Festive excitement is mounting! Rose wakes every day, wanting to know if it’s Christmas Day yet. George meanwhile is busy demolishing the baubles adorning the tree which my daughter and son-in-law have bravely put smack bang in the middle of the sitting room. “If we say ‘no’ enough times, he’ll stop,” she keeps saying. “It’s a lesson.”
I resist the temptation to point out that, in my experience, this tactic didn’t work on her or her brothers either for Christmas decorations or any other subject…
Meanwhile, I’m hoping to write extra cards (for people who’ve sent them to me but weren’t on my original list) when George has his afternoon nap before nursery pick up time for Rose. “But she finishes at 12.30 today,” says my daughter when I arrive for “work” at the crack of dawn. “It’s the last day of term. Didn’t I tell you?”
“And don’t be late,” she adds. “The car park will be teeming because the older children go home at the same time.”
So I arrive super-early after driving George around town in order to get him to sleep. Otherwise, he’ll drop off on the way back from nursery and then get upset when I transfer him into the house. (Grannyhood, I’ve discovered, involves quite a lot of arithmetic-related sleep strategies.) At least, I tell myself, I can write those cards in the car while my grandson is snoozing.
George is having none of it…
But despite three circuits along the seafront and back, George isn’t having any of it. He continues yelling while we pick up his sister in her sparkly skirt (“Is it Christmas yet, Gan Gan?”) and put her in the wrong car seat. “That’s George’s, silly.” Oh dear. Since my growing grandson was upgraded to a bigger design, I find it hard to tell the difference. Just as well that my granddaughter knows her stuff.
Meanwhile, I’ve got six more hours to fill before clock-off time. Usually we would go to the beach or the playground but it’s tipping down with rain – every grandparent’s dread. So we get out the glue and stickers instead. “More,” insists Rose as she squeezes the bottle all over her jumper by mistake while I knock over a box of stars in my attempt to stop her. George, exhausted by lack of sleep caused by FOMO (fear of missing out) swoops to shove them in his mouth. Oh dear. We’ve still got five hours and fifty four minutes left. So I give in and switch on the television.
Immediately we are deluged with adverts for must-have Christmas gifts for children. “May I have that?” asks my granddaughter pointing to a doll that wees and cries. “Pleeese.”
Don’t get me wrong. She’s not spoilt. In fact, far from it. But at this time of the year, it’s hard for children to understand that they can’t have everything. It’s also hard for us grandparents to know what to get them. They already have so many toys. “No they don’t,” says my daughter. “At least, no more than their friends.”
I’ve had this conversation before
I remember having an almost identical conversation with my own mother, nearly word for word, some thirty three years ago. Is this something that every generation goes through? If so, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Rose and my daughter have the same discussion!
When my daughter gets home that night, she looks exhausted. But despite this, she’s off to a girls’ Christmas evening out while her husband babysits. I am constantly in awe of the way they “tag team”; each encouraging the other to have some time off with their friends.
“I’ll drive you so you can have a drink if you like,” I say.
Her face brightens. “Really? Do you mind picking up the others on the way?”
Mind? Of course not. In fact, it’s just like the old days when I would take her to parties all those years ago. There’s just time to go back and write those final cards before picking her up again. Her friends are delightful, thanking me effusively. “I feel as if I’m a teenager again,” says one of them who is barely 30 and has a second baby on the way.
And why not? The other day, I was mistaken for the mum rather than a gran – and I’m still glowing from the compliment. Age, rather like a good Christmas present, isn’t always what you think.
Talking of presents, I’ve just hit on the perfect solution. From now on, I’m going to give Rose and George premium bonds for birthdays and Christmas. After all, as a much loved (now deceased) aunt used to say, “Every woman needs a ‘running away’ money box.” So this is theirs.
“Thanks, Mum,” says my daughter wryly. “Now we’ll know who to blame if they leave home at sixteen.”
My mind shoots back to when I turned up at my own grandmother’s (she also lived round the corner) after a Christmas argument with my mother. She mopped my tears, sat me down on the sofa next to her in front of Coronation Street and rang home to tell them I was safe. How I wish both she and my mother were here to see little Rose and George. It makes me determined to savour every festive minute – rain, tantrums, gluey jumpers and all!