Thursday, October 21, 2021

Fafda Files: Grandparents for Rent


Grandparents for Rent is now a booming business with exponential growth due to the throes of demand and seniors all over are guffawing with laughter, writes Minoo Shah

The state of the Union is pretty grim.  Senators, Congressmen and politicians that sprang from Louisianan swamps and all things grisly are on the hunt for a commodity that might fill a void of chasmic proportions. Although my general reference is to the good old United States of America, I would not be amiss if this was a global devastation. From Chandni Chowk to Southall to the Hong Kong Ladies market, the Suk in UAE plus all populated metropolitan cities, there has been a plethora of billboards begging for a Grandparent. Grown metrosexuals are seen on their knees at intersections lying in wait for anything retired and senior. There have been instances where couples have even fought over first dibs on the homeless. Just this morning I overheard a couple arguing where the wife was shrieking: “Go get your parents right now, do what it takes.”  I was alarmed at the Code Red situation and decided to investigate further.

Apparently, virtual schooling had begun and in bygone days (what seems centuries ago but was less than twelve months back), both parents sent their kids off to school shouting hurrah while they sipped their lattes on the parking lots we loosely call freeways, on their way to work.  You see school to these two income families was more of a child sitting co-op than an institution of learning.  Life was all about me, us, our kids and an attitude that money could buy anything. The senior relatives were a scourge that must be put up with twice a year and if one should be impertinent enough to visit without prior notice, they were turned away at the door without a minimum of courtesy.  Well, well, well – after keeping parents in suspense for over six months, the school system announced that education was to be provided virtually until further notice.  What did this mean to these briefcase toting, happy hour flitting couples with school going kids?  A punch in the gut that keeled them over gasping – what now? Heads spinning like they were on a rollercoaster gone berserk, their world started collapsing around them like a house of cards.  With it came the agonising realisation that they would now have to make breakfast and lunch for the kids, eeks set up virtual classrooms, have Facetime with the teachers who are apt to scold them regardless of who was in front of the webcam. The thought of having to deal with this catastrophe was considered no less than death by guillotine. Brains started churning with ideas on how this looming peril could be circumvented. Much like Newton felt when the apple dropped on his head, our erstwhile genre beamed with a solution, “what if they had an adult body or two who took, yelling undisciplined teens and sobbing pre-k toddlers, in their stride.” They screamed Eureka in unison and started dialling grandparents at large.

To their chagrin, some were on world cruises, others had retired to Ecuador and quite a few had blocked their numbers.  True story – a couple drove some three hundred miles, flowers in hand and a business class roundtrip for two, to their ancestral home only to be met by a sign at the front door that said, DO NOT DISTURB.  Back to square one, what was one to do since life-skills required to deal with this catastrophe evaded these ignorantly blissful excuses for humans.

As I watch the news, I see reports of a growing trend where seniors were doubling up on their game. Headhunters were contracting them with sign-up bonuses and lines at employment agencies were circling around the corners with couples carrying blank checks.  Corruption became rampant as one parent stood in line and the other tried to sneak in through the back door of the agency, a gift basket in hand. Others crowded bus-stops and railway terminals and accosted anyone that seemed to be on the other side of sixty with promises of cars and exotic vacations. I watched and read about these shenanigans bemusedly comfortable in my co-existence with daughter, son-in-law and two grandkids.  You see ours was a multi-generational family under one roof.  Although, I have of late noticed, that my son-in-law inquires more frequently about my health and endows me with Godiva chocolates and fresh flower arrangements.  My daughter insists on going with me on my evening walks and vigilantly eyes possible endeavours by neighbours trying to sweet-talk me.  On an occasion, I have even heard her hiss behind my back, and shoo Mr. and Mrs. Smith away from my vicinity.  I whistle, do a Fred Astaire kick in the air and announce to the birds overhead, ‘All’s well on Azalea Trail’, as I see yard signs screaming, please call if you are a grandparent.

Grandparents for Rent is now a booming business with exponential growth due to the throes of demand and seniors all over are guffawing with laughter.

Minoo Shah
Minoo Shah, a resident of Texas, USA since 1976,  is a former journalist and has served on many community boards. She is currently studying towards her Ph D in the liberal arts and humanities. She writes on every Saturday. Her views here are personal, and the Editors and Publisher of Seniors Today do not necessarily endorse her views.

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