By Elpidio R. Estioko
Jonathan J. Russel, author of “The Wonders of Being Grandparents” wrote: “There are many milestones involved with birth. Your first child is a large milestone. While not a big a deal, your grandchild is a wonderful milestone too. When you reach it, you’re a grandparent.”
Russell is right! Filipinos value their grandchild (apos) so much that taking care of them becomes a full-time job, an apostolic work. They have more time for them because they are retired, they have work experience than the child’s parents because they had their children and, in some cases, grandparents are better at guiding and mentoring than parents.
They have more experience with children… Yes, they have more time to pay attention to children because they are often retired, while their parents are busy at work.
These two advantages make them natural advisers or mentors who will always be ready to listen.
We’ve reached this stage again when our third apo came out of this world from the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii: Kiala Elyse Estioko-Rasay. She was born at 2:00 a.m., 6.9 pounds, March 7, 2020 at Tripler Army Medical Center in Oahu, Hawaii by our daughter Rose Anne Joy “Tweety” Estioko-Rasay and husband SSgt. Jonathan Rasay. She is the latest addition to our family and instantly became the superstar of all times.
I have to file my vacation at work and together with my wife Delia took the plane at San Jose Mineta International Airport and flew to Honolulu. We were picked up at the airport by my youngest son Paul Joseph who is pursuing his Master’s degree in a university in Hawaii and from the airport, we went directly to the hospital. That’s how eager the grandparents are to see their latest apo.
My wife had the first chance to hold her and cuddle her in her arms for almost 30 minutes before handling her to me. It reminded us the time when we likewise held our first two apos from Jacksonville, Florida: Kayla and Bibay, now old at 16 and 14 years old respectively, children of our son John Edward and her wife Alvi.
Every day, since we arrived, we have to go to the hospital the earliest possible visiting hour and leave the hospital the latest visiting day. My daughter and the baby will be discharged on Wednesday, just in time for the arrival of our children May and Jayson coming from California to also visit their niece.
Immediately after birth, our eldest daughter Maria Edelgrace “Gigi” and her husband went on Face Book and greeted their niece Kiala Elyse. With an interval of 30 minutes our son Jojo, his wife Alvi and children Kayla and Bibay likewise did a Facetine to have a clear glance of Kiala Elyse. She is indeed an instant superstar!
In her book, “Unconditional Love: A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today,” Jane Isay reminds us of the value of grandparents but also delineates the important rules of engagement – when to deepen the conversation, when to back off, and how to stay on your children’s and grandchildren’s teams.
Isay is right because we need to remember that we are not substituting their role as parents and so we should know how to balance our involvement. “Grandparents unconditional acceptance helped to grow children’s empathy: grandparents impart courage, as grandchildren witness living examples of lives filled with love, sacrifice, and struggle; and grandparents’ encouragement of children’s dreams and builds confidence and personal agency. Grandparents are more likely to see grandchildren for who they really are, not who they wish them to be,“ writes Isay.
However, we need to know our limits in our apostolic work because the final say and decision … at the end of the day, rests in the parents!
To grandparents, we know that apostolic work is a noble role to play in our life and a responsibility we accepted unconditionally, but we also need to remember that we are not the parents of our apo but our children!
We should know our limits!
Kiala Elyse, welcome to the real world and we are indeed very happy for making your parents and us, your grandparents, for your presence! We will be here for you!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a former journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks and comments, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.