Diary of A Modern Gran | Gran Gets Ready For A Break

Istockphoto © Lady running after pram Illustration: Istockphoto

What a difference the sun makes! It’s so much easier to look after the children when it’s bright and dry. I still have to pinch myself that we live by the sea – and that my daughter and her little family moved near us.

But there is one disadvantage. There are so many ice cream kiosks locally – and it’s hard to resist!

“Mum!” said my daughter sternly when she rang on Monday for our usual telephone debriefing. (She quite often gets home after her husband so we don’t always see each other at the end of my day.)

“Rose says she had two ice lollies AND an ice cream. Please tell me that’s not true.”

What a snitch! I only gave into Rose’s entreaties on the understanding that she wouldn’t tell her mother.

“Well…” I start to say.

“You did!” says my daughter horrified. “Then you can take her to the dentist next time and explain why she needs fillings.”

Hang on. We don’t actually know she’s got tooth decay yet and besides, it was that or a full-blown meltdown in the high street.

I have to say that my energy levels are running low – I’ve had to put in quite a lot of extra hours in the last two weeks because of my children’s work commitments. And although I love having Rose and little George, I haven’t perhaps been as strict as I should have been.

I’ve also got another challenge. George has suddenly started to squabble with his sister. Maybe it’s because he’s coming up to the terrible twos. Or perhaps he’s just testing the boundaries. Probably the same thing.

Either way, he’s started to pull her hair and even hit her. “No,” I say firmly, holding his eye to show I mean it. He looks down on the ground in a very contrite fashion and then gives a cheeky smile as if he’s just pretending to be sorry. This really isn’t on.

In my day, there were certain mothers who favoured giving the offender a little tap back but I never thought that sent out the right message.

So I’m very impressed by the way my daughter and son-in-law deal with this. “It’s not kind to hit, is it?” they say. “We need to be gentle, don’t we? How about stroking your sister’s arm instead?”

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The main thing is that they persevere without even raising their voices.

Personally, I think a lot of toddler behaviour is down to frustration. It must be hard when you can’t talk as much as your older sister and make yourself understood. But maybe that’s one of the benefits of being a granny. I can reason these things out in a way that I didn’t do when I was a young mum under pressure.

Time to say goodbye

Meanwhile, it’s our last day at Wednesday playgroup before the summer break. I love the people here. Regular readers might recall that I’ve mentioned it before. It’s mainly staffed by some older ladies from church, some of whom are great-grannies. They are so kind and full of advice for newish grans like me.

The leader is the vicar’s wife, a young mum of four with dimpled apple cheeks and a permanent sunny smile. To our dismay, we learn that she and her husband are being relocated to another church at the other end of the country. In the meantime, they’re looking for someone else to run it. How will we manage without her?

It’s always hard when things come to an end but on Thursday we have to say another goodbye. Little Rose is leaving her nursery for pre-school a few miles away. It’s a huge step although luckily she already has some very good chums who are going too.

Even so, changes like this are always unsettling. In fact, I’m beginning to feel a bit nervous myself, both on behalf of Rose and myself. It sounds silly to say this at my age but there is something really comforting about seeing the same group of grans every day.

Meanwhile, George will be going to nursery this autumn soon after his second birthday. It seems incredibly young to me. In my day – here we go again! – they didn’t start until three in our rural part of the country and only then if they were potty-trained! In fact, we had to wait until they were rising five until they went to big school. By then, the children and I were climbing up the walls!

But right now, I can’t imagine George agreeing to go. He is very clingy and will only go to immediate members of his family. Still, we’ll see…

Busy, busy, busy

Right now, I’m babysitting in the evening after a granny day for my daughter and son-in-law because they have a work “do”.

“I’m so sorry, Mum,” says my daughter as she kisses me goodbye. “I know we’ve asked a lot of you recently.”

I understand. Really I do. Fortunately, my husband does as well. He can’t babysit with me because he’s still on crutches but he’s perfectly happy sitting on the sofa with the dog, watching the cricket.

Meanwhile, excuse me while I nod off – except that just as my eyes close, my phone goes with a bleep. It’s a friend congratulating me on something that I haven’t mentioned to you yet. My new Penguin thriller, I Looked Away,  (about a youngish gran who made a terrible mistake in the past) has reached number three in the Sunday Times listing. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning it but you all feel like good friends so I wanted to share the good news.

I also think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that many of us hands-on grans also have jobs of our own. Yet just like the age old argument about working mums, the working grans debate has its pros and cons. “Isn’t it time you had a bit of a rest?” a friend of mine often asks me. “Shouldn’t you be spending more time with your husband?”

Oh dear. Maybe she’s right. So the next day we go out to lunch together. This is a bit of a performance with the crutches – especially as he is a keen driver who doesn’t like being driven by someone else! But we finally get to a table at a local hotel overlooking the sea. Bliss!

Then my mobile rings. It’s my daughter. “Mum,” she says. “I’m really sorry to bother you but my tumble dryer has broken down.”

Normally, this wouldn’t be such a disaster. But they are going camping in two hours time and the children’s clothes are all wet.

“Can I go to your house and use yours?” she asks.

Of course. But then she rings to say that her key to our place won’t work. “Maybe I brought the wrong one,” she says.

We go back just to make sure…

Oh oh. It seems as though I might have managed to turn the security key on the outside even though there’s a key on the inside. As a result I’ve jammed it.

The dog is barking inside. What are we going to do?

Our neighbour, who is painting his house, comes round with a ladder but he can’t quite reach the top. Instead, he kindly takes my daughter’s wet laundry and puts it in his dryer.

Then my swimming friend comes over with three knives in case we can prise a window open. (We can’t.) It’s all beginning to look very dodgy…

I ring the local locksmith but he’s busy. Meanwhile my husband, on crutches, is chafing at the bit.

“Bring me my tool kit,” he demands. Amazingly within a quarter of an hour, we’re inside.

Phew! We can go in and reassure the dog. And my daughter can go on her camping trip with dry washing. Thank heavens for good neighbours.

“What about me?” prompts my husband who clearly thinks I haven’t praised him enough for breaking in.

“Is Grandad a burglar?” asks Rose. Oh dear. I hope she doesn’t come out with that sort of question at her new school…

I Looked Away – my new Penguin psychological thriller about a gran with a secret past is out now. You can order through  https://amzn.to/2Lq2rew and https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Looked-Away/23635139

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!