Grandparents – Treasures or Terrors?

My four children have perfect teeth, 4 x 32 = 128.

That’s 128 reasons to love my mum, their grandmother, right there. She would line the four of them up, or prop them against something if they were too young to stand, and count to one hundred all the time  eyeballing them to make sure teeth got brushed thoroughly top and bottom, inside and out. Then, when she reached one hundred she would start all over again and make them brush some more. The reason they needed to brush their teeth so thoroughly ? Nanny had a sweetie bag the size of a family suitcase that was never closed to  little hands.

On Radio 5 Live’s Tony Livesey’s programme last night I took part in a discussion about how grandparents are too soft and can make their grandchildren fat and indolent. Lots of callers and texters to the programme complained about grandparents being over indulgent.

 My children worshipped my mum and dad.  They shared a common enemy – me.  I was horrified that my dad allowed my children and their friends  climb trees and swing upside down from pencil thin branches on the walk home from school.  And they loved it when he got them to roll up a week’s supply of cigarettes using his tin of tobbaco and rizla red papers, especially the licking part.  I only found out about that when they wrote about fag making in their school diaries and the teacher showed me…..

My experience of grandparents is that they have a unique combination of patience and kindness that mums with jobs and menstrual cycles could never equal.

Last night I defended them to the end on radio because I believe they are national treasures. What’s your grandparent story?

8 comments to Grandparents – Treasures or Terrors?

  • My granddad was a Yorkshireman and when we went round to his house he used to make us great slabs of Yorkshire pudding which we ate before the meat and potatoes. I loved that. And then, for pudding, we sometimes had bits of it that were leftover, sprinkled with sugar or spread with jam. Oh yum.

  • I have no real knowledge or memories of my grandparents as both sets died when I was about 4 or 5. However, my own 4 children were blessed to know and love their Nanna and Grandad and through them I realised just how wonderful these two people made my children’s lives. Endless love, time and patience not to mention those fantastic and unforgetable stories of their life in Ireland—— topped only by tales of their Dad and their two aunts!!!!!

  • My granddad in Ireland used to call me the Sugar-Snatcher. The reason? He was a retired baker and would take me down to where he used to work and let me eat handfuls of sugar from a gigantic vat in the store room out back. It is one of my fondest childhood memories but probably also the reason why I now only have one tooth 😉

  • Pauline

    Love the fag-rolling story! Classic. I’m a molly-coddler by nature, so my children revelled in the freedom they experienced at their grandparents’. My father (retired teacher) had a 3 acre smallholding and taught them, at an appallingly young age, to drive the ride-on mower, pluck chickens, plant potatoes and mix mortar – whatever needed doing, he’d involve them.

    He did get a bit cross when my son tried to chop down one of the trees in the orchard, but genuinely couldn’t understand why I blamed him for letting a five-year-old play with an axe in the first place…

  • Julie Pereira

    I remember drinking the white froth from my Nan’s daily glass of Guinness and putting sugar in it to make it sweeter for her and I. I was only about 7 or 8 so started drinking young! She also taught me how to tell the time.

  • Fran, yorkshire pudding and jam sounds gorgeous in a pancakey way. I can see why that would work.

    Moya, patience is what grandparent’s never seem to run out of and children know and love that.

    Pauline, your derring-do dad sounds a scream. I know the axe part is shocking but the thought of plucking chicken…….

    Julie, sugary Guinness. Sounds ideal for washing down yorkshire pudding and jam – see Fran’s comments.

    There was a lot of love and warmth in all those grandparent memories, thank you.
    Anna May x

  • Molly

    Thanks to my wonderful grandparents I learnt key life skills that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Poker, 21 and trumps – all with 2penny chips – is my forte. I make a roll up in about 10seconds flat which ceases to amaze my friends especially since I have never smoked in my life. I always dry in between every toe after a wash as my brothers and sister and I are in the elite club, thanks to my Nanny, who knows that your toes will fall off if you fail to do this!
    Every time I see all 10toes I am eternally grateful I know my grandparents.

  • Anna May

    Hello Sugary Siobhan, your grandad sounds like a sweetheart!

    Hi Molly, I am certain your lovely grandparents are smiling down on you right now.

    Anna May x