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Happy Grandparent’s Day - here’s my A-Z of being a grandma

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 October 2017

Eighteen month old Charlotte. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Eighteen month old Charlotte. Picture: Sonya Duncan

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Being a grandma is as easy as ABC, awww, baby, cute...

Rowan Mantell with granddaughter Charlotte. Picture: Sonya Duncan Rowan Mantell with granddaughter Charlotte. Picture: Sonya Duncan

A is for Aww, B is for baby, C is for cute

It is grandparent’s day on Sunday October 1, by when I’ll have been a practising grandparent for exactly 18 months, writes Rowan Mantell. Here is my A-Z guide to grandparenting.

A is for “actually she’s my granddaughter,” because you are convinced passers-by will assume the baby you are looking after is your own, what with you being far too young to be a granny.

B is for “but you don’t look old enough!” which is the required reply.

C is for Charlotte, the 18-month-old teaching me how to be a grandparent.

D is for daughter who, it is important to remember, is actually in charge of Charlotte.

E is for elephants, which, like grandchildren, never forget. My daughter is still waiting for a trip to Disneyland, promised when she was four, by her grandparents. I am keeping it real with the biggest treat on offer during the day a week I look after Charlotte being the chance to help me with my apparent obsession with the washing machine and clothes line. Who needs thunder mountain when you’ve got laundry mountain?

F is for forties, with 49 the average age to become a grandparent.

G is for Granny Rowan, which was what I wanted to be called, and for Gamma which is what I am actually called. Could be worse. I know a Gander and even a Gobber.

H is for Hester Maud, the name Charlotte would have been called if I had actually been in charge. Her loss. Well, the world’s loss.

I is for in-my-day, which was a brilliant, yet imaginary, time when everything I said and did was correct. Although even then I was not able to call a baby Hester Maud, partly because my final two babies were male and I had to concede it was not the perfect name for a boy.

J is for juggling. Not that nonsense of juggling children, chores, work, fun, that’s just life. Granddad can do actual juggling and Charlotte is properly impressed.

K is for kitchen which has gone full-circle from toddler death-trap packed with hot things, sharp things and poisonous things, to a useful room where we cook, store stuff, wash-up etc, and back to kid-kill-zone.

L is for laughs. Toddlers are hilarious and, unlike larger humans, don’t seem to mind that you are laughing at them. They actively invite it with all that falling over and mangling words and being both insanely bossy and cutely tiny.

M is for more. More laughs, more love, more fun, more fish fingers.

N is for Nanna. The other grandmother, who can sew, knit and has a doctorate in economics and can do heavy duty DIY stuff, thereby excusing me from having to be any kind of fabulous female role model.

O is for Ogden Nash who said: “When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window.”

P is for Pam Brown who said: “Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.”

Q is for questions. Charlotte hasn’t reached the “Why?” stage. (Despite being super-advanced, obvs. She can sing Twinke, Twinkle Little Star. And count to 10, as long as you are not fussed by what comes between six and eight.)

R is for row-the-boat, wind-the-bobbin-up, baa-baa-dumpty-ring-of-rockabye-roses and other nursery nonsense. Who knew it was still taking up valuable space in my brain? No wonder I can’t remember my new mobile number or the periodic table? Next week: Put an electron in, a photon out, do the helium carbon and titanium about…

S is for the swings, which don’t get any more interesting second time around.

T is for talking, which is just as thrilling second time around.

U is for uncles, which are a very good thing, even when all three can shorten their name to Uncle Ted and two of them insist on doing so.

V is for video. Here’s Charlotte giggling, unwrapping gifts, taking her first step, taking her second step. Here’s her third step, come back…

W is for wondrous white noise, delivered by app to Charlotte when she was tiny and grumpy, and soothing her so much better than even my singing. (The uncles hadn’t yet taught her to yell Nooooooo! as I launched into a lullabye.)

X is for the x-rated words you can’t say, even if they would get a laugh the first time they were repeated.

Y is for YouTube, a vital new parenting tool. Those videos of kittens chase away tears.

Z is for zzz. Let sleeping grandchildren lie, and meanwhile do the grandparent thing properly and rest your own eyes for a few moments…

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