WHEN IS AN AUNT A GRANDMOTHER?
“Auntie Fi! Auntie Fi!” the four year old ran up, “you must be my grandmother!”
“No, darling. I am you aunt. Mom is your grandmother.”
“No, she’s not!” the little boy was angry. Shouting, “She’s NOT my grandmother, SHE’S MOM!” he ran away crying.
Auntie Fi sighed. How to explain the complexities of relationship to a little boy so that he would understand and accept?
The families did not live close; visits were oases with long periods between. Auntie Fi took Mom to visit when Garry was a toddler. Because his mother was not well, Mom did the mother thing, and Auntie Fi spent more time with Garry, taking him for long walks through the plantation in his buggy, playing catch through the wide passageway and around the deep verandah’s of his home.
Later, Auntie Fi visited on her own. Now Garry had a small sister, Bonny, and he jealously guarded his time with Auntie Fi to make sure Bonny did not receive the lion’s share of attention. He “drove” Auntie Fi’s car while she read from his storybooks. He led her through the garden to show which flowers he preferred, and was delighted when she made up stories to illustrate their names. They built houses with cards in the middle of the floor so that his parents had to jump over or walk a long way round. When Auntie Fi had built them high enough Garry blew them down with big Mr. Wolf huffs and puffs, and Auntie Fi had to start again.
Auntie Fi followed Garry into the garden, where he was sitting on the swing, disconsolately kicking at the ground, mouth still pouting, tears wet on his cheeks. She sat on the lawn beside him, pulled a dandelion and blew the seeds away.
“Garry darling,” she began, “you know your mother is my sister?” Garry nodded. “And Mom is your mother’s mother?” Garry acquiesced. She gathered hope and tried again. “Well, Garry, your mother’s mother is your grandmother, and her sister is your aunt.”
Garry was adamant. “No,” he disagreed firmly, “Mom is Mom. You HAVE to be my grandmother!”
So, for a while, Auntie Fi became an honorary grandmother.
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