Lately I’ve been getting stopped by old nonnas in the streets, wanting to chat with me about the kids. They are the sweetest things, telling me I’m “so lucky” that I’ve got two girls, and that their own girls are now 55 years old. They pinch Abby’s cheeks and say “bella! bella!” and warn me to watch out for Peps if she stumbles a bit on the play equipment. Then they wander off down the road with their little trollies of fresh groceries and I hope that one day I’m a kindly old lady with a wistful disposition and a penchant for cheek-pinching.
I’m also reminded of my own grandmas as I am now back in Victoria, where they both lived (and one still does). Funny little memories pop up as I pass suburbs where they lived, or see a sign out to their country town. Like the summer I was 10 and went to stay with one of them, who considered it a MORTAL SIN that I’d showed up with a bag full of clothes and not one item of them was a singlet to wear under my t-shirt every day. I remember rumblings that my mother should know better, and a firm insistence I borrow her stepson’s singlets for the duration of my stay.
My other nana was aghast that I didn’t want my swimmers ironed before I went to the pool, and her mother (the one in the photo) for some reason had lots of packets of unopened giant underwear when she was about 96, and spent a good half an hour trying to give them to me.
Recently I found myself in conversation with another grandma who was full to the brim of old wives’ tales. Like I should cut Pepper’s wispy, straggly little mullety bit off “to thicken her hair up”, and that I shouldn’t still be breastfeeding her at 16 months because she “didn’t need it”.
It’s such a time capsule of days gone by, and I think it’s fascinating (so far nobody’s been forceful or annoying although I DO hate it when people talk to me through the baby). Things that were so important way back when are a a bit of a giggle now. I love a bit of quirky human, and can look back on the mortifying singlet incident now and laugh. Mostly.
I know I can’t be the only person amused and bemused, so hit me with your craziest grandma advice (my mum was told if you tickled a baby’s feet, they’d be pigeon-toed)! I wonder what silly and endearing things we’ll say when we’re old and grey.