by Veronique Casse
When I was four, I accidentally set fire to a bunch of dried flowers in our lounge room and nearly burnt the house down. We had guests over for dinner and mum and dad were entertaining in the dining room. Left to my own devices while my parents were busy, I came upon a shiny cigarette lighter on a side table. Like any curious four-year old, I struck it and a tall flame shot out, burning my little thumb and setting alight the floral arrangement on the table. What ensued was complete chaos! It was a blur of red hot flames creeping along the ceiling and everybody screaming. Fortunately the fire was quickly brought under control and though shocked, everybody was ok. Needless to say, the evening ended prematurely. I had single-handedly ruined the party, the wall, the ceiling and mum’s beloved vase. After a stern lecture, I went to my room in tears. Shortly after, there was a soft knock on my door. It was my grandfather. He came in to see how I was. He stayed with me, quietly sitting on the edge of my bed and patted my shoulder. “It’s all ok now” he said “you must have been really scared” and then proceeded to give me a mint candy to cheer me up. Even though I had been terrible, the love and support he showed me on that day and at many other times throughout my life still bring tears to my eyes.
Grandparents can have that magical effect on a child. They wrap you up in their soft arms to give warm snugly hugs and love you even when you are less than perfect. “You’re getting so tall” they say or “you are so clever” simply puffs you up with pride, and it is those kind words and tender moments which stay with you forever.
The role of the modern grandparent is evolving and is helping to shape the next generation in a positive way. The stereotypical ideas of grandmas and grandpas are no longer that of white-haired folks sitting in their rocking chairs, listening to the wireless, sipping cups of tea and snacking on shortbreads. Many grandparents are fit, young and energetic. They enjoy being a pro-active part of their grandchildren’s lives and take pleasure in re-living the hands-on experience of caring for a child once again. They revel in seeing the grandkids and showering them with all sorts of goodies, selectively overlooking the parents’ furrowed frowns when chocolates and lollies are being dished out by the handful. To the kids, grandparents are wise owls who never judge and always care.
Most grandparents bear their title proudly and many take their role very seriously. Having amassed a lifetime’s worth of experience, they see their purpose as life educators and their advice as being just as important as that of the parents’. This can often cause dissension in families and even if they are right, it is a battle grandparents often lose. The interest of the child/children must always come first. Regardless of the dynamics of our own relationship with our parents, our children deserve to know their grandparents and experience that special bond for themselves – grandparents are not here forever.
Working longer hours, commuting further away, shift-work commitments and the ever-increasing cost of childcare are resulting in many parents turning to grandparents to care for their kids as an agreeable alternative. When these arrangements are well-sorted, they benefit all parties involved. It is common to see children accompanying their grandparents to do the shopping or being picked up after school. Parents can rest assured that their child/children are safe and well cared for; and that peace of mind is priceless. For many retired grandparents, life can become somewhat dull and idle. They often find a renewed objective in life when they are offered such an opportunity and this can positively impact on their physical and mental health. More importantly though, it brings all the members of the family closer. Regular interaction and communication strengthens relationships and can reinforce fragile ones.
Veronique Casse is a freelance creative writer/ghostwriter for various online companies and is a regular guest blogger for Charlestonnaturally.com. Veronique lives in a quiet, lush suburb of Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children and is a firm advocate of all things natural concerning mind, body and soul. She is also a regular contributor for ‘Suite101.com’ where her articles are geared towards health, nutrition and natural therapies. You can reach Veronique and view her full profile at www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/veroniquecasse