Grandpa, are you going to live here forever?

That was a question from Philip, my 3 1/2 year old grandson.  He had been sitting quietly on a stool at the breakfast bar as I busied about the kitchen.  He had been thinking about the future, and I was quite taken aback.  That he even had a concept of the future was news to me.  Me, him and Possum Valley go way back to when he was a baby only able to crawl.  I was looking after him a day a week with his elder brother Henry doing the grandparent thing and freeing up time for his parents to do work and establish their farm.  So Philip sees me and Possum Valley as part of the furniture.  Always there and perhaps rather musty smelling.

I groped around for an answer, and told him forever is a really really long time, and I wasn’t going to last that long and was going to die before that.  He didn’t have a problem with that as he lives on a farm and has witnessed animal death, nor a problem when I said that everybody dies.  I don’t believe that hiding reality from even the littlest kids does them a favour or even gets past their bullshit filter for very long.  Then came the curious anomaly that he thought his mother would die, but his father wouldn’t.  I let that go.

I went on to tell him that I intended to stay and work at Possum Valley for as long as I could, but would get old and weak so that at some time I would have to stop working and maybe leave Possum Valley.  I couldn’t tell him what would happen after that as I don’t know myself.  I have rarely had such an incisive conversation with anyone, let alone a 3 1/2 year old.

I have always been of the opinion that it is important to respect children, what they think and what they say, and to listen to even incomprehensible ramblings because even if you don’t get the point, it is important to them.  This time it was important to me.  I really need a more comprehensive plan rather than just totter into the future until I fall over.  I will have to have some conversations with my daughters and their partners with a view to phasing me out as required.  Hopefully I can put the plans in place, but the implementation off for a while yet.

Thanks Philip.


  1. How original for 3 1/2 year old Phillip to think that way, only adults ever ask me that question! It’s good that it made you open up a conversation with him, and good that it made you think about the long-term future of Possum Valley (i.e. you). It is a super-intelligent question, and you acknowledge that in your telling – I agree with you about sharing reality with littlies, to a point, as you did when he went on about his mother and father, maybe a trifle too young just yet. But I do see that conversation coming up again, perhaps when Phillip is older, and you may then continue deeper into it for him. How lucky you are to have such youngsters around you, giving you an opportunity to educate them further, and giving you an opportunity to be freshly educated by them! I hope , Paul, that you continue to have these opportunities with your grandkids all throughout your lifelong future years.

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