I don’t know if it’s exhaustion or the cold that is going round. But either way I’ve lost my voice.
“I’ll help you find it, Gan Gan,” trills my three-year-old granddaughter Rose. How sweet is that! It makes you realise how literally children take things.
“Thank you,” I whisper, giving her a hug.
“It’s a pleasure!”
This has become her latest favourite phrase. Who says manners are lacking in the modern world?
“Are you sure you’ll be all right?” asks my daughter as she leaves for work.
I reassure her that I don’t feel ill. It’s just that I can only croak rather than speak.
“Like a frog!” declares Rose gaily. She points to a picture in her “First reading words” book.
“That’s right! An ‘eff’.”
“No,” says my daughter who’s heard us even though she’s half way out of the door. “It’s a Ph. Remind me to give you some phonic lessons at the weekend.”
Oh dear. I’ve already got a black mark before I’ve started. Meanwhile, I need to eat something before taking them to nursery. George and Rose woke up early (5am) so they’ve already had theirs. But I haven’t had time.
“Shall we put the television on?” I say hopefully, thinking this will buy me a few seconds to zip into kitchen and grab some of my special cereal which I keep in their cupboard.
“No,” declares Rose imperiously. “Let’s have a little play first.”
Isn’t that what I’m meant to say? I’m beginning to wonder who the adult is here.
It’s snowing – again…
Then I look out of the window and see it’s started to snow again. Maybe nursery school for Rose will be cancelled. My heart sinks. Don’t get me wrong. I love having both of them. But we might all go stir crazy if we have to stay in the house all day. And if we go outside, it might be hard to manage two little ones, sliding all over the snow, without a voice to keep them in check.
Phew! After a flurry of texts, I discover nursery is still on. Somehow I manage to get them into the car, whispering urgent commands such as “hold my hand”. Then after dropping off Rose, George and I head for Wednesday playgroup. This is one of my favourite haunts. It’s run in a local church by the vicar’s wife along with ladies of a certain age who have several grandchildren and great-grandchildren between them. But they still find time to hang out with us. It’s a wonderful warm blending of generations. And even though I’ve brought up three children of my own, there’s always something new to learn.
“Have you tried whisky and lemon with a dash of cider vinegar for your throat?” advises one. Probably not a good idea when I’m on toddler duty…
Instead, I sit down with George to help him make a paper hat – today’s art activity. Whoops! He’s trying to tip the tube of glitter down his throat. “No,” I rasp. “Please don’t do that.”
“Don’t worry,” says one of my more laid-back granny friends. “At least he didn’t go for the glue. Glitter will probably go straight through him. Might even be a good probiotic.”
One of the other grannies has a confession
I’m not sure about that but I have to confess that his nappy has a certain sparkle half an hour later. Meanwhile, one of the other grannies here (we’re outnumbering the mums at this rate) is revealing her latest confession. This has become a bit of a ritual. We all come up with something we shouldn’t have done except that I’m let off this week on account of my voice.
“My daughter-in-law gives me healthy snacks when she drops off my grandson,” says one. “But he doesn’t like them. So I throw them out and give him crisps instead.”
I’m not entirely convinced this is right but it does add a certain lightness to what, after all, is the most important job of all. At the end of the day, all I want to do is give them back safe and sound. This leads me neatly to the next big thing that happens.
Because of the snow which is now coming down in wet blobs, I summon help from my husband in collecting Rose from nursery. But the last lesson is ballet which means that I have to change her out of her tutu in the classroom. “Can you stay in the car with George,” I croak. “Otherwise he’ll get soaked.”
“But you know he screams blue murder if you’re out of his sight,” protests my husband. Now regular readers will know that my man has never had children of his own. So this grandchildren stuff is a steep learning curve.
“I’ll be as quick as I can,” I whisper.
“What did you say?”
Oh dear. My voice is getting weaker!
I’m off, racing to the classroom and back, hoping that George doesn’t have one of his melt-downs and wondering if I should have brought him with me after all. Oh oh. Rose has lost the cardigan that goes with her tutu and then we can’t find her shoes or her nursery bag. By the time I’ve gathered it all together, it’s been at least ten minutes. How will my husband be coping?
“No, Gan Gan,” Rose declares when I suggest carrying her though the snow to be a bit quicker. “I want to walk.”
If I didn’t know better, I might suspect my granddaughter of taking advantage of my vocal chords! Eventually we get back to the car. To my relief, George is chuckling away. “I found some biscuits in the changing bag,” says my husband proudly.
Biscuits! Before tea? But that’s against the rules.
He beams. “I think George and I have bonded. This grandparent stuff isn’t as difficult as everyone makes out. All you have to do is bribe them. I also downloaded some nursery rhymes from my mobile and we had quite a sing-song. In fact, I think I might be losing my voice now…”
Don’t miss an exclusive serial, The Grans’ Club, written by Jane Corry for My Weekly. All instalments are available now.
Read Jane’s other Gran’s columns here.