By a quirk of, well, divorce, Isaac and Toby have six grandparents between them. Yesterday was the first time either of them had seen more than two of them at the same time.
The set-up was simple enough. Heather’s dad and stepmother, Max and Kerry, are back with us for a couple of days in between their trips around the UK. My parents and brother were coming down to ours for the day. I was barbecuing for eight. (Or, at least, seven and a seriously carnivorous toddler.)
Doing a barbecue for an Australian male is a bit like offering to cook Heston Blumenthal something a bit different, but it seemed to go quite well on the food front. No 999 calls required. No one complaining about undercooked meat. No food poisoning (or at least none that I know of). And lumps of cooked meat which were identifiable without explanation. (“Now, that charred, black one is the chicken – while that black, incinerated one is the remains of the dead cat I found on the patio this morning. Obviously.”)
The food was eaten. The chef was complimented. (I should bloody well hope so.) And the small talk was, well, small. And talky. The only previous time our respective parents’ orbits had collided was for a brief 24 hours when Heather and I got married in Malaysia – 13 years ago this August. (In fact, the first time I met Heather’s dad in person was outside the church, but that’s a tale for another time.) So the fact there were no arguments or awkward silences suggests to me that it went quite well. Either that, or they were all on their best behaviour. Either way, I don’t care.
Toby was a bit nonplussed by it all – well, he is only four months old – but Zac lapped up the attention. He has always adored both my parents (that’s Grandma and Grandpa – pay attention at the back, they all have different labels), but the first thing he did when my folks turned up was sprint over to hug his Uncle Peter, shouting, “Uncle Pete! I missed you!” From that point on, he and his uncle were pretty much inseparable all afternoon. I’m not sure why, but they really seem to have taken a shine to each other – my brother, who’s not normally one to enthuse about things, does so about our older boy at great length. It’s lovely to see.
After my parents had gone, Zac insisted – for the second consecutive night – that Granddad read to him at bedtime. (I’m not sure what’s more surprising – that Zac should be so keen on it, or that Max should so freely volunteer. It doesn’t matter, really.) Again, for a grandparent who he has only seen once before – and that was at the age of four months, so he won’t remember it – there’s a lovely little bond that has formed there too, just as it has between Zac and my dad. It’s a real shame that, once their trip to the UK is over, he won’t get to see his Gran and Granddad again for another couple of years in all probability.
Anyway, the day turned out rather well, I think. I’m still not sure what you call a gathering of more than two grandparents, though. An overexcitement, perhaps?