“We made a necklace at school today,” chirps Rose.
“That’s lovely,” I say.
“But we had to leave it in the classroom,” she adds in a tone that suggests she’d really rather have brought it home.
“Never mind,” I reassure her. “Perhaps the teacher is going to help you do the next stage.”
“I want to show it to you,” she says.
“I’d like that too.”
There’s a big lump in my throat. Why? Because right now, I’m a long way from her…
Often, when I write these columns, I feel both guilty and incredibly lucky that I live so near my two little grandchildren. I really feel for grandparents who live several miles away from theirs.
And now I am going through Rose and George withdrawal symptoms. I am away from home to give a talk about my new Penguin novel, The Lies We Tell, which is about Sarah, a mother, who would do anything to save her teenage son – even if it means breaking the law.
I’m not away for that long but right now, the separation is beginning to physically hurt.
It doesn’t help that when I FaceTime my daughter and son-in-law – probably too frequently – it’s always the wrong time for them. Of course, I totally understand that. When I was looking after Rose and George for two full days a week, before the virus, I used to try to explain to friends and family that I simply couldn’t talk while keeping an eye on two very active little ones.
And now it’s my turn! “Sorry, Mum,” says my daughter when I call. “We’re just getting ready for school.”
I can hear the familiar cries of “I can’t find my other shoe.”
“How about later?” I suggest.
But there’s after-school cricket. Or have I got that muddled with after-school dance, not to mention tennis?
Of course, it’s wonderful that they’re doing all this after the year and a half we’ve had. I’m not complaining. I just miss them.
A few hours later, I check my phone and see I’ve had a missed video call from them. My heart goes into overdrive. Why didn’t I hear it? So I call back immediately.
“I’m really sorry, Mum,” says my daughter. “But they’re in bed now. We just rang to say good night.”
“Are they actually asleep?” I ask.
“No. They’re having a bedtime story with Daddy.”
“Please could they talk to me just for a few minutes?” I say
I know I’m not being a very good granny here. I’m being selfish. It’s not a good idea to disturb their going to bed pattern. In fact, it doesn’t seem that long ago when I was trying to get their mummy to bed on time.
But my daughter can hear the pain in my voice. So she takes me up on the phone to say good night.
“Night night Gan Gan,” says Rose. She looks so sweet with her long hair and “Elsa” pyjamas.
“Night night,” chirps George, who seems to have grown an inch in the last week.
“Mummy got us a skipping rope today,” adds Rose.
Wow! I remember my very first skipping rope – given to me by my Godmother as a birthday present.
“How lovely,” I say. Then I get an idea. “Shall I buy one too? Then we can skip together!”
“Yes please,” says Rose.
And suddenly my heart is lighter. Not long now until I’m back. We can all skip in the air together. Meanwhile, I need to find them a little present. What can I get them?
“That’s really kind,” says my daughter when I ring for advice. “But we’ve got enough stuff. I’m always tidying up. We just want you.”
I can’t wait.
Grandparent of the Week – Jackie, 69
Jackie and her husband Bill live in Spain where Jackie runs a clothes boutique. Their daughter, Ellie and her partner Manu, live close by. They have just had their first baby, India, who is three weeks old.
When Ellie told me she was pregnant, I was so excited!
We moved out to Spain 45 years ago and we’ve always been a close family. I’ve heard from friends how special it was to be a granny and I couldn’t wait!
At the same time I was apprehensive about my daughter. When I was pregnant myself I wasn’t concerned, but it’s different when your child is about to go through it.
Because of Covid, Ellie had to go to all the hospital appointments on her own. I really felt for her. But we had a lovely socially-distanced baby shower. I made material balloons, tassel decorations and bunting which Ellie is now using to decorate the nursery.
When they took her in to be induced, I felt really nervous. She was in labour for 20 hours. I couldn’t sleep. I sat on the sofa for a bit and then walked around the house with the phone in my hand, unable to settle.
Then at 5:30 in the morning, there was the ping of a text with a photo! My relief was indescribable.
Of course, I just wanted to be there but we weren’t allowed into the hospital because of restrictions. I also knew my daughter would be tired. But on day three, I finally met my beautiful little granddaughter.
That feeling of holding her in my arms was absolutely magical.
She seemed so small! But I think we forget, don’t we?
I’m really looking forward to spending more time with her.
I’m particularly excited about going out on walks and when she’s older, looking for shells on the beach and smelling the roses.
We are hoping that India will be bi-lingual when she’s older. The idea is that Ellie and Manu are going to speak Spanish to her while Bill, I and our son James will speak English!
Jane’s New Thriller
JANE CORRY’S new Penguin domestic family thriller THE LIES WE TELL is out now! When 15-year-old Freddie comes back one wet windy night and says he’s killed someone, his mother Sarah doesn’t believe him. Her husband wants to go straight to the police but in the morning, Saran and Freddie are gone. You can order a copy now from Amazon.