Lil’s unorthodox views on being a granny are refreshingly honest, as she struggles to come to terms with not feeling quite as she should about her grandchildren.
How I admire doting grannies who whip out of their handbags photos of plain toothy grandchildren who do ballet or are on their third grade violin after one term. I listen with envy to accounts of babies that smile and chortle, tall handsome university guys that spend their vacations building wells in third world countries. Now I have 21 grand children, enough for at least one to chortle, one to look moderately photogenic, one to willingly help the poor, and in their way I suppose they do.
The present batch of teenagers though worry me. Tom has chosen to tutor some kid who wants to go to Eton or there abouts. The family are Russian, live, among other places in the South of France. They own a yacht, pay astronomical wages and give him spending money, a car and lots of time off. Crafty bugger, but its hardly helping the third world. George, his brother is languishing in Rumania, also teaching, in a camp of kids rich enough to pay for a summer English camp on the Danube. He is having a whale of a time so there is no mortification there. General Sir Jasper, aged merely 20, has marched and defended the wastes of Sandhurst for a month training as an officer, no nonsense about joining the ranks. Even Ned is worrying what jacket he needs to go with his kilt for the Oban balls. Is it the Argyll or the Bonny Prince Charlie which goes with white tie? They are lovely young kids but hardly fodder for joining the Green Party, let alone the Young Socialists. Luckily some of my other grandchildren, now older and working, do both and have even been arrested for protesting. Bliss
But that’s not the point, its the younger ones that cause me grief. Dutiful granny has flown to America to be with my youngest daughter, whom I adore and her foal at foot. A granddaughter aged 9. She is way passed the chortling stage, rapidly making for that challenging age where she knows her own mind but doesn’t have much in it. It’s all Monopoly and Scabble, gabbling non stop in happy Americanese. I pick up one word in ten.
She never brushes her hair which hangs in rats tails round her face. I freeze, panic and then burn her supper. Her Mum is wise enough not to leave me in charge for too long. Useless granny. This weekend two more grandchildren arrived. One who has just started writing her second novel and not yet at started secondary school. Her brother has a built in rejection to any and all requests to do anything much. The three gabble, cavort and shriek. They pick at their food, require little or no sleep and litter the house and garden with clothes. I forgot I’ve got a camera and could have captured all three’s toothy plain countenances should I have wanted to.
Sh! don’t say a word, certainly don’t tell the adoring parents but they are so boring!! Working it out I have about six in this age bracket, that’s six little people who are growing up fast. Other grannies adore them at this stage, but scratch under the skin and a few of us are willing to admit that some grannies and grandpas don’t. They are tiring and tiresome, demanding and noisey, and give no peace or intellectual stimulation to the elderly. I wish them well. I suppose I’m proud of them, love them rather than like them, rather revolted by them, or perhaps the irritation is with my lack of spontaneous joy and pleasure in their company. What a beastly granny I am.
They are, thank God the apple of their parent’s eyes, I’m sure they’ll all swan into university, read media studies or whatever and find their place in the firmament. The youngest of the lot did say something rather amusing last week, he was cleaning his teeth and asked me not to put much toothpaste on the brush. He struggled with the words and came out with a good reason, it was too spicy. Cute, I suppose. If you like that sort of thing.