Children’s relationships with grandparents will vary, depending on their geographical distance; some will be very close, others more distant, which alters how they might interact. I have many memories of my paternal grandmother, with whom we lived when my parents separated and divorced, and early life memories of my Welsh grandparents with whom we often spent weeks during school holidays. Each of them added to the sum of my existence, either through proximity or quality extended time that allowed walking and talking. None of them was particularly well off, but all were generous with their time.
They form a part of “my story”, my personal history and a rich vein of inspiration. I learned what resilience was from my gran; click to read the blog, whereas my love of nature came from my miner Uncle Don, who would walk the hills with us after a night in the pits.
I used the following short story many times during my career, within PSHE type activities, looking at the inter-relationships between generations.
The story, written by Lynn Bottomley when she was aged ten, appears in the book Wordscapes, by Barry Maybury, OUP, 1970, a book that was given to me by my first ever mentee, in 1978. Short stories are an excellent thing to have on a “just in case” basis, for those five minutes that often occur, sometimes at short notice.
Georgie and Grandpa
Two of the most interesting characters I have met are my little brother Georgie, aged two months and my great Grandfather, aged ninety-seven years and two months.
I am interested in both.
To my amazement their needs are similar and yet I would have thought that Grandpa would have had fewer needs than Georgie. After all, Georgie has need to develop the habits of taking care of himself, whereas Grandpa has already learned these things, yet I have heard mummy say that Georgie is too young to eat meat and Grandpa is now too old for it.
Georgie must be treated with care and gentleness because his bones are weak through lack of age – Grandpa’s bones are weak from over-age.
The house must be quiet when Georgie sleeps because he wakes so easily. Grandpa always goes early to bed and otherwise spends much of his time dozing in his rocking chair.
Grandpa has outgrown the use of a comb and Georgie has not yet grown old enough to need one.
Georgie has not yet the need to a tooth-brush. Grandpa stopped cleaning his last tooth four years ago and cannot manage with the new-fangled ones.
Georgie is quite inactive having not yet the strength or ability to walk by himself. Similarly, Grandpa is unable to walk because he has “screws”!
Little Georgie is without understanding and wisdom and my grandfather is past the age of having to understand; his attitude to be wise, as he was a few years ago, is now gone with his memory.
Sounds mean nothing to either of them. Grandfather cannot hear them and Georgie is not yet interested in where they come from o what they mean.
Sometimes Grandpa utters little mumbling noises to himself which mean nothing to either himself or anybody else, unless little Georgie understands them because he also does the same thing; perhaps they are talking to each other in a language of their own!
Both need warmth and are well wrapped up in shawls. Grandpa sucks his pipe while Georgie sucks his thumb.
Perhaps that’s what adults mean when they say, “He is a chip of the old block!”
Oh, I forgot to say that Grandpa’s name is George…