Sunday, 12 August 2007

"Grandma Envy" published August 12

Grandma envy is not something many women admit to. When you have adult children it is usually a signal to stop wearing underwear, remind yourself that “flirt” is not a dirty word and take up Ceroc dancing. I’m not one of those women. I can’t wait for grand children. My own kids grew up at SPQR so I figure it’ll be business as usual with the grand kids.
Which is why I’m practicing on Cleo. She’s four, and one of those kids you would repeat order if you could. She ticks all the right boxes from cute as a button right through to immaculate comic timing.
She came to stay for five nights. In anticipation I bought her a pink cuddly rug, a gypsy skirt, a bunny rabbit, two princess books and junk food. I’m not sure why I bought the baby rug but it was soft and cuddly and it made me feel grandma’ish.
What I didn’t realise was that no one else in my house was feeling remotely grandma’ish.
“Did you think about consulting the rest of us before bringing another child into our home?” said the indignant husband.
I think he was about to say: “A dog is not just for Christmas, it’s for life!” but thought better of it.
Men can be such pricks sometimes. Especially when proving points about consultative practice which is a theme we’re working on at present. Not to mention the new theme which emerged when Cleo came to stay called “doesn’t lift a finger.”
Non envious grandparent of the future chose to ignore the overwhelmingly positive and gorgeous presence of my practice grand-daughter.
So it was me and Cleo with some help from the adult kids who found her vastly amusing on the topic of nude male paintings.
“I have to move, I’m sick of looking at that man’s penis,” she announced.
Even the dog had something to say by urinating on the kitchen floor as she does when she’s emotionally unstable and coping with the realisation that she has just been relegated one notch further down the food chain. And Pearl the nine-year-old requested a day off at her friend’s house.
“I just need some space Mum. You know how it is.”
Meanwhile Cleo, sensing my acute aloneness in a house of many subtly worked on the husband in an impressively early display of sisterhood.
“Oh you are so tall,” she would say eyeballing him with her clear green eyes. “Uncle Paaauuulll can I have a cuddle.”
Good girl.
I tried to hide my exhaustion from Cleo. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to get my arse off the couch to watch a child have a bath, read bedtime stories or negotiate with a pre-schooler. “I don’t want to!” are four words Cleo uses a lot.
“I’ll give you a piece of chocolate!” were seven words I used a lot.
On the third night after I had cooked a meal for 10 (our usual contingent on a Sunday night) Cleo slipped in a puddle of emotionally unstable dog urine and everyone just kept on eating. As I calmed her and the dog down, changed her clothes and put dog out the back I caught a look of horror from the five big kids. And it was directed at Paul. The normally hands-on, can’t do enough Father of the Year. He was nonchalantly forking spaghetti into his mouth and looking the other way. Too nonchalantly. The kids were not impressed.
“Why is Mum behaving like a single parent?” my eldest daughter demanded to know in a reassuring display of sisterhood.
More spaghetti. More nonchalance.
“She saw me and ran up and gave me a huge hug!” he announced the next day after picking her up from day-care having casually mentioned that he could probably manage it on his way home from work.
“She’s soooooo gorgeous,” said Uncle Paaauuulll. “I’ve bought her a green umbrella. I can’t wait to be a grandpa,” he gurgled.
I put my feet up for the first time in days.
And then she was gone. Swept up by her tanned parents who reacted quite calmly to the news that “Aunty Wendyl gives me chocolate if I go wees before bed” which were the first words to tumble out of her deliciously funny mouth.
The dog is only just back to her normal non-urinating inside self and Cleo left behind the baby blanket and the green umbrella.
But they’ll be waiting anxiously for her next time, as we both are.

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