Julie Masiga : The Magical Love of a Grandfather
My Dad was over for a visit sometime last week. As is custom, I made him a cup of tea, which I served with bread. Clearly, Adoti’s tea/bread fixation is genetic. Anyhow, so as I’m putting a mat on the coffee table, I warn him that he’ll have to watch his cup because the girl-child is quick. She’ll grab his bread and dunk it in his tea before he knows which hurricane hit him.
“Yah, yah,” he says, acting like he got this. Ha! I’m thinking, you just wait and see. So I place the mat and bring in the super-hot tea and a side plate with the bread on it. Gingerly, I put both down, the eyes in the back of my head trying to place Adoti’s exact position. I hear her voice in the kitchen and breathe a sigh of relief.
We’re sat there, Dad and I, chatting about this and that, Dad enjoying his tea and bread in peace. But then Madame Adoti comes hurtling out of the kitchen and makes a beeline for the coffee table yelling, “Tea! Bread!” Yeah, we’ve graduated from ‘byed’ to ‘bread’ not that it makes any difference to the carnage that results whenever Adoti gets her hands on food without adult supervision.
I say to Dad, I say, “Watch your cup!” hoping that the urgency in my voice is transmitting effectively.
“Yah, yah,” he says, with a note of nonchalance, “Don’t worry. Grandies must eat with Kukha (grandfather).”
Obviously, urgency ni mimi. The man is unbothered and evidently unaware that he is about to get swept up in an Adoti whirlwind. And sure enough, she clambers onto the table – with the cup and side plate still in position – rests on her knees and begins to chant, “Kukha! Kukha!” “Get down from there Adoti!” I say sharply, giving her the “You’re going to be in real big trouble young lady” look. You know the one: eyes narrowed, head tilted slightly to the side, lips tightly pursed.
“No way!” she yells. “Stop it!”
I was mortified. And would have been more so had it been anyone else other than the man who is responsible for half of my own DNA. Were it not for him, there would be no me ergo, there would be no Adoti. So really, he should take full responsibility for her actions. But as I’m giving the sassy, lil’ miss daggers, the old man starts to chuckle. Then he begins to laugh out loud. “Ati ‘no way’? Hehehe,” he goes, as if a child rebelling against their parent is the most natural thing in the world.
At this point, I want to throttle gramps and his little imp of a grandchild. They are oblivious.
And then Adoti reaches out and grabs a slice of bread from Kukha’s plate, breaks it with efficiency and dunks right into his cup.
NB: Kukha is unmoved, his eyes are trained on the TV, as if Barney & Friends are an item on the 7 o’clock news.
Before I can blink, she’s stuffed the whole thing in her mouth. But the tea is hot so with the same efficiency, she spits the whole thing out, just missing Kukha’s shoes. “Hot!” she yells, jumping off the table and heading in my direction. In my head, I’m going, ‘You think?’ but I reach out and raise her onto my lap, glad that she’s out of the danger zone, albeit with a bit of a sore tongue.
Kukha is still so relaxed you would think he was at a spa.
“It was hot, eh? Pole. But grandies must eat with Kukha.” Sigh.
Grandchildren will get away with murder when their grandparents are around. Even so, there is nothing so precious as watching your father treat your child with such love and acceptance. I get so preoccupied trying to keep Adoti out of trouble that often I don’t stop to watch her learn and grow.
Kukha enjoys her for who she is. He is present in her presence, being watchful, but at the same time appreciating the moment. I need to learn to do that instead of just obsessing about her terrible twos at every opportunity. I’ve been very ‘woe is me’ about the whole turning-two thing, which is unfortunate because I just read an article that explains in detail why three-year-olds are way worse than two-year-olds. Apparently, something happens to a child when they turn three and it’s not pretty.
I can’t wait.
Read more: Dear Dads We Miss You!