With so many broken homes, split families, high divorce rates and parents fighting for custody of their children, or even abandoning them altogether, it often becomes the responsibility of the grandparents to intervene and pick up the pieces.
Even if none of the above applies, parents are often too busy trying to make ends meet with long working hours to attend to the many daily school and after-school activities that children like to participate in.
On the days that I get involved in the family lift club, I can tell you that many of the kids being picked up from junior schools are by their grandparents – some of them have to do this on a permanent basis, right through the school term.
Whilst we all love and cherish our darling grandchildren, it’s not always a good thing to be around them all the time as they need the structure and home disciplines of their parents.
Often, this is not possible and grandparents are not only expected to be the family taxi but will have to deal with all the many daily responsibilities, including homework and school projects, before mummy and daddy come home late from work.
We recently had the pleasure of becoming parents, once again, when my son-in-law attended a trade show in Germany and my daughter utilised this window of opportunity to travel with her husband so they could also visit family near London – with a side trip to Venice thrown in. It’s all right for some!
So for the two weeks they were away, we were thrown into the cauldron of daily family life – up at 05:30am to rise and shine the three grandchildren for school – dressing, breakfast, packing school bags and lunch boxes for the 07:30am start. Fortunately they all attend the same school.
That leaves just a few hours in the morning to clean up and organise the household, find time for a daily walk, or shopping for fussy eaters, paying the bills and grabbing a coffee. Did I mention, whilst my daughter was away, we also had to run the ballet shop and sewing business? Yes, that too!
The fun really starts when afterschool activities such as chess, choir practice and tennis might continue at the school for one child, the others will have to come home to change, eat lunch and then on to dancing, rowing, rugby or karate.
This means commuting between different local venues till as late as 06:30pm, and then it’s a rush to get them home to eat dinner, bath, homework and into bed before 08:00pm. And that is only one day!
Okay, many of those activities are only once a week, which is still more than enough transporting to keep you on the daily hop. And it doesn’t always end there for the school week. One Saturday morning there was a chess tournament, a rugby match in Germiston and ballet practice. How do parents manage it? No wonder families collapse in a heap on Sunday mornings!
It was a real eye-opener to become a parent again and much harder than I ever remembered it being. Seems to me there is way more pressure on modern families and kids than there ought to be and I’m not so sure that is a good thing.
Life appears to be getting tougher with each new generation, so goodness knows how I will manage as a great-grandfather. Till the next time.