"Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you're just a mother. The next you are all wise and prehistoric..."
That's just one of the quotes on "The Nanna
Page", which you will find elsewhere on this website of mine. What you won't find written there are the most often-quoted words of apparent wisdom on becoming a grandparent: "The best thing about being a grandparent is that you can give your grandchildren back
at the end of the day." It's not on my Nanna Page because I strongly, fundamentally, disagree with the sentiment.
When any of my "Magnificent Seven" grandchildren come to stay there
is absolutely no way I am ready to give them back at the end of the day, or the week, or however long they've been with me. As the time approaches when The Parents are due to collect them, I am seized by an over-powering desire to hide them
somewhere. Under a bed, perhaps, or in the airing cupboard. Then, when The Parents arrive, I will say nonchalantly that I must have lost them. Like my spectacles, or my library PIN card, or my second-best swimming cossie (which I might
just have left down at the health club the other day...)
This is as far as my fantasy takes me. I mean, what exactly do I expect The Parents to say, faced with evidence of their missing off-spring?
"Oh, dear, well never mind I'm sure they'll turn up sometime...." Not very likely, is it?
Today I read that Grannies have been officially recognised as A Good Thing. According to tests
carried out on chimpanzees, having an older, non-reproductive female chimpanzee around to help mum with her more mature off-spring while she nurses her babe, leads to bigger brains and longer lives. Over a period of thousands of years, the presence of
a Granny apparently added 49 years to the life of adult chimps. You're impressed, I can tell.
Apart from (hopefully) adding years to their lives, I am pondering on what other gifts I may have
bestowed on my Precious Ones, in return for all the love and fun and laughter which they have given me. I met a little lad recently who had not one, but two, grandmothers providing day-care and competing with each other over who could teach
him the most challenging subjects. Astronomy, Modern Languages, Logarithms and Mathematics for Advanced Six Year Olds. Obviously there is no way I can compete with the Super Grans. The lessons I share with my
littl'uns are somewhat less, well, academic in their outlook.
I have taught them that board games are much more fun if you add a few rules of your own. Junior Monopoly is an excellent example
of this. If you land on the Punch and Judy square, you are required to act out a scene from that classic sea-side entertainment, preferably one involving the sausages. When you find yourself banished to the Tea
Room and having to miss a turn, my rules say that you have to make "yum yum" noises, pretend to be pouring out a "nice cup of tea" and drinking it with little finger crooked. Junior Monopoly is just SO much more fun than the senior
I have taught them that cooking and baking is all about how much flour you can spread about the kitchen, in between fashioning mis-shaped sausage rolls or mangled jam tarts. If you can get
it in your hair and on your clothes, so much the better. It's the sign of a True Cook. Just make sure you wash your hands before you start wreaking culinary havoc.
These are only a
couple of examples. There are many more - but all of the same ilk. I am not sure, now I come to ponder the detail, that the skills I am imparting will necessarily carry them through into a fulfilled and successful adulthood. I shall have
to go back to basics.
All you need is love. And, if possible, a bit more space in the airing cupboard...