I remember being sat in my bedroom as a burgeoning teenager, blasting out Huge Hits 1997 (mainly Republica if I recall) on my new Sony stereo with extra Sub Woofers – no…I had no idea what they were at the time either, walls adorned with various paraphernalia, posters and football colours. Fairly typical you might think.
In fact, everything about my childhood home was a classic, archetypal British home. Without getting all ‘Monty-Python-Four-Yorkshiremen’ about it all, Dad worked hard through the day to provide whilst Mum ran the house and made sure dinner was on the table for when he got home. There wasn’t a great deal of money around but none of us wanted for anything. We enjoyed the company of one another (even during those formative teenage years) and with sport or soap-opera on the TV at any one time, we had the hallmark of our loving family unit.
My time away from the family household has yielded them a grown up son who can
adequately sometimes look after himself but brought no cosmetic changes to the family home – not even the sofa! How then, have they managed to turn the house into a cornucopia of glittery trinkets, sandpits, train tracks, hair accessories and Disney films in the blink of two grandchildren?! The place is now a veritable Narnia of pre-school merchandise.
Out went my old football boots – a crime against nostalgia in itself that will never be forgiven – and in came an oversized cuddly SpongeBob Squarepants. Out went the old bed, in with the bunkbeds. Down came the walls, up went much brighter, vibrant, interactive versions full of cartoon dinosaurs and butterflies. My childhood erased quicker than you could say, ‘Mum, do you own any cutlery that doesn’t have a depiction of Peppa Pig on it?’ The fact of the matter is, I can bemoan my apparent ejection as much as I want…but their grandkids adore it!
To them, a visit to Nans house is on a par with a day at the park, a pink milkshake, or beating your sibling at swing-ball (for beating: see play abandoned due to unnecessary contact with sisters head). Each time they arrive they are surrounded by new and exciting bric-a-brac that has been acquired at that week’s car-boot sale – their tiny senses struggling to hold in the unbridled excitement as they rush through the door. Neon embers from the brand new disco ball light the room as they sift through the haul from that particular week – a tired looking Barbie bust who needs that extra touch of hair-styling, a knights castle complete with portcullis and trebuchet (yes, every day is a school day!) or maybe a sandpit in the shape of a turtle that may have seen better days but makes an excellent beach area or undulating roadway for clapped out matchbox cars – depends what mood you’re in I suppose.
That this comes at the expense of memories of my existence is never really a problem. I may have joked about it earlier and it is extraordinary how much the house has changed but in reality, our parents do so much for us to help with childcare, school-runs, feeding, cleaning, maintenance and even (and say it quietly) ironing, that the fact they are also willing to give their house over to the development and enjoyment of the grandchildren whenever they visit is more than we could wish for, or ever earn.
We realise that we’re one of the lucky families and their help does not go unappreciated. So, here’s to the grandparents, their houses and all that they do, all the playtime they bring and every inane cartoon character that they introduce to innocent minds. Keep doing what you’re doing and hang on to the Barbie for the great-grandchildren, however many haircuts and however tired she becomes. Just don’t throw anymore football boots away!