Diary of A Modern Gran | The Calm Before The Storm…

Istockphoto © Lady running after pram Illustration: Istockphoto

There are times when a granny needs to recharge her batteries. And that’s exactly what I did last week during half-term. (I can only take time off during school holidays because my daughter and son-in-law are teachers.)

It so happens that I needed to go to Spain because that’s one of the countries where my novels are published. So I combine a working break with some time in the sun. But I missed my lovely grandchildren dreadfully! And it seems that they miss me too judging from those lovely What’s App videos with George blowing me kisses and Rose’s little voice. “When are you coming back, Gan Gan?”

Then, one evening, just before I’m due to come back, I get another What’s App picture – which sets my pulse racing. It shows Rose’s right arm which looks as though it has a horrible blister filled with liquid.

“She’s had a reaction to her pre-school jabs,” texts my daughter. “I’ve called 111 and they say we should go to A&E.”

Regular readers will know that we’ve been through this before. In fact, I’m beginning to think we should get a season ticket to the local hospital. But we’ve never had to go because of a jab reaction.

Injections are a hot topic. When my three children were small, I got quite panicky about them. However, I decided it was better to have them protected or not. My daughter feels the same.

Now I’m really worried…

Rose has got a temperature and she is very upset. I am hundreds of miles away. It’s also nearly midnight. Why does everything always seems so much worse at this time?

Naturally, I don’t sleep until I get a call at 1.30 in the morning. The doctor thinks Rose has cellulitis. When I wake up in the morning, I get another text to say Rose is no better. So my daughter takes her to the GP who somehow – despite my poor little granddaughter running round the surgery to try and escape – manages to lance the blister-like sack of fluid which has got even bigger.

“It was awful, Mum,” my daughter tells me. “I also had to try and make sure that George didn’t get in the way of the needle.”

I’m filled with guilt. I should have been there – not sitting next to a sunny pool! Thank goodness I’m flying back the next day.

In fact, I’m due to look after the grandchildren for the weekend within six hours of returning because my daughter and son-in-law are going to a wedding. But my daughter doesn’t want to leave Rose so her husband goes on his own (one of his best friends is getting hitched and he can’t miss it).

Just as I’m about to go to bed to catch up from travel fatigue, my daughter rings. “Mum,” she says. “I don’t know what to do. Rose is going wild.”

I cycle around madly – leaving my suitcase still unpacked – to find my granddaughter in hysterics, thrashing around on the floor. “My arm hurts,” she sobs.

It’s Saturday evening and our surgery is closed

One of my daughter’s friends, a nurse, suggest she takes off the plaster to check all is well but Rose refuses to let her mother near it. It reminds me of the time when Rose’s mother wouldn’t allow me to remove a splinter from her foot at about the same age. In fact, she’s probably still got it…

This time I’m determined to succeed. Besides, someone has to do the dirty work round here. So I sit my granddaughter on my knee, give her a big cuddle and whip off the plaster. “No, Gan Gan,” she howls, throwing me the most awful look. What have I done? Now she will never love me again.

“It looks so much better,” says my daughter. “Look.”

It’s true.  The pus has all gone and in its place, is raw skin which must of course be very painful.

The nurse friend suggests that we put another dressing on it but my daughter doesn’t have a big enough one. So I ring my husband. He is watching that big football match along with the rest of the country. But to give him his due, he breaks off from the screen and brings round my emergency supplies.

“No,” howls Rose. “I don’t want another plaster.”

Once more,  it falls to granny to do the filthy deed. So I hold Rose’s arm down while her mummy puts a dressing on.

By now, we are all totally traumatised. To make things worse, little George wakes up and yells blue murder.

“I want to cry too,” says my daughter.

I feel so sorry for her. After all, she was meant to have been having a relaxing weekend with her husband. Somehow I need to calm down Rose but how?

“What about a chocolate button,” I say, expecting my daughter to tick me off.

“Good idea,” she says instead. “I’ll have one too.”

I can’t resist either. Somehow the three of us get through a whole giant bag. Yes, I know it’s naughty but there are times when needs must. Anyway, it does the trick. Rose has stopped sobbing. George has gone back to sleep, with some milk. My husband is now safely restored back home in front of the match. All is well.

Tomorrow will be better, won’t it?

The following  afternoon, to celebrate, we go off to the cinema. It’s a funny cartoon about pets which Rose adores but George gets restless. Within five minutes, we are asked to leave – not by the cinema but by my daughter. “Do you mind taking him for a walk instead?” she says.

Phew! I’m not really one for cinema during the day. But George starts yelling. I buy a packet of rusks which keeps him quiet. Then I look down and realise he’s missing a shoe. This is a cardinal sin in any grandparents’ book, given that they’re worth their weight in gold. (Not to mention the blood sweat and tears involved in finding the correct fit!)

Then two things happen rather fast with seconds in between. First someone comes running out of the shop after us. “Does this belong to you?” he says waving a small blue sandal. No sooner do I say, “Thanks – you’ve saved my life,”  than there is a whoosh and a seagull flies overhead, nabbing the rusk from George’s fingers.

My heart almost stops. Seagulls can be dangerous. Has it hurt him?  He’s not yelling so presumably not. But he is, as my younger son would put it, totally gobsmacked. In fact, he’s staring with disbelief at the seagull as it flies into the distance with his stolen rusk

“Sounds like you’ve had an eventful weekend,” says one of my granny friends when we swap notes that evening. “Still you’ve had your quota of three. First the jabs, then the shoe and then the seagull. Things will be a bit smoother now.”

And they are. To look at Rose running around last night, you’d think none of this had ever happened.

Before I became a granny, I would have thought that all these events were rather trivial. But now I know differently.

“Was it like this when you children were small?” asks my husband who’s never had any of his own.

“Yes,” I say, suddenly remembering how I’d turned down an invitation in the late 1980s to meet Nana Mouskouri because my daughter (then aged two) had a terrible cough and I didn’t want to leave her.  “It was. I’d just forgotten that’s all.”

Meanwhile, I feel in need of another break to recharge those batteries…

Details about Jane's latest book, I Looked Away

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.

Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team ten years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!