Hello I’m Nain – from 72 year old Superwoman

One  of the delights of getting old is alleged to be becoming a Nain ( Granny for the monoglot English or Mam-gu for those in the benighted south).  Particularly, I am told, the handing them back to parents when you’ve had enough. I just became a granny – to Eva Myfanwy now 9 weeks old. So way to go on grannyhood.  This  in not actually my first grand child. I have three teenage grandchildren in New Zealand.  I dashed out there within a month of the first’s birth.  What a gorgeous baby etc. I said to the parents.  Why not have a night out and I will baby sit. They got all dolled up and went out. Within half an hour grandson was bawling his head off. Unfortunately his mum had waltzed off with the milk bar and I had nothing to give the hungry lad. No idea  where they had gone and no estimated time of return. First rule of grannydom – don’t let parents leave without a forwarding number and ETR.  When will you be home doesn’t stop when they’re teenagers.

I jogged the little wailer round the room singing soothing Welsh nursery rhymes. The babe’s a Kiwi, isn’t he, so I cut no ice.  I finally got him to doze off to Taking a chance on love from my Frank Sinatra repertoire. I went out for the other two as well. It is quite hard to be a decent Nain at a distance of 12000 miles and they were all at least 5 years old before they recognised  me when I showed up again. Even then the eldest had to give the others a nudge as to who I was. I used to go out annually. As they got older I would stop off in Kuala Lumpur and raid the local Toys ‘R Us. She was into  Barbie dolls last year, he was into Lego, cuddly toy for youngest. Guess what? They had all moved on in a year so it was thanks Nain and quiet dumping of Barbie. Lego and Teddy. Those three are now teenagers and I feel I hardly know them.

This one’s different. Born in our fair capital city. I was down the minute she and mother were out of hospital and presenting my Nain credentials when she was 3 says old. Hello, I’m your Nain. Will I do? Hard to tell, they don’t do much at 3 days old but suck and sleep. Absolutely fabulous, gorgeous baby. Course she is. I had gone armed with a bucketful of Welsh nursery rhymes and early books. Dafydd Iwan and Edward did a lovely CD,  years ago. Nursery songs don’t change. I think we all know what happened to Dafydd but what happened to Edward since early 70s?  Touchy feely books with stuff like this feels like cat/dog/cow/sheep hair and they go miaow, woof, moo and baa. Preferable I think to trailing the real thing through the house. The first issue was her name. They had chosen Eva as  easily manageable in any language (my own kids having had to struggle to get people outside Wales to pronounce their names.) Myfanwy after paternal great grandmother. Eva seemed to be a problem. Welsh daddy pronounced it I-fa, spitting out the short “I”, French mother stuck an accent on the first E so it comes out as Ava. I opted out and said I would call her Myfi. I am hoping that will catch on. No two ways about Myfi – rhymes with luvvie. Next issue national identity. I said to Welsh son We’re claiming this one for Wales, quick, plant a Draig Goch in her cradle before the French grandmere shows up. I was privileged to be first on the scene as French grandmere has other grandchildren within spitting distance. French grandmere only speaks French. I said to son – tell grandmere in her own language to put her tricolour away, this one’s Welsh. Rough translation: Gerroff madame, this one’s mine. Happily grandmere has not I think attempted to launch a French invasion, and mum’s learning Welsh.

Myfi was a very placid baby. How do they do that? Mine all popped out yelling and fighting and haven’t stopped since. Maybe stroppy mothers have stroppy babies.  My lovely d-i-l is also placid. And how. I’m quite sure I didn’t have her patience when I was a young mum.  I visited Myfi again when she was six weeks old. Not quite so placid.  How they change in a short time. I am not sure whether she smiled or if it was wind.  I am not that experienced with babies as it’s 40 odd years since I had one , and I don’t go round chucking other people’s babies under the chin and doing the coochie coo bit. I do not think I am a natural grandmother. But will make a major effort with this one. Myfi responds well to Nain bouncing her round the room to Dacw mam yn dwad.  Halleluia – she knows she’s Welsh. There’ll be hell to pay if she doesn’t. Get out Ol’ Blue Eyes, you’re redundant and I’ve got a blue eyes of my own. Myfi is the image of her dad. Right down to the double chin when in repose. I’ve said to d-i-l If you want one that looks like you, better have another.

The new little family are now in Norway for a few months.  I’m going to visit in another month. Myfi will definitely give me a smile next time. I have offered to baby sit while parents have a night off. Don’t forget to get a bottle and express some milk. The deals’ off if you don’t. Nains of Wales unite. You have nothing to lose but the milk dribble on the shoulder.

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