Diary of A Modern Gran | Ringside at the Olympics

Lady pushing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

Rose is in the Olympics. She’s in the equine events but – oh no – she’s taken a tumble.

And there are tears all round.

“I did tell you not to race around like that,” I say feebly as I try to comfort her.

It’s my fault for letting them watch the Olympics on television. (They wanted to!) But then Rose decided to ride her own imaginary horse and went flying over her little table where she practises her letters and writes stories.

Oh dear. Why won’t they take any notice of me? It takes me back to the days when my three would hare around. My youngest once got concussion when they were all tumbling around on the sofa. He only fell two inches but it was enough.

Luckily he was alright but I still panic about the what-might-have beens.

And now Rose has hurt her leg. In fact, there’s a big blue bruise forming in front of our eyes.

Oh heavens! I always get really worried about accidents happening on my watch. It’s not as though I wasn’t keeping an eye on her. But it’s not easy keeping them amused every day throughout the summer holidays!

It’s yet one more event to add to quite an eventful week.

I like to ring my daughter first thing in the morning to see how her night went. But when I called last Tuesday at 9 am, she was in quite a rush.

“We’re off to a birthday party,” she says, sounding rather breathless.

“At this time?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says. “Can’t stop. May I call you later, please?”

It’s only after she’s put the phone down that I realise that this is actually a brilliant time of day to have a party!  The kids are raring to go and it’s a great way to keep them amused until lunchtime.

Of course, it’s even better when the weather is good enough to have it outside like now.

If I had my time again, I’d have conceived my children to time their births with summer rather than winter (eldest child) or spring (the other two). Instead, we had ours in freezing village halls or – once – on an ice skate ring. This nearly gave me a heart attack, trying to watch our guests and checking they weren’t breaking any legs.

Today’s birthday party is being held on the beach with parents in attendance. Great idea! When Rose and George come home, they’re full of beans.

“We found a sea snake!” chants George holding up a piece of seaweed. I don’t want to disillusion him so I go along with it. We all need imagination to get through life!

Still got the moves…

Then someone (it might have been me) suggests a bit of dancing round the sitting room. We do a bit of hopping around with star shapes and other moves (inspired by the gymnastic section of the Olympics).

Then my student memories come back and I do that thing where you put your hands on your hips and bend down to the left and then the right to some rather loud music courtesy of Alexa.

Their jaws drop.

“You dance funny,” says George, looking appalled.

“Actually,” I say, rather hurt, “it’s the way we used to dance in the 70s.”

Rose looks at me solemnly. “Are you very old?” she enquires.

“No,” I say firmly.

Isn’t it funny that the older you get, the more you persuade yourself that you’re younger? My 65 is the equivalent of 75 in my mother’s day. At least that’s how I see it. (Not long until my pension – hooray!)

Maybe scientists have discovered that elixir of youth by the time George and Rose reach this age.

Life on repeat

Meanwhile, life – as far as I can see – has a habit of going round and round and repeating patterns.  Our seaside town has a festival on at the moment so in the afternoon, my daughter queued up for an hour at the seafront to have a strand of Rose’s hair braided in some rather fetching colourful beads.

“Do you like it, Gan Gan?” she asks, parading round with that sweet shy expression of hers, looking very grown-up.

“I had your mummy’s hair braided like that when she was your age,” I say.

Memories come flooding back. We were in Menorca and I’d just discovered I was pregnant with the “baby” who’s now taller than all of us.

“I loved it!” says my daughter.

Then I remember trying to undo it. “Do you remember that we had to cut it off before you went back to school for the autumn term?” I say to her.

She looks worried. “I hope we don’t have to do that with Rose.”

What’s the betting that we do? Never mind. We can worry about that another time. At the moment, she is sparkling with happiness.

A couple of days later, we go down to my allotment. I’ve already show Rose and George how runner beans come out of their pods. Now we’re onto the beetroot lesson. “See the red balls poking out of the earth?” I say. “When they get big enough, you simply pull them out like this.”

They don’t need telling twice. Whoops! We’ve got quite an armful here. In fact, it looks like we’re all going to have beetroot for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

“I’ve cut myself!” says George pointing to his T-shirt.

Oh no. Then I realise it’s beetroot juice. Anyone know how to get it out?

After that, we water the allotment with the communal leaky hose. But it all gets out of hand when each wants to hold it and we end up soaking each other. They don’t have any spare clothes so when we head back to our place, I find some too-big T-shirts from their uncles in the “old clothes” drawers which I can’t bear to get rid of.

Then I try to do something calmer with them so we have some good old-fashioned play with the dressing-up box.

Rose finds an old handbag inside and begins stuffing it with a taffeta dress and paper crown.

“I’m packing for my holiday in France,” she says

“Does she know something we don’t about the travel rules?” jokes my husband.

Then amazingly, the very next day, government changes relaxes its rules about French travel. Maybe Rose can see into the future! Better buy a lottery ticket fast!

Later in the week, I babysit while my daughter goes running.

I’ve given them turkey dinosaur shapes (one of their favourites) and put them to bed. “We’re not tired,” says Rose.

Luckily my eldest son arrives and we do a group story-telling session. “Everyone makes up a sentence and then the next person takes over,” he suggests.

It works a treat. Afterwards, George is out like a light.

But Rose comes downstairs. I’m ashamed to say that we both work on our iPads until she starts to yawn. I’d never have done that with my three but it’s not as though she has school tomorrow…

“You’ll get sacked as a babysitter,” says my husband when he comes round to watch share the evening stint. “Then they’ll get a professional who will make them eat sprouts for tea!”

“I don’t like sprouts,” says Rose horrified.

“Then you’d better go to bed,” he says.

She nips up the stairs super-quick. “See you tomorrow.”

So that’s the way to do it!

What’s in a name?

Thank you for your messages about whether you think it’s an insult to be called ‘Granny’ or ‘Grandad’ at work. Here are some of your comments.

Maureen from London says:

“I tell everyone at work that I’m a granny. One of the girls in my team has just come back from maternity leave. When we have Zoom meetings together, she sometimes asks my advice on sleeping and feeding. It’s strengthened our working relationship.”

Ed from Cornwall says:

“I work in a shop and recently asked a teenager to wear a mask. Even though it’s not compulsory we have notices telling customers that we’d appreciate it if they did. He told me to ‘Mind your own business, Grandad.’

“I asked if he had a grandfather. He said he did. ‘Wouldn’t you like it if others wore masks so your grandad didn’t get ill?’ I asked.

“He went a bit sheepish and then left. I hope my words made a difference. We should all respect each other now matter what our age.”


So the government is now going to offer vaccinations to teenagers. They are even going to offer incentives such as meal vouchers according to some reports. How do you feel about that? Please email us, moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk, and tell us what you think.

Grandparent of the Week – Gill

Gill and her husband Noel have five grandchildren, Christopher, Charles, Ruby, Fin and Romola aged between 24 and 14.

Gill’s mother, daughter, eldest grandchild Christopher and Gill, 24years ago!

Gill’s mother, daughter, eldest grandchild Christopher and Gill, 24years ago!

“My greatest joy was to live nearby when they were babies. I helped look after the first four whilst the parents worked, mainly on different days in the week and sharing them with other grandparents in school holidays.

“I loved helping my granddaughters with their sewing machines. I’ll always remember the look of complete surprise on an early teenage face when a large T-shirt was transformed into her first bare midriff and mini skirt outfit!

“I also remember the sheer panic at the first visit by two of my grandchildren when they came to see me for the first time without their parents. They got off at the wrong stop! Luckily they had a mobile phone and could tell us where they were.

“One of the most wonderful things about being a grandmother is seeing that their parents are better parents by a million miles, than we were!

“Like many grandparents, I sometimes give them advice. Mine is to be adventurous, to be kind, be ambitious, but to love, learn and be creative.

“From my grandchildren, I have learned the value of listening to wise parents.

“Our first grandson is the great-grandson of the legendary Scott of the Antarctic. He was baptised in their family tradition on the RS Ship Discovery in Dundee!

“Now we’ve retired to Spain so we haven’t been able to see them so frequently during the last year and a half. We will see them all again very soon, now Covid restrictions are easing. Thank goodness for Facetime, Messenger and What’s App. We could not be prouder grandparents but we are also proud parents and parents-in-law. We love them all.”

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 at https://linktr.ee/thelieswetell.

Also available for 99p on Kindle for July only.

The Lies We Tell cover

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!