These days, a calf or two is born every day on our farm. So when my grandchildren visited this weekend, we trudged through melting snow to see them. The docile calves dozed together in the warm sunlight once their mothers had been turned out for a drink, making it easy for five-year-old Ava to stoop down for a pet. At first, she was leery but soon overcame her fears and stroked the curly heads with a happy smile.
We then made our way to one of the enormous snow piles in our yard and had an impromptu snowball fight. My 14-year-old grandson, Kayden, accidentally hit his frail, aged, and arthritic grandmother in the side of her head. At least, he thought I was frail, aged, and arthritic as he stood at the top of the mound, laughing at me. He soon found that viewpoint to be misguided. I scrambled up the hill after him, tackling the boy as he shrieked and tried in vain to escape. We rolled to the bottom of the hill laughing, and he learned a valuable lesson. Never underestimate the fortitude of a granny.
Being a grandparent is a great gig. We can devote ourselves solely to our grandkids and fill every minute with fun and unconditional love. Love is the essential part. At one point, Ava looked at me with wide, worried eyes, after spilling cupcake batter on the floor, and said, “Grandma, you’ll never get mad at me, right?”
I was able to respond with a hug. “No, honey. Grandma will never, ever get mad at you.” What a deal!
I learned from the best. My own grandmother was a bit of a terror to her neighbourhood in Battleford, SK., but loved her grandchildren fiercely. Unfortunately, due to the location of her home, people often wandered into her yard by mistake, usually after imbibing heavily at the nearby saloon. Sometimes, in a stupor, a group of them would foolishly flop onto her front lawn to rest, or pause to lift a further bottle of brew to their lips in a moment of comradery.
They didn’t stay long. Grandma, white-haired and 5’2”, would snatch up her gleaming, 14-inch butcher knife and charge out the door. Brandishing it high in the air, she’d threaten swift dismemberment if they didn’t “vamoose” and fast. They always did. No one ever objected to that fearless little woman—and her blade.
However, when I was nine years old, I dropped her favourite mixing bowl onto the floor. It shattered on impact, and shards of glass flew across the room. My body stiffened with horror. I glanced fearfully about the room, searching for a hiding spot as her hurried footsteps approached. Where’d she keep that butcher knife anyway?
“Are you alright?” Grandma called. Nodding to her, as she loomed into view, I couldn’t say a word, so great was my dread of punishment.
Imagine my surprise when she wrapped me in her arms and held me close. Then, assured I was fine, Grandma fetched her broom and began to sweep.
“Just one less dish for me to wash, Helen,” she said cheerfully. “No harm done.”
That incident took place fifty years ago but is as fresh in my memory as yesterday.
We grandparents have the ability to shape young lives for the better when we employ our superpower of unconditional love. Grandparents go forth!