The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

A Grandparent's Love

"Love is the greatest gift one generation can give to another" Richard Garnett

When I was a boy, I was not fortunate to live near my grandparents. Both my mother's and father's parents lived in the Canadian Maritime provinces on the east coast, 3000kms away. Our only contact with them was a brief hello on the telephone during the occasional call from my parents to them.

Every two years, we would load up the family station wagon and drive across Canada to visit our grandparents. The drive was long and there was plenty to see in the ten-hour days on the Trans-Canada Highway but once we got there, it was more than worth it.

The time I spent with the grandparents has always been very special to me. With my mum's dad, who was a carpenter by trade, he taught me how to cut, saw and drive a nail. We built benches and carved wooden sailing boats. He took us fishing and digging for clams (mussels in Australian speak) which were always cooked up and eaten as the central part of the evening parties of guitar music and ruckus games of "Trump".

My father's parents were more reserved and the times with them were much quieter. Grandpa would usually sit in his chair, read the newspaper and look out the veranda window at the neighbourhood. My most quality time was spent with my grandmother. She baked scones for me, taught me how to knit and how to play "Crib". We would spend hours together each day talking, and she would tell me about my dad and his sister and brothers and what they got up to as children. It was wonderful to hear her stories and on reflection, those times have and do mean a great deal to me.

I look at my own children and I am grateful that they have had my wife's parent close by. Their presence in my children's life has been so very important to them as people and it has fostered the important grandparent grandchild relationship that does so much for a child.

A child's relationship with their grandparents is very special. It is a relationship of comfort and security. A child's interaction with their grandparent can provide insight into the childhood of their parents.  The child will feel a great deal of love from their grandparent, but it is a different kind of love. A love that at times is more indulgent but one that children respond to. It is a love that is second in importance only to that of a parent.

Grandparents may turn a blind eye to the more minor misbehaviour that a parent may not, but this is done from a lifetime of experience and the clear knowledge of what really matters. They do set boundaries, but they want their grandchildren to have the freedom to be themselves. Grandchildren may stretch the boundaries knowing the love of a grandparents will not waiver. They are champions for their grandchildren, mentors for their problems and will stand by them through thick and thin.

On Friday 25 October, the Junior School welcomed the grandparents of our boys. The day features two assemblies and a shared picnic, where the boys had the opportunity to show off their grandparents and in their own way thank them for the love they show them. It was a very special day.

I would like to suggest to our parent that they may like to share with their sons some questions they might like to ask their grandparents.  These questions may help the boys to learn more about their grandparents.

  1. Were you named after a family member or does your name have a special meaning?
  2. Do you have a nickname that your siblings or friends call you? How did you get the nickname?
  3. Where were you born? What was your house like as a child?
  4. How did your family spend time together when you were young?
  5. What was your favourite subject or teacher in school?
  6. What is the most important lesson that your parents taught you?
  7. What did your friends do for fun when you were young? Did you have a best friend?
  8. Did you have a favourite toy as a child?
  9. Did you get an allowance? How much was it and what did you spend your money on?
  10. Did you ever get in trouble as a child or teenager?
  11. How did you meet grandma/grandpa? What was your marriage proposal like?
  12. Where was your wedding?
  13. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  14. Where have you lived? Tell me about your first house.
  15. Where have you travelled? What is your favourite city to visit? Do you have a favourite family holiday memory?
  16. What is your favourite memory with your children?
  17. What could you tell me that I would be surprised to learn about you?
  18. What is your dream for your children and grandchildren?
  19. What were your grandparents like?
  20. What is the earliest memory that you have?
  21. Tell me about the day when my mum/dad was born?
  22. What makes you happy?
  23. Have you owned any pets? What was your first pet?
  24. What is different about growing up today than when you were a child?
  25. What is your favourite thing about being a grandparent?

A child's relationship with their grandparents is a special one. The memories created from the quality moments spent together last a lifetime. On behalf of the College I would like to thank the grandparents of our boys for the support they give their own children, their grandchildren and the College.