Grannies are one of nature’s mysteries. No matter what kind of personality they started off with in earlier life, be it stressy, bossy or timid – they undergo slow and subtle changes as they get older and by the time they hit 75 they have evolved into calm, wise and quietly spoken authorities, who can steam 7 different varieties of vegetable in one pan and make gravy out of the water.
Oh yes, I am speaking from experience. The granny I am talking about lives next door to us and is my husband’s mum, my mother-in-law and she is amazing.
She is the grand age of 84 and although her knees are not what they used to be, she is as spritely in the brain department as a box full of sprites. She has this wonderful technique of getting any child to do whatever she wants them to do, without them realising that it wasn’t their own idea in the first place. That’s probably the school teacher in her coming out. She is an expert in distraction and interrogation and employs both skills with the controlled precision of a Stealth fighter pilot.
If I walked in to a room full of arguing, shouting children my immediate response would be to shout something at the top of my voice (possibly something not repeatable on here!). This would probably make no difference to the situation whatsoever and as well as having to repeat myself several times, I’d probably end up having to physically carry at least two children out of the room to separate them.
Granny could walk into the exact same scenario and give them “the stare” which would probably stop 90% of all bad behaviour within seconds. She would then follow up the stare with the short phrase “My word!” spoken in a very quiet, calm voice but with the smallest hint of a growl on the r of word. On hearing “my word!” all children would turn into angels, instantly.
Granny has been a God-send to us with regards to childcare. She adores all the children but is undoubtedly closest to Violet (5).Violet and Granny are best friends, there has only been about two days in Violet’s life that she has not spent time hanging out with Granny.
They play all sorts of strange games together, including Violet tying Granny up with scarves, sellotaping her hands together and then holding a smelly slipper in front of her face like a gas-mask, forcing her to breathe through it – this is Violet’s all time favourite game (although I’m not sure that it is Granny’s!).
Granny also endures hours of “Hide and seek” where Violet is surprisingly content for Granny not to get up (because of her knees) but to simply hide behind a few cushions in-situ. Sometimes it takes Violet ages to find her.
Violet, having spent so much time in Granny’s company, has picked up quite an extensive old lady vocabulary. She regularly uses the colours “beige” and “mauve” and has been known to test her bath water “with me elbow”. She can also tell you the name of every variety of flower that you are likely to encounter in a country garden, its colour and its Old English nickname.
Our Granny is punctual to within an eighth of a second. I am rather confused about how she managed to create Jon, who does not reflect even one sequin’s sparkle of this trait. This fact is probably the only thing in the world that winds Granny up and this is a credit to her, as I’m sure we all give her enough reasons to legitimately be in an asylum.
Can other people’s Grannies use the telephone? The phone is not our Granny’s forte in life. She is perfectly able to dial the right number and make a successful connection but when it comes to having a two way exchange of words, she seems to have some kind of mental block. Jon and I think it is because as soon as the other person answers, she is trying to keep tally of exactly how much the call is going to cost her, inside her head. If you happen to catch her on a really good day, you might get three sentences out of her before she abruptly hangs up, whilst you are in mid-sentence.
What she fails to realize is that the fact we have to call her back to finish the conversation, probably incurs a connection charge, making the whole process more expensive than if she’d just stayed on the line to start with. Saying that, other than the telephone thing, I really do not have a bad word to say about Granny, she is the best mum in law in the world.
I am however interested to find out just how unique our Granny is, compared to other people’s Grannies? How many other 84 year old Grannies would climb a ladder to apply filler to a ceiling or help take measurements for stable building, mix cement or babysit five children, so that her son and his wife can fit in a swim session at 9pm on an evening? Or more to the point look after a three year old troll-child for two hours every morning, whilst mum does horse jobs?
I really hope you all have Super-Grans too but I think that our granny will take some beating.