I went to Grandparent’s day at Miss Charlie’s school last Friday. I went as the Nanny (which I guess is kind of like Nana) because her lovely grandparents are located on the other side of the country, tough break. The theme was “Tales Of Time Gone By”, a theme I guess I could cope with OK considering I had a very different upbringing and could therefore bring in the whole grandparent/different era element.
Of course the kids were all a bit excited by the change of routine from the normal school day and on account of the fact that they’d all had late nights and consumed ridiculous amounts of chocolate and lollies for Halloween the night prior. The result of which meant that Friday was a complete write-off where school plans and prescribed learning outcomes were concerned.
Disclaimer: I don’t celebrate Halloween in Australia, nor do many people. For my reasons as to why I think it’s just a hyped up excuse to boost commercialism and generate revenue sales whilst piggy backing another country’s tradition, see this post THE REASON I HATE HALLOWEEN (IN AUSTRALIA). She captures my argument perfectly.
As we started to share our tales, I made sure to emphasise a few key points. Growing up:
- I did not have an iPad and I could not simply amuse myself by playing games all day. Instead we read books and had to be self-sufficient where activity was needed. The outcome I suppose is that I never was bored. A concept that kids these days seem to be all too familiar with and look to the adults to occupy and amuse them.
- I did not have a mobile phone. Well not until I was a teenager at least. And even then I shared one with my brother for the first few years. It was purely designed to keep us in contact with our parents during a long commute by bus to school each day.
- I did not have my own computer or laptop, and certainly not hidden away in my bedroom. We shared a family computer, and that was pretty lucky. For a long time internet was of the ‘dial-up’ variety and extremely slow. Like, a snail’s pace slow, if not slower. Patience was practised and perfected this way.
- Presents were few and far between, usually reserved for birthdays and Christmas. We made a list of all that we wanted, carefully constructed and remembered as the end of the year drew closer. We didn’t get a new toy every time were went shopping just because we really wanted it (what about all the other toys collecting dust in your bedroom that you discarded after the first day?) Also, we didn’t get presents on our siblings birthdays just so we wouldn’t feel left out. It was their day, get over it.
- Pocket money meant accumulating silver coins for doing chores around the house, if you managed to save up to $5 you were doing well. You were encouraged to save it up for something special, lollies and cheap plastic toys were not considered worthy of your hard-earned pocket-money. It didn’t mean getting handed a $50 note each week for the sake of it.
- Dinner was a family affair at the table. No TV. No eating alone in your bedroom. No individual dinner choices because you didn’t really like what everyone else was eating. It was very much, you eat what you’re given or you go straight to bed. Do not pass go, do not collect $100.
- A family event meant donning your best attire, your best behaviour, your best manners and a sunny disposition. You didn’t get to stay home because you didn’t feel like going and you didn’t display a surly attitude once out in the open, and
- School Holidays were the best times ever. They were glorious weeks spent exploring your house and neighbourhood, playing with the neighbours and inventing new games. They were not mandatory reasons for your family to whisk you away to a tropical destination and enrol you in kids club out of fear of you not having a good time.
Of course I had to stress these points, to emphasise the contrast in perspective and expectations. The contrast in values. After all, I had to give her the proper grandparent experience. It wouldn’t do any good to simply let her think that all of us grew up the way she is lucky enough to. She must learn to appreciate what she has. She must learn the value of things, to count herself fortunate and to take every opportunity as though it may not come around again. She must learn to be thankful.
As Grandparent’s Day came to a close I glanced around the room and as my eyes made contact with several other “oldies”, we all seemed to share a similar little grin. It seems a little camaraderie goes a long way, we’d all managed to convey a message to our little ones. Whether that message was truly received and processed, only time will tell. But for now,
The disillusionment of life as it seems was well on its way. Job done. How very cheeky of us.