It’s a bit like going back to a job after several months off. I know I can do it but I also feel nervous after a break. Tomorrow is the big day!
My daughter and son-in-law return to their teaching jobs after the summer break and I’m in charge of little Rose aged three and George aged one. It’s the age where you can’t blink in case you let them out of your sight.
I usually only have George for the day. But because Rose is changing nurseries and doesn’t start pre-school for another three weeks, I will have both of them. From 7am until 6pm. We’ve also got a four-day week instead of two as my daughter has two training days. Help!
I’ve decided that I will structure the day rather like a teacher. So I’ve got all kinds of arty things to do with them, including animal faces made out of plates and cut out shapes.
But I’m still not quite sure how I will manage with two.
“You brought up three of us,” points out my daughter. We’ve had this conversation before but each time the answer is the same. I am older and out of practice. The responsibility is also twice as big because I have my daughter and son-in-law to report to.
On top of that, my husband is still on his crutches.
“Why don’t you pay for some help,” suggests a granny friend half-jokingly.
That’s ridiculous. The whole point about me offering Granny care is to save money. Besides, my children don’t have the room to put up a stranger. And none of us are good at living with people we don’t know.
But the more I think about having an extra pair of hands, the more attractive it is…
So instead I ask a friend’s daughter who is about to go off and read something to do with child-raising at university. It so happens that she’s around for the next couple of weeks and can fit in two hours a day.
“Let me get this right,” says my childless husband. “You’re paying someone to help you provide free childcare.”
“That’s right,” I chirp.
“And we are also paying a dog sitter to walk the dog because you can’t manage the double buggy and a lead.”
That’s right too. My husband used to do the latter. But owing to the said crutches, he can’t do it any more.
Meanwhile, as part of the getting ready to go back to school stuff, I offer to help my daughter do the weekly supermarket shop well in advance.
“We’ll have separate trollies,” announces my daughter as we go in.
I soon see why. Hers is already full – with Rose and George. The three of them race off to the other side of the shop while I gather up some of the things that I need.
But when I’ve finished, I can’t find them. It’s a bit like being in a maze. Then I hear a little voice. “Gan Gan? Where are you?”
I’m about to put some heavy-duty chocolate in my trolley so I hide behind aisle three in case they demand some too. (I’m already in trouble over giving them sweets.) But I’m spotted! Instead of asking for the said chocolate, however, the little ones decide they’re going to hide too. “Faster, faster!” says little Rose to her mother. It was the best fun I’ve ever had at a supermarket!
“Us too,” says my daughter.
Meanwhile, she is getting her list of “to dos” ready for me
Top of the list is George’s potty training. This in my opinion is extremely hit and miss. Personally I’d wait until he’s older but who am I to say?
“The best approach,” advises my daughter, “is to let him go naked from the waist down when he’s at home.”
She’s not joking. When I go round the next morning, there is George on his balance bike with all his appendages dangling off the seat. It looks highly risky to me.
“Just put him in nappies when they’ve gone to work,” advises my rebel granny friend. “They’ll be none the wiser. And it will save you having to mop up every five minutes.”
Ironically, my husband has to visit the bladder clinic tomorrow as part of his post-op care. “Perhaps they should combine it with a potty training clinic,” he suggests.
I ,too, am getting all my ducks in a row before starting tomorrow. I’ve finished editing for next year’s novel which means I should have about 10 days off before the next stage. People often ask how long it takes to write a book. My first draft normally takes about four and a half months of intensive daily writing. But there is so much more to it than that. All in all, it’s about a year from start to finish.
I also make my monthly 300 mile each way visit to my 96-year-old father. As part of his birthday present, I had a photograph of Rose dancing on the beach and George on his bike (fully clothed) printed on the sides of mugs by our wonderful local dry cleaners who has just set up this little side line. “Isn’t it amazing what they can do nowadays,” he says.
It’s a long journey back. My mind is all over my place. It suddenly strikes me that I haven’t been to church for ages with all our summer comings and goings.
So I take little Rose to Sunday school this morning. It’s a lovely service and I come out feeling full of hope and positivity. It also helps that one of my granny friends was there.
She’s just finished being an all-day granny carer as her little ones are now at school. “But I’ll meet up with you for a coffee,” she suggests.
That’s one of the lovely things about being a hands-on gran. Not only do I have my beautiful grandchildren with whom I’m building foundations. But I’ve also made friends for life. In fact I’m looking forward to seeing some of them at playgroup this week.
Meanwhile, keep your fingers – and toes – crossed for me this week! I’ll let you know how we get on.
PS “Just thought I’d tell you that none of the mother and toddler groups are open this week,” says my daughter when she rings that night. “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll find something for them to do…”
I Looked Away – my new Penguin psychological thriller is out now. You can order through https://amzn.to/2Lq2rew and https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Looked-Away/23635139