I talked to someone yesterday about a grandmother who delighted in her granddaughter, and it got me thinking of my gran again. Gran (Mum’s mum) died when I was 18, but lived close by throughout my childhood. I’d spend whole days with her when I was small. They always finished with a tea of egg sandwiches, sausage rolls, and cheese-flavoured Hula Hoops in a little glass dish. I kept the set of dishes to remind me of her.
Her middle name was Annie, which she hated, and they gave her the nickname “Gentle Annie” at school because she was such a sickly child. Gran was gentle; I don’t ever remember her raising her voice, she was very loving, and I think she was wise too. Once when I was about 13, I was on her settee reading a book. It was a Danielle Steel book – my favourite at the time, but I wouldn’t recommend it now. Gran sat across from me and after a while, she said: “Will you read to me?”
I started reading, but I was just at the point where the daughter of the family was out with an Italian and there was a very explicit sex scene. Embarrassed, I said: “Oh. We’ll skip that bit”. I skimmed over several paragraphs until I found a part I thought was safe to read, but what a clever thing to do. She really made me think, and I knew that what I was reading probably wasn’t acceptable to a grown-up.
If only she’d taken it a step further and said: “If you can’t read it out-loud, maybe you shouldn’t be reading it”. Perhaps she didn’t feel she could do that as a grandparent, and I’m not sure I would have taken any notice, but it might have been worth a try.
Does anyone stand out to you from your childhood? What did they teach you? Can you use their wisdom with your own children?