It’s Saturday morning. Officially, this is not one of my granny days. But my son-in-law is working and my daughter is visiting her dad. So here I am, pushing a wide-load double buggy down a narrow coastal lane from their house to ours.
“I want to go to the beach,” whines Rose, straining to get out of her straps.
I know the feeling. It’s a baking hot day and I can see the sea glistening from where we are standing. But the thought of letting my granddaughter and her little brother George race around near the water is too much. I’ve done it before. They both run in different directions which is enough to send your blood pressure off the scale.
Besides, I need to go home and make sure that my husband hasn’t taken a tumble. I’ve also got all those household jobs which I’ve been saving up for the weekend. But I’ve got a feeling that’s not going to be possible. After all, you can’t take your eyes off little ones for even a minute…
“Are you alright?” I call out as I go in the front door.
Since the op, it’s become my first question. At times it feels like having another child – one who is fiercely independent despite not being able-bodied.
“Absolutely fine,” says my husband with gritted teeth as he negotiates his way down the stairs before our eyes.
“Where are your crutches?” demands Rose.
Precisely. I was just about to ask the same question…
“Oh those,” he says airily. “I’m going to try and go without now.”
He reaches the bottom and starts to lurch from one side to another like John Wayne.
“I know,” says Rose brightly. “We can play doctors and I’ll make you better. Look!”
Then – and I’m not making this up – she puts an imaginary phone to her ear. “You ring me,” she instructs my husband bossily. “You say you need the doctor and I’ll come round.”
“Ha ha,” he chuckles. “If only that happens in real life. Come on. Let’s go into the kitchen and make a cuppa.”
George immediately sees this as an invitation for a race and belts past my husband, almost knocking him over. Rather appropriately, he is wearing a T-shirt that says Go Wild. He almost slips down the step but I’m there and catch him just in time.
Maybe we should have stayed put in their non-slip, no sharp-cornered tables, child-safe house.
“Perhaps I’ll take them to the post office,” I say after giving my husband breakfast.
“Where are you going to mail them?” he jokes.
Very funny. That last dose of anaesthetic from the second op has clearly sharpened his sense of humour.
It carries on. George starts to grunt, strain and go pink as we head for the door. Why do they always do that, just when we’re going out? “I think he might have done a nappy,” I say, lifting up the frilly edge bits to have a peep.
“They ought to make nappies with flashing lights to indicate when they’ve performed,” suggests my husband.
He might be onto a winner here. (If you make money out of that, remember you heard it here first!)
We actually have rather a nice day although that might be due to the fact that I gave them two ice creams each as well as my undivided attention. (Blow the housework!)
The children have shared more than hugs…
The following day, I wake up with a terrible throat – rather like the one that my daughter and her little family had last week. “I told you children are catching,” jokes my husband.
I also have to admit that I’ve got a touch of end-of-term-itis. Only ten days now until my daughter finishes work for the summer. Then I’m no longer needed for two full days a week. Part of me can’t wait to crack on with all the things I’ve needed to do but haven’t been able to.
But another part is already feeling empty. I love those two days with my grandchildren. They might be utterly exhausting but there is nothing like that little hand in yours and the constant stream of questions. (“But WHY do flowers grow, Gan Gan?”)
Then the phone rings on Thursday night. It’s my daughter – but it doesn’t sound like her. “I feel awful, Mum,” she says. “I think that throat bug has come back.”
If only I could help! But I’m off to speak at the Penzance Literary Festival. (My own voice has cleared up with the help of some marvellous lozenges which I’d better not name in case I’m accused of advertising. But I will say that they’re favoured by singers and you can get them from Boots!)
I should also add that I’ve arranged a rota of babysitters for my husband during my 10-hour absence in case you think I’m neglecting him!
I have a lovely time at the festival. Penzance is one of my favourite south-west towns with its beautiful Morrab Gardens and that amazing view when you come into the station.
On the train back, there is a sweet little baby in a young mother’s arms. He (I think!) fixes me with that old-man stare which young ones are so often born with. It strikes me that it’s not long now until George is two and Rose is four. Where has the time gone? I almost long to have those baby days all over again.
My husband’s jaw drops when I get home and I tell him this. “Are you having me on?” he says.
“Just as well you’re too old to have one yourself, then,” he says firmly. “Now take a look at this.”
He’s walking a little bit more steadily than he was before. Maybe, touch wood, we’re turning a corner…