Negligent Granparenting

A few days ago my daughter called and asked me to take care of 2 grandsons for the day.  She was working in A&E at Atherton hospital, but her partner could quite easily have looked after them.  They had requested to come here which gave me a little glow of appreciation.  So Henry 7, and Philip 5 were dropped off in the morning and promptly raided the fridge.  Not that their parents don’t feed them, quite the contrary, but they are always on the lookout for variety and treats.

Later, after I had serviced a cottage and they had demolished several saplings around the house, I told them that the guests at Blackbean Cottage included a boy and girl just a bit older than them.  Que Henry.  He is very outgoing and gregarious.  He likes meeting new people, young and old, and has no hesitation to just knock on the door of their cottage and introduce himself.  I am in awe of  his confidence and trust in the good will of people, that he can do that quite unselfconciously.  I am 10 times his age but perhaps that just means 10 times his baggage of inhibitions.  Philip tags along in his brothers wake out of curiosity.  I don’t see them for a couple of hours until Philip comes back for a snack and energy recharge before disappearing again.

coppery brushtail Possum

Then Henry pops by because he wants to change into swimming gear.  I offer him some lunch but he declines being too busy with new friends.  This surprises me as he always eats well and often demands the menu and eats astonishing amounts of food.  I don’t see him for the rest of the day except when I am feeling guilty about neglecting them and sneak down to the sounds of children playing and see through the trees Philip and Henry in the dam spillway being organised by a slightly older girl into some kind of game or competition.  I hear happy sounds of shrieks and excitement and retreat unseen. Later Philip turns up totally plastered in mud with it dripping though his hair.  They had been swamp diving around Blackbean Cottage.  I hose off this creature from the black lagoon outside before I let him near the shower.  Philip has had  enough of socialising in the afternoon and comes for snacks and television.

Their father Blue comes to pick them up late afternoon, and only Philip is available.  I haven’t seen Henry for hours.  We track him down to the sauna hut and he has been in the sauna with the guests and plunging into the dam for most of the afternoon.

So I have to confess my negligence of responsibly looking after my grand children.  I didn’t know what they were doing for most of the day.  I guess that means I trusted them to look after themselves, which has a profound effect on their self esteem.  I trusted them to be good friends and respectful of my guests, which they did.

I think my grandkids  had a good day with many sensual and social experiences.  I could have structured their day, but I think I did better by stepping out of the way.



  1. Simone Johnston says:

    This has left me grinning ear to ear. Not only can I fully picture the ‘swamp diving’ (as my boys have done so often by Blackbean) but also how those bits of freedom and trust shape our young people. If I’d been a guest at this time we would’ve loved having your grandsons join us and show us the ropes!

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