Playgroup a “grand” idea

“Anyone remember the second verse?” The cry goes out to the group of grandparents holding hands in a circle with their grand kids. We are ‘doing’ action songs, but are struggling to remember the words of the second verse!

“Yes, yes” someone says and takes the lead while we all follow the actions and dig out the words from deep in our memories. We giggle at our efforts, but are rewarded by delighted looks and smiles of enjoyment on the faces of our grandchildren. We all clap, stomp, nod our heads and turn around together.

The knowledge that our own children “turned out alright in the end” gives us every good reason to believe we can do it all over again, particularly with all the life-time of experience we have had since the first time! The skills, we have learnt also get a second airing.

At story time we leave the reading to the ex-kindergarten teacher who, after some trial and error, is by far the best of us, and who still dearly loves to exercise her old, very hard won skills. The years of music practice of one of our ‘grands’ comes to the fore in keeping us in tune when singing together with the children. Everyone’s memory cells are stimulated trying to recall the words of long forgotten nursery rhymes, and our success gives us all hope for our future brain activity!

Finding companionship in our Grandparents Playgroup we feel supported and understood when we commiserate over our sore backs, tired legs, and shared worries over our own, sometimes not so grateful, children. However, meeting other encouraging and supportive grandparents in the same situation is not the only advantage. It is so reassuring to see our grandchildren, playing happily in the age-appropriate facilities at the Community Centre, at Bowen Street.

With the staff there to support and assist us, when needed, we are able to promote the well-being of our young toddlers, encourage them to develop and learn new skills such as climbing, ball throwing, digging and most of all sharing and taking turns. All at the same time that we are able to relax, reflect and support each other while having fun.

Recently a young mother “sat in” for her own mother. She said she’d enjoyed being with the “older mums” and that she learnt a lot from them and loved participating in the singing and dancing; she particularly enjoyed learning to “be in the moment” with her young daughter.

Full-time care places for toddlers and pre-school children are both rare and very expensive in Melbourne. Many “grands” have taken on the care of grandchildren for the sake of their own children’s careers or their difficult financial situations. As parents we have worked hard to enable our own children to get ahead in their lives, and we are prepared to go on doing all we can to assist them. Besides, the second time around is so much more fun!

Mary Liston
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