Growing up I only really knew one set of my grandparents. But I wasn’t too close to them. It was nothing dramatic, it just happened to be a different time and place. My mum was a seamstress and worked from home so she was always there for us and we didn’t need the childcare that my parents offer us today. As much fun and loving my parents were they pushed us hard through education. Always wanting us to succeed, to get good grades, to be good and behave well.
An entire generation on, my own parents have graduated to become grandparents and very kindly offer us free childcare on all the days I’m working. Its an elaborate logistical game first thing in the morning which involves driving to another town to drop him off and then onwards to either an office I need to be in or creeping upstairs with all the stealth of a milk tray man with a laptop bag and handbag.
It works most of the time except for the odd occasion when Little Z runs down the corridor screaming with delight from being chased by my mum or dad. As assuring as it is to hear your child having fun it can sometimes put you on edge especially when you need to make phone calls and sound professional.
Having said that, Little Z seems to have an envious social life as he accompanies Nana and Nani on all their daily errands. There are trips to the supermarket and helping with throwing groceries into the trolley. There are trips to park and walks to the shop, usually to buy some sweeties and chat to the shopkeeper that has been there since I was about 5 years old and is probably about 100 years old himself. There are walks around the block in the area where I grew up and cycled through the streets with my own friends until the street lights went on. And there are trips to “Other Nanas” house to simply visit them or to admire their fish tanks.
When not out and about then pottering about Nana’s house is fun too. Or that is what I hear from the bedroom at least. Like when the garden hose is on and he gets to water numerous plants and wash the patio. Or when he asks to feed the birds oranges because they have apparently said they’d like to eat oranges. Or to simply sit outside and soak up a bit of sun and kick a football about.
My brothers and I watch on curiously, amused at how the parents that forever encouraged us to behave well have regressed back to almost children themselves anytime their grand kids appear at the door. Running, screaming, playing constantly, fun lunches, naughty treats, dancing, piggy backs. Nothing is out of bounds and everything is noisy. To the max.
As I walk in the door, returning from work, you can usually hear my 30 year old brother trying to calm everyone down as he sighs “they’ve been like this all day long”.