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Janice Wells: Good granny

Too much cleanliness is bad for children. They need to be exposed to healthy macrobiotics, germs as it were, in order for their bodies to develop resistance to unhealthy ones. Playing in the mud is perfectly healthy thing for children to do.
Too much cleanliness is bad for children. They need to be exposed to healthy macrobiotics, germs as it were, in order for their bodies to develop resistance to unhealthy ones. Playing in the mud is perfectly healthy thing for children to do. - 123RF Stock Photo
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

I consider myself to be a good grandmother. I am fortunate enough to live close to my grandchildren and see a lot of them. They’re here a couple of times a week and we have sleepovers.

Grandson #2 is only seven months old, but Grandson #1 is five now. I am a big part of his life and he is of mine. We play and paint and do all kinds of silly things. I make up all kinds of creative fun that any parent would approve of and don’t give him too much food and drink that they wouldn’t approve of.

That’s all well and good, but experts are now making me feel that I am better than I thought I was and so are many of you, because — TaDa! — some of our old-fashioned ways are better than some new-fangled ideas. 

Of course I know the difference. Any grandmother worth her salt can tell the value of new things that improve a child’s safety; i.e. car seats versus lying in the prized back window ledge.

So now the experts are finally getting through with what sensible grannies have suspected all along; sometimes trying to keep them safe that can do as much or more harm than good.

And too much cleanliness is bad for children. They need to be exposed to healthy macrobiotics, germs as it were, in order for their bodies to develop resistance to unhealthy ones. Playing in the mud is perfectly healthy thing for children to do.

Which is where Good Granny comes in. If I do say so myself, I probably do more than the average grandmother to boost my grandchildren’s immune systems. As much as it distresses me I keep my floors in a healthy unclean condition and if a gumdrop (yes I give # 1 the scattered gumdrop) rolls under the couch I let him fish it out, brush it off and eat it, even if it’s not on the same day. That’s how conscientious I am about building his immune system.

I have extra clothes here for the times when he gets so filthy playing outside that I can’t let him in. He finds it’s even more fun if I am equally filthy.

And speaking of playing, they don’t get to play enough, especially outdoors and even more so unsupervised.

Now that is a tricky one. We know it’s not the same world out there and it certainly depends on the location and age of the child but playing without a parent hovering close by is being recognized as important to developing social and life skills.

I found him up a plum tree once. He ate a whole peanut, shell and all from the birdfeeder and I didn’t rush him to ER.

And indoors you know that putting the living room up in slings using cushions and chairs and sheets to make a fort is much better for the child than screen time.

So now the experts are finally getting through with what sensible grannies have suspected all along; sometimes trying to keep them safe that can do as much or more harm than good.

When he was four, GS#1 learned an important life skill thanks to playing outdoors. Our property lends itself well to hide and seek, but there came a time when I couldn’t find him, front or back. I checked the playset next door. I went to the end of the cul de sac. I called and called, sterner each time. By now I was distraught and close to tears.

Daughter # 1 arrived home and joined the search. She was the one who found him, crouched in the back seat of my car, eating my Tic Tacs.  

I was more upset than he’d ever seen me. I read him the riot act. “Did you think I was dead?” he asked. I said “No, but I thought maybe a bad person had taken you and I might never see you again.”

His little eyes grew big and he said, “You mean President Trump?”

It makes a funny story, but he learned that hiding from his grownups is a bad thing. Who could have imagined that Donald Trump and his separating of families had at least one benefit to one little boy and his family.

Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. She can be reached at janicew@nf.sympatico.ca.


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