Grandchildren are your children twice over

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When we were all younger, I wrote about my three sons. In the words of Sir Thomas More, their characteristics strangely tugged at my heart, and like More, I fed them cake, ripe apples and fancy pears. Among other things.

Hands of various agesBut eventually there was a mild rebellion about the writing, in the course of which my eldest threatened to send me a bill. Now I write about my grandchildren, three boys and a girl, who are too young as yet to be so commercially minded.

Years ago friends used to assume that I was simply pining to become a grandmother. I wasn't. 'Why do I need more people to worry about?' was my cry, having learned the hard lesson that fear is an integral part of parenthood. (But of course I certainly didn't want to send the grandchildren back once they had arrived.)

I was mindful then of Francis Bacon's notion that children increase the cares of life, but now that I am older I agree with his added idea that children also mitigate the remembrance of death, for it seems a wonder that I am now witnessing the growth of another generation.

A fortunate life, I think, falls in-between generations. I have had a fortunate life, and in a particular sense, a very long one, for it takes in 130 years: my eldest grandparent was born in 1886, and my youngest grandchild is only three weeks old. I can remember my three grandparents well, even now.

And the grandfather who predeceased me also had a presence, thanks to the continued efforts, via photographs and reminiscences, of his widow, who felt we descendants had missed out in not knowing him. I'm sure she was right; I know I felt sorry for the children of my acquaintance who had no grandparents at all.

For years I had it in mind to take up the matter of gender differences in reproduction with an equal opportunities commission, or like body, for I thought it very unjust that men can keep on reproducing more or less forever, while women cannot.

But a chance listening to a radio program set me straight: a scientist explained that women stop reproducing for an excellent evolutionary reason, in that the energy that would have gone into the rearing of their own (many) children can now go in to sustaining their children's offspring. Thus grandmothers play a vital role in ensuring continuity.

 

"The photo my son took for me shows her looking positively indignant ... this rebellious female was certainly striving against her swaddling bands, while already piping loud and piping wild."

 

Well, I did my humble bit just recently in minding my youngest grandson Orestes, now three-and-a-half, on the day his sister was born. He was very good, although inclined to look askance when sighting me after his afternoon nap. He said nothing, but I could almost read his thoughts: 'What! Are you still here? You're not the person I want.' But a couple of renditions of 'Waltzing Matilda' and 'Click Go the Shears' improved his mood. I'm not joking: such Australian propaganda has always been part of my motherly and grandmotherly mission, for women are the ones who transmit the culture, after all.

Then it was time to visit my granddaughter. A big half-Cretan girl, she weighed in at more than 4kg, and did not seem to have been greatly impressed by her abrupt leap into this admittedly dangerous world. The photo my son took for me shows her looking positively indignant, and a friend confirmed the memory of Blake's 'Infant Sorrow': this rebellious female was certainly striving against her swaddling bands, while already piping loud and piping wild.

Blake fortunately also wrote a counterpart 'baby' poem quite opposite in mood: 'Infant Joy', in which he expresses the wish of most parents and grandparents.

 

I have no name ...
What shall I call thee?
I happy am,
Joy is my name,
Sweet joy befall thee.

 

Names are very important in Greece, but my children have again broken with tradition. So my granddaughter will not be named after me, thank goodness. Instead, she is to be called Natalia, which means 'birthday of the Lord'. Despite the fact that she was not born near Christmas Day, she is of course a miraculous present. Like all grandchildren. The Greeks say that grandchildren are your children twice over. And how right the Greeks are.

 


Gillian BourasGillian Bouras is an expatriate Australian writer who has written several books, stories and articles, many of them dealing with her experiences as an Australian woman in Greece.

Main image by Judith Garcia via Flickr

Topic tags: Gillian Bouras, grandchildren

 

 

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Existing comments

Gillian, I don't want to sound like a Hallmark card. But CONGRATULATIONS!
Pam | 19 August 2016


Wonderful piece, thank you Gillian. I feel that my grandchildren are my second chance to get it right. A very young mother, as a granny i feel wiser and much more relaxed. My grandmother used to say, "Your grandchildren are your reward for not killing your kids", and my wonderful mother-in-law believed that grandchildren and grandparents got on so well because they had a 'mutual enemy'. Some truth in both sayings, I think! Loving grandparents provide respite, not just for the parents, but for the grandchildren as well.
Pamela Pemberton | 22 August 2016


Thank you for sharing the joy! Each new life is indeed a miraculous gift, and a grandchild is like a gift from the future to the past, and vice versa.
Jena Woodhouse | 22 August 2016


You are obviously doing a fantastic job and have done so in the past. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and observations with us and congratulations on the latest grandchild!
Maggie | 23 August 2016


Interesting read and so true. Recently we went on a holiday with my two grandsons - seventeen months and three years old. We stayed by the sea in a lovely apartment, with lovely views of the ocean. We visited a Buddhist Temple, a lighthouse, saw a blowhole, spent hours in playgrounds and on the beach - but the highlight of the trip was being in the back seat of the car on a that long journey, joining year old Johnny in renditions of Old MacDonald's Farm and the Hokey Pokey; something I didn't have time to be really present for when raising my own children. So lucky to be a grandparent.
Anne Kostaras | 25 August 2016


Grandchildren remind us of that special thing we did: nurturing our children. Then we get to watch with amazement and pride while our children have their turn. Thanks Gillian.
Stephen Hicks | 01 September 2016


Dear Eureka Street, In most critical stuation, I discover a piece of paper with quotations from Eureka n my handwritng, complete with the address of Father Frakt T Brennan, and also Andrew Jakubowicz, a Polish Australian I knew from eralier research visit to Oz. A few days before, some lunatics robbed me and eliminated all my Australian contacts from my Seagate External Modem, I suddenly feel a great loss , unable to describe it in words, that I have lost my 33 years contact with Australia, began in my career as a young assistant at the English department. I feel this intense drive to claim back my Australianness-Indonesian Australian, who has been dealing with Australia for 33 years, as old as my son Heinrich. Such a long engagement. Your Christmas edition today underlines precisely what I have in heart and mind. Merry Christmas to all at Eureka and God Bless Australia.
Reni Winata | 21 December 2016


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