Not long after our son first came to live with us, I was around at my parent’s house with him. After playing with all the standard toys for a while he rushed into the spare room. My mother laughed. “I know what he’s gone to get,” she said. As his giggles subsided, I heard it. The most evil of noises, the most horrible sound – a small, plastic toy lawn mower. You know the ones that whirr and have popping balls in them. He ran around the lounge room pushing the god-forsaken toy as I glared at my mother. She smiled back. “You know, if someone brought that to you when you were a child I would have killed them but as a grandparent, it doesn’t bother me.”
Grandparents. We take our own for granted until we see our own parents turning into one.
I looked at my mother with hatred as my blood boiled over from the sound of Satan’s number 1 toy. She looked at her grandson with pride and pure happiness. I wanted to kill her.
I wonder if it’s the lack of responsibility that makes grandparents so happy or just the joy of having children around again after having them gone for so long. On a recent trip to my partner’s parent’s house, her mum couldn’t stop saying how happy she was to have both her grandson’s under her roof for the weekend. She was over the moon.
Both she and my own mother have a patience for the little dude that we both know we often lack. Is it that they can see the wide-eyed curiosity and thirst for knowledge and independence minus the need to get places on time, dressed and mostly clean? Do they see that we all ended up OK so you don’t need to be so stressed? Or is it that they see us at our wits end at times, nerve-wracked, anxious and cranky and think ‘the poor kid needs some sanity’.
Whatever it is, as infuriating as it sometimes is to see grandparent (and grandparent-types) being more patient, understanding and accepting of our children than they were of us (and than we are being of our kids), it’s awesome at the same time.
My partner’s mum would never have let her or her siblings have chocolate milk on cornflakes for breakfast but that’s what she woke to one morning when she visited. And my mother would never have stocked the cupboard with Oreo’s for my snacks!
But then again, she never snuck me into the kitchen like my pop did so that we could drink the pineapple juice straight from the tin without anyone else knowing, or let us drink as much Milo as Nan did. She would never have let us have ‘anything night’ for dinner like Grandma did which usually meant cereal for dinner!
There is a magic that transpires between grandparent and grandchild and while most of us live it, it’s difficult to put into words. Despite it’s peculiarities I continue to be in awe of it and watching how it changes as both grandson and grandparent age (one much better than the other!).