Angry Birds or watch the T.V.. The kind of love that says "they are not always here, let them do what they want".

But what kind of message is this sending out to the kids?

My son, on the day we were about to head home to the city, asked me in the morning..

"Mommy, are we going to Grandpa's house?"
"No, boy, we won't have time to go to Grandpa's because we have to leave after breakfast"
"But, Mommy, I just want to see Grandpa for a little while" (read I want to have a last rendezvous with the iPad)
"I'm sorry but we're not going over. We'll be meeting Grandpa for breakfast"
"But Mommy, I want to say Goodbye to Grandpa" (read I want to swipe my little finger across the iPad one last time before I say Goodbye to it for another month)

And when I insisted that we couldn't go over, he was all ready to give me a PITA session.

A mother knows her son. That was not the first time he'd expressed such a longing to "see and say goodbye to Grandpa" only to ask about the wellbeing of the iPad upon arrival at his beloved Grandpa's house. I feel a little sad. I don't want my kids to see their grandparents' place as a no-holds-barred-T.V.-and-computer-game-playing entertainment centre. I want them to remember the times spent with their grandparents as those that involved interaction, sharing and making stories together, reading books together, playing and having fun with each other. I am not saying they don't play with their grandkids at all, they do. I see my mother-in-law and my mom making the effort to play with them often. But I am also seeing the emergence of the iPad, Wii and T.V. as the preferred playmates and entertainers over their grandparents. At this rate, very soon, the kids will associate Ipoh to Playhouse Disney, iPad, Wii and Movies; not Grandpa, Grandmi, Yeh Yeh and Mama.

Just like how I always remind myself that the kids grow up too fast and that I shouldn't miss out on these precious times, I want my parents to be reminded of the same. I want them to be reminded that they don't often get to see them and when they do, to seize that moment with them and leave a lasting memory of wonderful times spent together...

For the chance to play with them when they are at this age,

will be gone too soon.

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