Tonight will be an evening of making art. My art table will be put away, paints stashed in their drawers. No canvas will stand on an easel. I will not pull out my drawing pad and pencils. I will not write words in journals or keyboard. Tonight is an evening for working on one of the most important masterpieces in my life. Tonight, my granddaughter comes to stay—her first sleep over with granny. Tonight will be about creating a relationship with her.
Ana is just over 16 months old. The memories she will hold from tonight will be feelings of what we share. She will not be able to say, “Granny, remember when….” Much of her time will be playing with the toys carefully placed around the living room – cars, dolls, books, building blocks, a variety of objects to help her tell me who she is at this place in her life. There are pots and pans in my kitchen for banging or stacking, scarves and other items to dress up in as she seems to like to do. She is becoming her own person and that is the person I want to get to know. I have visited with her before at her own home. This time, she would be coming to my house. I want to be ready for her.
Too often, we try to make children our masterpieces. We envision who they are, or, if we have bought into societal roles, who they are supposed to be. We pick and choose, conjol and prod, using praise and criticism to mold them into what we think will help them have a happy life. Sometimes our choices will reflect the child, sometimes our choices will reflect our own dreams.
We will do the things we do believing that they are the best we can give, or not. We have been taught that is what parenting is. Whether I like it or not, I have to accept that I have taught my children that same role by choices I made in raising them. I have learned from the those choices, sometimes in time to make new ones, other times in what I have seen as I have watched them become adults.
Grandchildren are a second time around. It is a balance. I honour my daughter, her husband AND my two grandchildren when I do as much as I can to respect the choices they are making in raising their children. There is no school for teaching grandparent skills. Every new phase of relationship is a creation that calls on experience and innovation.
Tonight, there will be no parents and home rules. Tonight there will be just Ana and I working it out as we play and eat and relax together. I will be with her without her brother or parents for the first time. What we build will be part of the background for whatever we become in the future. It is an art piece that brings both the greatest joy and the deepest sense of responsibility to listen to the lines and colours that shine from this little girl.
Tonight is an evening for making art. My granddaughter is coming to call.