Coronavirus: grandparents are setting the record straight

How do toddlers experience the strange time their parents are struggling with? Not the schoolchildren, the masked teachers, the furnished canteens, the entry and exit times spread out to mitigate the effect of gathering in front of the door. Neither these big masked children themselves, whose light gag barely attenuates in the bus or in the street the conversations punctuated by great laughter and shouting.

But these children who were confined before knowing that this was not the life that awaited them, staying day and night with their parents and only going out for an hour a day, in empty streets. How do they grow up in the uncertainty of adults, in the masks, the hands that we wash, the distances that we keep, the concern that permeates faces, gestures, exchanges, looks. How, those who have only known that, do they absorb this language where the conditional has replaced the future?

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I was entrusted with a 22 month old child last weekend. At that age, you don’t count years. I took him, equipped with a small balloon, in the beautiful park of one of the eight cities in France labeled “imperial”, and I congratulated him for shooting so well already (“A first shoot is as beautiful as a first step”, assaulted his 12-year-old cousin) when he froze. A little girl, probably her eight or ten months older, but much more talkative, passed with a young man in his twenties whom I understood to be her uncle. She twirled her skirt and showed him how a princess gave orders to her servants.

The uncle encouraged him, calling him ” Your Majesty ” and, as she said to expect a few distinguished guests (“Princesses but less than me”, she had specified), he pretended to take out the china to set the table. “We will first look for my horse”, she said with broad gestures. Without understanding the scene, my little one was captivated. He saw life in a big way. He felt the nobility of the place, the height of the trees, the width of the alleys, the splendor of the lawns and the delicacy of the small stone pavilion of which the princess and her lover had climbed the few steps to make it their noble home. The past centuries, far from weighing, were promising.

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This is when, like Zorro in the song by Henri Salvador, the grandmother arrived. She was vigorously pushing a pushchair in which a little boy was dozing, who had obviously given up on the game. Without pity for the local aristocracy, she first took charge of her son: “What did you do with the little one’s waistcoat?” “ The waistcoat was waved, what a relief. Then they settled their account with the princess: “You warn in time if you want to pee, eh?” “ And anyway : “Come on, it’s getting chilly, we’re going home. “

The spell was broken. On the way back, bumping into the paths to our house, my little footballer in turn dozed off in his stroller. I was thinking, covering it a little more, of a petition that reached me from the School of European Grandparents (EGPE). Very relevant, she says that “The war of generations does not exist within families”, ask that “Stop these insinuations of a generational divide” and reminds that “Our nation needs the combined effort of all”.

Obviously, the combined effort had taken on the features of a leader of young people and little princesses a little too energetic for me. But I had a smile on my face as I thought that, in their torment, young parents could always count on their old parents. Threatened by the pandemic, they were. Careful, they were. But be careful to set the record straight, and God knows if that can help. In this role, the grandmother of the great park had shown herself imperial.


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