When a grandchild is born

Scarlett Rose Williams

There is no point in wishing to be young again. I ponder this profound fact in the hairdresser today while having another colour to cover my rapidly increasing grey hairs.  I am impatient to finish because I am meeting my daughter-in-law Vanessa for lunch with my eight-month-old grand-daughter Scarlett . This is to be the highlight of my day.

It occurs to me that grand-children are the best part of growing “older’’  if you are blessed enough to have offspring who are busy breeding.  There is no doubt that these children of our children keep us young at heart with a spring in our step and a silly smile on our dial.

My dear mother had 13 grandchildren and I have four little darlings, although the two eldest, Samuel, 11 and Angus, 9, are known to have a feisty relationship at times.
Tomorrow Angus begins his AFL footy season for under nines and I know he will be a champion one day.  I am trying to convince him that Port Power should be his team of choice, but he is a faithful Bulldogs supporter.  Samuel is a genius at the computer and is my personal internet advisor.

Speaking of Angus, I grin remembering when I visited them in London on the occasion of Angus’s fifth birthday and he introduced me thus: “This is my grandma from Australia. I love her, but she can be tough sometimes.’’  Out of the mouths of babes!

When  my latest grandchild, Scarlett arrived I was given a delightful booklet Grandparents and Grandchildren subtitled , The delights of being a grandparent by Camille Liscinsky.

Every page holds a gem of wisdom on why being “older’’ is such a blessing – as long as your only son does not call you “elderly’’ as mine loves to do.

One of the many amazing things about grandparenting when you begin to collect multiple grand-children is to witness how they are so different, yet have the same parents.    So, it comes naturally to treat them differently, to note their idiosyncrasies, their capacity for humour,  and what reactions become familiar.  Or as one statement in Camille’s book so aptly states:

Dark-haired, dark-eyed grandson Angus Richards

“I think of our four young grandchildren as embryonic personalities emerging from tiny newborn strangers.’’

And then, if you are are blessed as I am, one little angel arrives who looks remarkably familiar – and to quote Thomas Hardy, who once said : “I am the family face’’. Scarlett, unlike her older cousin, Josephine,  bears the strong visual traits of the women in our family.

Another of Camille’s contributors offers:  “My granddaughter is so amazingly like me: I actually see myself as a child when I look at her. There I am, before my eyes, reincarnated.’’

Scarlett, like her great, great grandmother, has the deepest dark brown eyes like her father,  Serena and me and the three generations before me.

My mother had these blackish velvet eyes and when my father was wooing her he wrote “My darling, your eyes are like limpid pools of velvet darkness’’.  How could she resist such poetry?


Josephine creates a floral centrepiece

And just in case you think this is a flight of fancy, grand-daughter number one – six-year-old Josephine whose blonde hair is like spun gold– tells me, her blue eyes sparkling like the sky:  “Well actually, grandma, Scarlett looks exactly like you .’’

Family likenesses give such joy and when they bear little resemblance, they hold our fascination for their difference. Josephine is enchanting for the simple reason that she is unlike any of my maternal forebears or me.

One grandparent captures this kind of pleasure:  “When I look at my grandson, I see my father’s same sparkling eyes, dotted with a brown fleck.’’

When a grandchild is born we have the wonderful chance of welcoming a new generation to love – and that is such bounty for living 50 or 60 or more years.

Because grandchildren are the link to our family’s past and a bridge to our family’s future.  And if you are like me you are having the time of your life with them.

I am sure you would like to meet my grandchildren – each one a glorious individual.

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