Rose is off to her first school disco! And George is hoping to gate-crash.
“Can I come too?” he asks plaintively as Rose does a pirouette in her pretty pale green dress with a circle of flowers on her head.
Why not? He loves to do everything that his big sister does. It’s so hard to be left out at that age (or any age, in fact!)
“It’s just for Rose’s year,” I try to explain. “But don’t worry. We’ll do something fun together when she’s there.”
My daughter is working (she’s gutted at missing this) so she’s asked me to get my little granddaughter dressed. It’s a great honour! Rose chose her outfit herself and I want to bottle up that sweet little smile along with that confidence and also anticipation, for ever. If I had one wish for her, it’s that she might always feel good about herself. I don’t know about you but I didn’t have any self-confidence at that age and even though I’m in my mid-sixties, I’m still that shy uncertain Jane inside.
“There’s going to be dancing,” declares Rose, giving another twirl.
“That’s fun,” I say. Already I’m feeling protective. “Who do you think you’ll dance with?”
“Myself,” she says.
My mind flashes back to my first disco
I was 15 and had to dance around my handbag all night (in a dress made by my mother from a woman’s magazine pattern) until finally the last song struck up and a young man from the boys’ school finally asked me to dance!
“It’s good to dance with yourself,” I say firmly. “Now let’s take some pictures to send to Mummy.”
Then Daddy comes back from work to take Rose. His face lights up with such pride that my heart wants to burst. “You look beautiful,” he says. Rose beams.
When they’re gone, I can’t help feeling nervous for her. I just want her to be happy and enjoy every moment. Goodness! What will I be like when she goes to her first proper disco in about ten years’ time? Then I begin to have a bit of a panic. Recently, a lot of my friends have become ill. It’s made me all the more aware of our vulnerability. All I want to do is see my grandchildren growing up.
Then I shake myself. You have to live for the minute. Surely the last year and a half has taught us all that?
Luckily George brings me back to reality. “Gan, Gan,” he says, waving his little fist in front of my face. “Can you click your fingers like me?”
Wow. He’s good! How can a three-year-old be so much better at some skills than me? His mental arithmetic is almost better than mine as it is.
Well, maybe not.
“What is four and ten?” he demands.
“Fourteen,” I say.
“No. Keep trying.”
“But it IS,” I protest.
“It isn’t, Gan Gan.”
This goes on for a bit until I distract him with a book. George is fascinated by constellations at the moment. “Which planet do you live on, Gan Gan?”
“Earth,” I say.
That’s good to know!
Before I know it, Rose is back! Her face is radiant…
“Did you have a lovely time?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says, flushed with excitement.
“Who did you dance with?”
“Sam,” she says, naming one of her best friends. “And Gracie and…”
She lists all her chums. How sweet!
The next day we go to the beach. I have to say that it’s much easier to bring up children when the weather is good! I also have to pinch myself that we live by the sea. I’ve wanted to do this all my life but I didn’t make the move until eleven years ago and to my delight, my daughter and son-in-law followed.
“Look at that!” says George pointing.
It’s a huge jelly fish! Luckily someone has put stones around it to alert others on the beach.
“How did it get there?” asks George.
“It swam,” I say.
“Why can’t it get back again?”
Oh dear. There are times when I feel as though I am on Junior Mastermind. So I change the subject (again) and suggest a game of cricket. George has a great eye for the ball and we have a fantastic time. It reminds me of my mother teaching my elder son (then three) to play cricket. Isn’t it lovely how the same scene can get played down the generations?
When Rose’s term finishes at the end of the week, we take a trip to the toy shop to celebrate the beginning of the summer holidays. “Just one thing each,” I say.
We leave with a carrier bag full. I’m going to regret this when I check my bank balance. But I just can’t say no.
Then we stop off to choose a comic each. I love doing this with them because I trained as a magazine journalist. I like to think it’s in their blood because they always choose the brightest cover with the most number of toys on the front!
This week, George’s favourite comic has a water gun on the cover! Just as well that Rose already has one at home. “We can take them into the bath!” she suggests.
Great idea! At least it is until they turn their “fire” on me!
Then comes Saturday morning
“We’re going to London to see Grampy and Granny,” says Rose.
One of the joys of having a blended family is that the children have six grandparents to love them. So they’re all driving up to see my first husband and his wife.
“We’re going to see where the Queen lives,” declares George solemnly when I go round to help them get ready.
How exciting. “Are you going to picnic there?” I ask. I’d been reading about the palace grounds being open to the public. I wouldn’t mind doing that myself.
I try to make myself useful by reading them a story while Mummy and Daddy race around packing things up. I’d forgotten how much stuff you have to take! Rose and George have the same attitude to toys as I used to have with shoes. The more the better. (Nowadays I tend to go for familiarity and comfort.)
When I wave them off (their house key in my hand so I can feed the cats), I feel an emptiness inside.
How am I going to manage without them for a whole week? Still, it could be worse. Some of my friends have grandchildren who live abroad, whom they haven’t been able to see since the virus started.
So I count my blessings. Then I go down to the allotment in the rain – it’s belting down now – and I dig. Nothing like a bit of physical to clear the mind.
Grandparent of the Week – Sandra
Sandra has seven grandchildren and stepchildren between the ages of 11 months and 9 years. She divides her time between Florida and the UK.
“I’m known as Ome. It’s a variation of the German spelling for ‘grandmother’ from my ex-husband’s side.
“Tomorrow, I’m heading for Warwick to help out because two of my grandchildren are at a nursery which has closed temporarily due to Covid. I’m going to be in charge of an 11-month-old, a four-year-old and a five-year-old. The baby refuses to eat so I’m going to take her to her mother’s office to feed. I’m planning on taking the four-year-old to Kenilworth Castle because he loves history and then I need to pick up the five-year-old from school at 3.30.
“I used to have a job where I advised African governments, so I’m used to chaos. Just last week, we went to London on holiday, got off the train only to receive a call about the nine-year-old being admitted to hospital for an emergency appendicitis while camping in Wales and being asked to go take care of the two-year-old . I try to explain to the children what is going on. In my experience, grandchildren often listen to grandparents in a way they don’t always do with parents.
“I’ve also found that ball games are a game changer. You can roll a ball to a small child and play catch and other games with older ones.
“What do I love about being a grandmother? It’s amazing to think you have helped to create this ‘empire’. I see the continuation of my parents and their parents. I find it incredible that the genetics follows through. For instance, I was born three and a half weeks late and so were my daughters. I suspect my grandchildren would have been as well but the NHS stepped in.
“I have two daughters so it’s been a revelation to have small boys in the family. The two-year-old knows the name of every vehicle!”
Jane’s New Thriller
Jane Corry’s new Penguin family drama, THE LIES WE TELL, is now number 6 in the UK best-selling paperback chart. It tells the story of Sarah who will do anything to stop her teenage son from going to prison. Even if it means breaking the law herself. You can buy it from supermarkets, bookshops and online https://linktr.ee/thelieswetell.
Also available for 99p on Kindle for July only.