“The most important thing is that the (grand) kids are here”

By Laura TomassiniLex KlerenMike Zenari Switch to German for original article

Parenting again, at least for a few hours a day: while mum and dad are at work, many grandparents in Luxembourg take care of the children – even during the COVID-19 crisis. Most of them accept the fact that the little ones can be a risk, especially for older people. Because – as the interviewees tell the Lëtzebuerger Journal – nothing keeps you young longer than spending time with your grandchildren.

The alarm clock goes off at 5 am at Rosen’s in Oberkerschen. Demy and his wife Marlies have already been retired for years, but they have not quite settled down yet. Reason for this are the grandchildren, which the couple takes care of several times a week. One of their two sons lives only a few hundred metres away with his wife and children. Demy and Marlies have a direct view of the house where they once lived themselves, from the living room. Explaining the daily routine, Marlies states: "The older one comes here first thing in the morning and brushes his teeth with us, while his mother prepares his little sister for kindergarten back at home."

The 72-year-old is used looking after her grandchildren as she has been doing so for years. "The eldest is eleven now, so I've practically been raising him from the beginning. Before and after school, as well as over lunch, the kids stay with us, because both parents work. Putting their children in day-care or ‘Maison Relais’ was never an option for the couple. Our son never wanted that because he and his brother were always at home. I never went to work", says Marlies. The pensioner became a grandmother early on, as her first grandchild was born when his mother was only 18. Demy remembers: "She still had two years of secondary school at the time. Every morning she pumped her milk at school, and I collected the bottles. The security man always thought it was very funny."

Being a private chauffeur and teacher

Because of the kids the 73-year-old former state architect has stayed young and believes that "I think if we didn't have them, we'd be missing something." At the beginning of his grandson's school days, Demy played school bus every day before the primary school pupil started taking the actual bus. Now the ‘grandpa taxi’ is only in demand in the afternoons when it is time for the next gen to go to music school. Demy is also responsible for homework, although the pensioner first had to brush up on his school knowledge: "You have to work hard to keep up, so I always ask the teaching staff about new subjects.” Grandma Marlies, on the other hand, crams French vocabulary with her five-year-old granddaughter, because her parents do not have much time for that during the week.

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Unhappy despite the joy of having children