Saturday, September 15, 2012

G is for Grandparenting

Came across a truly wonderful blog the other day. It’s called C is for Cape Town, written by a young mum, a sunny, creative person who is housebound with her two small childers. It’s full of helpful stuff for young mums – experiences to share, coping with fractious kleintjies, holding birthday parties, getting play-dough out of hair and ears, watching important little people developing and growing up in a world that belongs entirely to them. Nothing mundane about it either – it’s as brightly-lit as its creator, and full of lekker, evocative photos too. C’s observations are more than a guide for parents – there’s a profundity to them, reflections upon life itself, thought-provoking stuff for any age.
C is for Cape Town has two little girls, fivish and two-and-a-halfish, and they are so like the junior generation of Kaartmans that it’s uncanny. She calls her girls Friday and Sunday – I’ll call ours February and September. Because if there can be such creative value in a blog about parenting, then maybe there can be a little in one about grandparenting.
Postman Pat Re-run with two small wrigglies
Not that I have a snowball’s hope of being as creative as C, but I guess a couple of our observations might be useful for those of you planning for your own future tribe of smalls.
Just as one’s own kids did so very long ago, grandchildren start out as warm, immobile little lumps that gaze at your wrinkly old face with slightly glazed eyes, then suddenly crease their sweet little faces into enormous smiles that would turn the hardest of hearts into goo. This is frequently accompanied by a fairly unsubtle sense of dampness and followed almost instantaneously by odours of an indescribable kind.
It’s at moments like these that you gain important insights into why humans are biologically designed to breed while young. The older generation – ourselves – are there to observe and impart wisdom, while the younger are there to change nappies, to suckle, to prepare bottles of milk formula and bowls of unspeakably bland porridges. Quickly, pass the smelly baby to its mum.
As the grandchildren grow older they become rapidly mobile and distinctly noisier. By the age of two they can reach any precious object in your home, no matter how high above the floor it may be, how deep the cupboard recess, how firmly locked the office. They can outrun any grandparent, and they can definitely outconverse them too, albeit sometimes in languages that only they can understand. But if you think that the crying of a newborn is a noise, you ain’t heard nothing yet.
They even boss the boss's dog ....
Mrs K and I played host to Feb and Sept the other day. Mr K – that’s me – is inclined to indulge in a short post-prandial nap in the middle of the day, something that is surely the birthright of any sixty-something. Mrs K also takes to the couch sometimes, but with F n S running around maybe she didn’t. Whatever the case, the girls devised a game involving large empty plastic barrels. Each barrel was loosely filled with small hollow brass spheres, each containing a number of loose steel ball-bearings. Feb and Sept then ran competitive races complete with loud cheers and cries, rolling said barrels up and down the rough-screed concrete stoep immediately outside my bedroom window.
A full description of the effect is beyond my creative powers. I swam up out of the deepest sleep, desperately planning to seize my wallet, back-up harddrive, dog and wife in that order and flee like the wind to higher ground before the origin of the magnitude 10 earthquake impinged on befuddled brain. As I sat up in despair February ran over September’s small bare foot with her plastic motorbike and the resulting shriek, more of anger than of pain, caused twenty-seven hadedas to abandon their systematic stripping of the neighbouring field of endangered frog spawn. They took off on hectic flapping wings but even their uncouth, importunate cries were no match at all for September’s max-decibel wails.
Grandad's boyhood dream; Share my toast, Grandad
I love them. There’s no greater pleasure than indulging in yet another rerun of Postman Pat, with two small wrigglies warmly sharing your space. There’s that small, warm hand in yours as you walk down to the pond to feed the ducks. The gentle touch on your shoulder as you peer myopically at your computer screen, and the soft little voice behind you that says, “Grandad, Granny says you must come for your lunch.”
Dunno why, but Granny has a predilection for gazing
into water (or whales) with the smalls ...
When did someone last bring you your dog’s leash [apart from the dog, of course] and ask, “Grandad, would you like to take a walk?” When did you last finish off the small plastic bowl of luke-warm macaroni cheese, the half a toasted sarmie, the marmite sandwich with the crusts cut off?
I love ’em. And that’s why we have ’em, of course. So’s we can love ’em.
Thank you, C is for Cape Town. Thank you F and S.