Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Jewish Pyromania 101

Lag B'Omer

What is it with Jews and fire?
We're hopeless but we can't keep away. 
The siren song of the fickle flickering flames beckons us. And now we are nearly upon the mother of all Jewish fires- Lag B'Omer. 
It's not enough that we risk immolation every week, not only with shabbos candles, or, better, oil lamps; no, we also have the blech on the gas flame which burns for 26 hours. And every festival demands the 48 hour yohrzeit candle, used to light the festival candles. 
And of course every yohrzeit calls for its candle. Flickering naked flames dot the year. And Chanukah of course; especially when every kid in the household has his or her own menorah to light, and then the smoke alarm goes off. 
Then we build up to the burning of the chametz, which every year brings its share of disaster. Jews! You cannot build a fire for the purpose of burning chametz and then shove plastic bags of bread into it. Do not burn plastic! Toxic fumes! And don't nearly smother the fire and then decide, thinking it a stroke of genius, to revive the fire with accelerant! You will blow yourself up, for real. And yet, every year otherwise quite intelligent people do this. If they're lucky they only singe their forearms and maybe lose an eyebrow or two. 
But all of this petty chometz toasting is nothing compared to the Lag B'Omer bonfire. I've been to Israel for Lag B'Omer and I am totally amazed that entire neighborhoods don't go up in smoke. The kids scout the locale for weeks before looking for anything combustible. You see them with their little wagons and wheelbarrows, multiple siblings down to about 2 year olds, scavenging building sites for bits of timber, parkland for dry twigs, rubbish dumps for furniture legs, anything. And on the big night, it all gets piled on and of course on goes the accelerant and WHOOOSH, huge conflagrations around which everyone dances like imps in Hell. It's insane and terrifying and all I can say is that the Israeli firefighters, who are for sure on high alert, are doing a sterling job of saving Jews from their own pyromania. I bet they just roll their eyes every time they are called out. I can just imagine:
'Od paam im haNeft, achi?' 'Again with the kerosene? What's it going to take? Burn down the whole street and melt the road? Put your kids in hospital? Enough already with the damn bonfires!'
And then they go back to the station to their mangale, which is a barbecue grill set over, you guessed it, open flame. There is no celebration in Israel that doesn't involve a mangale. At least nobody puts accelerant on that fire, because the meat would taste disgusting. 
Jews and fire. Not a good mix. So this year, please be careful and don't do anything stupid. You don't need bloody Vesuvius just to toast marshmallows. 

PS Can someone remind me why we do this in the first place? 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Yom HaZikaron 2017

I've told the story of my brother, Yehudah (Julian) Pakula, who fell on Yom Kippur 1973, at the Mezach, an outpost on the Suez, part of the 'impregnable' Bar Lev line of defense. He was a kibbutznik doing his reserve duty and he was one of the first casualties of the Yom Kippur War. Wrong place, wrong time, balls-up of a war. 
I just remembered another story. Because every time I visit Israel, there is another story; everyone knows everyone. 
My family - my husband's family actually- different surname- had donated money to build a small park in Chevron (Hebron). If you've ever been to Chevron you would know that there's not much joy there for the Jews who live there- almost without exception, for ideological reasons- and the kids don't have any green area to play in. 
So in 2012 the time came to 'unveil' the park. There was a wooden plaque set up, dedicating the park and thanking the donors. It is called Gan Dagan, named after a commanding officer of the garrison in Chevron, Dagan Vertman, who had fallen  in 2005 in Gaza. He was well-liked by the community, and was in fact related to Rabbi Danny Cohen, the Chabad rabbi of Chevron who was the main fundraiser, who basically noodged us to donate to this cause, among others. 
Anyway, my husband and I and my parents-in- law came, along with most of my husband's family. It was Channuka time, quite cool, but the night air was clear and pleasant, and the little park was pretty, and nicely lit. There was a table laid with piles of sufganiyot, Channuka donuts. There was a menorah lighting. 
Dagan's parents, Eli and Debbie Vertman, were in attendance. Eli spoke of his son, and it was very moving. My mother-in-law was asked to speak, and she made a short speech in which she mentioned how sad it was that Dagan had died, and gave condolences, and I can't recall what else she said. 
Eli became quite agitated and quietly but firmly corrected my MIL, saying the Dagan didn't 'die'; he was killed, and there is a difference. 
I was at the donut table, I regret to say, and didn't know what was taking place a few meters away; but my husband was talking to Eli, and calming him. He apologized, told him that we meant no offense, we were no strangers to bereavement; his father was a Holocaust survivor.  'In fact', he said,'my wife lost her brother in the Yom Kippur War.'
At that, Eli raised his head and said, 'Point her out to me.'
My husband beckoned me over and introduced me. 
Eli looked at me hard; then he called his wife Debbie over, and said:
'Hinei haachot shel Yehuda Pakula.'
'This is the sister of Yehuda Pakula.'
Just like that. I nearly fainted. 
Turns out that Debbie had been in the same Garin -group of young kibbutzniks, sent out to start new kibbutzim- as my brother. She befriended Yehudah. And he was Australian. And we are from Australia. And how many Australians were killed in the Yom Kippur War? One. My brother. 
I still get goosebumps when I think of that encounter. And there have been others, similar. 
We are all one family. We are all limbs of the one body. What happens to one of us, happens to all of us. 
May the memory of the fallen be blessed. 
Yehi zichram baruch.  
Am Yisrael Chai. 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Commonality of Loss



Bibi is nearing the end of his Australian tour, which has seen him greeted like a rock star by school kids, subjected to questions both stupid and smart from journos, written up in all the papers, and it seems to be that there's not too much protesting going on from the usual suspects, the JVP or the regular antisemites. That could have something to do with the masses of security people he has with him? Well, if anyone needs security, it would be Bibi.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to lunch with him and 1,000 intimate friends in Sydney, so I flew there and joined the fray. The format was welcome from MC, eat a bit, then speeches from the PM Malcolm Turnbull ('I love and admire Israel and the Jews!'), then from Opposition leader Bill Shorten (I love and admire Israel and the Jews even more! Even though my party is being hijacked by pro-palestinian factions. Plus, I did more research on my speech!'), and then from The Man himself. Then eat more. Then a 'Q&A' with Bibi and Malcolm, except that the only person allowed to ask anything was the MC. That was a bit lame, I thought.
Anyway, I wanted to talk to Bibi. There's a lot I want to say to him, like, don't fawn so much on Donald Trump; and if the economy is so fantastic, then why are Holocaust survivors having to choose between buying food and buying medicine? Why do we diaspora Jews donate millions of dollars for social programs helping youth at risk, and the elderly, and the poor, and supply reinforcement and bomb shelters to those on the periphery, out of the cities? And please explain why there has been zero trickle-down effect from the booming economy; instead we see that a few people have become very wealthy from selling their successful start-ups to large companies, but not a lot of jobs are created and Israelis are generally struggling. There are some exceptions, but not enough.
But I know I wouldn't be discussing this with him, because - well, lame Q&A, and huge security. Yet, there were few opportunities between entree and main, and after the speeches, to approach him. So in the end I had my 90 seconds with Bibi. It went like this:
Hello, hello, hand shake, smile. Then:
'We have something very sad in common; we both have lost brothers, and my brother is buried on Har Herzl 6 graves away from yours.'
He stopped and actually looked at me. The smile slipped away from his face.
'My brother was on Miluim and he was killed in the Yom Kippur War.'
'Where?'
'The Mezach.'
(All Israelis have the same reaction to that word- always a grimace of pain, because it was such a debacle; and so did Bibi.)
 'And then his body wasn't returned until the Camp David Accords, so not until 1978 was he buried, so that's why he and Yoni are so close to each other.'
'What was his name?'
'Yehuda Pakula.'
I won't say that his eyes filled with tears, because they didn't. But he gave me such a look of sympathy, and the understanding of the pain of bereavement was so clear. And then he smiled sadly and shook his head, and was whisked away.

Soon after, I was standing in a line in the hot Sydney sun, waiting to be processed by security outside the Central Synagogue, where Malcolm and Bibi would address 2,000 of the faithful. I had been standing in the registration line for over an hour, and there we all were now waiting to be searched. I felt a bit swoony and wondered if I was actually going to pass out, but then I found a patch of shade and I realised that I knew the tall, nice looking guy in front of me; he was an Israeli that I had met on Keren HaYesod business in Israel, and here he was! (I'm not usually good with faces but this guy looks a bit like a movie star (Christopher Reeve, FYI) so I even remembered his name which NEVER happens.)
'Hey, Adi! How are you?'
'Hi! How are you!' Etc Etc.
And then he introduced me to the person he was with, a slight young man with a pleasant manner and a relaxed smile. His name was Tzur Goldin.
'Why do I know that name?'
'Because you know the name of my brother, Hadar Goldin, who was killed in Protective Edge.'
Oy.
So it turns out that his parents are going all around the world to raise awareness of the fact that his body has to be returned for burial, but Hamas still refuses to return him. And he is in Sydney to speak also.
So, twice in one day:
'We have something very sad in common, then.' And I gave him the rundown, but the thing is that awful waiting time, those years until my brother's body was returned. That's what we had in common this time.
'We had to wait over 4 years to get my brother back from Egypt. But we did. Dental records, dog tags, cadaver dogs. It took a peace treaty. But he is buried in Har Herzl, very close to Yoni Netanyahu.'

From Yehuda, to Yoni, to Hadar. A chain of loss and bereavement, of parents and siblings coping however they can. I'm happy to say that grief counselling is available today in Israel,  because there was nothing around when my brother was killed, not in Israel, nor in Australia, and I would think the suffering that we- my mother especially- experienced was all the worse for that.

So next time we meet, Bibi, we'll talk about social justice. And meanwhile, let's pray for the time that there won't be any more bereaved and desperate parents and siblings.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Send in the clowns?



I was thinking about the shemozzle that is the state of the union right now in the US, and it occurred to me that Donald Trump is Achashverosh. 
He is the perfect embodiment of a powerful, impulsive, cunning fool. Really, think about it. What other powerful leader can you think of who throws out orders without too much thought, who makes comments and tweets with even less thought? The media might be doing a job on him, but when it comes to making Trump look bad, I think he's doing a great job by himself. 
And the cronyism. And the surrounding himself with 'advisers' who just seem to enable him. I mean, if they are somehow reining him in, then I do not want to see what he is like when not being reined in. 
And is Melania Vashti? Exiled from Shushanington (I'm not saying he'll off her, but she sure ain't Esther, even if she did win some sort of beauty contest in Slovenia.) (I'm pretty sure Ivanka isn't Esther either, and nope, Jared may be a smart Jew, but he ain't Mordechai.)

So Trump is Achashverosh. But he is not Haman. Haman is alive and well in Persia - Iran- from whence we have just heard the latest threat, about how it will take only 7 minutes for the missiles to reach Tel Aviv once they are launched from Iran. 
So let's not forget who the real enemy is. 

And let's hope and pray that Achashverosh will do the right thing when called upon.  

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Year of Shopping Dangerously

This year was a busy one for travelling, because 3 grandchildren were born overseas (and 3 here...mazel tov, much nachas ptu ptu ptu), and travelling means jet lag, and jet lag means having time to scroll through my phone in the wee small hours looking at interesting shopping sites that pop up on my FaceBook feed. Especially when I am by myself, because of course presence of He Who Must Be Obeyed cramps my phone shopping style. A Lot.
So it's time to look back now and see how much was actually a supreme waste of money, and how much actually stacked up to be worthwhile.

Clothes:
It looked like such a good idea. OK of course it's a Chinese site so quality control is but a dream, but all I wanted were some summer dresses that I could just fling on, that covered arms, legs, not too low in the neck, and yet I would be cool and comfy. Yes, I know the models in the pictures are tiny petite Asian women, but they offered a good size range. Banggood.com was one site, I can't even remember the other. I measured myself and worked with their size chart. I bought 3 dresses for less than $100. I then bought another dress on the other site for about $30.
The first parcel arrived. The white dress made me look like an unlikely virgin sacrifice. The red dress, which looks like a brick red on the site but is actually vermilion red in the real world, will come in handy for Purim. The brown dress actually looked and felt great. And then I washed it- according to instructions!- and it shrank. Actually, the word 'shrink' doesn't really cover what happened. It contracted. Like 3 sizes, in all directions. Unwearable. My diligent housekeeper ironed and stretched it and it's better but too short now. So FAIL.
The second parcel came. The blue dress fit and looks ok - blue is my colour- and I wore it once, it got some food grease on it, and I had it dry cleaned. Of course, it is cheaper to buy another few dresses and throw them out, rather than dry clean them. So partial success, not as far as 'easy care' goes.
Inexplicably, there was another brown dress in this parcel, which I did not order - at least I don't think I did, but I probably did, it's all a mad whirl -which SAID it was larger than the other one, but was in fact far smaller, and didn't even make it round my shoulders, forget my tummy. So it's in the op shop bag. FAIL.
Contrast this sad experience with the US sites I purchased from:
Bloomingdales- Eileen Fisher skirt and top, crazy Columbus Day sale, WIN
Eddie Bauer - leggings, T Shirts, travel skirt, also crazy sale, WIN, had to return some leggings, no problem, my card credited.
Jockey undies- eh, so-so, I liked some that I had bought in store, so I ordered more, and turns out I don't like them as much as I thought. I am always searching for the perfect undies. Aren't we all.
Vanity Fair- same idea, bought in store and liked, and went online to buy more. These are supremely comfy but I would have liked a little more holding power. I don't want Spanx, but there must be something between these and Spanx. Partial win. (They really are comfy.)

Accessories:
While scrolling the Bloomy sales at 1 am, also ever-searching for gifts for my girls and grandies, I found assorted Kate Spade bangles, some lovely little single pearl necklaces and other bits and pieces which were well received, so big WIN there.
And I also found wearable tech, in the shape of a Q-bracelet, that you can charge your iPhone with. Big sale, like 60% off, so I bought a gold bangle; range was gold, matte black, and matte silver. 'We suggest that Small fits most women and Medium fits most men', so stupid me, I bought a Small, forgetting that I am not Most Women, although my wrists are hardly large. So I gave it to my slim-wristed daughter-in-law, she likes it, it looks great, it really can charge your iPhone enough to get you out of trouble, so WIN. And I went back and ordered 4 more, because I am mental, and because free shipping to Australia (I was home by then), through Borderfree, which is amazing. So I have 2 now, gold and black (Medium) , and 2 more waiting for a recipient. Semi Win.

Stuff for Kids:
I've bought lots of stuff online for kids in the past, but that was from reputable sites, so not really risky. But this year, I saw these mermaid tail blankets and I bought 3 which I will be giving to 3 granddaughters for Chanukah, so let's wait and see how that goes. They seem to look OK, of course some obscure Chinese site, so better be good. Win? not sure yet.
I'll just mention Peter Alexander, whose PJs I have been buying for grandchildren for years, but only on sale because overpriced. Such cute stuff.

Kitchen stuff:
Well, what a mixed bag.
The first thing that sucked me in was the Pyramid Pan. At first I looked away, but after a while it called me back, and again, and then I thought, screw it. And I bought 4. The parcel arrived and out flopped one silicone Pyramid Pan. Odd, thought I; maybe they are sending the rest separately. The invoice suggested that there were 4, and the rest was in Chinese, so, I waited. And waited. And then it occurred to me that there was an email somewhere confirming the order, so I found it and told them about only one, where are the others etc, and they said: Have you checked that they aren't all stuck together? And I did, and they were! So the good news is that all 4 came, but the bad news was that they were a LOT thinner than I thought they would be. BUT. They REALLY WORK. Reheat pizza, fried fish, schnitzel for a really crispy finish! So unexpected WIN.

Feeling confident, I ordered the Stretch and Fresh, 4 sets -  I don't know why I do that- and they came, no problem. And they are, in the main, despite glowing testimonials, unusable. It's as if what I have received bears no relation to what was offered. You need 4 hands to do it, they don't stay on, and when I tried using one in the microwave, for which they are supposedly safe, it tore. However, serendipitously, I have found that they are great for opening jars; they give you great grip. Still, I would call that a FAIL. All complaints have gone unacknowledged. So I gave them a really crap review. Don't mess with me.

Pictured: Stretch and Fresh FAIL.

House stuff:
BIG SHERIDAN SALE online and I ordered sheets and towels. The ones I bought 25 years ago (!) are wearing out, so this might be the last I ever buy. But does my party pooper husband appreciate that? No he doesn't.  Complain complain. They're coming tomorrow, I'm so excited, they had better look as good as they did on the website.

Thus winds up the Year of Shopping Dangerously; some wins, some losses, just like life.
I've got a bunch of these Stretch and Fresh things to give away, they're really great.




Monday, 28 November 2016

I think the correct term is WORSHIP.

I see a lot of mothers and babies in my line of work. All sorts of issues, all sorts of levels of distress. From time to time I see the rare creature known as The Father. These range from anxious first timers to calm and supportive types. And I do see my share of - how shall I put it - less than supportive types too. Unreconstructed jerks. Fortunately not that many real full on dicks, but a few. 
For the few Fathers that may be reading this, I just want to point something out to you:
Your wife has just turned her body inside out and produced the child that she gestated in varying degrees of discomfort for the last 9 months or so. She has pushed a large being out with tremendous effort and some risk to her life, through an amazingly narrow path, or had her body cut into, and hey presto. A baby. Your baby. The baby that you put into her in an event that was pleasurable to you, and now you reap the dividend. 
So CUT HER SOME EFFING SLACK. 
I cannot tell you the number of times that I've witnessed petulant little boys, sorry, fathers, get cross because their exhausted newly delivered wife can't remember something that she was about to ask or can't quite find the right way to say something like please pick up some groceries, or, can you come home early, I feel crap, or needs to be asked to, I don't know, make dinner or empty the garbage or say thank you. 
I'm not calling all men jerks because that's unfair and untrue. But many need to have some damned respect. When your wife can't even think what she needs because she is so exhausted and mental from hormones and fatigue, not to mention pain from a sore bum or nipples, BE KIND. That's all. Be kind. 
No, that's not all. This woman has done something which is the closest to Godlike that any human can do. She has created a person. And she has all but torn apart her body to do it. Yes, generally she wants that baby, it wasn't forced upon her. But it's still bloody hard work, even if it all goes smoothly. And it isn't over after the birth, because it's only the beginning. 
You should be prostrating yourself at her feet, not getting annoyed because you're out of milk because she forgot to tell you to buy it. Or maybe she ate the last cookie or something. Or she put a milchig spoon in the fleishig sink. Or she forgot to pay a bill or some shit. Or, heaven forfend, she spoke sharply to you. Whatever. I've seen scenarios like these played out and I just want to slap people. Fathers, some grandmothers, mothers in law. 
'Primitive' and traditional societies usually let mothers rest and recover with the help of a carer for 40 days or so after birth. Here, in our modern Western world, you have to back into your bakakteh skinny jeans by 3 weeks or you're just not trying. Back shopping in the supermarket with your baby in one of those delightfully clean plastic capsules on top of the trolley.  Back at work by some ridiculous time. Motherhood is so disrespected and so undervalued, and we wonder why there is so much post natal depression - 12% and rising- and so much anxiety. 
You can't fix the world, you can't heal today's twisted values, but you can BE KIND TO YOUR WIFE. I know you're tired too BUT. Do I have to say it again? You didn't gestate that fetus and you didn't give birth to it and your hormones are not like a bloody roller coaster. So GET OVER YOURSELF and worship your goddess wife. And remember to buy the milk without being told. 
Rant concluded. For now. 

PS I'm now going to appeal to your self-interest, fathers, because that usually works. Spousal support is the single most important variable for breastfeeding success. Supportive and kind men's wives have better psychological outcomes. Happy wife, happy life. Have you heard that one before? It's generally true. If you support and nurture your woman through the post-birth months, you are putting money in the intimacy bank and it will pay tremendous dividends when you resume your intimate relations. Short term and long term. In summary,  BE KIND. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Further notes on grandparenting...



Well it's been a big year for this family BH.  Pesach 2015 when we got together from all over the world, my husband raised his glass and blessed everyone and said, 6 new grandchildren in 2016!
He wasn't to know that his father would pass away at the end of 2015, and that there would be 3 new grandsons born who would carry his name. And then 2 new granddaughters; and we await no 6 now with the usual mix of excitement and anxiety. 
So it's been a big year. Rozhinklech und mandelen as we say, raisins and almonds, the sweet and the bitter. 
I won't dwell on the number of grandchildren we have, ptu ptu ptu (my mother in law always answers the question of 'how many grandchildren/great grandchildren do you have' with the answer: 'Not enough!'). But I will say that it's a bunch, and the age spread is 11 to newborn, and the geographical spread  involves Israel, New York and Melbourne Australia. This means that I have travelled a few times this year and when you add it all up, by the end of 2016 I will have been away from home for about 3 months. 
I go overseas to help the new mums with the recovery and the breastfeeding. New motherhood can be a lonely isolating thing if you have no family nearby. 
If I get to be at the birth, that's a plus. Major bonus if I actually get to assist at the birth. My daughters are all ok with that, my daughters-in-law maybe less so, which I get, I'm not pushy (I hope). 
I've written before about growing up without grandparents, since my father's family perished in the Holocaust and my mother's family just did not live very long. And neither did my own mother. 
Most of my peers were children of Holocaust survivors and thus grandparents were a rare thing. I would gaze upon the occasional Bubby and Zaidy whom I encountered  with curiosity and awe. My parents were the oldest people I knew, apart from a few old people we visited at the Montefiore Homes for the aged, with whom we had some non-blood relationship as a rule. But I had to call everyone Aunty and Uncle out of respect so I never knew who was related or who came across on the same ship (shifsbrider or shifsshvester, literally Ship Brother or sister) or who was the aged mother of the ex-wife of my mother's brother (I'm not making that last one up either.) 
And not everyone had the full complement of marbles either so some of these old folk were a bit scary. 
And some spoke only Yiddish which I was not really au fait with, or else a Yiddish different from the Heimishe Yiddish of my father who was from Dzialoszyn. 
So the ideal of the gentle Zayda stroking his beard while poring over the Talmud or the Bubby with the floury apron and the huggable bosom was just that: an idealized fantasy, and rare as a unicorn. 
And consider the unsupported parents; in the main, Holocaust survivors who came to a new country with nothing more than what the Joint had provided them, sponsored out by families, real or fictitious, whom they barely knew. They built new lives, new businesses, new families, with hard work, having to learn a new language while they did this. And who had time for counselling even if there was such a thing, even if they could afford it if it existed? 
These were our parents. 
I was a latchkey child from about 8 years of age. Not only no grandparents but parents who did their best to put food on the table for us, and in doing so, left us kids largely to our own devices. 
And there was also the expectation that we would make something of ourselves. We had opportunities! Opportunities that were denied our parents. I used to hear about this so much that I thought 'opportunities' was a Yiddish word. To waste these opportunities would be an unpardonable sin. 
Fast forward a few years. 
A brother who made Aliyah in 1968, found his niche and then was killed in the YomKippur war in 1973. I've written about this too, and the effects that grief can have on a family. 
A medical degree- talk about opportunities!
A marriage to the son of a Holocaust survivor father and a Soviet refugee mother whose parents survived Stalin and Hitler and who were sent by the previous Lubavitcher  Rebbe to start a Jewish school in Melbourne. 
It so happened that I knew my future husband's grandparents long before I knew him, because Reb Zalman, as we all called him, befriended my father and encouraged my parents to send my brothers and I to the new Jewish school. Reb Zalman was the real deal, the Zeidy, the Chossid, the embodiment of Chabad Chassidus, and I won't go on about him because he needs a book to be written about him. Mainly he was the glimpse of the mythical grandfather. Anyway. 
So I got married. 
And then I had 7 kids in 10.5 years, 3 born after my mother passed away, and then, moving right along, a bunch of grandchildren. And no idea how to be a grandmother. Mind you, I had little idea on how to be a mother either, being that my eldest were only little when Mum died, so she also never really got to experience much of being a grandmother; nor did her own mother who died young. Generations of no role models of grandparenting and barely any for parenting! There are times I feel that I raised myself. 
So here I am, inundated with blessings and feeling like everyone wants a piece of me. Like I need to protect myself. 
I recently wrote a piece which earned me much opprobrium, about dealing with these challenges. I got all these comments from other grandmothers about how MUCH they LOVE their precious grandchildren, and how they CAN'T do ENOUGH for them or spend enough TIME with them, and how they LOOK FORWARD to every second, every playtime, every babysitting, and what an ungrateful ungracious wretch I must be, withholding my time from them, and how dare I express relief when they leave my house, and how dare I place boundaries on what I would choose to do for my kids to help them with their kids. 
It was a bit nasty, I thought. 
And then it turns out that most of these commenters had one or maybe 2 grandchildren (and maybe 2-3 kids) who were aged 4 and 18 months on average. And I'm like, well you haven't really got a clue about heavy duty grandparenting, have you. 
I always say that I will do anything in an emergency. I will take kids to the ER if parents can't. I will cook meals and drop them off or I will have them all over to eat (and do this regularly once or twice a week) and I will do school drop offs and pick ups and babysit if I have to BUT I'm not the nanny and I won't /can't do this on a set basis. 
I'm the on call doctor for sorting out health issues - Doctor Booba! I look at throats and ears amd rashes and listen to chests and feel tummies and I wrote referrals to paediatricians etc and I call in favours from Doctor friends. 
I'm the booba who reads and draws but I'm not the booba who goes to the park and climbs equipment and jumps on the trampoline. 
I have had kids move in while parents go on babymoons or overseas visiting family etc, I have paid for extra help to mums who need it, I have stepped into the breach many times. But I'm not the paid help and I won't raise my grandchildren. I love them and I feel blessed 
and I am amazed that they are flesh of my flesh, but I've been through it and I've done my bit, and considering that nobody helped me, I think I'm paying it forward better than expected. 
Here I am again, sounding like it's a burden and I'm resentful but this is not the case; still, I'm only human and I do my best. I hope everyone appreciates this. 
I am a springboard to help my kids into parenthood; I am a sounding board for discussion and solution of problems; but I am not a doormat. 
That's all. 
Now for the comments. 

PS The picture is neither me nor my grandchildren. Mine are cuter.