Grandchildren - is there a greater love?

Liz Nice's dad, Roly, and his beloved grandson

Liz Nice's dad, Roly, and his beloved grandson - Credit: Archant

Why are grandparents so different with their grandchildren than they ever were with their children?, asks Liz Nice

Liz Nice and her father

Liz Nice and her father - Credit: Archant

I knew a man once who thought he wasn't very good with children.

When he came home from work, his three little ones would always ask him to play with them and he would often make the excuse that he was too busy with his 'book work' to join in with their games.

The truth was, and they came to realise this as they got older, that he was a little afraid of his children.

He wasn't sure how to play with them.

He didn't think he had quite the right knack of knowing what to say.

So he left his wife to take care of their daily needs, and tried to show his love for them in other ways, by paying for them to go out to places, picking them up from nights out on the town, or asking them questions about their lives which they would generally bat away because he never seemed to be on quite the right tack.

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When his daughter told him that he was going to be a grandfather for the first time, he was so overwhelmed with emotion that he turned to the dog and said, 'Buster, would you believe it, you're going to be a granddad?.'

His children seemed to find this hilarious but he never quite understood why.

It seemed perfectly normal for him to displace the enormity of his feelings about being a grandparent onto the head of the dog.

When the grandson came, his children thought it was a great joke to take a picture of him holding the baby.

He sat there, awkwardly posing, holding the baby out at a little distance.

This seemed to make the man's children laugh at him more than ever.

The grandson grew up but the man still kept him at arm's length somewhat.

But there was something about that little boy.

Whenever the man looked at him, there was a warm feeling, as though the child reminded him of someone.

The grandson was a strange child who didn't seem to realise that Granddad wasn't confident with children.

He would throw his arms around Granddad and tell him that he loved him, not seeming to have received the memo from Granddad's children that Dad just wasn't someone you usually hugged.

A few months ago, Granddad went to a school reunion and saw a photograph of himself during his schooldays, and realised what, or in fact who, the

child reminded him of.

Although the photograph was taken in 1949, it looked as though his young grandson was in the picture.

The man discovered that he and his grandson, as children, looked exactly alike.

Granddad proudly showed the photograph to all and sundry.

He wasn't entirely sure why it pleased him so much; he only knew that it did, very much.

Last night, Granddad was on babysitting duty and his daughter came home from a night out to find her father hiding under the table.

'Granddad has been playing hide and seek,' said her mother, wryly.

Both women had to sit down in shock.

Granddad was still clearly rubbish with children because his hiding place was absolutely abysmal.

His legs were sticking out of the end of the table and he could be plainly seen by anyone who took but a second to look.

His grandson however, was doubled up with laughter and said that granddad's hiding place was the best hiding place ever.

Granddad looked absurdly thrilled.

At the age of 81, Granddad still had no idea how he was supposed to play with children, but his grandson did not appear to

have noticed.

At the age of 81, Granddad still feared he had little knack for knowing what to say to his loved ones, but with this little boy, he found, all of a sudden, that he didn't need one.

Once the game of hide and seek was complete, my son and my father went off together perfectly happily and I realised that when love is locked up and not

always able to be shown, in the end, a little boy who would never even consider that Granddad could be rubbish in any way at anything, was always going to be the one to find the key.