We are all individuals, with different backgrounds, different ethics, different rules to live by, but we share the joys and sometimes the heartaches of being a grandparent. But what makes a cool grandparent? And should we try to be one?
When the first two arrived I decided I would just be me, after all why pretend to be some else, just due to a title? So we had fun, and as they grew up, all three got to know that we were a bit different. We weren’t your average ‘pipe and slippers, and knitting’ couple. I answered to Nan, or Jacqui with no distress.
My husband and I painted, so the house was full of paintings, I had wild hair in those days, almost afro, as I had naturally curly hair, I liked to dance to the music they enjoyed as they got older, making an absolute idiot of myself. I never wore conventional clothes, I loved colour and a bit of madness in my wardrobe, so they got to see that not all old ladies conform to a pattern. Our son who is ultra conservative might not agree. I think he would prefer the twin set and pearls.
We did make -up together, the first grand daughter is still a make- up ‘freak’ and think it’s my fault.
I had a tattoo when I was 70 and my husband had his birth sign done on his arm when he was older, but in that respect I advised them NOT to do as we had. They have a whole life to get through, and in some vocations a tattoo is frowned on, better to wait or not do it. I have warned them they may be banned from some career choices. But still think the grandson may get the family crest done somewhere discreet.
We cooked and went for treasure hunts for special shells. (I wish I was like my mother in law, teaching them to sew and knit), but I did teach them to paint and make things, and oh the lovely mess I made with them, beads and bits of sticky paper all over the house, flour in mounds, bits of chopped vegetables and fruit ground into the carpet. Sand and shells in a long winding, trail from the door.
Now they appreciate us being different, they do refer to me as a ‘cool Nan.’ I wish I saw more of them but distance is a problem. I recently sent a very naughty birthday card to our grandson who is just 18, and he sent me a reply on ‘Facebook.’ He was gently chiding me, but laughing at the same time. Yes we are technologically savvy, we can keep up with them in most ways. We aren’t fazed by their communication methods. We also try to give advice it its asked for, and would provide whatever we could if they were in trouble.
I even share music discoveries with my grandson, with him showing me some bands he likes, or some Asian pop he is into, I can appreciate that as much as the beauty of the classics, or the beat of the blues, I love them all. He also has discovered the bands I loved like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and many others from that era, music flows across the generations with our sons and daughter sharing some of our passions.
I have several lovely things the girls wrote when they were younger this is one (with all its faults) written when the youngest one was about 10 I think.
So whatever we have done, wrong or right, we love them, and they love us. We have not kept to any stereotypes. We have made mistakes, but they also learn from that. It shows we are just human. We are perfectly capable of stuffing life up. Cool, or not cool grandparents are important.
We should be there as a sounding board, a comfort, a hug, whatever it takes. I have friends who have been everything to their grandchildren, have been there as parents, or whatever those children needed, doing a wonderful job, and they have every reason to be proud, best job in the world.
What do you think are the hallmarks of a cool Grandparent? And should we focus on being cool, or should we be other things?