I’m having to get a babysitter for my husband so that I can babysit the grandchildren tonight. It’s a long story. In fact it’s been quite a week. I’ll start at the beginning.
My poor husband had to have a spinal fusion op last week. He came out on Monday and has just started taking some unsteady steps with the help of crutches.
“See,” he jokes to little George when the grandchildren come round with a red and blue paint-footprint Get Well card, “I’m learning to walk just like you did.”
The difference is that 21-month-old George is much faster. In fact, he finds it hilarious to race up the stairs just as his step-grandad is coming down on crutches in the opposite direction. I just about manage to stop the two of them colliding.
Rose – who is so kind and gentle to everyone – is rather worried. “What’s wrong with Grandad?” she asks, her little brow furrowed.
“Don’t you worry,” I reassure her. “He’ll be fine soon.”
Meanwhile, I’m worried about leaving my husband on his own in case he trips. So how am I going to manage my 11 hour granny days on Wednesdays and Thursdays?
There’s only one answer. Normally my husband prefers me to look after lovely little Rose and George in their own home round the corner, because it’s childproof. (He’s also jumpy about sticky little fingers playing with his vinyl records.)
Well too bad! Try as I am, I can’t be in two places at the same time! So after cycling round at 7.15am to take over from daughter and son-in-law when they go to work, I bring little George back to our place for breakfast. (Rose is already at nursery.)
Immediately, there is havoc!
George helps himself to all my china mugs from a bottom cupboard. I swiftly take each one out of his hand and try to make my husband a cup of tea at the same time – while keeping the hot liquid away from my grandson.
The safest way to do this is to pop him in the highchair. Then George gets envious of my husband’s fruit and fibre cereal and tosses his own porridge overboard. Naturally the dog promptly wolfs it down.
I’m not sure if my grandson is allowed fruit and fibre – I seem to have mislaid the “Can and Can’t” eat list from my daughter – so I try to fob him off with a banana.
“I was looking forward to that,” said my husband mournfully. “It was the last one.”
I can’t help wondering who the toddler is here! Still, the poor man has been through a lot. I need to make allowances.
Then all three decide they need a wee. I take the biggest one first – my husband – helping him to the loo with his crutches. I then change George’s nappy. Then I take the pushchair and dog out round the corner so the latter can perform. It’s only then that I realised that I’ve left the husband in the loo.
“No problem,” he says obligingly when I retrieve him. “I caught up with the newspapers.”
I’m not quite sure how hygienic that is but as he is poorly, I let it pass.
Then I suddenly realised that I promised to babysit the following night so both my daughter and son-in-law could go to separate work commitments. Help!
Who’s going to look after my husband?
Then I have a brainwave…
We’ve just found a wonderful dog sitter to help us out while my husband isn’t well – it’s hard for me to do it all and write as well – so I asked whether she’d mind husband-sitting while I look after the grandchildren.
“Let me get this right,” says one of my granny friends. “You’re paying someone so you can give free childcare help?”
Yes – that’s the long and the short of it. It’s called being a gran and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
But when I’m at the children’s, I get a phone call. It’s my husband. “Don’t panic,” he says. “But the hospital has just called after those recent tests. I have to go in for emergency surgery tomorrow…”
I Looked Away – my new psychological thriller – is out with Penguin on June 26. Order now on Amazon.