“What do you think that is?” I ask, pointing to a big white “stone”.
“A dinosaur tooth,” yells George triumphantly.
It’s not just a lucky guess. I’ve been promising that we’re going to see one for some time now.
And here we are!
Our local seaside museum has finally opened after the pandemic.
I’ve already brought them here once before but they were a little young to absorb it. Now they are really into “all things dinosaurs” – especially George.
It leads to some interesting discussions!
“Do you think he had to go to the dentist?” asks Rose, nose pressed against the glass.
“I don’t think they had dentists in those days,” I say.
“Why not?” asks George.
I can almost read his face…
He’s wondering whether to become a pretend dinosaur and wriggle out of his next dental appointment!
“I expect they wished they did have dentists,” I say. “They are very helpful in making sure our teeth don’t hurt.”
“How did the tooth get here?” ponders Rose.
I’m not sure. In fact, I’m beginning to realise I don’t know the answers to quite a lot of these questions.
But that’s one of the great things about visiting museums with small people. We can find out the answers together.
When my three were little, we lived near a big city and I took them to lots of museums. So many in fact, that I think I put my daughter off them! “Can’t we go shopping instead?” she would plead.
So now I’m determined to strike the right balance with my grandchildren.
The other month, their parents took them to some London museums when visiting one of the other sets of grandparents. And that seems to have fired their interest.
“Would you like a questionnaire?” asks one of the nice helpers who has spotted out our interest in the dinosaur tooth.
“Yes please,” both children chant.
One of the questions takes us to a room with old-fashioned dolls. There’s a gramophone playing and a copy of an old newspaper dating back to 1940.
“That was during the Second World War,” I say to the children.
“What’s that?” asks Rose.
So I try to explain in simple terms as possible what happened.
This isn’t easy but I do my best.
“People living by the sea thought they might be invaded by boats,” I say.
But I think I might have gone over their heads. Rose is more interested in the doll and George is still mesmerised by the dinosaur tooth.
“I’m so sorry,” says the nice museum helper, “but we’re closing in ten minutes. You can use your tickets for another visit.”
In fact, this has come just in time. It’s never too young to introduce them to museums. But I don’t want to overdo it like I did with my three!
“Please may we have a lolly?” pipes up George.
Now there’s an idea! I wonder if anyone’s founded a museum about ice-cream…
Grandparent of the Week – Carol
Carol has four grandchildren Maisie 20, Olivia 19, Martha 16 and Gabriel 13.
“Maisie and Martha live nearby so I see a lot of them. We really enjoy dancing to music. They video me doing the moonwalk! Martha came to stay with me recently and we had great fun playing card games and going for some walks.
“The lovely thing about having grown-up grandchildren is that you can discuss contemporary affairs with them. Maisie is very PC in her outlook. She thinks divorce is normal. We talk about all kinds of things like Afghanistan and women’s rights.
“My 13-year-old grandson lives further away so I’ll probably only see him for one week a year. We like playing tennis together.
“I love the way they are all different. Olivia is quite quiet. She is a people-watcher and has started her own business selling dog leads as well as studying costume design. Martha has just got 7 GCSEs and we are very proud of her. She’s at college doing photography.
The main thing is that we all enjoy each other’s company. I feel very lucky.
The things they say…
“Granny,” says five year old granddaughter sternly. “If you don’t put that phone down now, I’ll throw it in the bin.”
Thanks to the embarrassed reader who sent this in. If your grandchildren or children have said something funny, please let us know at email@example.com.
Problem of the Week
“My ex-husband is getting married again (our divorce wasn’t easy) and I’m worried that his new wife will try to take over my granddaughter. She’s already said she wants her to be a flower girl at the wedding and refers to her as her future step granddaughter. She’s in her seventies and doesn’t have children of her own. She’s also quite wealthy and has already bought my granddaughter lots of presents. I’m worried she’ll take her affections away from me. But my daughter says I’m being silly.” Brenda from Manchester
Oh dear, Brenda. I do sympathise. Blended families (as they seem to be known nowadays) aren’t always easy. But they can also work very well if everyone tries hard. My grandchildren have three sets of grandparents which is, in our eyes, a real blessing.
It’s very understandable if you’re worried about feeling side-lined. And yes – children do love having presents. But you’ve been there from the beginning for your granddaughter and that bond rarely goes away. Children don’t just love one parent. They are perfectly capable of loving two – and more. The same goes for their love towards grandparents. It’s a bit like us loving different people in different ways within our family and friendship groups.
Are you able to talk to your ex-husband about this? It might be worth saying something like “Let’s try to work hard to provide a united front for our granddaughter.”
It might also help to put yourself in the other woman’s shoes. She doesn’t have children so might be less likely to understand your feelings. Perhaps she’s feeling insecure which is why she’s “buying” her way into your granddaughter’s affections. Or maybe she doesn’t mean it like that and is simply trying to be friendly.
I know this is hard but perhaps you could suggest a family day out together with your granddaughter. Maybe you could go to a park or a museum or a place where you can all join in various activities together. You don’t say if you have a partner yourself but if not, why not take a friend along for moral support?
Good luck, Brenda. One day – you never know – you might all find that you need each other in this important (and wonderful role) of being a grandparent.
If you’ve got a problem and would like to share it with us , please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know if you don’t want us to use your name.
Many parents apparently can’t do basic maths and are struggling to help children prepare for the new term after lockdowns. Do you help your grandchildren do homework? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Do let us know at email@example.com.
Last week, we asked what you thought about talking to children about disturbing world events. Here are two replies:
Sandra from Devon, says: “I think children need to know what’s going on in the world. I’ve told my five-year-old grandson that the is a terrible war going on and that we need to think about the poor people who are being hurt. I’ve taught him to mention them in his prayers at night.”
Ann from Norfolk says: “I don’t think we should upset children about war until they are old enough to understand. We’ve already had enough worry with Covid as it is.”
Jane’s New Thriller
Jane Corry’s new Penguin family drama, THE LIES WE TELL, is 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.