Life seems to be slowly coming back to normal. And yet it’s not, if you know what I mean.
This week, we did routine things like writing; school; nursery and – oh yes! – the dentist!
I did offer to go with them all to the last but my daughter said she could manage. “I don’t want to put on you too much,” she says kindly.
“You’re not,” I say, quietly thinking of the novel I need to finish.
“Honestly Mum, it’s very nice of you but we’ll be fine.”
I tell myself that my wonderful daughter is more than capable. It’s me who has to learn not to interfere too much. Besides, I’m not particularly fond myself of going in that chair. So I might not be the best person to encourage my grandchildren!
My experience goes back to childhood when I had what we called train tracks which didn’t go down that well during my teenage disco years. I’ll never forget how on the last day of term – when we were allowed to bring in sweets – someone gave me a home-made toffee which broke the whole contraption. In fact, it sprang open like a mouthful of wires! Needless to say, the orthodontist was not amused.
So I couldn’t help smiling when it transpires that Rose refused to open her mouth when it was her turn to be checked. This is particularly ironic as she is currently going through a phase of eating with her mouth open. We’re trying all kinds of things with this. Extra pocket money as bribes. Ignoring it. Hoping it’s a phase.
“I opened mine for the dentist!” chirps George when they will come back for tea after their ordeal.
At least neither of them bit her! I gather this can be a hazard of the job according to a friend of mine who works in the business.
It’s not easy is it, when you have to persuade children to have routine medical procedures? It reminds me of the time with my youngest – now 30 – had an eye check-up when he was about nine. When they put the alphabet chart in front of him, he declared he couldn’t read the top line. (Even my 97-year-old dad can do that!)
It turned out that he wanted to wear glasses because a friend of his did. But fortunately the optician saw through his ruse!
Meanwhile, a granny friend of mine is fretting because of the current discussion over vaccinations for secondary school children. “I feel in my bones it’s the right thing for him to do,” she says of her 14-year-old grandson. “I just hope it will be alright. I’ve had mine but he seems so young.”
And that’s what I mean about getting back to normal and yet not. We are still working our way through the unknown, aren’t we?
Fun and games
So on Sunday, we had a touch of the “back to old traditions” when Rose and George came over to play. In fact, it started because my husband and I decided we ought to buy some new drinking glasses. Not that we are planning on having anyone over for dinner! We are taking the relaxation guidance quite cautiously. We just thought it was time we replaced the old.
But where to store them? Our house is bursting with music (his) and books (mine). So I decided to clear out a cupboard to put glassware in. It also meant it would be out of reach of little fingers. And that’s when I discovered a collection of old games from my children’s days.
I put them out for George and Rose when they came over on Sunday morning and they fell on them with delight! “What’s this?” they said, diving for a box. “It’s called Pick A Sticks,” I say. “You have to take one from the pile without moving the others.”
However, these appear to be the magnetic type and you need a special stick to pick them up. Perhaps, not surprisingly, this has disappeared over the years. “That’s SUCH a shame!” says Rose, dramatically. I feel the same so I immediately order another box which should be here in time for Tuesday tea.
Instead we open another box – so exciting! – which turns out to be a draft and chess set in one.
“Look,” I say. “You have to move the move the circle shapes one at a time…”
“I want to play with the horse instead,” says George.
“Me too,” clamours Rose.
So they make up their own game with both pieces. I have to say I’m rather impressed. Maybe we ought to apply for an invention licence.
But their very favourite activity at the moment is still printing out pictures on my computer and then colouring them in. (They also like to twirl round on my office chair with me holding on so they don’t hurt themselves! But don’t tell my daughter that!)
George can write the first two letters of his name now without any help. In fact, we are very lucky. Our grandchildren seem to have put the last year and a half behind them. In fact, they seem to find it much more natural to socialise with friends than I do.
So I was very moved when I heard about a scheme that our local church is involved with. It’s called TLG (Transforming Lives For Good) and it operates throughout the country. Its aim is to send local volunteers into schools to help children on a one-to-one basis. These are often pupils who are displaying anxiety-led behavioural problems: something which has become more prevalent because of lockdown. There is also help for families who are struggling to put food on the table or buy essential household supplies. If you’d like more information, here is the website – www.tlg.org.uk.
Here’s an extract: When the pandemic hit the UK last year, TLG were incredibly concerned about children and families going into isolation without basic necessities. Children whose parents were already on the poverty line and facing food insecurity, whose homes were already unsettled and whose lives were already filled with anxiety.
COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, a devastating impact on financial security and emotional wellbeing for millions of people. With so many families desperately struggling long before the pandemic hit and many more struggling now, it was vital that we stepped up to reach those in need.
So if you, or anyone you know, needs a helping hand, do get in touch with TLG.
Meanwhile, I’m revving up for a 300-mile journey to see my elderly dad tomorrow. To be honest, I’m feeling a bit nervous about it. I used to make this journey once a month for fifteen years until the virus struck. And I never felt jittery before. Now I feel as though I’m about to get on a rocket and go to the moon. Still, we’ve all been double–jabbed and I’ve also done one of the flow tests. We’re also going to be masked up.
Perhaps I need to take my lead from the children. We’ve got to make that first step towards normality. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Meanwhile, I’ve been giving more thought to Rose and George’s new game. We’re going to call it Chraughts. Does anyone have the number for Dragon’s Den?
PS Thanks to one of my regular readers Gabrielle who emailed to say she was inspired to have a clear-out of clothes after reading about mine. Do let me know if you’ve done the same – and whether you’ve discovered anything interesting! I’d particularly love to know about old toys you’ve come across.
Grandmother of the Week – Zoe, 45
Zoe, 45 lives in Whitley Bay with her husband John. Their granddaughter Scarlett, and Callie (Zoe and John’s daughter), live nearby. Zoe is a civil servant and a book blogger.
“I went part-time at work to look after my grandad. Sadly, he died but then my daughter became pregnant so I stayed part-time to help look after Scarlett.
“I have her on Mondays and she stays overnight. We also have her on Wednesday evenings when my daughter goes to college. Scarlett has her own room in our house. I joke that I was looking forward to getting my spare room back when the kids left home but that I then lost it again!
“Scarlett has changed my life. Being a granny makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! It’s wonderful. During the last year and a half, we’ve had lots of walks and have visited farms (she loves animals like me). But this week we went to soft play for the first time since the last lockdown started. She was so excited that she ran in and chatted to all her friends! We’ve also begun swimming again.
“Quite often I’m mistaken for her mum! My own mum lives nearby and we all spend a lot of time together.
“In January this year, I got Covid. I was really poorly for two weeks. I was scared I might have passed it on to my family but luckily they tested negative. I’m better now although I’m still quite tired.
“I love being a granny. When you’re a mam you have all these pressures, wondering if you’re a good enough mum. You also have to juggle work and housework and different things but as a grandparent, you can take a step back a bit.
“My husband is great at playing with Scarlett. He’s particularly keen on building Lego towers!
“I try not to interfere too much but my daughter will sometimes ask my advice. When Scarlett got croup, I advised her to ring the doctor because you can’t take any risks.
“My son and daughter joke that Scarlett is the favourite! She loves reading like me. At the moment, her favourite is the Meg & Mog series. Scarlett also loves playing shop but she’s a rubbish assistant as she doesn’t let me or her grandad buy anything! She says we won’t like it!
“I’ve also set up an Instagram account to record my moments with Scarlett. We’re not going to go abroad this year because of the pandemic but we’ve booked a local Disney cruise from North Shields instead. We can’t wait!”
If you’d like to tell us about your week as a grandparent, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JANE CORRY is the author of five best-selling thrillers, published by Penguin. Her latest novel I Made A Mistake is about Betty, a grandmother who lives with her son’s family. Available in paperback (£7.99) and also as an e-book and audio, narrated by Emilia Fox. http://bit.ly/IMadeaMistake OR https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Made-a-Mistake/24376830
Jane’s new novel, The Lies We Tell, is being published on June 24. You can pre-order it now.