1930: Mickey Mouse make his first appearance. Mahatma Gandhi begins civil disobedience against the British Empire and Don Bradman scores a world record 309 runs in one day.
2004: Social media behemoth Facebook launches, Googles releases Gmail and the Cassini probe passes the Saturn moon – Titan.
1940: World War II rampages across Europe, Disney releases its second full-length feature – Pinocchio and Bugs Bunny makes his debut in ‘Wild Hare’.
2008: The Space shuttle makes another delivery to the International space station, the Australian Government makes a formal apology to the Stolen Generation and in London the first bionic eye operation goes ahead.
Confused? History? Grandparents? Where is this idiot going? Time machine, trivia facts, no none of that. Let me take you back to the last week of the school holidays, which for the non-Australian among you was the week commencing the 18th April. The boys and I were fortunate enough to be down the south coast hanging out with the maternal grandparents. This is our home away from home. The boys are lucky enough to have their own room (as are we), we have a beautiful sandy beach 5 minutes from the front door and the most welcoming of hosts. The weather was sunny and autumnal, the food, tasty and comforting and the company, warm and engaging. Although L&V are not my parents, I have always and I mean, always been made to feel part of the family. The peace and tranquility afforded me the time to think about Grandparents, what part they had played in my own life and how important they are (although they don’t know it yet) to my own kid’s life.
The years listed above are the years that L&V were born in comparison to my little sods. The changes that the world and society have experienced in that period must be the most dramatic in history (I say ‘must’ in the knowledge that some smarty smartarse will flick me an email saying that no, the most dramatic change in human history occurred between the agrarian and industrial revolutions – I don’t care, it’s my blog so it’s my facts). But I do think it’s fair to say that a shit-load of stuff has happened in the last century and the boys’ grandparents have been and seen a great part of that. That’s a walking history book, which talks, has insight, has direct personal experience of world events and as a result, has wisdom.
The greatest pleasure I get when watching the boys interact with L&V is when the boys are asking them questions about their own childhoods – “Are you serious? You didn’t have a TV? How did you cope?”, “Did German bombers really fly over your house?”, “You actually like tripe?” and so on. I didn’t say they were the most insightful questions but what is slowly happening is the boys are learning of a life before multiple screens, long-distance travel, advanced medicine, ample food and indoor plumbing.
Of course, it’s great having grandparents around to help out, take the kids for a weekends, collect from the school etc. but for me, I think the real benefit is in the captured history of their minds. Being the product of a single-parent family, I and my brothers, spent an awful lot of time hanging with our grandparents. I loved it. Without doubt, we were overfed and spoiled, while being perpetually scolded for being “stupid boys”. We had massive free reign, as I think they did in their pre-war youth, and that afforded us plenty of time to get into mischief. When we weren’t busy being little buggers, I loved to hear about their childhoods, their war experiences and the best bit? Getting the dirt on my mum and uncles when they were kids. Turns out Mum was a not so goody two-shoes – home-brewed alcoholic ginger beer anyone?
When I reflect on my shared moments with my grandparents, I realise that they instilled in me an inquisitiveness about the world, respect for other people’s perspectives and a huge appreciation for those who have gone before me (oh and sport, my grandad loved sport). I often get the impression that children just see their seniors as old people who have little relevance to them and the world that they live in. That thinking could not be further from the truth, by understanding your own family roots and the life that your grandparents led is the only way to appreciate what you have now and to truly understand who you are.
This is a snapshot of our fridge, well our fridge door anyway. It’s actually just the top freezer section, below exists a further double length which is covered in a similar haphazard and dysfunctional style. Purely from a functional point of view I have to look at this door everyday, it’s my entry to the stores of food my progeny scoff endlessly. It’s also my favourite thing in our indoor/outdoor kitchen/diner/lounge room (you’d know what I meant if you sore it). You see the rest of our house is pretty modern and minimalist with not too much slapped on the walls – clean lines and all that. But here in the kitchen exists this chaotic colourful mess of school notes, pictures, exotic postcards and assorted other odds and sods. It stands out like and obnoxious friend spreading a spray of colour through the room, looking like a piece of abstract art.
As the man in charge of domestic duties, I’m pretty anal and want things put back as they are, but I allow the fridge to be my little bit of chaos among the order. Oddly, the better, who has got more and more lax about tidiness as she’s got older, occasionally tries to tame the fridge door – much to my disgust. I like the layers of out of date stuff. When I come across something which should have been discarded yonks ago, I feel like an archeologist scraping down through the layers of dirt with my trusty trowel discovering a nugget of history which opens a window into a former life – or more realistically a discount card for some crappy restaurant we never used. Still I like it, I love it. You can constantly add and subtract stuff as life develops. A few years ago, it would of been covered in things about toddler activities and parties, now its school functions and up and coming sporting events. Soon it will be teenager speeding tickets and invites to the local lawn bowls competition.
Anyone visiting our home for the first time and wanting an understanding of who we are could just stand at the fridge and have a gander for 5 minutes, walk out the house without saying a word and could feel pretty confident that they had a fair insight into the family.
I love that fridge door and it’s organic chaos. To me it’s the fifth family member – not the bloody cat!