I have come to realise that being a grandparent isn’t vastly different from when you are a parent, except that you can choose when to walk away, you need to be careful not to get too involved and not to overstep the mark.
After a recent visit with my Melbourne-based grandsons, I wondered what they thought of me in my capacity as a grandmother. So I asked them. In fact, I asked them could I interview them, and they agreed. I grabbed my little red note book out of my bag and I began.
The subjects: Jacob 12 years and Lachlan nine years-of-age
Q: What does a grandparent mean to you?
Jacob: Everything. (I wasn’t sure how to respond as it was a very powerful one word response).
Q: Would it matter if I wasn’t part of your life?
Jacob and Lachlan: YES (A resounding ‘YES’ from both boys. Of course that made my heart melt and reinforced that I was a vital element in their lives, not to mention a needed boost to my ego. It is easy to go through moments of doubt when living interstate away from your grandchildren).
Q: What is it that you enjoy about our relationship?
Jacob and Lachlan:
Some of their combined, agreed responses came out like this:
- You get us gifts (I keep a limit on the dollar value to ensure they don’t have high expectations when not a special occasion);
- We get to see you all the time (which was wonderful to hear as I live interstate and travel down as often as possible);
- We love going to the Ekka with you (the Brisbane Show Day is special and easier to see everything);
- We love it when we you watch us play footy, basketball, tennis and karate;
- We have fun with you;
- We love playing card games (mainly UNO as they always beat me, and board games … as most times they also beat me, but they love the fact I keep challenging them);
- We love your very bad jokes;
- We love it when we stay at your place.
There were the two specific activities that the boys focussed on:
- My colour story telling
Since they were babies and were developed enough to have a favourite colour, I have always made up space stories based on their favourite colour.
For Jacob, first born, his favourite colour is blue and so the Blue Magical Space Story on a Blue Magic Carpet began. Everything is always blue including himself, the food he eats, the planet he visits, the people and everything else that exists on the planet.
Since Lachlan the youngest was born, we change colours each time I make up a story. I also make up a name based on my grandson’s names. I sometimes change the format, and the stories are always magical, riding on a flying carpet to an alien planet with alien people.
I push on and twelve years later the stories continue. They are not complicated and they seem to like this. Of course they always arrive back home safely just in time to see mum.
- Highlight of your day
This began a few years ago as a distraction at the dinner table when the boys became restless and it has become a wonderful tradition. It has become a regular activity during our dinner. We all have a turn at describing ‘the highlight of our day’ and enjoy hearing the responses.
If I ever leave it a bit late as we dine, Lachlan always comments “Nanny Babe, what was the highlight of your day?” and we proceed from there. The whole family loves it – Mum, Dad, the boys and of course, me.
Unchartered waters – what they didn’t like about grandparent/me
Following all the positives, at this stage of the interview I decided to venture into unchartered waters and asked the boys what they didn’t like about me. On a positive note they had to think about this question.
I was not surprised to hear Jacob, my older grandson’s response. He doesn’t like it when I keep lecturing him on his table manners nor his speech, but understands why I do, so they know how to conduct themselves when going out with friends or have visitors.
I had to laugh when the younger grandson, Lachlan replied: “If you are out and people look at you, you will get embarrassed if you put big shovels of food in your mouth and eat with your mouth open”.
At the end of my questions Lachlan said I was “good for an old granny” and laughed.
I thought the interview went well. Jacob and Lachlan were fully engaged throughout the whole process and my daughter thoroughly entertained. Needless to say we all had fun.