New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... - COLIN HOGG

One of my grand­daugh­ters men­tioned the other day that she doesn’t want any more cousins, thank you very much. I won’t say which grand­daugh­ter it was in case some of her aun­ties want to have words with her, though it’s pretty easy to guess which one it was.

She’s not too keen on be­ing just one in an ever-grow­ing crowd, as a fam­ily the size of ours does what fam­i­lies our size do, which is to ex­pand, though so far none of my kids seem to be set­ting out to have as big a bunch of kids as Daddy did.

That would be crazy be­cause six times six would be 36 and if I end up with that many grand­kids, they’ll need to wear name tags. But I’m sure we’ll deal with that prob­lem if or when we get to it. Mean­time, we all need to learn to live with fam­ily and its ev­er­widen­ing cir­cle.

I’m still learn­ing and I embrace every op­por­tu­nity to do so. Just the other week, for in­stance, I seized the chance to run away to Raro­tonga for what I might de­scribe as a wider fam­ily ex­pe­ri­ence. And I came home feel­ing – just slightly, mind – that I was a bet­ter man for the ex­pe­ri­ence.

The dar­ling wife and my­self, with 18-year-old daugh­ter in tow, took my mother-in-law along too for our six days of palm trees and lagoon and loung­ing about do­ing as lit­tle as pos­si­ble.

I hadn’t been ex­pect­ing the mother-in-law to be com­ing at first but that’s my do­ing be­cause I only be­came in­volved in the in­vi­ta­tion process quite late in the piece. It was sug­gested I might not have no­ticed the ex­pand­ing guest list, though I think it’s un­likely I wouldn’t have no­ticed.

All I could re­call of the Raro­tonga project was that it started out as a ro­man­tic getaway. You know, just the two of us, though I might have imag­ined that bit. I’m re­ally not sure any more. And any­way, once the daugh­ter was added on, any­thing was pos­si­ble and the ad­di­tion of a mother-in-law mere steps away. A hun­dred or so.

But the is­land hol­i­day went well over­all, I’d say, even if there was a ten­dency to leave me home by the lagoon with Shirley (the mother-in-law) while the ever-en­er­getic wife and daugh­ter went off for long walks and cy­cling ex­pe­di­tions. But that was all right and, as men­tioned, it of­fered nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties for fur­ther fam­ily bond­ing.

Which the two of us did, mainly later in the day over cock­tails. Shirley’s a straight talker. She told me, over per­haps our second cock­tail on the first day, she hadn’t been en­tirely sure I was quite the man for her beau­ti­ful daugh­ter when I first turned up.

I imag­ined she’d brought this up be­cause she’d changed her mind about me after more than 20 years, but I don’t re­call that com­ing up in the con­ver­sa­tion.

I’ll give her the ben­e­fit of the doubt – as she did me.

I al­ways think that’s a good way to play it in the wider fam­ily sit­u­a­tion, per­haps most es­pe­cially on hol­i­day.

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