From Where I Sit – Teacher or Student

A great deal has been written about the relationship between kids and grandparents. The stereotypical image is the grandparent deliberately spoiling the child and then smugly returning the brat to the unsuspecting parents.

Another, sadder scenario is the broken relationship in which through power tripping or vindictiveness, the parents ration or withhold contact between child and grandparent. Or the situation where one set of preferred grandparents gets a disproportionate amount of interaction while the others are shut out.

Sometimes the distance is imposed by the grandparents themselves. They didn’t enjoy parenting and now believe their job is done and that the freedom from helping is well-deserved.

Then there are the parents and grandparents who because of their own failings or rough break don’t have the wherewithal to recognize or facilitate this crucial relationship. Sadly, they don’t have the inner or external resources to share.

Sometimes the parents? decision to distance their children (and themselves) from the grandparents is an act of protection. And courage. They are determined that the abuse, manipulation, and other dysfunctional and destructive behaviour they endured will not be permitted to hurt another generation.

Then finally there are the users. Those parents who expect the grandmother to babysit all the time. It might be a formal arrangement that allows the mother to go back to work or a more loose one whenever mom and dad ?need a break? from the demands of parenting.

The relationship we have with Grady and his parents is respectful, symbiotic, and balanced. we’re too far away to be taken advantage of, but eager to help whenever we can. For longer farm visits we choose what works for us and make the offer, and they consider it a windfall of time, freedom, and sleep-ins. Greg and Carrie welcome us into Grady’s life, and for that we are grateful.

That being said, It’s hard to tell who reaps the greatest benefit, Grady or us. He was at the farm during harvest. A different kind of kid might not have been welcome during this distracted and dangerous time of year, but his ability to understand the rationale for rules?and our vigilance?make it work.

He ?helped? me fill the slip tank with diesel. He watched grain trucks being unloaded. We packed lunches. In between the work, we played. He found Gido’s secret hiding place for potato chips and helped himself several times before returning the emptier package to its spot. When it was missing the next day, Grady confronted him for an explanation!

I marvel at his vocabulary, conversational skill, and strength. When he grew tired of waiting for me to uncover the sandbox, he dragged a 4 x 8 foot sheet of plywood off it himself. After we visited the dugout down the road, like Forrest he ran the half mile non-stop back to the farm.

I show him nature. He shows me the hunger to learn. With this little kid I’m not sure if I’m the teacher or the student, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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