The Grandmentals

A family snap on Granny’s fridge, check out the fridge magnet placement

A girlfriend of mine has just become a grandmother for the first time. When we first met on a bus in Qatar she was the mother of two young men. G and I met the boys when they came to visit their parents in Qatar, it was fun night where we giggled along at the dynamics of their family. The boys were so obviously their everything and the feeling appeared to be mutual.

When Janice announced recently that one of her boys was to become a father both G and I couldn’t get the smile off of our faces. We were imagining our two friends as grandparents – we knew they’d be fantastic. And after travelling to the other side of the world and waiting patiently for the arrival of a most precious bundle – the Facebook status supplied the news we were hoping for.

“To all my pals with grand children who told me my heart would melt….you were right!”

As a supplier of grandchildren I knew what this meant. My friend Janice had now crossed to the other side. She had now officially become mental. Obsessed. Besotted.

My own mother was never that keen on grandchildren. There was no push, no hints, no questions on plans. My sister had been married for years and my mother never once suggested that a grandchild would be a nice addition. When I announced that G and I were expecting she was delighted but rational. Neither of us had any idea what was coming.

From the moment Granny Max was presented with her first grandchild something changed. Photos began to multiply, purchases were made, shrines were built. By the time the third little traveller arrived Granny Max’s office had become a temple at which mortals could come to worship her grandchildren. A mural of assorted photos filled a wall. How many of these pictures were of my sister and I? Er, let me think….ah yes that’s right, none.

Friends told me that Granny Max had stopped them in the street to share photos, she carried them with her at all times just incase she ran into someone. Anyone who happened to have a child of the same age would be engaged in conversation “How old is your son? Yes I thought so, my grand daughter is three and she’s about the same size…”

My sister and I stopped having the sibling conversation, you know, the one about who was the favourite. We knew that it had become a moot point. We were no longer in the running. These small creatures who climbed on laps and asked highly inappropriate questions about weight, wrinkles and sagging skin somehow held all of the power. They were fed chocolate, served up buffet style breakfasts and pushed on swings for hours – we looked at our parents like strangers. Who were these people? They were unreconcilable from our own childhood. Chocolate biscuits and glasses of milk were served on demand, trips to the bakery became daily events. We scanned through our own childhood memories, a world where water was the only thirst quencher and chocolate necessitated an event. Times had changed.

My mother began to look at me differently. I had become a facilitator, a supplier. I had the gear, the junk, and she needed a fix.

“I can’t explain it” offered my girlfriend Kim “grandchildren are just different, I have to really concentrate on holding myself back. It’s like, well, I just can’t help it!”

As I type I can hear the four little travellers outside of my window, Granny has supplied puzzles that require assembling – it’s a hit, everyone is consumed with building their dinosaur. “Look Granny, look how much I’ve done.” says one traveller “Granny! Granny! Look at mine! This is so cool, thanks Granny!”

It appears the feeling is mutual.

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