Driving to work the other day, I saw an older lady standing on the corner, a pram handle grasped in one hand, the other arm looped over the chest of a small boy.
They were watching the diggers working on the road. The baby girl in the pram was swaddled in blankets against the cold, as her brother stood transfixed by the roadworks.
The grandmother was a vision of patience. She even looked like she was enjoying herself. Maybe she likes diggers too.
It took me back to when my own kids were little, only – as I crept past them in the traffic – I realised that while my eldest son could have watched the diggers all day, I never had time to let him.
I would have had a list of jobs to get done, by yesterday, and a suspicion that if I stopped moving for more than 30 seconds I’d fall asleep on my feet.
Mums are always on the run.
That’s why grandmothers are the best thing to have in a small child’s life.
They have time. They have patience. They have the wisdom to know that half an hour standing on the corner won’t throw their day out completely.
I realise that’s not true for all of them, but it’s true for a lot of them.
I look back on those frantic early years and, honestly, my blood pressure goes up. It’s like PTSD, only the war zone was our home, and the battle was over naptime, tantrums, putting on their seatbelts (quite a lot of physical force was necessary), and rescuing them from the many and various ways they tried to kill themselves every day.
But those Nannas and Nonnas and Grannies and Yia-Yias, with hours to spare to re-read Where is the Green Sheep for the eighth time, or play peek-a-boo incessantly with a chortling one-year-old… or to stand on a corner watching the diggers.
My kids have been blessed enough to have two like that, and I hope to be one myself one day.
Not just yet though – okay, kids?… Not only because my eldest is only 15 (though that’s a pretty good reason), but also because I’m not wise and patient enough yet.
Is there a way to fast-track it?