Small change…

I had been called to my younger son’s home on a matter of vital importance… almost a mission of mercy; I had to teach him the innermost secrets of baking my lemon meringue pie. It had been too long since he’d had one and he could wait no longer. Making one for him would have been fine…but, conscious that I am getting no younger, and afraid that the recipe might follow me to the grave, he thought it best that I teach him to bake it himself. I sent him a shopping list and arranged a time to bob round when he was not at work. Assuming  that my decrepit and ageing bones would support me, of course…

Pushing open the gate to his back garden, I found father and daughter engaged on building garden furniture. Hollie looked up with a smile and the shout of ‘Grandma!’ that always warms my heart and wipes away all trace of worry and stress. Her father looked up with a more rueful expression. “I probably shouldn’t have started this yet…”

It was evidently a two man job and Hollie had manfully risen to the task, competently wielding  spanner and hex-key. It was obviously not her first encounter with a tool kit. As she worked, she told me about going swimming with Daddy that morning and how they had been fishing together the day before when she had caught, and held, her first fish. Her father, proud as punch, downed tools to show me a video of his daughter casting a line and doing it remarkably well.

The next part of the job needed longer arms than Hollie’s, so I helped while she ‘read’ the instructions. “It says here that you have done it wrong, Daddy.” She rolled her eyes, shook her head and went to check on her sister while I built the coffee table.

By the time we went inside to start baking, her one-year-old sister was hammering ‘nails’ with a wooden mallet and wielding a plastic screwdriver. She was quite happy to play while Hollie, her father and I got down to some hands-on baking. As soon as the lemon meringue was out of the oven and cooling, Alex cooked dinner while his partner put away the laundry and I sat on the floor to get into mischief with my girls.

I love that my granddaughters are learning and growing without the imposition of stereotypical roles.  They are both of them very ‘girly’ girls, but although Dad goes out to work and Mum runs a business from home sewing keepsakes, the girls see both parents cooking, baking and doing chores… and Dad is as likely as Mum to be changing nappies or painting plaster ponies.

I love that the girls have toy tool kits as well as dolls and tea-sets, that there are caterpillars metamorphosing in the kitchen next to their coloured pencils and sewing machine. That they can catch a fish, learn DIY and how to bake and sew.

Given my advancing years, imminent decrepitude or, indeed, demise, it is easy to divine that I belong to a generation whose gender roles were still fairly rigidly defined, especially in the north. We were on the cusp of change… still expected to marry, keep house and raise children, but also to be able to fend for ourselves in the meantime. The intervening years have changed many things; the pendulum of liberation has swung erratically, allowing women many freedoms hitherto denied, including some perhaps best swept under the carpet, yet still leaving behind too many inequalities and the residual image of woman as the inferior sex.

Watching this little family as it grows gives me hope that the differences, prejudices and inequalities may become, one day, a thing of the past. One family is a small beginning… but they are far from alone in giving their daughters a more rounded view of the world and of their own possibilities. The girls are learning to define themselves by what they can do, not what they ‘ought to’ do and in the care of two grown-ups who work in partnership, not in dominance and subservience.

Change begins with the smallest of things; a snowflake, for example, is fragile and ephemeral, but many snowflakes together can create an avalanche. Our days are made up of little things, but together they write a story that will last a lifetime and may even reach beyond and into a future as yet unwritten. Whatever we wish to achieve, there must always be a first step… Perhaps this is the  next step toward a more egalitarian future.

Hollie herself was already looking to the future. She drew me a birthday card with a rainbow on it, even though my birthday is not for another four months. She sealed it in an envelope, wrote her name neatly on the front and had me address it. I wrote ‘Grandma’ with pride… but was instructed to add my first name and surname too. She drew the sun in place of a stamp and delivered the card… with strict instructions not to open it till my birthday, and then, “… only if you have been a good girl.” Oh dear…

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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94 Responses to Small change…

  1. Sounds like she’ll be able to build you a coffee table for your birthday next year. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Precious! Enjoy them!! ❤️ Oh, where’s the pie? You baked my favorite! 😋

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So I’m what, 15, maybe 20 years older than you? Talk about cusp! The funny thing about my generation is that we were so forcefully rebellious, we weren’t going to be kept in the kitchen, no way. Also, my mother had a thing about girls not depending on men for everything because she felt trapped by my father. I think she wasn’t as trapped as she thought, but so much of it is in our minds.

    Kids now — well — I don’t think “sex roles” are even part of my granddaughter’s concept of male vs. female. Sometimes, I’m not sure she cares which is which, but that’s another issue. She certainly doesn’t recognize differences in skin color or national origin or religion.

    We may not have fixed the world, but we have done our little personal parts in making it freer and better than it would have been without us. I think it’s our grandchildren that show us if we have succeeded. Our kids are too close, but the grandchildren — they show us if the path we forged has worked out and isn’t is great?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Not that much of an age difference between us, Marilyn. But maybe the difference took a while to filter through to the north of England 😉

      My grandchildren are too young yet to have acquired any kind of prejudice…and I hope they never will. But I do see in my son’s parenting style my own determination to send my sons out into the world able to cook,clean and sew….and willing to do so 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ritu says:

    Definitely got a bit about their Granny Sue about them. Gorgeous girls 👭 ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jenanita01 says:

    We really can see ourselves through our children’s and grandchildren’s eyes, sometimes for the very first time. We now have a brand new great-grandchild and wonder if we will one day manage to see ourselves through her eyes too, God willing…

    Like

  6. Alli Templeton says:

    Lemon meringue pie – wow! Fantastic. There are some recipes that must survive the ages, and a good one of those is imperative! Gorgeous pics, the girls look so lovely, and it’s heart-warming that they’re moving towards non-stereotypical people of the future. And I really love your sentiments about one snowflake, one footstep at a time – funnily enough it made me realise that that’s exactly what my journey towards my dream is, and it’s writing like this that reminds me of that when I’m feeling stuck in the mud – and up to my ears in revision! Thanks for buoying me up, Sue. 🙂

    Like

  7. stevetanham says:

    Just beautiful… x

    Like

  8. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on Sun in Gemini and commented:
    A glimpse of another side of Sue’s life…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ksbeth says:

    this was an emergency of the highest order .lovely

    Like

  10. Mary Smith says:

    What a gorgeous trio in the photo 🙂 And I love the snowflake/avalanche analogy.

    Like

  11. This made me smile. Love the photos ❤

    Like

  12. Jennie says:

    I. LOVE. THIS! And a wonderful photo of you and the girls. 😍

    Like

  13. Sadje says:

    Oh my! They are the sweetest and the most adorable kids. A lovely post Sue. How was the pie?

    Like

  14. Lovely kids Sue, and a wonderful post.

    Like

  15. A truly sweet post, Sue. I love it that many little ones these days are growing up without many of the confines of past gender roles. It’s slow progress through the generations, which is perhaps why we can see it so clearly in our grandchildren. I love the picture of you and your girls. That’s a keeper. ❤

    Like

  16. Darlene says:

    I love the picture of you and your grandchildren. I think we did a good job of instilling equality in our children which of course has transferred to our grandchildren. I think of my son being a single dad to my granddaughters and how they have grown to be strong independent women that can do anything, with great parenting skills themselves. I think of my daughter living alone on an island creating pottery, which are her babies. We have come a long way!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. °That they can catch a fish, learn DIY and how to bake and sew.” Do you think Brexit will be so harmful? Lol Wonderful story, and what a pleasure the youngsters love to learn all the “old” things too, not only typing on screens. 😉 Michael

    Like

  18. Widdershins says:

    Renaissance women-in-the-making. 😀

    Like

  19. willowdot21 says:

    This is so beautiful, I love the photos 💜. Grandchildren are precious,bi hope they can have the better world that they deserve.💖

    Like

  20. Eliza Waters says:

    Oh my gosh, your grand-girls are soooo adorable! Love that photo, its a keeper. 🙂

    Like

  21. mbrazfieldm says:

    💖💖💖 so cute!!! Made my day thanks for sharing!

    Like

  22. petespringerauthor says:

    Your post makes me so envious, Sue. I’m so looking forward to the day when I get to play grandpa. Somebody better tell my son to get with the program. (ha-ha)

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I love being Grandma, Pete. As my daughter-in-law said, laughing, ‘You come around here, excite my children, then go home and leave them to me…’ 😉

      Like

  23. I think I need that recipe too, Sue. My mum reminded me recently that I didn’t used to have birthday cakes – it was always lemon meringue pie for me!
    As for the other message, I realise now how lucky I’ve been. My dad was always willing to do his share of the work at home. When he and my mum split up, I was left in a household with four females (three sisters as well), and we all just had to get on and do what was necessary while my mum went to work. The only illusion I’ve been under was that this was normal. It’s only in recent years I’ve begun to appreciate that there’s still a lot of misogyny, that the patriarchal system is still in play within too many homes. To me, it seems like madness, and I can only hope that your son and his partner’s lifestyle is becoming more and more the norm.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      The recipe is in your inbox 😉
      My mother was usually the one doing the DIY, as well as the more traditional roles, so I got a decent education on that score too. You just accept the ‘normal’ you are raised with. I do see a lot of young families with similar attitudes to that of Alex and Laura, though, where their children are concerned. That must be good for the future.

      Like

  24. I love this post, and that the girls are getting to explore such a variety of things, and having the freedom to decide for themselves later what their role in life will be. I hope things will work out so that they have a bright future in which to make those choices. I also hope it’s some time yet before you aren’t around to enjoy their experiences.

    Like

  25. What an adorable picture, Sue. It is lovely that your son is so open minded. I tried to raise my boys to be open minded to, but when I think of what young Michael did to that poor doll I shudder and accept that you can’t win them all [grin].

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      It tickled me that while Hollie was wielding the spanner, she was talking about he Mum doing her hair… a very girly girl at heart. I just want them to be able to find their own way.

      Like

  26. dgkaye says:

    What beautiful little cuties! The 3 of you in that photo is priceless. The love and joy jumps off the page. Stay blessed. ❤

    Like

  27. pvcann says:

    Lemon meringue is always vital!

    Like

  28. noelleg44 says:

    The grandchildren are adorable! Hoping for some myself one of these days. I taught my daughter how to make a lemon meringue pie but somehow the meringue part got left out – she was in LA at the time – and she put Ready Whip on the top before she baked it. It was quite a mess and she called me to ask what she’s done wrong – I could hardly tell her for laughing.

    Like

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