Six into five won’t go!
Fergus Sheerin is one of our much valued neighbours. I don’t see him all that often, so when he does come to the door, I know I need to listen to what he has to say. Fergus dropped off a book of tickets and said he would call back for the stubs and money next week. No surprise here, as Fr Heaney had done a bit of advance publicity-pressure at Mass on Sunday. The funds are badly needed to assist in the extension of the cemetery.
After our parish volunteer had left, I counted the tickets and found there were five in the book, at a tenner each. Mrs Youcantbeserious is away at the moment, and as I am hiking off up the Pyrenees, I decided to fill out the stubs that night and drop them down at Sheerins – while it was fresh in my mind. So far so good…
It was then the stumbling block hit me square on the forehead: I write most raffle tickets I buy in the names of my grandchildren and this is where the mental turmoil kicked in. I have five tickets and six grandchildren. Talk about the horns of a dilemma. I didn’t have Fergus’s phone number to ask for one more ticket; and besides, that would be a messy way to handle what was by now a big problem. Being home alone, I decided to sleep on it…
Sleep on it is right… I couldn’t sleep. The question of which child was to be left out of the draw overwhelmed me. Whichever one was eliminated, nobody would ever know – and it was only a lousy tenner after all. I swear to God, I couldn’t do it; and worse; the question of eliminating one grandchild from anything now consumed where my brain used to be. I eventually did come to a resolution as to how to sort the ticket conundrum. As it says with all puzzles, ‘you’ll find the answer at the bottom of the page’!
All our grandchildren are equal – as I am sure is the case with most grandparents. But that does pose a lot of questions, doesn’t it? Why do you think I was awake half the night? An easy ceist first: is being equal always being fair? For example, giving them money at Christmas – should the seven-year-old have to get the same as a 17-year-old? Moving on into the realms of presents, there are many dynamics which challenge the equal or fairness rule relating to age difference. Clothes, electronics, entertainment and trips. You getting my drift? This is as good a paragraph as any to add that the greatest gift of all for a grandchild is time. But what lengths should a granny or grandad go to dispense equal time to all the grandchildren, taking account of the usual geographical spread?
As I tossed and turned, sleeplessness triggered by this highly troublesome book of tickets, I envisaged how much more difficult it would be as the children grew older. If the child from one family needs something their parents cannot afford, does ‘equal’ mean you cannot single out that child, without giving the same to all the others? Then, for the sake of argument, there is a granddaughter studying to be a vet and working really hard; and at the same time, a grandson, genetically programmed to turn out like his grandad; devoting a decade to drinking and fornication… should he get nothing?
Maybe those examples demonstrate that we need to apply a different standard of equality and adjust our approach accordingly. All are equal… but at some point or other, you need to be able to make one a little more equal than the other.
The arrival of grandchildren marks the beginning of a new generation. There is a sense of magic with the arrival of each one because it represents the family projecting into the future. But back to the equal thingy, nearly half of grandparents admit to having a favourite grandchild, so maybe I only have to wait and the thing in my head will sort itself? Another thing; a percentage of grandchildren lose interest in their grandparents in their late teens. I’ll watch for signs there – and that could help with the solution as well.
The head is beginning to clear… A friend of mine once advised me on this topic when he said; ‘don’t be worrying about the grandchildren, spend the whole f#####g lot on yourself’. That’s it – that’s the answer… this will solve the dilemma aright!
And so I put my own name on all the five tickets – and I know I’ll sleep like a baby tonight!
Maybe someday science will be able to explain why a child cannot walk around a puddle of water.