Eileen

by Kerry Cue

Eileen and Tom Meehan Married 1922

Eileen and Tom Meehan Married 1922

This is a photo of my grandparent’s wedding in 1922. The Australian  Model T Ford or Tin Lizzie (below) was produced in the 1920s. My grandmother, Eileen, is at the wheel. The boy (obscured) in the photo is my father. My grandparents owned a small wheat farm at Lalbert in the Mallee, Victoria [my father was born nearby at – wait for it – Tittybong].

It was a harsh life. My grandfather, Tom, cleared the land by hand. There was no power, just tank water and kerosene lanterns and 4 kids. The car is important because my grandmother, Eileen, mother of 4 at the time, broke both her wrists crank starting it and her sister, Maggie, reset her sister’s wrists on the kitchen table.

My grandmother broke both her wrists crack starting this car

My grandmother broke her wrists crank starting this car

The fires came in the 1930s, burnt the crop and the banks foreclosed as often happened in the Great Depression. My Auntie Dot can remember someone from the bank turning up and not only taking the car, but the bridles off the horses!!!

Life was harsh on the land in the Australia of the depression

Life was harsh on the land in Australia in the depression

The local community passed around a hat to pay the train fare for the family to Melbourne. My father, 13 at the time, watched his siblings on the beach at St Kilda, Melbourne, as his parents went in search of lodgings. So terrified were the children of losing their boots, they buried them in the sand to paddle in the water. My grandparents lived in Gurner St, St Kilda for the rest of their lives. As a child, I thought my grandma was stern, but today I see her as tough. A survivor. She died in 1978.

Kerry Cue is a humourist, journalist, mathematician, and author. You can find more of her writing at her blog. Her latest book is a crime novel, Target 91, Penmore Press, Tucson, AZ (2019)

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Don’t call me ‘Grandma’

by Kerry Cue

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 purple quote 1   “The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.”purple quote 2

……………………… Sam Levenson, American Humourist, 1911-1980

Sibylesque Signature purple

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Baby Boomers Find the ‘Grandma’ Tag Doesn’t Fit

Baby Boomers, apparently, are terrified of being labelled ‘old’. We’re in denial and we refuse to be called grandma. Susan Sarandon (b. 1946), for instance, wants to be called ‘Honey’.

Susan Sarandon B&W

This is not a straightforward issue. Firstly, today a kid can have 4 grandmas, 2 biological grannies and 2 step-grandmamas. Who gets the naming rights? Often, it is first in, first served. So the first-time-grandma may be  competing with an established  grandma-of-3. To avoid the granny wars, she has to find another name.

If both grandmothers opt for the same ‘nanna’ tag, the kid will soon sort you out. I know a little tyke who called his nannas ‘Chippie Nanna’ and ‘Chocie Nanna’. Obviously, they specialised in crisps and chocolate.

May Procession c 1950s Communigate UK

May Procession c 1950s  UK


Secondly, women of my generation have fought to be recognised as individuals. Otherwise, our entire identity is dished out as  stereotypes: girlfriend, fiancee, wife, mother, grandmother…. Are we expected to revert to a generic brand name in our senior years?

Some will be happy with this option but some won’t. I’m one and I’m not even a grandmother. Our grandmothers, much like my grandma and nanna, were stern, hat-wearing, church-going matrons (see left), who often tut-tutted at, well, every fun thing that happened at family gatherings. I don’t care about being a grandmother, but the name would feel like a millstone around my aging-neck.

What are the options?

Nan: My friend Nan says she’s just growing into her own name!!

Mimi: Kim, called Kimmie by the family, said ‘Let the child decide’. He started calling  her ‘Mimi’. She loves it.

Lola: Surprisingly, ‘lola’ is grandma in Filipino (Tagalog). ‘Lolo’ is grandpa. My nephew married the gorgeous, Regina, who is Filipino. His mum gets called ‘Lola Liz’. Now that sounds like a grandma, who is having a damn good time!

Any other suggestions?

Kerry Cue is a humourist, journalist, mathematician and author. You can find more of her writing at her blog. Her latest book is a crime novel, Target 91, Penmore Press, Tucson, AZ (2019)

A feisty, 70-something GRANDMA hits the big screen. Mature age feminism. Bring it on!

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque fool quote

There are two reasons to get excited about this film. (New York Times Review) Firstly, it’s called Grandma and Ellie, the lead character, is a feisty, take-no-prisoners 70-something and a long way from the doddering little old lady stereotype.

Secondly, Ellie is played by Lily Tomlin, a comedian I’ve admired since she first hit our screens in Laugh In in the sixties. What’s not to like about a hard-hitting comic feminist who says:

“We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.”

Lily Tomlin as Grandma Ellie

Lily Tomlin as Grandma Ellie

Grandma Ellie, according to Tomlin, has attitude. ‘If somebody is lying or fudging an issue, she just can’t take it and she is just gonna rail against it.’ That’s an attitude many of us will recognise. Significantly, Lily Tomlin turns 76 on the 1st September this year. Tomlin is smart, sassy, uncompromising and funny.

We need to see vibrant older women on screen as they make growing old look interesting.

Photo Source: Film Website

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Is grandma fit to babysit? The Checklist

the Sibyls

Sibyl, Kerry Cue, has an hilarious Grandma Checklist published on Independent Australia. Here’s just a part of the list. For more laughs go here.Grandma Test 1New

Vote 1 Wisdom ….. or How not to be a victim by Hillary Clinton

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Wise woman quoteHillary Clinton is 67 years old and running for President. If she is voted into office, an increasingly unlikely scenario, she will be 70 years old and, after 2 possible terms, she will be 78 years old.

Why all the brouhaha? Opponents have dubbed Hillary ‘grandma’, which, indeed, she is, but the term is used as an insult. It is meant to demean her status.

Sibylesque Vote 1 for WisdomThere have been 44 presidents with 3 in Hillary’s demographic. Margaret Thatcher was 54 when she became Prime Minister in 1979 and held that office for 11 years. Golda Meir was 71 when elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969. Angela Merkel was 51 when elected German Chancellor. She remains in office at the age of 61.

There are now 46 million Americans over 65 and the numbers are rising. Last election they represented 23% of the voting population. Only a fool would set out to insult 23% of potential voters. Then again, fools rush in where the older and wiser fear to tread.

Hillary had the last say. She started a Twitter account #Grandmotherknowsbest.

Thus ends the lesson in how not to be a victim.

curlicuePhotosource: Winedentity

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NO WIFI: What can we do grandma?

 by The SibylsSibylesque   Having Fun Quote

Two thoughts for the New Year:

1. You can never have too much fun.

2. Life was funny, so funny, before wifi,

but you had to be there.

Sibylesque No Wifi Quote

What do you give grandchildren who have, well, everything?

by Penny Cook

Antoine deSaint Exupery Quote

And so it’s Christmas time …again. This is my 55th. I’m struggling with what I can give my grandchildren when they have everything. It’s not how it used to be. And this is not about being nostalgic…it’s about living in a material world, as Madonna sang in not so recent times!! Years ago, material things were sought after and reserved for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas…they weren’t accessible every day.

Sibylesque Tea Party

When I look at my almost one year old grand daughter, I see her delighting in happening upon a toilet roll and tearing into it, leaving a trail of her perfect work along the hallway. I watch her upend the dog’s water bowl and place it in a planter box. I marvel at how engaged she is with a box of tea bags and how she empties it and carries some of the bags to the third step on the staircase and stores them there with other household items. Presents she has given herself. I listen to her 5 year old brother who has chosen a heart shaped rose quartz stone for her because ‘she loves rocks and now she will know that I will always love her’. How can I compete? What can I give her?

There is nothing….but me. I am her Nan. I will be there when she endures growing up…when tearing up toilet rolls doesn’t fix hurtful words or gathering rocks can’t explain others’ actions.

Sure, I will find a present for Christmas.. but Grandparents…we are a gift for life.

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Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!…….

Photo source: 1930s Tea Party Queensland Library Archives

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Listen Up Grandkids … Google Can’t Give You a Hug!

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque Enthusiasm quote

When we, as grandparents, are bombarded by the current angst about social media, technology, politics and childhood … what can we hold onto to for our grandchildren? What can we offer beyond all that?

If we’re not on a screen and can’t be swiped, what can we do?

Let’s never forget that children learn through relationships.

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All children will be able to swipe and navigate the internet to get information … which children will have access to real life face-to-face conversations? Which children will get hugs and listening? Which children will have access to time and ‘old people?’ Where will they get their stories and the feelings? If enthusiasm is contagious where will it come from?

Enthusiasm is an emotion resulting from a story which comes from a real life interaction. If there is no real life interaction where will the enthusiasm come from? You can google the word enthusiasm, but can you google up enthusiasm without a real life interaction? Grandparentship is so important for our alpha kids. You can’t swipe grandparentship.You don’t get a hug from Google. You don’t get wisdom embed in your life. Google doesn’t listen. So who can?

Grandies can. They still need us.

Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!…….

Photo source: reddit

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Call me on the Banana Phone, Grandma!

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque Imagination Quote

I love technology. Well, I love that I get photos of my grandchildren on my smart phone!! The world has changed. It used to be that the grandmother was retired, or never had to work, so she didn’t need photographic documentation of what her grandchildren were up to because she was there!! Either in a visiting capacity or sometimes as a carer,

But, as a full time working grandparent in 2014, I love the photos. I love that I am included in the stories of their play. Although I’m not there I get to see when the 5-year-old decides to be Tarzan and his 9-month-old sister is cast as Jane. He in his underpants and she in her nappy. I get to see her diving into an upturned basket and emerging with an Octonaut. I get to see Tarzan reading a book and Jane looking lovingly on. I get to be delighted with their play.

I wonder, if we have forgotten the importance of play.

Sibylesque Banana Phone

If children haven’t had lots of opportunities to ‘play’, to pretend a banana is a phone or pencils on the front of their bikes are headlights, then we have a serious problem with literacy. We know we are hard wired for language, but not for reading and writing. When children participate in ‘symbolic play’ (the banana for the phone), they are beginning to understand about symbols. They are learning that you can substitute one thing for another and transfer meaning. Eventually, they will understand those squiggles on a page represent the words we use to communicate. While they’re playing they are also talking and building a bank of words they can use to navigate the world, have their needs met and communicate their thinking. There is a body of research that strongly suggests if children don’t have quality verbal interactions with adults, by the time they are three years old they can be seriously disadvantaged in the literacy journey.

How do children ‘get’ these quality interactions? Well, there are lots of ways. Reading stories together is one. Being available to listen and respond to the wonderful life theories children are constructing is another. Singing is possibly neglected in the literacy world, but so important. Young children are very forgiving. They are not yet music critics so don’t care what you sound like. They just like to sing together.

Sibylesque Iimaginary Train

So are we putting the cart before the horse with our expectations about reading and writing? Do we have an understanding of how young children learn? Are we rushing children in to the ‘academic’ world and are we taking away the very substance of how they learn – play? Have we forgotten the connection between symbolic play and the ‘valued’ literacies of reading and writing?

How can we reclaim play for children? Well Grandparents, rip the sheets from the bed and string them between the couch and the recliner. Get in that cubby with the kids. Drink copious cups of tea. Be the dog, the baby, the mum, the dad, sister, brother or whatever. You are building readers and writers…. And don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

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Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!

Photo source: Smatoday blog, Vic Museum and ipad App store.

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Some Grandmas really are Wild Things!

by Honey Clarke

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You can retire from a job, but don’t ever retire from making extremely meaningful contributions in life.purple quote 2

…………………………………………………………..Stephen Covey, Author

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Illustration by Honey Clarke from her book 'My grandma is a Wild Thing'.

Illustration by Honey Clarke from her book ‘My grandma is a Wild Thing’

Australia has been perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes ever since Chips Rafferty came to the screen. His nasal drawl and odd sayings use to make our skin crawl. “We’re nothing like that!” we’d scream. Yet in any movie about Australia, he’d ride on in. Despite what we know to be true, Australians still willingly go with the stereotypes offered. Don’t think so? Just watch how quickly you can become invisible in the workplace, now you’re a woman of “a certain age”.

Grandma Swims by HOney Clarke

Grandma Swims by HOney Clarke

Lately Politicians are hinting that an ageing population is “becoming a significant issue” like Lyssavirus or finding you’d grown a third eye. The Bureau of Statistics gives projections of data pregnant with doom. What none acknowledge is the contribution the ageing give to our country.

 This theme has been a thread in my own work. My friend Marn breaks all the stereotypes and helped inspire my book “My Grandma is a Wild Thing” because she played drums, rode a motorbike and swung from a jungle gym to pose for my drawings. What’s more Marn speaks “Kid” in all its forms – eloquently and with love. She’s a dynamic part of work and family. Yet stereotypes of aging persist.

The Chooks  by Honey Clarke

The Chooks
by Honey Clarke

I hatched “The Chook* Book of Wisdom” when a farmer friend was about to go home and dispose of his chooks. The problem? They’d stopped laying. Was he crazy? They were just menopausal – they had heaps of good years. He thought it a hoot. The chooks were saved. Let’s hope we are too.

Australia has to get over the idea that passive earners don’t contribute. Let’s show our currency. Dare to be different. Grasp every opportunity to contribute to the quality of our own lives and in so doing, contribute to the quality of others too.

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Honey Clarke

Honey Clarke

Honey Clarke lives on the side of a mountain in an extinct crater lake with her partner, the Rock Doctor. She’s an artist, writer and teacher who encapsulates the essence of life in the quick strokes of paint or pen. Honey has two grown up kids and seven grandchildren. She is part-owner in a bamboo farm. She would like to say her hobbies are kite-surfing and abseiling but that would be a lie. Instead she reads, swims, travels, paints and blogs as much as possible. Honey’s blog is Honeyclarkeart. To inquire about Honey Clarke’s art, books or illustraoins contact her at: honeyclarkeartATgmail.com

Gemma Sisia has a big dream to fight poverty through education.

Gemma Sisia has a big dream to fight poverty through education.

 

The charity that she and the Rock Doctor champion is St Judes in Tanzania, a brilliant school educating kids out of poverty.

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Photo Source: Honey Clarke’s Blog and St Jude’s Website.

*Chook is an Aussie colloquialism for a chicken.

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