Grandmotherhood inspired the first book by a retired Fredericton teacher
When Janet Robinson’s daughter welcomed her first baby in Spring 2021, the Fredericton-based teacher and counselor felt “a surge of emotion” that inspired her to become a writer.
“It was just this beautiful feeling,” she said, describing the birth of Lennon and how a fourth generation was welcomed into her family.
Robinson, who is also a grandmother to her stepdaughter’s two children, has channeled those feelings into writing and is now self-publishing the first in a planned series of three children’s books.
Never wake a sleeping nanny is about the importance of grandmothers and the love and guidance they offer in a child’s life.
“It takes a village. It really does,” said Robinson, who believes the most important role for grandparents is simply to show up and be present.
That’s why she never misses a dance class.
“There’s a line in my book that says, ‘She’ll cheer the loudest at anything you do. she dreams of you You’re the apple of her eye, I know so much is true.’”
Children can learn a lot from their grandparents, Robinson said, from “little life lessons” to practical skills.
She is currently teaching another granddaughter, Zoey, to knit.
And in families with divorced parents, grandma can be reassuring “neutral territory,” she said.
Immerse yourself in a writing project
Robinson worked at George Street Middle School for 37 years. She began teaching English language arts before moving into careers guidance.
After retiring last June, she still wanted to do something for the good of children — so she dived into this writing project.
“I think I wanted to give my grandkids something to read,” she said. “I want to be that kind of grandmother that they’re going to be talking about 50 years from now,” she said.
She was building on an idea that had been born about a year earlier while holding her grandson Lennon and staring at her.
“I thought, you know, I wonder what she’s thinking.”
This led to thoughts of her own grandmother and suddenly she imagined the roles reversed.
She began writing poetry from the perspective of a person standing over a sleeping grandmother, telling her thoughts and dreams.
HEAR | Janet Robinson talks about how becoming a grandmother opened a literary chapter in her life:
“She sleeps, but she dreams of you. She will remind you that to see the good in everyone, it is important to look for beauty everywhere.”
A lamppost sent a message of welcome
The poems turned into a little rhyming book that Robinson says reflects the grandmother she had and who she wants to be.
“I had the most amazing relationship with my grandmother,” she said.
“She lived across the lawn. We took a snowblower and cleared a path between the houses so we could go back and forth. She was an integral part of everything.”
When her grandma’s lamppost lit up, that was an invitation to stop by, as it meant she’d cooked a surprise, like treacle biscuits, soda bread, or macaroni and hamburgers.
Robinson and her two siblings took turns staying at her grandmother’s once a week.
“When it was our turn, you were just spoiled — eating on a tray in front of the TV, breakfast in bed the next morning,” she said. “I want that for my grandchildren — to come here and be comfortable and feel pampered and loved.”
The next two books in the series are told from a grandchild’s perspective.
Book 2 is about a child who is scared – or “belly flies,” and Book 3 is a child watching his grandmother be kind and generous during a trip to the grocery store.
They’re already written, said Robinson. She “just wait to see how things go” with the first.
Never wake a sleeping nanny is available from a number of Fredericton shops including Pharmachoice locations on the North and South Sides, Westminster Books, Room to Remember and direct from the author.