When the Kids are away, then the Grown Ups can play

After a two week break, NSW kidlets returned to school yesterday. Luckily for us, we were able to have grandchildren #3 and #4 stay with us last week. We don’t see enough of them, but whenever they stay they are happy to go along for the ride; they never have any shyness or awkwardness with us. They are very good kids, and even though they tell me they fight, I assure them – sincerely – that all they are doing is negotiating. It is impossible to expect that they will both want to do the same thing at the same time, but their diverse ambitions are quickly brought to a win-win decision. And we have so much on-site to do – before we even venture afield – that is not hard to bring them to a quick compromise.

The boy, CA, who is almost ten, turned up with his PlayStation. We set it up on the small television in our bedroom.  I don’t know why we have this spare TV, because our eyesight has become too unfocused to be able to see it clearly, which is bad news considering I have a penchant for sub-titled movies. As well, Bill drops off to sleep straight away, so he is a lost cause. Oh! Now I remember! We decided we slept so well in front of the tellie in the lounge room, that we just had to get one of those for the bedroom! ha ha de ha.

Anyway, CA banged away on the PlayStation for the first couple of hours of his visit. It seemed to require a lot of repetitively pressing a button on his joystick handthingy – no particular skill involved, unless it was developing his eye to hand co-ordination. All the same I had to agree with him – “the graphics are really good!” Thank goodness he hasn’t yet acquired the current slang, he might have said they were, “awesome . . . ”

A couple of days of family activity later, I needed a half hour to finish dinner. “You can go on your PlayStation in my room if you like,” I said to him. “No thanks Nonna,” he replied, “I’d rather stay out here with my family.” Sweet kid, that CA. He’ll go far.

EG, the girl, is almost twelve. She is at that age when her appearance is changing dramatically. Since we only see her every three months or so, it always take us by surprise.  I try to remember not to just think it, but to tell her (positively), how she is blossoming. Not in a way meant to embarrass her, but to build her up. I never had any practice with my own mum at these things, so it is something I have to remind myself to be conscious of.

Really, we can all take a lesson from that in everyday life, wouldn’t you agree? If we think something nice about another person, why should we be shy to tell them?

EG is a smart and thoughtful young girl, easy to talk with. She was born a tree-hugger. When she was very young, she would hang out with people for a while, and then wander off to talk to the trees, and then give them a hug for listening.  She hasn’t lost that sense of empathy. I hope the world returns her kindness in the years to come.

Even though we did lots of things together, there are also times when I found myself hanging around. An hour or more in the swimming pool at the end of the day is a must for all our grandchildren, winter or summer – and there is no way I am jumping in with them! Brrrrr. They also like to go on the computers in our library. Their current passion is Pinterest. The boy was fascinated with a photograph of a “fat horse”, otherwise known as a Shetland to my equestrian friends. They had great fun sending emails to each other, even though they were in the same room. (I had a sudden flashback to my corporate workplace, which became so busy and technologically constipated, that we could no longer speak to the person in the next office, and resorted to emailing them instead.)

So – I picked up the Book Thief to amuse myself in my off-duty moments. My girlfriend has been recommending it to me for some time, and I have seen the movie twice.

Well . . . I have rarely enjoyed a book so much in recent months. I had been warned it was hard to get into at first, and I suppose that could be the case if you were unaware that the narrator was Death. In my case, I just “got” where the author was coming from, right from the get-go. And such beautiful language – oh my! So lyrical, musical, evocative, so encompassing. I loved every word of it, and the humour as well. “Humour” you ask? “it was a war story for goodness sake!”

Well, yes, I did find a light, almost humorous tone running through the book. It is one of the features, I believe, which sets it miles apart from the film. The film was interesting, but it was visually and emotionally dark. I believe the book handles the tough, heart-wrenching material with a lighter, more observant, philosophical touch. To put it in Death’s words, Proof again of the contradictory human being.  So much good, so much evil. Just add water.

I’ve been a bit contradictory myself this last year. I have developed a habit of reading the reviews AFTER I have seen a film or read a book. So I was astounded to find that many people hated the book. With a passion. Some hated the language (really?), some hated the annotations at the beginning of each chapter (okay, it is an experimental structure that might irk some – but really? – reject the whole book on that basis?), some hated that it was “yet another book about the Holocaust” (really? – you can set a book anywhere in Europe in WWII and not mention the impact on the Jewish population? That is hardly focusing on the Holocaust.)

Well, as my girlfriend often says, she “wonders if she read the same book as the reviewers.” For my money, I loved every moment of it, and I am still thinking about it a week later. I can only imagine what Markus Zusak went through to produce the final outcome. I hope the good reviews helped him shrug off the negative ones. You sure have to have a tough skin in this writing world.

Sth American SkelchersSo – you remember when we were kids ourselves, and could hardly wait for the grown ups to turn their backs so we could play up? Well, living here, we are the big kids on the block. As soon as the grandkids were back home, we turned our attention to the next restaurant party. This time, the theme was South American. I toyed with putting feathers in my bikini, but just as well I decided to cover up, because the Brazilian dancers who entertained us would have been just too much competition! Instead, I dug around in the wardrobe, and before I knew it, had transformed into my version of a ‘gaucho’. I even trotted out the wig from the 70s night, and managed to plait it to finish off the look. Hope you like it!

Showing Off makes me have funny expressions

Showing Off makes me have funny expressions

Dancing with my imaginary friend

Dancing with my imaginary friend

Sth American professional dancer 1Sth American Professional Dancer 3

15 thoughts on “When the Kids are away, then the Grown Ups can play

  1. Your grandchildren sound absolutely delightful. Aren’t grandchildren brilliant? In my next life I’m skipping kids and going straight to grandchildren – so much more fun 😀


    • I’m with you on that. Do you remember the Ab Fab episode where Patsy reminds Edina what giving birth to Saffy did to her body? LOL. But seriously, the grandkids are delicious. I was ratting through the lost property box after their visit and came across a Tshirt and singlet taken off together and left inside out. I thought I recognised that movement. Sure ’nuff, it was the boy’s – CA. He looks so much like his grandfather (my husband), but if he is planning in growing into his shoes, he is going to have to get a lot more “correct”. Bill is a Virgo after all – such perfection takes a lot of living up to. LOL


  2. Hi Gwen well seems like you had a good time with the grankids and at the same time they enjoyed it by the sounds of it which is a very rare thing these days. Love the pictures of your party outfit makes me wonder what Bill wore.


    • You’ll be wondering a long time if you imagine Bill would dress up, he just won’t go there. Nor will he dance with me. Oh well. Such is life. On the other hand, our neighbours both like a good dress up party. Can you believe the chap in bright costume is 80 next week?


  3. I enjoyed reading about your time with the grandchildren, and I enjoyed the thought of EG as a little girl hugging trees. 🙂

    The Book Thief is a wonderful book! I haven’t yet seen the movie, but I found the book very moving. It is one of my favorites.


    • EG certainly has a special personality. Hopefully she will pop up in another blog post. AS for the Book Thief, the movie was fine enough, but lost the tone of the book. I am not sure I could recommend the movie to you, unless a good deal of time had passed since you read the book.


  4. You make a lovely gaucho, Gwen. The Book Thief is one of my favourite books too, and, like you, I love the lyrical quality of the language and the subtle humour. I am rather shocked at the criticisms you have quoted, as I refuse to read reviews. I also haven’t seen the movie, as I find someone else’s version of how I imagine things usually disappointing. That said, I’m not really one for watching movies to start with. Cannot remember when last I’ve seen one. I’d much rather spend my time reading.


    • Regrettably, many people are managing to get through our Australian education system without enough literacy to enjoy the written language. My grand-daughter #2 is one of them. “It’s too hard, Nonna,” she says. So they prefer to rely on the movie, never realising they are only watching a condensed version of someone else’s viewpoint. Her father was the same until his late twenties, so I am holding out hope for her. Last night I watched Eat, Pray, Love and found the whole thing a tedious yawn – so I guess the book is off my list now. On the other hand, I watched The Ghost Writer the other night and found it a tight thriller. But not enough to tempt my reading appetite. So I guess books and movies satisfy different elements for me.


  5. Hi Gwen, my sister has a couple of degrees (German and English Literature) and has taught English and she loved ‘The Book Thief’ and thought it was very good. But not so keen on the film!! I’m still waiting for the audiobook version to be available at my local library.

    You folks sure look like you have a lot of energy! Agnes 😉


    • Oh yeah Agnes! I am going out with a bang not a whimper 🙂 Glad to hear your sister liked ‘The Book Thief’. I was surprised to discover it was pitched in the Young Adult section, as I believe its appeal much wider. Not sure if she would have an opinion on that. As for the film, well, I echo her sentiments. I summarised the essential elements of the book but lost its soul. And Liesel was far too well turned out. I am thinking hair in need of a wash, and untidy plaits might have been more credible 🙂


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