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Thursday, 16 May 2019


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

In this often crazy, mixed-up world politically, financially, environmentally, militarily and more, it has been and continues to be far too easy to become negative and cynical and ask the question: "What's the bloody point?" There is a long list of frustrations and annoyances in everyday life like queues, litter, lazy car parkers, bad manners, cold callers, to name a few. And don't get me started on the quagmire that is so-called social media which, for the most part, appears to be rotten, hijacked by ignorant fools and fakery. The news is dominated by miserable stories which are dissected by callers to and panellists on talk radio. There's a lot of negative stuff to deal with.

I will still get exasperated by these things but, as of 3 May, 2019, my attitude changed in a heartbeat - literally a heartbeat. Our first grandchild, a boy, was born. He is healthy and beautiful. He has great parents, both on a steep learning curve because of the arrival of this brand new human being. They are doing brilliantly.

The parents, of course, have the primary responsibility for their son, but coming in a close second are the grandparents who have a job to do as well, supporting in any way necessary, playing as full a part as possible to help the baby develop through the coming weeks, months and years. Of course, this is indeed about supporting and not interfering.

Our two sons did not know my father but they had a role model of a Grandad in my father-in-law, a generous, creative, wise man who played a big part in their upbringing. He's a pretty good template for me.

There's no shortage of advice in books and online about the traits of a grandparent. Just as Mum and Dad will, both Gran and Granda will find their own ways but here's a few brainstormed thoughts (which I have to think through) for our "training":

Unconditional love
Patience in a changing family world
Generosity with time and advice (when asked) - and goodies too!
Empathy to understand the world through a child's eyes
Reading, nurturing a love of words and stories
Celebrating milestones, events and achievements
and much, much more, I'm sure.

Some of what we must be will come naturally but there is no denying that our grandson (two weeks old as I write) is a game-changer, exciting, thrilling and a delight. So, out with the negative and in with the positive. There are many wonders in the world to highlight and share with this little person.

I am looking forward to it so much.

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