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JANICE WELLS: The thin difference between good grannies and bad grannies

There are good grannies and there are bad grannies.
There are good grannies and there are bad grannies.

A while back I wrote a column about good grannies and bad grannies. It was inspired by a book by Mary McHugh. I like Mary McHugh. She made me feel good about identifying with the bad grannies.

Last week was annual grannies’ week for me and my two sisters. This, in itself, proves we are good grannies because bad grannies would consider a week with just the three of us alone in a luxury resort to be the ideal grannies’ week. Not us. Ha ha.

We are good grannies because we congregate for a week at my summer home, by the harbour with a sheltered and shallow shoreline, accompanied by our grandchildren, sans parents.

These little darlings ranged in age from four to nine, four being boys, and the youngest, a girl, resolutely holding her own.

I think I can say with some pride that I am a badder/better, certainly smarter, granny than the other two.

Bless them, they arrived with a load of fruit: apples, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, cantaloupe, grapes and maybe some I’ve forgotten. I felt, correctly so, that this was extremely optimistic. Even a child who loves strawberries will announce he doesn’t like them when his cousin turns up his nose at them, but nobody ever develops an aversion to Creamsicles. I have to give Big Sister credit though for the meal standby of the week: alphabet macaroni and cheese. After all there’s no such thing as too much education and it completely makes up for having ice cream cones for supper on the way home from a hot day on the beach.

Seriously, when the grannies go away for a holiday, do we faithfully eat all things that we know are good for us? Do we stick to regular eating and bed times and choose water over wine? Ha.

That’s what mothers and fathers are for. For 51 weeks of the year, our grandkiddies have conscientious parents knocking themselves out to get them to eat their veggies

Of course, my sisters know that. The only difference between them and me is I am slacker. Which was easy for me to be because with two charges each to my one, and it being my house and all, they took over the responsibility of meals. Out of consideration for too many cooks in the kitchen and all that, I suffered alone with a cold drink on the deck during little people’s supper time, appearing occasionally to say something responsible like, “Just finish that carrot and then you can have a treat.”

We took turns being down by the water with them as they clambered over rocks with their nets, stretching to scoop up minnows. When the tide was out they were on their own. After all, they had a very sensible almost 10-year-old with them; we could see them as we enjoyed our wine and they were less than 30 seconds away. We take what the ad says about letting children enjoy their wildhood just seriously enough.

There was little clean play and I don’t have a bathtub. Big Sister’s two take showers. She had them in there every night. Little Sister only had her two for two nights so she didn’t worry about it. My little fellow doesn’t like showers but I figured as he was in the water every day anyway, what odds? A few times I hosed him off.

Too much cleanliness is bad for children. They need to be exposed to healthy germs for their bodies to develop resistance to unhealthy ones.

Again I prove what a good granny I am. Helping my grandson build a healthy immune system is very important to me. I resisted cleaning the floors except for a scattered swipe around the toilet, and sent him home to his mother with a healthy head of unwashed curls.

Their memories will have nothing to do with nutritious meals and early bedtimes and nightly baths. They will be of hiding under the deck with ice cream sandwiches thinking we don’t know they’re there, water fights and campfires, catching connors off the wharf and being with their cousins.

And of fun times with their grannies.

Janice Wells offers her own unique take on life as a baby boomer, often served up with a twist of humour and a splash of gin. She lives in St. John’s, NL and can be reached at janicew@nf.sympatico.ca.


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