Category Archives: Children

Happy Granma’s Day

Looking back over my blogging years, I have found several that I really like.  This one from July 2012 is a favourite.  I hope you don’t mind reading it again.

The boys are all older now but they still give me much joy.

Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends – and hardly ever our own grown children.  ~Ruth Goode, author 1902-1997

I particularly like the quote from Ruth Goode.  She was an author who , according to her obituary in the New York Times “wrote about subjects as disparate as the scenic attractions of Maine, advancements in medicine and the life of the impresario Sol Hurok…..”  And she obviously loved her grandchildren.

Three boys

Child labour?

I’ve had a really special day today.  Three of my four grandsons have been here and what a joy they are.

They range in age from 12 to 16 and still get on well.  The 16-year-old is particularly careful to include the youngest one in everything, although he is well able to look after himself.

Having picked one up from his mother’s office and the other two from the train station we set off for the garden center to collect the final two bags of stones for the patio.  I was planning to use some of their time with me (and their energy) to get this job finished eventually.  It’s never too early to learn there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Well…Granma was so busy talking that she got onto the motorway by mistake and had to drive miles out of her way before arriving at the garden center.

Here we were greeted like long-lost friends.  Lotte and I have been regular visitors to the center since the patio was fist thought about.  And they recognized Jae (the youngest) from our last visit.  So, purchases made the boys loaded the bags into the back of my car and we set off for home.

They came in for a drink and biscuits before starting – don’t all workmen?  They certainly do here in New Zealand.  And for the next half hour the street rang with their laughter as they spread the stones, filling in the blanks that Jae and I had missed last week.

Two boys working

James and Jae – the oldest and youngest working together

Lotte helping too

And four extra hands/paws are welcome

Rob

Rob beavering away but can’t we afford shoes?

James and me

Sharing his muddy hands with Granma!

Soon it was finished and everybody had a great time.  Isn’t it so true that many hands make light work?  And what joy to be surrounded by happy, laughing, young folk.

Then lunch.  Easy to feed growing boys.  Plenty of sausages, buns, mayo and tomato sauce and the boys made their own hotdogs.  I demurred.  Hotdogs are not among my favorite things.

Sausages

Now what to do for the afternoon?  They couldn’t make up their minds.  Of course, they were slightly constrained by the fact that Jae still had his leg in a cast.  So I made the decision.  Sir Peter Jackson and Weta, the animation and special effects company – Lord of the Rings, The Last Samurai, King Kong, Xena Warrior Princess among others – are based in Wellington and they have the ‘Weta Cave” a museum open to the public.  Strangely none of us had been there before and so we took ourselves off.

Weta Cave

Weta Cave photo Scoop

This was very interesting as it had models from all the films Weta and Sir Peter have been involved in and of course, they had many collectibles for sale.

Three very well behaved brought up young boys asked for nothing.  A big change from when they were younger.

Of particular interest to me was the short movie/DVD giving a behind the scenes look at Weta and interviews with the founders and directors of the company.

Roxy Cinema

At the opening of the Roxy Cinema in April 2011

And then on to the Roxy Cinema.  This is another of Weta’s projects.

The old cinema had been abandoned years ago.  It was derelict and had been so for some years, following a brief period as a shopping center.  The shops were very sad and there was no good reason ever to go there.

Several years ago the building was bought and saved from demolition by Jamie Selkirk, best known for his role as editor on the Lord of the Rings films. The building lay empty for several years during which time Selkirk won several Oscars.  He then enlisted the help of Tania Rodger, manager of Weta Workshop, with a view to rebuilding. And the final product can only be described as stunning.

In April, the ‘cream’ of Wellington society was invited to a gala opening.  The theme was 1930s and as you can see from the photos even the cars were authentic.

The Roxy has a rather pleasant cafe on the ground floor.  So after touring around the cinema we sat for a breather – tea for Granma (well, I am English after all), coke for one boy, hot chocolate for another and for the third, and eldest and so sophisticated, iced coffee.Iced coffee

James has just finished a six week course through school on making coffee – Barista training.   Apparently this was an elective and he will get eight points for doing this course. When questioned he said he thought it was really for those boys who would not stay on for another year and might get a job making coffee.

Then, with his new found knowledge, he regaled us with how one makes iced coffee and assured me that no, we couldn’t make one in the blender at home.  We need an espresso machine to froth the milk.  Don’t have one and am not about to get one.  Sorry James.

So our adventures ended.  A trip home where they watched a DVD.  My son and his wife joined us for dinner and then later my daughter and her eldest son came in for a short time.  Drew had been competing in a water polo tournament in Auckland and Cate had picked him up at the airport and thought she would call in not only to pick up her younger son but also to catch up with her brother, his wife and their boys.

It was lovely to have both my children and all their children together.  A rare happening and a fitting ending to my lovely Granma’s Day.


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A Pregnant Pause

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
Lyndon B Johnson, 36th US President

She never opened an email from an unknown address.  So why did she that time?  She couldn’t give you an answer.

The email was from a young woman looking for her birth mother.  Many years ago, far too many years ago, Sandy had been caught up in the headiness of the 60s.  Beads, music and free love.  Such carefree times that she and her friends  really thought would never end.  But they ended when she discovered she was pregnant.  Only 17 years old, estranged from her parents and her only friends were members of this hedonistic set. Where to turn?  There was nobody in her set to confide in or to give her any advice.

Then for the first time in many years she found herself in a church.  She had passed it many times but today when she saw the open door she went inside.  She sat down in a pew at the back and quietly thought about her situation.  How could she deal with it all alone?

A quiet voice intruded into her chaotic thoughts “You are troubled my child.  Perhaps I could help?”  The speaker was an elderly clergyman who had noticed her sitting at the back of the church for a long time.  His quiet voice interrupted her thoughts and she burst into tears.  She then told this kindly gent her problems.  She had no family to turn to, no money and few friends and she was pregnant.

But of course in those times, the clergyman had heard this tale many times.  Young people thinking they were invincible and convinced that nothing bad could happen to them.  He told her of a home for unmarried mothers, where she could stay until the child was born.  She would have to work while she was there in the laundry or the kitchen until her time to give birth was close.  She didn’t much like the idea of institutionalised living but really did she have a choice.

The alternative was crawling back to her parents.  Her mother would have been ashamed and less that supportive and her father?  Well he would have retreated into his study and let her mother deal with the situation.

No, the option being put forward by this clergyman was the better of the two.

He excused himself to make a phone call leaving her alone.  She thought again of the alternatives to what he was suggesting.  Maybe somebody knew of a way to get rid of the unwanted child.  She knew there were people who would perform this operation for cash. But she didn’t have any cash and she didn’t know anybody who would lend her some and most of all she didn’t know who amongst her friends and acquaintances would know where to find such people.  So the home for unmarried mothers had to be the choice.

When the clergyman returned he had on his hat.  He told her the home was a short walk from the church and they could go now.  So reluctantly she left the sanctuary of the church where for the first time in many days she had found some peace.  They took a short walk and ended in front of a two storey house that looked no different from the other family homes on the street.  There was nothing proclaiming its role and obviously those involved in running the home did so quietly.  If she hadn’t been taken there she would have passed it as just another family home.

He rang the bell and the door was quickly opened by a smiling older woman who embraced Sandy and told her welcome.  The house was quiet and comforting.  In the background was the sound of a baby crying but it didn’t disturb the peace she felt in this house.

The clergyman bid her goodbye and after thanks and tears from Sandy, he left her.  She never saw him again.  After the birth of her child she went to the church to thank him but he was no longer there.  He had been transferred to a parish miles away.  So the best she could do was to write a letter to thank him.

A healthy daughter was born and as had been decided the child was offered for adoption.  Sandy knew this was the best/only alternative for this child so after one last hug she gave her up.  She knew nothing of where her child would grow up and with whom.

Through the years she had thought of this daughter.  Where she was and how she was living.  Was she in a loving family home?  Did she have siblings?  What was she doing now that she had finished school?  So many unanswered questions.  But her experiences in those months spent in the care of the women who ran the home, assured her that the couple would have been properly vetted and she just knew they would give her child a good home.

And now, out of the blue this email asking if she could be this woman’s mother.  How did she feel about it.  She had been divorced several years earlier and her only son and his family had emigrated to Canada so she was alone.  Oh they kept in regular touch by phone and Skype.  They visited from time to time and she had been to Vancouver to visit them but apart from a few good friends she was on her own.

Her ex-husband had been told of the adoption but they had never shared the information with their son agreeing that he need never know.  What to do?  Should she/could she ask her ex-husband for help and advice?  She went to bed upset and wondering just what to do….

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
Winnie-the-Pooh A.A. Milne

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing 101: Give and Take

Day 7 and today’s challenge is:

Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else. and

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

I really struggled with this challenge and am not sure if I understood what the challenger was getting at but here is my attempt.

tantrum

“I will not go” she said tearfully, as she stamped her little foot.

“But you must” said her mother. “You have already promised and Suzy will be so disappointed if you don’t go.”

No response; so in her most conciliatory tone her mother offered “Tell you what, I’ll pick you up afterwards and we’ll go to Tony’s for dinner and you can choose anything off the grown up menu”

Suddenly the child was all smiles and in her most beguiling voice she said “Really? Then I’ll have oysters and an enormous hamburger, fries, ice cream and a large glass of chilled champagne to go with it”.

Huh, sometimes we are hoisted by our own petard or maybe just second guessed by a three year old child.

I wrote something along these lines in a Trifecta Challenge some time ago.  You might be interested to read it

Post script – Thanks to those who commented and mentioned that the words were a little out of the usual vocabulary for many three year olds.  I accept this constructive criticism.  I was trying to show that the little girl was copying her mother in choosing what to eat (but perhaps not the hamburger and fries).  I would have been more believable had she said something like “and a large glass of that bubbly drink that you like so much”.

Lucky lucky me

As I have said before, I have lived a blessed life.  An easy childhood with loving, non abusive parents, two supportive sisters,a loving and caring husband and two decent children so the thought of physical and/or mental abuse is very strange to me.

I started on this rant months ago after  reading a post from Elizabeth at Mirth and Motivation entitled My Name is Luka.  I hadn’t heard the song she quotes but it certainly brought tears to my eyes when I listened to it.

Several months ago I wrote on this subject – Excess Baggage – and lamented on the plight of many children here in New Zealand.  We have one of the worst records of child abuse in the Western world and we are so tiny – 4.1 million at the last census.  Note the 2011 census wasn’t carried out because of the devastation caused in the February Christchurch earthquake.  The census has just been completed and it will be interesting to see how many more people have chosen to make their homes here.

It is estimated approximately 15 percent of children are born at risk of abuse, and over 80,000 children witness family violence each year, according to the Child Protection Services (CPS).  How many of those children as they grow up will say (as Luka says in Susan Vega’s song)

“And they only hit until you cry
After that, you don’t ask why
You just don’t argue anymore
You just don’t argue anymore
You just don’t argue anymore…

It’s time for us all, wherever we live to stand up and say that this must not be allowed to continue.  While we read about the abuse we hear little or nothing from our law makers as to how we can curb this growing violence.  What can we as members of the general public do to stop these alarming figures from rising even higher?  We can be aware of what is happening around us and if we do suspect abuse in a family then we can and should report it to the Police.  We are assured that confidentiality will be maintained and perhaps, we could be instrumental in helping one small child get away from the regular, or even sporadic abuse.

End of today’s rant.  And an update on the Beautiful Miss Bella.  For the first time today she was left in the house alone for a couple of hours.  When I returned she was sitting on the living room window sill patiently for me.  And what a welcome I received.

Later in the afternoon we went for a short walk in the dog park where she encountered several new friends.  Well I hope they will become friends in time.  I am continuing to be entranced by this lively little clockwork toy that I have let into my life.

Dogs have given us their absolute all.
We are the centre of their universe.
We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps.
It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
Roger Caras, president emeritus of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
1928-2001

Aren’t Grandsons Wonderful?

Monday afternoon.  Ping – a text arrived from my No 3 Grandson – “Do you by any chance have a set of poker chips.” Excuse me.  This from a 15-year-old to his 74-year-old Grandmother.
I remember I did have something that might or might not be poker chips.  So after some consideration and much digging and hunting I found what I was looking for.
My response – “I don’t know if they are poker chips but I have some things that could be”
Grandson – “Are there many and could I possibly have them for the weekend”.
Me – “Yes darling.  I don’t know what they are.  There are red ones, blue and green and white.  There are 16 of each colour.  If they are any use you may keep them.  How shall I get them to you?”.
Gr – “Sweet I may ask mum to pop by on the way home”
Me -“Good.  See you soon”
Gr – “Sweet”
2 hours later. Me – “What sort of time will you be here?”
Gr – “I don’t know maybe not today”
Me – “OK  I’ll drop them into Mum’s office tomorrow or bring them when I meet her for coffee later this week.”
Gr – “Thanks”
3 days later.  Gr – “Is it today you said you would drop off the poker chips?”
Me – “Yes.  I’ll give them to Mum when I see her this afternoon”
Gr – “Thanks”
6 hours later Me – “Mum has the chips”
Gr – “Thank you so much.”

I wonder why my 15-year-old grandson would think that his grandmother has poker chips?  He didn’t discuss this with his mother just decided that I was the best bet (ooh an unintentional pun).  He is going away for the weekend with the rowing team and so I imagine that poker will be one way they will amuse themselves during their waiting time.  I wonder where and when he learned to play.

I don’t send many text messages.  I would much rather pick up the phone and speak to somebody, but we know that all the young of our species are glued to their smart phones sending and receiving many,many texts daily.  I was pleased to see that Grandson No 3 was not using ‘text speech’ obviously either realised that I wouldn’t be impressed or else he thought that I wouldn’t understand what he was trying to tell me.  Over the past few years texts seem to be the only way that my grandsons communicate with me when we are apart,  So I am learning the art of “texting” although I am firmly convinced that text is not a verb, but in today’s changing world, I shall probably be proven wrong in this.

I just thought I would like to share this with you and see your reactions.

Happy Birthday and You are How Old?

Yesterday my baby boy celebrated his 50th birthday.  How can that be?  Where have all those years gone?

It seems only yesterday that I brought him home from the hospital to the delight of his big sister.  She was enthralled/entranced with this little person and was convinced that I brought him home especially for her.  She doted on this tiny being; was concerned if he ever cried; made sure he had his favourite toys at all times and rarely left his side when he was awake.  She was always the first to go to him when he awoke.

Through the years they had the usual sibling rivalry and yes, some quarrels but each always knew they could rely on the other when the need arose.  When my daughter decided to leave New Zealand on her own for some overseas experience (although of course, she had been away many times with us as a family) people asked my son how he would cope without his sister.

Things changed; time moved on; they moved on.  They met and married their partners and produced children of their own.  I see the same kind of loyalty in each of their families.  They each have two sons and those sons are displaying the same kind of attachment that my children had with each other.

We used to think that ours were particularly close because we had dragged them around the world with us, dropping them into schools and situations that they had not experienced before.  We thought that because they relied on each other at these times, the bond between them was made stronger.

But watching the grandchildren I am now convinced that the family bond is there right from the beginning.  I do know that I have this strong bond with my two sisters.

So Happy 50th my darling.  I hope you have many more birthdays to share with us.

 

Unicorns do exist

The Unicorn is one of the most mysterious of all animals. It has been written about, told about and sung about for centuries and remains one of the ‘great unsolved mysteries’ of our world.

Despite the widely held belief in its existence, it has not been seen in centuries; but I have always known that unicorns do exist.

As a young child I made up stories about them and as I got older and had children and grandchildren of my own, I made up unicorn stories for them too.  One grandson was particularly enthralled by stories of Ronald who had a pet unicorn that he kept in the bedroom of his apartment.  The unicorn, for reasons known only to that grandchild, was called Bert.  Ronald and Bert had many adventures over the years.  Ronald first espied Bert from the window of the school bus and took him home with him.  Well the children were very young and believed anything their Granma told them.

So when I read this email from a friend :

British film director Sir Ridley Scott launched a global film making contest for aspiring directors. It’s titled “Tell It Your Way”. There were over 600 entries.

The film could be no longer than three minutes, contain only 6 lines of narrative & be a compelling story. The winner was “Porcelain Unicorn” from American director Keegan Wilcox.

It’s a story of the lifetimes of two people who are totally opposite, yet, very much the same – all told in less than 3 minutes.

Click here – You’ll see why it won.

And a quote on imagination by Michelangelo –

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo's David

As seen in the Academy of Fine Arts, Florence (Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze)

Forgetful, Responsible er..

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.
Colin Powell

I have blogged before about living in Scotland and some of the adventures (?) that befell me.  One that I have laughed about so often with friends and family is..

We were about to move to Scotland where we had selected a new house that would be completed just about the time the baby was due.  The baby was born in London while her father was in Glasgow – but that’s another story.  Anyway, my mother being a first time grandmother was besotted with this baby of course and when the doctor advised against taking her into a new house that hadn’t had time to dry out, she was overjoyed at the thought of having the baby to herself for a couple of weeks.

At that time it was considered that a brick house needed to dry out after it was built.  Probably the thinking has changed some 50 years on.  So my husband moved into the house, lit fires and aired it ready for us to move in.

I did leave Cate with my mother for about two weeks while I got the house properly ready to welcome this little princess.  I made the journey to London a couple of times I think, during this period.

Pram

Silver Cross Balmoral Pram in Midnight Navy "A classic, hand-built baby carriage that incorporates iconic design with luxurious quality. Trusted by the British Royal family"

Prams then were so different to today’s models that fold up to fit into a car.  My parents bought me the Silver Cross pram like the one in the photo.  Very smart indeed!  We had a pram and a separate stroller that folded and could be taken in the car.

One day after mother and father had delivered my baby to us and returned home to London , I took her shopping.  No car at that time, and a big hill to climb up to the local village.  Baby was ensconced comfortably in her pram and I was gratified at all the admiring comments of the people whom we met.

Anyway, back to my confession.  There was no mall or supermarket in the village and shopping took a long time as we had to go to each individual shop for groceries, meat etc.  And at that time we left our prams with baby inside, outside the shops while we did our shopping.  I finished my shopping with the chemist being the last stop, and then took the bus home.  Yes, I had forgotten that I had the baby.

Bus

Imagine my chagrin when the pharmacist called to ask had I forgotten anything.  My baby was still sleeping in her pram outside his shop.  Oh dear, it took a long time to live that down.  And it was only years later that I started to tell it as a funny story.

And Cate – well she used to say when she was a teenager and in a rebellious mood, that if I really loved her I wouldn’t have left her behind.

Rainbow

My rainbow

More Meanderings on a Monday

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”  ~Erma Bombeck

No Stress

Well it’s Monday again and now that I am ‘retired’ it is just like any other day.

Mondays have been blamed for many things including comparatively minor things like absenteeism and major things like a school shooting.

The song “I don’t like Mondays” was written by Bob Geldorf and became a number one hit in the UK for the Boomtown Rats.  Geldorf has said that he wrote the song after reading a report about 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer,   On 29 January 1979 Spencer opened fire from her house across the street at children playing in a school playground at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California.  She killed the headmaster and the custodian and injured eight children and one police officer. Spencer showed no remorse for her crime and her full explanation for her actions was “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”

I have never been pushed to act in this way even on the occasions when Monday and another working week loomed.  I admit to having occasionally considered a Monday morning “sickie” but quickly dismissed this because as we all know this is the first hint of problem drinking or drug taking.

What else is lurking in this brain on this Monday?

No SPAMWe all hate SPAM but what I hate as much is finding comments made by regular readers and commenters sitting in my Spam folder.  And I really hate that comments I make end up in someone else’s spam folder.

I spent one whole day last week playing catch up – reading and commenting on your blogs and felt very pleased with myself until none of my comments would appear on your blogs.  Perhaps because I made so many comments Akismet thought I was a spammer.  May I ask you to please open your spam box to see if my non-spam comments are lurking there.

Recently Elizabeth at Mirth and Motivation wrote about this and it is clear that I am not the only one to suffer this way.  I have written to both Akismet and WordPress as Elizabeth suggests and am awaiting an answer.  In the meantime, I do hope that you will check your spam box.

French onion soup

Image via Wikipedia

Today the sun shone but it was more like an autumn day than a late summer day.  So after working with my Real Estate Agent friend, we went off for lunch and each had a steaming bowl of French Onion Soup at a local French bakery/cafe.

It was exactly what was needed after a busy morning and certainly set me up for the follow up things I had to do in the afternoon.

cup of latte

Then a call from my daughter found me having a cup of coffee at a coffee shop near her office.  She is so busy that I usually have to make an appointment to see her but today she had time and so did I.  As an added bonus I got to see my two youngest grandchildren, 14 and 12 years old, known by and to their Granma as Darling No 3 and Darling No 4.

Earlier my daughter had told me about her youngest son.  He had been badly behaved yesterday and she had set him a task to clean the inside of the car in retribution.  He didn’t do this and so she took away his mobile phone and told me that he was grounded until his 15th birthday.

It was such a funny tale and improved with her telling of it.  His final riposte was that he was reporting her to the police and she would end up in court for stealing his phone.  Apparently he had bought the phone and so in his mind, she couldn’t take it from him.  I laughed so much as she told me the story that the tears ran down my cheeks and I arrived at my friend’s house to work with mascara runs down my face.  What a good look for a Monday!

So nothing really changes.  I remember the same kind of discussion and penalty (not of course a mobile phone but some other thing necessary to his well-being) when my son was that age.  Children continue to back themselves into a corner that they can’t get out of and it’s only as they grow a little older that they see what they are doing.

So another Monday comes to a close.  And tomorrow we start all over again.

And if tomorrow never comes

“If tomorrow never comes will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day that she’s my only one
And if my time on earth were through and she must face this world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes”
From If Tomorrow Never Comes sung by Garth Brooks.

It seemed that this was the song playing on every radio station on the day my husband died. For years when and if I heard it played I would immediately be transported back to that dark, awful day and would be close to if not in, tears.  I can now listen without the tears but still, remember that day.  Fast forward 14 years….

And  I have to ask how is it that we recognise other people’s children growing and becoming wise and not our own?  Do we still think of them as “our children” even when they are grown and have children of their own?

Recently I was discussing my late husband with a grandson aged 15.  He said that he hadn’t known Grampa but he knew from his parents and his aunt and uncle that he was a ‘good guy’ and that he would have liked to have known him.

Feeling in a rather playful teasing mood I responded that he wasn’t to be trusted as he had promised to love me forever and this wasn’t forever.  My son rapidly jumped in to tell us both that this was his father’s forever. He had loved me until he died and would continue to love me forever. Well, I can tell you that brought me up very short and in rapid time.  How come this child of mine now knows and sees things that I don’t?  All this time I thought I was the teacher and here he is teaching me.

I have had this thought with me for some 14 years – and yes, at the beginning it was an angry thought that over the years has mellowed to be a thought that I had from time to time.  My son has now put it into perspective.   I have always known that “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” and I know that the teacher can be our special other, friend, peer or as in this case a son.

Although my son doesn’t read my blogs I would like to thank him for this insight.   And I really love this quote from Walter M Schirra Sr.  His son is much more famous having been on all of America’s first three space programs (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo).  But I should like to know more about WMS Snr.

“You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons.
And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out
to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes.”
Walter M. Schirra, Sr.