It was the school holidays and the call came from the younger five (6-9yrs) grandchildren who do not live with us. ‘We’re bored can we come to your place tomorrow?’ Three girls and 2 boys so I decided to do the unexpected – throw a birthday party for no-one, with all the balloons, party eats, party poppers, hats, and even a cake complete with candles. You should have seen the looks on their faces when they came in, “Whose birthday is it?’ they asked, “Nobody’s!’ I replied. 

The look of puzzlement crossed the face of the male aged nine years old. ‘Why?’ he asked. “Well, why not?” I replied. We even sang happy birthday to nobody. We all had a wonderful day (Nan included) playing ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf?’; balloon fights; and some sort of fantasy game they made up, where the boys versed  the girls with magic powers (a glow stick sufficed as the magic wand). The game was a cross between Star Wars and some evil Ninja game and I might add the girls won. That is because Nan surrounded the girls in a magic light that the boys could not penetrate, and all four of us girls sang to them in our sweetest voices. Well, that sent them packing. Yay girl power! Even the late teens we raise joined in (with the food eating that is) fairy bread being their favourite! Who would have thought?

And not once did these young grandchildren say,  ‘I’m bored’ or ask to watch a DVD or go on the computer.

It was a joy to see the smiles and hear the laughter between them all and watch the bond that grew between the cousins. These simple things are what make memories, I like to think long after I have gone, they will smile as adults when they say “remember the day Nan had a birthday party for no-one”.

Do the unexpected and have fun! Goodness only knows what they told their parents when they got home! Although I did hear back they were all early to bed that night, not sure if it was through exhaustion or because of the sugar high! One is never too old to have some family fun, although I had to have a sound Nana nap after they left, as this being a kid and having fun is tough work!

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Diane Vivian is the founding member and chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ. When in 1997, Diane Vivian took over the care of her small, traumatised grandchildren, she could not believe the stress she encountered. Setting about to discover what help or support was available in 1999, she found there was none! The organisation formed to meet this need salutes all Grandparents/kin who have taken in Grand/kin children and put the needs of those precious ones before their own.

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