Where in the world would the kids of the world be without their grandparents? Well, thinner and less sleep-deprived for a start, but a heck of a lot less happy.
These holidays - if one can call them a real holiday with a toddler and a nine month old aboard - have highlighted to me the vital role the grands can play in maintaining the sanity of parents. Yes, you read that right. Nothing really to do with the kids!
This holiday the grandparents allowed my husband and I an extra hour or two in the morning in bed. It's probably such a small thing for some people - and only then sees us getting up at the marginally decent hour of about 8 o'çlock - but such a vital thing after weeks and weeks of 5am starts.
Prior to going on holiday I looked at myself in the mirror in despair. The frown lines, the haggardness, the wrinkles - all were getting more entrenched. After being mistaken for years as a younger person - thanks to a chubby round face - I finally looked all my 36 years and then some.
Now, I still have the wrinkles, the frown lines, the scraggly hair. But it's all slightly less stark set against a slightly tanned face. The eyes, once cloudy and usually bloodshot, have a faint sparkle. The general demeanour is less harried. The clothes are even worse if that's possible and the Christmas weight is not exactly kind - but that's another story.
But enough about me. Can I list some of the ways in which the grandparents proved their weight in gold over the holidays?
* Taking the toddler in their motel room overnight. Yes, we still had the baby, and yes, the toddler fell out of bed once. But everyone survived in tact - and I suspect the toddler had quite a bit of fun into the bargain.
* Taking the toddler into the shower. He previously has screamed blue bloody murder when in sight of a shower - and thanks to his grandfather, he had several (short) showers a day. No soap is allowed to touch his silken skin yet, but we're working on it.
* Taking care of stuff. Sometimes, even as an adult - and especially an adult with kids - you yearn to have someone else think of the important things like, what time we leave, where we go, what we do. Without being overbearing, my mother in law would, in her normal super-competent way, take care of things. Bliss.
One of the scenes which summed up the holidays for me was when we were about to fly home to Auckland, and I turned around at the airport to see my father-in-law (known as Ma to my kids) lying on the ground. Momentarily my heart leapt into my throat, thinking something was terribly wrong. But no, pretty soon, I heard my toddler yell out "one, two three - wake up Ma!". Somewhat elderly, with a bung knee, but still he was prepared to lie on the floor at a crowded airport while people schlepped their bags impatiently around him, all to entertain his grandson.
Good grandparents can not be praised enough!
Dita De Boni
Pictured above: Grandparents Judith and Graham Hale watching their grandaughter Lauren Hale (9) in Masterton. Photo Susan Nikolaison, Wairarapa Times-Age.