“Would you like to come shopping with me?” asks my daughter.
It’s Friday! Usually I take the morning off from my novel to play tennis with “the girls” (most of whom are grannies too).
But I’m very aware that my daughter and I don’t always have enough time together on our own. Although we see each other every day, it’s usually in short bursts to help out with school runs or babysit George while Rose is at after-school dance. It’s about time we had a mother and daughter trip.
“Yes please,” I say.
And we’re off, heading out of our seaside town to the nearest city!
I can’t help feeling rather nervous for two reasons. First, I haven’t been in any big shops for the last year and a half. And despite having had both vaccinations and my booster, I can’t help feeling rather apprehensive.
Secondly, my daughter is a seasoned shopaholic. She simply has to sniff the air in order to know which direction to go in for the best bargain! In fact, it’s fair to say she knows her mind when it comes to clothes. This means a shopping trip can take hours. When she was a teenager, I was reduced at times to tears when she tried one outfit on after another!
But this time, it seems we’re going on a doughnut expedition!
That’s right. My daughter is involved in a fund-raising event for Rose’s school. We are en-route to collect 30 boxes from a company which sells them to charities half-price.
“How are we going to carry 30 boxes?” I ask.
“We’ll manage,” says my daughter confidently.
When we get there, the doughnut shop has our order ready in what looks like a mobile wardrobe with zips on each side. Inside, there are shelves inside with the boxes! It’s fair to say we raise a few eyebrows as my daughter pushes it through the multi-story car park while I check out for traffic.
“Stop!” she says suddenly, thrusting her mobile into my hand. “Can you take a video please?”
I can’t help giggling. This shopping trip is turning out to be much more fun than I’d thought.
But how to fit them in the car? “We’ll take out the children’s car seats,” says my daughter.
It seems rather odd to drive home with doughnuts rather than children in the back. I have to say that I’m very proud of my daughter for her initiative. But hang on. It seems we haven’t finished.
“We need some non-alcoholic wine for the nativity play,” she says, pulling in. Then she has a discussion on the phone with another mum on the fund-raising committee before deciding how many bottles to buy. This all takes place at the till while a patient queue of customers is forming behind us!
Perhaps I should also mention that we also made time to do a bit of clothes shopping except that this time, something rather odd happened. Instead of me begging her to choose something quickly, she’s the one telling me to hurry up!
“We’ve got to get back to pick up the children from school,” she says when I can’t decide between an over-sized warm sweater to wear while I’m writing in my office or a soft blue shawl. In the end I get both.
“Thanks so much for coming, Mum,” she says as she drops me off at my house so I can hop into my car to collect George and she goes onto collect Rose.
“Thanks for asking me,” I say. My heart is feeling much lighter than it has for a long time. We’ve done something normal again after the long year and a half that we’ve all had. And we’ve also had some special time together.
“So where shall we go next Friday?” I ask.
What are the best games to keep grandchildren amused? I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Obviously it partly depends on age. Or does it?
This week, George and I had a great game of “pick up” sticks where you have to move each one without moving the others. My husband – who’s rather competitive – thought he’d join in and got very excited when he won each game. So George and I had to ban him.
Then we opened a “Memory” game box which I’d bought for Christmas but opened early. It’s the type where you have to match pictures but it proved too difficult for me because there were so many. “Why don’t we just turn them the right way up,” suggests my husband. Good idea! It still proved challenging and it was great for George’s eye and brain co-ordination – as well as mine!
But the funny thing is that George’s all-time favourite game is a box of funny-shaped plastic circles which you slot together to make crowns or dinosaurs or anything you fancy. I bought this for the children three years ago from a charity shop. It’s the best £3 I’ve ever spent!
Write down your family history
Wondering what to give your grandchildren for Christmas? You could start writing down your memories. According to research by StoryTerrace, 71% of people across the nation wish they knew more about their grandparents’ life stories. Instead, they only know vague accounts about their experiences. StoryTerrace is a memoir writing service. You can find out more at www.storyterrace.com.
A Problem Shared
“My ex-husband has never had much to do with our grandchildren,” writes Carol from Essex. “But now he says he wants to come over on Christmas Day. This is when I always see them. My daughter has asked if I’d mind coming over on Boxing Day instead. But I can’t help feeling rather hurt. I will also be missing out on the children’s excitement as they open their presents.”
Jane Corry says:
“Oh dear, Carol. We do feel for you. When I was a young mum, my then-husband and I had to visit my divorced parents separately and it was very stressful. I can understand why you feel hurt. After all, you’ve always been there for your grandchildren and now your ex has decided he does want to be involved after all. Yet there is another way of looking at it – and that’s from your grandchildren’s point of view. It could be very good for them to have another grandparent in their lives. It might also be good for your daughter. It doesn’t mean that they are going to love you any the less. Children are capable of loving lots of different people. My grandchildren have six grandparents because we are a blended family and they love us all. As for not being there to see them open their presents, maybe you could ask you daughter to keep some back for Boxing Day. The best Christmas present you can give them yourself is to put on a bright smile. Good luck. Maybe in future years, you will reach an agreement where you do alternative Christmases or even a joint one.”
Grandparent of the Week – Astrid, 75
Astrid Pountney, 75 and her husband Peter from Salisbury have seven grandchildren, including three step-grandchildren.
“I find it great fun having teenage grandchildren! I take them shopping and give them a free rein to meet me in a certain place. We’ll have lunch and a bit of fun! We might also go to the theatre. When they were younger, I took them to a maze and the youngest got lost. I was quite frantic until we found him.
“My granddaughters are always bringing me clothes to alter because they’ve bought the wrong size in a charity shop and I’ll end up re-making it! They also love going through my jewellery boxes and trying things on.
“I do worry about them growing up, especially when you hear about girls having their drinks spiked. So I do tell them to be careful. I’m also careful not to tread on the parents’ toes!
“I can honestly say that I love our step-grandchildren as much as I love our blood grandchildren. They get on well and I feel very lucky.
“Our grandchildren also make me laugh a lot. I’ll never forget when one of my granddaughters was 8 or 9 and I was collecting her from school. She’d just had a sex education class and she said to me, ‘I know all about spam and egg and how adults do it. It sounds absolutely disgusting!’
“Our youngest granddaughter (now 17) was very imaginative at a young age. I once had the privilege of being taken from the lounge and placed on the naughty step for refusing to co-operate in an imaginary game! I have never laughed so much! She was furious because one was not allowed to think that being placed on the naughty step was funny!”
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.