Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Grumpy granny

I took Marie and Orla to Marie's parents' mansion (too big to be called a mere house) in Weymouth last Thursday. They were staying there until the weekend, when Joseph and I would be joining them. Joseph and I stayed at home because he had to go to his friend's birthday party and to play for his team in a football match.

Marie rang me often. I knew that things weren't right, but she wouldn't tell me what was wrong. Then, on Saturday afternoon when I was driving to her parents' house with Joseph, she called the car phone. Twice. She was crying, but couldn't tell me why.

I had just got out the car when Orla ran up to me, arms outstretched. I lifted her up and she hugged me really tight. “I'm really glad you're here, daddy,” she said into my ear. “I missed you.” Marie appeared behind her. I put Orla down and Marie and I embraced. Then she revealed the cause of her distress. Orla wasn't being treated well. Grandma was constantly telling her off.

When she was very little and compliant, Orla used to be her grandmother's golden girl. A little girl, to dress up like an expensive doll – what could be better? But now Orla is vivacious, attention-seeking, noisy, never sits still, forward...the typical second child. After two more grandchildren and a lot of babysitting, Orla has become an annoyance.

What had bothered Marie most was that she was trapped in the house. She hadn't been able to take Orla away from her grumpy grandmother.

The rest of the weekend passed off with no problems. We visited Marie's sisters where I found out that grandma wasn't such a great grandmother to her other grandchildren, either.

Marie is very glad to be home again. More determined to change than ever. If it helps her to fight agoraphobia, then her unpleasant weekend was worthwhile.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Orla, was grandma grumpy?"
"Yes. She shouted at me. Made me cry."
"But I shout at you sometimes too."
"Only when I'm very naughty."
"Weren't you naughty when grandma shouted at you?"
"No. I only wanted to go into the kitchen and get a drink."
"Sometimes people when they get older get a bit grumpy and shout a lot. You're still my good girl."
"But you're old too, daddy." [Thanks Orla!] She flashes me one of her impossibly innocent smiles, eyes wide.

There's no answer to that last comment!

"Yes, sweetheart?"
"I miss grandma."

Well, I guess the events of the weekend didn't bother Orla too much!


momcat said...

She's gorgeous! I've experienced the same with my parents and my kids. You as a second time around dad are being kept young by your younger kids but its your attitude that counts as well. You're the rock for your family.

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

What a beautiful photo of Orla. Such a shame granny was not in a good mood to appreciate her.

Kit Courteney said...

Oh, Orla is just so sweet looking! Each picture you post of her and Joseph just gets better.

A lovely end to the post!

Robert said...

momcat - I think she's gorgeous too! I'm not sure about the rock, though - it's a bit of a responsibility...

Addy - There'll be other days when grandma will be in better humour...I hope...

KC - You know how to give a father a big head!

Em said...

what a lovely picture of orla.x

♥ Kathy said...

awww this was really sad to me :( I hope Orla gets her nice grandma back one day

Robert said...

Em - Thanks. This pic doesn't show Orla all scrubbed up and posing. But I like it because of her eyes. That's what I see nearly all the time. My innocent, fun-seeking, innocent daughter.

Robert said...

Kathy - Perhaps next time we see grandma, she'll be in better form. Only Marie's not in a rush back there...

Nechtan said...

Hi Robert,

This is something I have noticed too with my own kids. My mother-in-law has become increasingly grumpy with the girls but they are very noisy and demanding. I have also noticed she has offered to take them less and less over the years.

Kids are very resiliant as Orla has shown with that last statement. I know in my case I feel it much more than the kids do. On the whole they don't notice it much.

Hopefully next time will be better.

All the best


Robert said...

Nechtan - I can understand how grandparents start off thrilled by their new role when the 1st grandchild appears. Then the novelty wears off when more and more grandchildren come on the scene. I'm a granddad as well as a dad, so I can sort of see it from both angles. However, I make a real effort to interact with all my grandchildren (I have 6). Nevertheless, I began to worry that I wasn't, perhaps, as good a grandparent as I thought I was. Fortunately, my daughters put my mind at rest, telling me that I was performing my granddad role "okay".

Gary said...

I have the same issue with Emily's Granny. Emily is seven now, and not as compliant with Granny as she was when she was a toddler, and Granny doesn't like it one bit, she's lost control (she's Emily's only carer apart from Lesley and me) and Emily is very happy to speak her mind with Granny - sometimes with all the subtlety and tact of a brick!
Thanks for your support and kind words by the way. Much needed and appreciated.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Oh, what a beautiful picture. A very clever little girl to recognise her grumpy grandma yet still love her despite it.

CJ xx

Robert said...

CJ - You gave me a new angle! And you're right - my daughter's attitude is perfect - her love is unconditional - the way it should be. Thanks!