Monday, 4 August 2014

The Family Holiday: A Rite of Passage for New Grandparents

When our twin boys were babies we were struggling for money and sanity; so our parents took us for a break  to North Wales. Their parents had done it for them when they needed it. This last week we passed on the same gift and had a week together in a beautiful Welsh cottage.

We are fairly new grandparents with a baby granddaughter and a five-years old grandson who came with his mum into our lives a few years ago.

Since our own sons became adults we've moved on a bit. We like our home when there's only us and the dogs in it. The funny thing is we've never really thought about how they live: that's their world and we only glimpse it when we help out. But being cheek by jowl with each other thrust their lives right in front of us in a way I wasn't quite ready for.

I'm a reasonable man, but how hard is it to move a nappy after you've changed it, or pick up the towels, or wash the baby's used bottle after a feed?

Then there' s breakfast.  I get up early, have a quiet breakfast with a fresh coffee and a read. So at 7.00 am when five-years-old Austin bowls into the kitchen full of fizz that by rights should have taken hours to build up I can be forgiven for it grating a little. Can't I?

'Grandad, do you know?...' He says. There follows a richly detailed description of which Power Ranger is best and why. Then the telly goes on - seriously, at that time in the morning!

Just as my umbrage is gathering steam and I'm building up to a righteously indignant but pointless inner  rant, another voice, one with an accusing tone, whispers unbidden in my ear:

'Have you really forgotten? Can you not remember how glad of the telly you were to occupy the boys when they were little? Can you not remember how grateful you were to your parents for that trip to Wales that you would otherwise not have had? Did you ever wonder how chaotic your own struggles to manage twin babies might have looked to other people?'

I had forgotten some things: how much fun cricket on the beach is, or splashing in the waves, or just listening to the innocence of children's chatter. So at 7.45 am each day I sat and watched Milkshake, and had it all explained to me in great detail. And it was great.
Arriving home at weekend it all seemed very quiet, or was it peaceful? I was exhausted but very happy to have been able to do it, and looking forward to when the grandkids have their next sleepover.  



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