Some days are challenging, busy, stressful and fun all together. I had one of those days this week. As parents you worry about your kids, then as grandparents you worry about their kids. When you have special grandkids it makes it even more special, stressful and rewarding.
I don’t know if it is us, or the world we live in but three out of five of our grandkids have chromosome deletions or translocation, making them even more unique than normal. You learn so much about doctors, hospitals, big words and bureaucracy and how to help them achieve the small things that we all take for granted. You know like walking and talking.
So this Tuesday, Olive had surgery, pharyngaplasty, on the palate to help her speech. After having surgery on her first day of life this is just another step. I was at work on Tuesday and in the early afternoon and our youngest, Lisa, rings me “Mum, can you come home early and mind the kids while we get in the hay?” It is at least one and half hours to get home on the train, so, no I won’t be home early, but anyway. When I arrived at their place the hay getting in was nearly complete and I tried to get the kids to eat their dinner while everyone else got the hay into one of the last standing sheds (that is a whole other story that I might get around to telling sometime). The three grandkids were all keen to join the action, so we took the toy wheelbarrows up to check out the action. The youngest, Reuben is OBSESSED with tractors and now has some new words in his vocabulary, ‘Hay baler’ and ‘John Deere tractor’. Tyler thought he was strong enough to help in pushing the last few bales off the trailer. The best part about farm work is getting everyone involved, even some of the new neighbours joined in.
Later that night Olive was transferred to Intensive Care because her heart rate dropped alarmingly. All turned out good and we only heard the brief updates but still you know that it is not just the child who is going through this. Ivy, our middle one, is a tower of strength.
You try to be there for your kids when they need you and sometimes that is not what you want to do. But when you understand what they have been through and what they have to do to help their kids it is very sobering to think how easy I had it. The number of times I took my kids to the doctor could be counted on one hand. My kids never had an xray, blood test, scan or even a filling at the dentist when they were kids!
Being a grandparent is completely different. You learn so much more about yourself and your kids. The amazing part is seeing how your kids cope with life’s challenges. Our eldest, Mark is a dairyfarmer. Now who in their right mind would choose to work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year. Someone very special, who loves cows and knows the goals he wants to achieve. Ivy has two beautiful children, Olive and Henry. Olive was born with a TOF ( Trachea-oesophageal fistula) requiring surgery on her first day and lots and lots of special care. Henry on the other hand, has benefited from all of the Speech therapy Ivy and Olive have attended and speaks amazingly well. Lisa, our youngest, has three children, Tyler, Matilda and Reuben. Tyler was born with a chromosome translocation, too hard to describe here. Suffice to say that he has a severe developmental delay and at eight years of age can walk, feed himself, is being toilet trained, loves his ducks, has a beautiful character and goes to a special school. Matilda has always ‘got’ Tyler and looks after and seems to understand him completely. Reuben is his own special person and does only what he wants. His speech is somewhat limited but he is the most loveable little person and will definitely find his way in the world.
I only hope that we can do enough to help them all achieve what is important- to them.