‘How cooking with my grandson helped me to appreciate social connection’

Jul 14, 2020
Restricted from seeing family and friends, Sue came to realise the importance of this natural human need to feel valued and supported during an afternoon with her grandson. Source: Stock Photo/Getty Images

One Saturday recently my eldest grandson, Heath, had a ‘cooking date’ with me. It was his request, I might add. I’d decided we would make baked rigatoni and meatballs. I would do the ‘hot stuff’ and he could make the meatballs (a bit like making play dough). When he arrived, he was raring to go.

I’d already prepared the ingredients we’d need and put out the pots and pans required. I put into the mixing bowl what he would need and he started to ‘squish and squash’ (as I said, a bit like making play dough). In the meantime, I’d cooked the pasta and the sauce.

His meatballs were ready to be fried off, so I did that bit and then we were ready to assemble our ‘bake’. (Given that his mum is vegetarian, we’d set aside a meal for her of rigatoni and sauce.) During this time he was playing Michael Jackson on the computer.

Our bake went into the ‘oven, toaster, grill, roaster’, and Heath did the dishes (he’s 7.5 years old). Then he started with his questions.

“You’re old Grandma!” My response: “Hang on Sweetheart, I’m getting older, but so are you.”

Then he asked me why my mum had died so young. That was a tricky one — I was hardly going to tell him that my mum had committed suicide. Instead I said: “She got sick and she couldn’t get better, so she died.”

Seemingly satisfied, he was eager then to water the front garden bed (of course, he got wet); we talked to my neighbours, after which he decided he wanted to make a ‘shrine’ with the candles I had in holders on the bookcase. (I’m thinking, ‘how does a 7.5-year-old know what a shrine is?’)

When I asked him why, he replied: “Because we’ve had such a good day Grandma.” I could have cried right there!

He set this shrine up on the coffee table, complete with an oil burner that he assembled himself — reading all the labels on the oils, he told me: “This one is for relaxation, this one is to relieve stress, this one is to help you sleep.”

I figured we would be in our ‘Zen place’ as he set up the candles as well, and at this point I’d started to hope he would want a nap, because I certainly did! I was knackered. No such luck though (where do children find their energy?).

Heath’s mother arrived with his baby brother (and my new grandson) Joey. She had a friend coming for a visit so time was of the essence. Joey was passed from pillar to post, first to me, then to his brother, and then to his Mum (it was time for a feed), while I prepared the meals for them to take home.

I had a wonderful day. My grandson brings me so much joy!

Most of all, during this time — thanks to coronavirus — I realised that we all need connection to our family and friends in whatever way we can get it. I certainly appreciated the occasion.

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