So there I was in work one quiet Saturday afternoon when I got a video message from one of the kids. Nothing unusual in itself, except that they were in Dublin spending the weekend with their grandparents. Curious and more than a little nervous I opened the message. I’m not joking when I say I spent the next 10 minutes convulsed with laughter.
The video showed my beloved dad, their much adored granddad, dancing on the Gaiety Stage during the annual trip to the pantomime. There he was, strutting his stuff, giving it socks, cheered on by his five ridiculously proud and delighted grandchildren and the rest of the audience didn’t matter.
He was happy, they were happy, my poor mother was probably running for cover, but I would have paid diamonds to see such a sight and that video is a precious precious thing. The kids talk about it all the time and loved that he would do such a thing.
But on quiet reflection afterwards I have to admit I sometimes find it hard to reconcile this carefree, fun loving and doting granddad with the same man I grew up with. He was definitely all of the above but I can’t imagine him ever doing this when I was young.
But isn’t that the beauty of being a grandparent. You can get all of the fun without any of the responsibility that parenting brings.
I’d like to think that the best gift that my husband and I have ever given our parents is in the shape of the three precious forms they lovingly call their grandchildren. They are loved and adored, spoiled and indulged, cared for and minded in a really special way. The relationship children have with their grandparents is a totally different to the one they have with their parents. The grandparents won’t nag them to clean their room. They won’t insist the children do chores before slipping them some money for phone credit. They don’t have to schedule an appointment for a chat and they won’t hound them about homework.
It’s unconditional and unlimited attention, time and caring and it’s a very special relationship.
Grandparents are no longer scary out of touch dinosaurs who sit in the rocking chair smelling of camphor and knitting. Now they are up to date, in touch, relevant and more importantly interested. They have time to give and are generous with it. More and more grandparents are taking an active role in the rearing of their grandchildren as the parents work longer and longer hours and get busier and busier. And the reason that grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they are united against a common enemy that is the parents, and enjoy nothing more than scheming together to exploit that fact. Granddads in particular are masters at helping children get into mischief that they would never think of by themselves. But it serves to strengthen that unique bond and it’s all good.
I know my parents would be disappointed if I had the audacity to arrive for a visit without my gang. They’d never say it, but on my arrival they look over my shoulder in the hopeful and optimistic expectation of the familiar much loved heads of dark hair and smiles. Their eyes light up and there’s an extra spring in their step when they have the family around.
As they say it’s all about making memories and I love seeing all their heads together even if it means trouble ahead for me as they are undoubtedly scheming again.
My three and their cousins have taught their grandparents how to text, how to Skype, how to set up email on their phones and other modern ways of keeping in touch. So, regardless of geography, it’s a win win relationship. The children get unconditional support and love and the wisdom of experience while keeping their grandparents in touch with a new generation.
The special kind of love you get from a grandparent is a love that can’t be got from anyone else. So blessed are those who spoil and snuggle, hug and hope, boast and brag for they shall be called grandparents and aren’t we lucky to have them.