Friday, February 17, 2006


Going to Granny's house

It’s an exciting day for the family! Tristan will be having his first sleepover at Granny and Papa Lou’s house tonight.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of Saturday nights sleeping over at my Granny and Granda’s house. We had a ritual, where Mom, Granny and I (and probably my brother, but he didn’t enjoy staying with Granny as much as I did) would do a little shopping on a Saturday afternoon, most likely at K-Mart. We’d have lunch at the Red Grill, where French fries with gravy and jell-o were always on the menu. And we’d always stop by the toy section, where I would get a little treat like a colouring book, or a new outfit for my Barbies, or something similar.

Mom would drop us off at Granny’s house and head home. My Granda used to like going to the races on a Saturday afternoon, and when I saw his car pull into the driveway, I’d run and hide. When I heard him coming into the house, I’d start to make very loud animal noises – mooing like a cow, or screeching like a monkey – and he’d walk through the house saying, “Granny! Do you hear that? There’s an animal in the house.” I can still remember the delicious delight of anticipation, tucked under the bed or in a closet and giggling madly while waiting to be ‘discovered’.

I was the only granddaughter of three grandkids, and my Granny and Granda indulged me like a princess. They are probably the roots of my diva complex! I remember standing in front of their fireplace, singing songs I had learned in school to their rave reviews, or doing magic tricks from one of the kits I had enticed them into buying for me. I remember using a Kleenex box as a cash register, and my Granny singing her song about “come and buy, come and buy” in her thick Scottish brogue. I remember staying up late (all the way to 10 o’clock!) on a Saturday night to watch the Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and I remember my Granny staying up with me when I couldn’t sleep because something on Fantasy Island had scared me. But what I remember most is being the center of their universe, bathed in the gentle and unconditional love that is unique to grandparents.

My Granda died when I was 10 years old, and it’s only now looking back that I realize that me continuing to stay at Granny’s house was probably as much about companionship for her as it was for the convenience of my parents. She was my Granny, but over the years she became my friend.

So even though Tristan’s first overnight stay is a big deal in itself, the fact that he’s going to be staying with his Granny and Papa Lou for the first time is even more notable to me. I can only hope that Tristan and Simon will enjoy the same beautiful memories of their time spent with their grandparents that I have from mine. And watching their relationship evolve over the past four years, I have no doubts that they will.

Did I tell you about how my parents came to live in Ottawa? They were living in London, Ontario, where I was born and where they had lived most of their lives. I moved here in 1988, and over the years tried to move back to London a few times, but it never worked out. I’d occasionally try half-heartedly to convince them to move to Ottawa, but they never took me seriously. For sixteen years, I’d drive back and forth to London on major holidays, and rack up long-distance phone bills in between.

And then in 2002 Tristan was born, and within six months, there was a ‘for sale’ sign on their lawn. They moved here just shy of his first birthday. Not much doubt about where I fall on the heirarchy now, is there?

There is nothing like the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren!