‘Do you like my new leg?’ asks my husband.
‘Wow!’ says George, who is clearly impressed.
‘Is it real?’ asks Rose.
‘No. It’s made of carbon fibre,’ says my husband. ‘You can tap your knuckles on it if you want.’
So they do.
‘It’s like knocking on the door,’ says Rose.
I should be clearer here. It’s not exactly an artificial leg. It’s a leg brace to help my husband with his drop foot.
But the children are intrigued.
Until that is, we start making Halloween mice.
You can never prepare too early for Halloween as far as my grandchildren are concerned. I love doing creative things with them on Sunday mornings. So we colour in some pebbles and glue tails to them.
As we work, I hear the church bells ring. Before the virus, I used to take my grandchildren to Sunday school. Physical services have just started again but I am still a bit cautious about mixing inside because my husband has low immunity.
So I do my own Sunday school with them at the kitchen table. Our theme is ‘kindness’ so Rose and George draw a picture of a little girl who helps someone who’s fallen over in the playground.
The following day it’s Monday. The start of a new school week.
‘I’m around to do the school run if you like,’ I suggest.
Twenty odd years ago I used to dread this.
We lived in the middle of nowhere and our school runs amounted to several miles a day. (Just as well there wasn’t a petrol delivery problem then.)
But now I love collecting little Rose and George from school and nursery. It’s easier than taking them because you don’t have to run around the house finding all their ‘stuff’ like their reading books and a full set of shoes – oh and making sure their teeth are cleaned!
Instead, ‘pickup’ means you just have to be there on time with a big hug and of course a snack because they always seem to come out starving!
First the on time bit! After years of being late for my own children, I always make sure I leave extra early.
But I hadn’t factored on all the ‘things I have made’ treasures that George is bringing home from nursery. Paper dolls? A glittery green monster? How lovely.
‘Careful Gan Gan,’ he says, supervising my loading of the car. ‘You’ve ripped one of the doll’s heads off.’
Oh dear. So I have.
Somehow I manage to strap George in, complete with paper dolls, green monster, lunch box and spare jumper and something else that I can’t remember. Wow. Just as well this isn’t a plane or I’d be paying extra in weight!
Then off we go.
But everyone else seems to have the same idea because we’re stuck behind a tractor. Never mind. We’ve still got plenty of time to get to Rose’s school.
Yes. It’s turned off the road but now traffic lights are ahead. They seem to take ages. Just as well we left early. Oh no. The queue for picking up is going up the high street. How can this be when I was so organised?
In fact, it’s not as bad as it looks because everyone is still socially distancing. We’re not late at all! Rose is gratifyingly thrilled to see me and leaps into my arms.
But she dismisses the healthy snack I’ve brought.
‘Can we go to the shop?’ she asks. ‘Mummy always lets us.’
The shop! Already this brings back memories of my three children from years long gone by, noses pressed against the glass counter as they ogle the flying saucers and other delights at our then village shop.
‘Of course you can,’ I say.
So Rose and George spend ages choosing sweets and I get some pasta to make macaroni cheese for Grandad’s tea tonight.
‘Sorry,’ says the shop lady. ‘We don’t take credit cards for this amount.’
Oh no. I don’t have any cash.
‘Sorry,’ I say to the children. ‘We’re going to have to put everything back.’
To say their faces are crestfallen would be understating it.
‘Tell you what,’ I say in my ‘Don’t worry, granny can fix it’ voice. ‘I’ll drop you off home where mummy is waiting for you and come straight back with the sweets you want.’
‘Promise?’ says George dubiously.
But I can’t find the exact sweets at our own local shop. So I buy something that looks similar. Luckily they don’t seem to notice.
Phew! Next time, I say to my daughter, I think I’d rather do the morning run!
On a different subject, my grandchildren have set their heart on getting a rabbit.
‘What if the cats hurt it?’
‘But it would be in a cage.’
‘I’ve always liked the idea of a house rabbit,’ says my daughter dreamily. ‘Why don’t you buy one, mum? It can live at your house and the children can see it when we come over.’
That won’t do. Our dog wouldn’t be happy.
So it got me thinking. What would be a suitable pet for a nearly six-year-old and an almost four-year-old? Do let me know what you think. @email@example.com.
What do you think?
According to a new survey, about 20 per cent of children are vegetarian or want to be.
When I read this, my mind shot back to when my daughter was eight. We lived near a farm and she made the connection between Freddie, one of the lambs she’d befriended and meat on her plate. It wasn’t the same lamb as we explained but she was horrified and has been vegetarian ever since.
Two years later I followed suit.
However, I do worry that she might have missed out on certain nutrients due to my lack of knowledge on the subject. If anyone in your family is going vegetarian, you can get some great tips on a balanced diet from the Vegetarian Society.
Ask Agony Gran!
Do you have a family problem? Share it with modern gran by emailing @firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘I know this is dreadful but I find it hard to bond with my grandchildren (my son’s boys of 12 and 14). They have always lived a long way from us which didn’t help as we’d only see them twice a year. I hoped that when they got older they’d be able to come and stay with us in the holidays but then the virus came. I suggested they came down in the summer after the last lockdown but they didn’t seem keen.’
Modern Gran Jane Corry says:
‘I am so sorry. This must be hard for you. You didn’t say if you’ve spoken to your son and his wife about this but if you haven’t, I suggest you start there. Tell them you’d like to develop a closer relationship with your grandsons.
‘Families can be very good at reading situations the wrong way. It might be that they feel you haven’t made an effort – even though it doesn’t look that way. Ask your son and daughter in law for ideas on how to connect with the boys.
‘Also explore your grandsons’ passions. What are they interested in? Find out more about these subjects and bring them into telephone conversations or Zoom calls. Send them postcards from your local area or wherever you go. It’s a tangible reminder that you are thinking of them.
‘Meanwhile Christmas isn’t that far away. Start making plans that involve them. If they can’t come to you, suggest you go to them. If they can’t put you up overnight, look into reasonably priced accommodation nearby.
‘When you are together, try to avoid any criticism (it’s easy to say something like ‘we never had so many presents in our day’). Listen to what they say and tell them funny stories about your lives so they can see that grandparents aren’t the remote figures they might have thought.
These are just starting suggestions, Lynn. Your relationship with your grandchildren is unlikely to change overnight. But keep hanging in there. Good luck.’
Grandparent of the Week – Vanessa, whose grandson Stanley is aged 5
‘I was 44 when Stanley was born. My son Sam was just 21.
‘My grandson shares his time between his mum and dad and this works so well for Stanley. He thrives on the routine of being with parents and grandparents. It really is a joint effort between families and this comes out in the fact that Stanley knows how loved he is by everyone. This is a real testament to the way Stanley has been brought up.
‘I have a very special bond with Stanley. It’s hard to describe that feeling but I feel really connected to him in that knowing, maternal way. My daughter Ella was 13 when Stanley was born. She’s wonderful with him – rather more like a big sister than an aunt.
‘I collect my grandson from school on Thursdays and he stays overnight. This time is so precious to me and it gets priority! We have a little routine like going to the park and then the hot tub nights that he refers to as “instead of my bath”!
‘We also have ‘our’ stories. His favourite is about Rainbowland where Stanley truly believes he comes from.
‘I’m very proud of the fact that Stanley has impeccable manners. It is noted by everyone. School is an enjoyable place for Stanley. His willingness to learn and smiley face and helpfulness frequently get him the “star award”.
‘I also see Stanley over the weekend on a “Dad weekend”. We’ve just come back from a dog walk which he loved. Last week, he lost his very first tooth! I felt a bit worried that this happened when I was looking after him and not when he was with his mum or dad, as losing your first tooth is such a special day. So I sent off texts to our “Stanley Group chat” asking what the going rate is… £1!
‘I also wrote a letter from the tooth fairy, thanking her. We’ve called her Seeny. Don’t ask me why! It was Stanley’s idea. It got ‘show and tell’ the next day at school!
‘I’m known as Nana. It’s a tradition in our family that this is what we call our grandmothers. I feel so lucky to be part of his life.’
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.