By Tee Hun Ching
My son burst into my room at 7.30am the other day and demanded: “What time are we going to po po’s house?”
Annoyed at being woken up so rudely, I hollered at him to get out. I’d had a rough night as my body fought a losing battle against the flu and was extra cranky that morning.
Over the next two hours, however, my nine-year-old braved my wrath and popped in three more times to pose the same question.
You would think he’d been promised a trip to Disneyland. Then again, perhaps in some ways, my mum’s place holds as much allure.
A sleepover at po po’s house is always a highlight for my two kids during the holidays.
While we usually drop by on weekends to have a meal with my parents, it is during the term breaks that my kids revel in the full thrust of their grandparents’ loving attention.
They get to bake cakes, try Chinese calligraphy, help weed my mum’s garden and catch assorted insects. On weekends, my dad is home to take their requests: a trip to the nearby park, mall or library, say, or a visit to the neighbourhood coffee shop for their favourite roti prata or fried carrot cake.
Nothing special, really. But everything they do there is made special because my kids know they can stretch the boundaries and my parents’ patience a lot more than they can at home.
They can leave floury hand prints all over the place without getting an earful, for instance, or be treated to a mug of Milo Dinosaur without having to ask twice.
A stay with their grandparents is, I would like to think, a win-win situation for all. My parents get to enjoy their lively company for a spell, while I have the house to myself for a few days.
Related: Keep the grandparents involved
I’m thankful for the tight bond between the two generations that sandwich me. I’m even more grateful for my parents’ readiness to babysit or roll up their sleeves whenever I need childcare help.
My son, the first grandchild in our family, is particularly attached to my mum.
Shortly after he was born, my husband and I moved in with my parents for about a year. We had sold our apartment and were looking to buy a bigger place.
For the next five years, their place was my son’s second home as I worked full time. We would drop him off in the morning and pick him up after work before making the 30-minute drive home.
Besides whiling away three hours each day at a kindergarten near her place, he spent nearly all the rest of his time in my mum’s company.
We kept to the same routine when my daughter came along three years after her brother.