Grannies with toddlers: a model of intimacy, trust and sacrifice
I pass this modest nursery school everyday on my way to work and witness what has become common in Kenya - the high number of grannies taking care of toddlers. What becomes evident when you observe the behaviour of the children is how close their relationships with grandparents are - much more warmer and 'on display' than that between child and mother or house help. There is something here which, if understood better and 'formalised', can offer children environments within which they have opportunities to self-express, be creative, feel secure, become confident and therefore have better chances to thrive.
Above observations raise several questions:
Gakeu Nursery School in Laikipia County, Kenya. The building on the left is the school, the one on the right is the kitchen. That is all there is to the school which also doubles up as an adult education centre.
- How do these grandparents, often less well off than the parents of these children, manage with so little? Obviously, the levers available to them are more emotional than material so they do more with less
- Are there actions, ways of interacting, forms of speech, behaviourial traits, etc., which grandparents posses which engender intimacy and trust? How can time-pressed and cash-strapped parents learn from this?
- How can grannies be resourced and deployed so that this positive influence goes beyond their immediate charges? How can this be done without compromising their innate qualities and spirit of giving?