There’s nothing worse than an interrogation by children, particularly when they are brutally honest. To make matters worse, I had two inquisitors, and it was clear they had spent some time before getting in the car to organize a coordinated plan of attack.
But, first, a little history.
Back in happier times, in other words before the eventual separation and divorce, we were known as nanna and poppy. I was, most of the time, referred to as grumpy poppy, and the two, girls adored their nanna.
She always had a way with children, and, it was also the case, with our own two sons. They preferred her to me, for obvious reasons, I had to be bad cop all the time.
When we separated, and this was an eventuality that we both agreed on, and it was, I thought, quite amicable. There was no underlying reason, like one or other of us cheating, but that we had, over time, simply drifted apart because we had separate ideas about life.
Since I was the nonpreferred grandparent, I decided to see less of the children and allow them more time to be with their nanna. Sometimes we appeared together, like at birthdays and Christmas, but normally I kept my distance.
No one seemed to complain about my absences, least of all my own children, which spoke volumes, to me, about what they thought of me.
Now, out of the blue, I get this call to pick up my granddaughters from school. It was not as if their nanna was as so overloaded with things to so, so it seemed to me it was some sinister plot, but to what end, I could hardly imagine.
I’d find out soon enough.
The girls were waiting in the drop zone and got in the car. It didn’t phase them that it was me, and I had thought they may have a problem since I was in a different car. But they seemed to know what to look for.
There was silence until we exited the school grounds, they went to a church primary school and perhaps they didn’t want to risk God’s judgment on me.
The older child fired the first salvo, “Nanna says you have a girlfriend.”
Ok, not the first question I was expecting.
Then the younger girl followed up with the second salvo, “is she going to become our new nanna?”
To them, these were serious questions. But had they been inspired by their current nanna, and they were to get answers. She’d know I wouldn’t lie to them.
I stopped at the traffic lights.
“If your nanna saw me with a friend having lunch the other day, then it’s quite possible it may have looked like that, but, no, I don’t have a girlfriend, and for what it’s worth, I’m not ready to embark on that journey again for a while. As for the other question, there will never be a new or any other sort of nanna other than the one you have already.”
Speech timed to perfection. The lights changed to green.
I let that sink in and then after a minute asked a question of my own. “How come your nanna is not picking you up today?”
I notice the two give each other a look and wonder how young does a child have to be to understand what a lie is or be able to keep a secret.
“We were told that you would be collecting us today, that’s all.”
A question then for whoever is at home when I drop them off.
I notice a rather prolonged look from the younger girl, perhaps searching for a truth of her own in my expression, or that she was trying to read my thoughts. Whatever she saw, she asked, “Do you still go to work?”
“In a manner of speaking. I work for myself these days.”
“Not anymore. I thought I might try writing a novel. Before, there never seemed to be enough time in a day to do anything, but now things are a little easier.”
Then the older girl chimed in, “Nanna says that it’s a bit late for you to become a writer.”
Yes, I can see it now, the rest of the family sitting around the dinner table saying that I’d finally lost my marbles doing what I always wanted to rather than what I had to.
And my ex had always said I would be wasting my time from the very first time I’d mentioned it to her. So much for confiding your hopes and dreams in your so-called lifelong partner who is supposed to support you. I know I had supported her through various career changes, no matter what the consequences.
“What do you think I should do?”
It would be interesting to get their perspective.
“If you don’t have a real job, how do you pay the bills?”
A practical question. Just the sort my ex would have posed if she was here.
“You’d be surprised what you can do when you put your mind to it. I manage.”
There was no doubt a dozen other questions to be asked, but the capacity for a child to remember was about three or four. And then they had to remember my answers so they could relay them.
Hopefully, the interrogation was over.