I think my 14 year old son is very lucky. Lucky because he has just spent the first week of his school holidays with his Grandparents. Now, I may be wrong in thinking this but it doesn’t seem to me that these days many kids get the opportunity to spend a whole week living and relaxing with their Grandparents.
I know kids of today seem to have limitless opportunities and most parents will do anything in their power to encourage and support children in their chosen interest, be it sporting, artistic or any number of other activities. But sometimes there is a cost with the kids getting over committed and by the end of a term they are exhausted.
Our boy had really had enough of sports practices, extra music commitments, relentless home work and his involvement in the big production of ‘Grease’ – all he wanted was to go to his grandparents and simply ‘chill’.
His Grandparents live in Geraldine and have a house that sits on a hill with a spectacular view that would calm the most tormented soul (not that my son falls into that category at all, I am pleased to say!).
The view looks north across the Canterbury Plains to the Four Peaks range and Mt Hutt and really is a magical spot with a tree that’s a favourite perch for five members of my favourite bird family, the Kereru or Wood Pigeon. The birds are always in pairs and every pair since Grandi was a child has been called ‘Percy and Priscilla’. I do worry a little about the fifth bird and his place in the family.
Paddy’s Grandparents (Grandi and Nan) have a wonderful joie de vivre and a pretty good idea of how to cope with a modern teenager. For the first few days he just slept and ate delicious home cooked meals without a care in the world.
Then, harking back to the old days, they had him up one morning running a time trial to see if he was the fastest grandchild on a particular course that meandered around the country roads near the house.
The nine grand children are spread around the country and the things they have in common are their love of music, sport and their cousins. It is not inconceivable that, given half a chance, could cobble together a mean version of the Osmonds or the Jackson Five.
Sadly, the geographical spread across NZ often precludes big get togethers and with the cousins visiting at different times they are all required to run Grandi’s set course. Not together but individually so they really are battling the clock and their times are there to be compared.
Chilling with the Grandparents also involved just talking, sharing stories, a bit of tramping, playing golf and watching films on TV together. Another day, with the enthusiastic aunt in tow, they cooked sausages and made hot chocolate over a fire on a chilly winter beach. They also visited the family’s summer retreat ,a good old fashioned New Zealand river reserve, Te Moana Gorge.
Summer locales take on a different perspective when you see them in the heart of a cold South Island winter where parts of the river that don’t see the sun at this time of the year, freeze over and are perfect for stone skipping competitions.
Grandi is a great one for sayings, many handed down from his own forebears and now passed on to the grandchildren.
“Once you start stopping , you stop starting”
Then there’s this statement that is great to bring out at a dinner party.
“Of all my wife’s relations, I like myself the best”.
He can also reveal faded pearls of wisdom that have been hanging on the garage wall for years. One such offers advice that both me and my son would do well to follow.
“If you’ve got a job to do – do it now!
If it’s one you wish was through – do it now!
If you’re sure the job’s your own,
just tackle it alone:
Don’t hem and haw and groan – Do it now!”
Peace is broken somewhat for the 14 year old when the little sisters arrive after a week and the noise levels increase. They have their own little Grandparents rituals too – reading their Grandmother’s old storybooks and demanding repeats of the make up stories they loved last time.
The great benefit of visits to wise Grandparents create the cherished childhood memories that are with you forever – delicious old fashioned meals and round the table chats, simple family values, with lots of fun and bit of a laugh, no pressure, no outside commitments and the comfortable easy familiarity between the generations.