Janey Says: Grandparenting; It Takes a Village

Much as I love her, I could have done without the very early wake-up call from my adored 19-month-old granddaughter, India. 

It was Sunday morning.  Icy cold outside, the heating had only just come on.  My grey cells were slow to get moving (on account of the cold you know) but she, on the other hand, was on fine form! 

“Moana Na na Ori” by TINAciousArtist

What is it about the very young?  They wake early and are so thrilled to see the world that chilly feet and running noses cannot curb the enthusiasm for a brand new day and marvellous adventures.

Her excitement  for a new day is enviable –  I only wish I could remember it… and harness it!

I should’t really complain.  I haven’t slept past 6 am for the last 30 years, but living alone allows indulgence I love – but the thought of having to drag my bones out of bed to an icy old house at the crack of sparrows didn’t much do it for me.

Grabbing her we made our way downstairs to the Aga ( far better than any lover ) and made tea for me, and milk for her.  A few biscuits – forbidden to both of us really – but what to do then?

Her excitement for a new day is enviable –  I only wish I could remember it… and harness it!

By the time I’d reached the sitting room Bink’s was up and already getting the logs in and lighting the fire.

 So funny really, the three different age groups reverting to what they know best. 

India laughing and already up to no good; her mother being grown up and useful, and HER mother thinking ‘I can’t believe it’s this early – what the hell did I used to do in the old days when I was at the sharp end’? 

I felt really guilty about being at a bit of a loss. 

In an ideal world, I’d have sent my girl back to bed for a well-deserved lie in. Maybe read India a few suitable mind enhancing books.  Then grabbing the Kenwood Chef I’d have created wonderful foods to fill the – eventually – warm house.

I decided a video was a better ( at least for me ) option, so I found one called Moana which seems to be all the rage with the kids at the moment.

On the sofa, snuggled up under blankets, India and I were certainly in the best place.

 As the lovely story unfolded it turned out that Moana was a headstrong girl.  Her father was constantly trying to keep her safe.  He banned her from escaping to the sea and having potentially dangerous adventures to free her island from ‘ typically Disney’ danger.

I was carried away by the story and the music, until into the story came the grandmother.  This wise older lady reminded me much of myself. Similar figure for a start! But mostly because she lived without any restraint.

She didn’t much stick to the rules set by her son – the ruler of the island – but got on with doing exactly her own thing in her own way.

She encouraged her granddaughter to, essentially do the same ( not that I condone that you understand..) and explore.  Take the chances. Be brave, not go too safe – but seize the opportunity to discover for herself all that she needed to know.

Obviously being a Disney film all turned out well and apart from the granny dying only to be reborn as a glowing manta ray – everyone was happy.

It struck me that we grandparents have a duty. We have a role to be that person who sees the other side; to understand, to be a trusted confidante. To obviously advise caution – but to encourage in ways that possibly a parent is far to ‘ in’ and involved -and tired, to do.

None of us can change ourselves fundamentally.  If we’re naturally quiet and cautious then thats great.  We will bring in safety and stability.

We have a role to be that person who sees the other side; to understand, to be a trusted confidante.

If we’re not, then providing we’re not advocating obviously wrong behaviour – my feeling is to embrace that.

I was so excited to realise that in myself.  I probably will be the granny at the theme park that fights their case for sitting at the front of the ride.  I already feel guilt that I’m not the one who coddles them when they fall over or knock themselves – I shall have to leave that to the others. 

Just being the rather wobbly old granny who laughs at a bit of badness, encourages discussion – and to question when it feels appropriate, rather than to just accept.

Terribly annoying I’m sure.  But we all know it takes a village to raise a family, and to be that ‘ loved – available, sage old granny’ – thats a role I accept with delight.

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