‘Firsts and lasts: The bitter sweetness of changing routines with our grandchildren’

Apr 07, 2020
Vivienne felt sorry the routine with her grandchildren would be over. Source: Stock Image/Getty Images

We were driving to pick up our granddaughters from school in mid-December. We had been doing this for the last six months, braving the turmoil of the after school pick up in a small carpark. There would be parents stopped in the middle of the drive because that was convenient for them. It was a kindergarten to Grade 12 school so there would be little ones darting out from behind cars, older girls oblivious, deep in conversation; boys continuing their games of tag.

Once safely home, our girls would have hot chocolate or Milo, and honey on toast. Homework would be done, games played, the garden inspected and herbs picked. If it was not too cold, there’d be exercise on the lawn. There’d be craft. At 5.30pm we’d head off to the dance school for the elder one’s lesson, and then home for the younger one.

We were aware this was the last time, as the elder girl would be heading to high school next year, and routines would change. We felt sorry this routine was over.

“Are you sorry this is the last day?” we asked.

“Oh, no,” they chirped. Which is exactly as it should be.

In our 70s, we are well aware of ‘time’s winged chariot’. We know there is more of the past than there is of the future. The present is savoured.

Happy routines are cherished. But for these two, life is happy anticipation.

A big end of year dance production was coming up, after months of rehearsals. There would be glamorous costumes, stage make up applied, tears as the seniors left, smiles as the preschoolers hopped around as endearing bunnies, mice or squirrels.

Christmas with its family rituals would follow closely. One evening would be given over to putting up the tree. We would enjoy takeaway, then the tree major comes out of its box. Magically the numbered branches would be slotted in. The ornaments, each with their own special story, would put in place, copious amounts of tinsel wound around, the lights wound around, too and lastly, the star put on top.

Christmas Day would come with presents and food and contact with widespread family.

Then the overseas cousins were arriving for a visit with the much-loved aunt and uncle. They would arrive on New Year’s Eve. There was much pleading about being allowed to attend fireworks.

After that the cousins were to stay by themselves so there would be days of showing the cousins around and entertaining them. Swimming, visits to many of the national institutions, out to feed the birds at the walk-in aviary.

Why would you be sorry one routine was over?

With the new year came new routines, new friends, and an increasing independence found. I can only wish for all the grandchildren that they view life with such anticipation far into their future.

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