“Mum,” says my daughter. “Would you mind hanging onto George a little longer so Rose and I can have some time on our own?”
What a good idea! We’d already arranged that I was having George for the afternoon while my daughter took Rose for a routine hospital appointment. But because we weren’t quite sure if Rose was going to take kindly to an examination, my daughter cleverly decided to offer a “sweetener” in return.
“Mummy’s going to take me shopping afterwards,” my granddaughter tells me excitedly. After lockdown, browsing round shops has become one of the ultimate treats! Besides, Rose has always taken after her mummy in that respect. (My daughter says it’s because we brought her up in the country where we were miles from shops – so now she’s making up for lost time!)
George and I have a lovely afternoon playing cricket in the garden with the dog, visiting my allotment with its new scarecrow (a present from the children) and walking along the beach.
I’ve discovered that one to one time as a grandparent is really important. You seem to get a different child! There’s no arguing or rivalry and you can focus all your attention on that little hand in yours. “Do you remember what that’s called?” I ask him as we pass a beautiful purple wildflower in the lane.
“Yes,” he replies promptly. “A buddleia.”
I’m amazed he remembers. I had told him the name a few months ago but it’s quite a big one to remember.
“It smells like honey,” he adds.
It does indeed!
“Bees make honey from flowers,” he continues.
Wow! At this rate, we’ll be on Junior Mastermind. Not me of course – I get flummoxed by some of the early stages of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!
When my daughter gets back with Rose, they are both glowing
“We went round the shops looking for ideas for our new bedroom,” says Rose, her face flushed with excitement.
Ah! My daughter has already asked for money rather than presents for George and Rose’s birthdays which are coming up. They’re going to put it towards decorating the bedroom which the children share. Seems like a good idea to me. All too often I’ve splashed out on toys which then get put to one side after a while.
“We had dinner out for £5 each,” adds my daughter. “It was delicious. It was so nice to have some mummy and daughter time especially as it’s the last day of the summer holidays before going back to school.”
Then she gives George a big hug. I know just what she means. We love all our children but it is good to have that individual focus.
“I used to have some mummy and daughter days with you too,” I remind her.
“Don’t you remember?”
Oh dear. I feel I’ve failed. But I definitely recall feeding ducks with her in the village pond when her big brother had gone to school and I was pregnant with the little one.
Maybe that wasn’t as exciting as shopping or going out for a meal. So I decide to make up for it.
“Let’s have a mummy and daughter morning tomorrow,” I suggest.
I know that my daughter is going to feel rather lost as both Rose and George will have gone to school and nursery after months of being at home (the summer term ended early because of Covid scares).
Usually I write in the morning but sometimes you have to put work on one side for family. I can always do it later.
Luckily, it turns out to be one of the hottest days of the year. We can actually sit in our bikinis on the beach and soak up the sun.
“This is so nice,” murmurs my daughter.
It is. We chat about big things and little things and we also just enjoy the sound of the waves. Then I treat her to lunch at one of the seaside cafés and she persuades me to buy some very flashy sunglasses which I think look too young on me. “Nonsense,” she says.
In fact, they’re the most comfortable I’ve ever worn and I’ve had lots of “Where did you get those?” comments.
“You’re so lucky to live near each other in order to have a mummy and daughter day,” says one of my friends whose son and daughter-in-law are several miles away.
I know I am. But I might just have started a trend. The same friend is organizing a mother/son afternoon when her little family visit at half-term. Her daughter-in-law is going to take the children off to the park while my friend and her boy go for a five-mile hike.
“I can’t wait,” she says. “And my son says he’s really looking forward to a good uninterrupted chat.”
Seems like it’s not just grandchildren who need our time…
Problem of the Week
“I have been asked to do some extra hours at work,” says Claire from Kent. “I agreed because my granddaughter, whom I’ve been looking after while her mum works, is starting school. I thought my son’s partner would be able to find someone to pick up my granddaughter at the end of the day and have her during the holidays but she says she only wants me to do it. My granddaughter is very shy. I don’t know what to do. I’m a few years off retiring and the money would be useful.”
Jane Corry, Modern Gran, says:
“I do sympathise, Claire. Juggling childcare and work used to be something that parents did but now there are a lot of grandparents struggling to do both as well. Maybe your son and his partner are apprehensive about your granddaughter starting school and don’t want to put any added pressure on her. On the other hand, you have to look after your own needs too.
“Are you able to ask your employers if you can leave early to collect your granddaughter? At the same time, can you explain to your son and his partner that you want to help them but you also need to return to work. This is actually their problem and not yours although I can see that you don’t want to let them down.
“One possible solution is that you all reconsider the situation at half-term. Ask your employers if you can make your decision in about six weeks. By then, your granddaughter will have made friends and hopefully become more self-assured. You might have also met another parent or carer who is happy to look after your granddaughter until you get back. (Obviously you’ll all need to be happy about their suitability.) Or can you find a different job where the hours are more school-friendly?
“Children grow up fast. You might decide that it’s worth putting off those extra work hours and enjoying this time with your granddaughter.”
If you’ve got a problem, email email@example.com.
Should we vaccinate 12-year-olds plus, or not?
Thanks for your views on this subject which seems to run and run.
Susan from Wales says: “It’s too soon to decide in my opinion. What if there are side-effects? I’d like to see more research on this before my teenage grandchildren are vaccinated.”
Marion from Northamptonshire says: “If teenagers don’t get vaccinated, the older population will get infected. My grandchildren say they want the jab to protect me and others of my age.”
Grandparent of the Week – Marjorie-Anne, 69
Marjorie-Anne, a part-time consultant, has two granddaughters Selene, aged two and Lilia aged 4. Marjorie-Anne lives in Devon and her granddaughters live in London.
“My son has just rung to show me a video of the girls having a late supper. This week has been very exciting because Lilia has started proper school. I asked her what she learned but she was more interested in telling me about her school uniform skirt which is red with a dividing pleat rather like culottes. She was also keen to tell me that she has pink frilly socks to go with it! Selene wanted to tell me that she and her mother spent the day at Kew Gardens feeding the goldish.
“My son and his wife often come and visit me in Devon. We go for long walks and play on the beach. I go to London to see them quite a bit. I love taking them to parks and on bike rides.
“Sadly, my daughter-in-law’s mother died last year but I exchange little messages with my grandchildren’s paternal grandfather about the children. Recently he told me about Selene saying, “Grandpa, you’ve tried hard enough to do up my seat belt. My Mummy is very good at doing up my seat belt. Let her try now!”
“After having had three sons, I’ve found that granddaughters are very different! My boys loved playing balls and throwing sticks. Lilia and Selene adore Frozen and pink and purple and ballet tutus.
“Grandchildren give you a completely different understanding of what matters in life. It’s lovely to have that sense of proportion in life. I feel very blessed and lucky.
Help us celebrate Grandparents’ Day
October 3 is Grandparents’ Day this year! Help us celebrate by emailing photographs of your own grandmother or both grandmothers! Tell us what you remember about them and why they were so special to you. Send your pic to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.