“The shut up plug”….what I have learned about GRANDPARENTING

The early years of grandparenting

The early years of grandparenting

You are so excited, a first grand child… whoopee.. bliss.

First thing to do, is to buy a large dummy, pacifier whatever, and then whenever the desire to ‘tell them how to cope, or what to do’ APPLY TO OWN MOUTH.

I learned this late in the piece.  Perhaps because I had been blessed with three children who did not wake every night, and mostly had trouble- free teething. So when I encountered our sons in such stress about sleepless babies, screaming toddlers, I was a little too swift to offer advice. Please don’t do this.   They will somehow learn how to get through the minefield alone.  Offer tea and sympathy, not ‘what I did’, because it simply does not apply.

Again,  because we were so alone and isolated when I had my first two children, (and even the third,) because of distance from family, I had my own methods, which worked for me. I had to cope alone, there was nobody to help.  I realize I was very brave and a little mad. My children all drank from a cup before six months of age and had solid food way, way before the experts told me it was allowed. (In fact around three to four months, earlier with the third who was nearly ten pounds at birth.)

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I let them run barefoot and naked in the big garden in New Zealand.  Yet they are all healthy and slim, not overweight, and they all eat sensibly so it might have done no harm.  But of course I couldn’t expect my new daughter’s in law to do what I did, it would be crazy to assume it would work for them.

I have beautiful grand children, now grown up and making their way in the world, I have loved them since the first moment. The way our lives are; and due to where we live, they see us less often now. Our grandson spent more time with us due to a marriage break down.  I feel blessed in that way though, as it ensured he spent every birthday and Christmas with us, and loads of weekends in between. I had ways of calming him when he got difficult.  We just walked together looking at birds, and chatting to the old men on the caravan park.  He still has a feeling of belonging there, and when he comes here we still look for crabs or the stingrays under the local pier.

Growing up… still had my plug in…

My first grandchild once wrote “my grandma is a hero, because she gets up at 3am and looks after old people who are homesick and throw soup at the walls” this was her garbled understanding of my job as a personal carer at a nursing home. I treasure that piece of her writing.

Now they are both young women one is 19 soon, and my one grandson is a handsome six- foot -plus young man. The journey through the minefield of parenting is over, we are still friends.

#The ‘shut up plug’ was my two year old daughter’s description of a dummy when we had a brief spell of teething problems with her brother. ‘Mummy get the shut up plug’ was her cry. Guess I might need it again if there are great grandchildren anytime.