Diary of A Modern Gran | Granny Takes A Tumble

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

Oh dear. I’m running out of time. I’m on the pick-up school run this afternoon – and I have a nail appointment beforehand at 1.15pm. I’m a bit tired too because I was writing all morning and then needed to walk the dog and get lunch ready for my husband who’s just finished chemotherapy.

Whoops! I’d forgotten! There are roadworks everywhere which means I need to find a different route to the nail salon. Thank goodness for my trusted bicycle. Hopefully, I won’t be late.


My first thought as I lay sprawled, face-down on the pavement was “How did that happen?”

In fact, it was entirely my fault. I’d stopped before the blockade to push my bike onto the pavement but lost my balance. Luckily, I’d put my hands out so I didn’t hit my head and – luckily again – I don’t feel as though I’ve broken or sprained an arm. (I can’t afford to do that with a job like mine!)

But my head definitely feels shaken. And I’ve got a hole in my favourite trousers.

“Are you all right?” ask one of the men working on the road.

“I think so, thank you,” I say ruefully, picking myself up and feeling rather foolish. Then I walked my bike down to the nail salon because, after all, us grannies have to keep up our appearances. But by the time it came to the school run, I wasn’t sure I ought to drive. And I don’t want to bother my daughter and son-in-law who are at work.

“I’ll take you,” says my husband.

“Really?” I say.

He’s been keeping a wide berth from the children since his immunity is low. But he insists. He wears a mask and we drive with the windows open.

“I’ve got a surprise for you in the car,” I say to George when I collect him. “Guess what?”

“Grandad?” he says hopefully.

“Yes!” I say.

It’s not easy for children when someone is ill – especially when they’ve been used to seeing them every day. I know that myself. When I was six, my mother nearly died in a terrible accident when she was standing right next to me. She was in hospital for three months and, even though she miraculously survived, it left an ever-lasting scar on us all.

But seeing George seems to boost my husband’s spirits. They have their usual chat about dinosaurs and spiders and for the first time in a while, my husband seems much brighter.

Then onto Rose’s school. “We’ve got a surprise for you in the car,” chants George when we collect her.

“Grandad!” she says, clapping her hands.

It takes me back to the end of the first lockdown when we were finally able to be with the children again.

My husband pulls up outside their place except – guess what – I realise I’ve left their key back at our place. So we have to skirt round the town’s roadworks to get it.

By this time, my head is feeling a bit better. Perhaps it’s been all the diversions. More importantly, my husband’s jollity appears to have stayed. Children can be the best medicine!

But I also want to tell you about something else. What do you remember from school?

“We’re going on a school trip!” announces Rose this week.

“Really?” I say.

I have to confess that I have mixed feelings. I’ve always been a bit of a worrier (something I put down to my mother’s accident) but I never really liked it when my children went on school trips. The imaginative writer side of me always envisioned things going wrong – even though I told myself that school trips were educational; good for broadening the mind; and fun!

When my eldest son was six (some thirty odd years ago), we received a class note to say they were going on a canal trip. Immediately my heart went into overdrive. I offered to go along to help but they were already full with other volunteers (probably other mothers who wanted to check all was well!)

Luckily, he woke with a very slight warm forehead so I kept him off school for the day. By lunchtime his temperature was perfectly normal.

My son never forgave me. In fact, to this day, he feels he’s missed out. (Perhaps that’s why he’s now a writer himself, living abroad!)  So I’m determined not to let my fears cloud my grandchildren’s school trips.

In fact, Rose has a lovely time although I have to say that she’s utterly exhausted afterwards. I can only imagine that the teachers must feel the same. Brave souls! Fancy being in charge of a busload of children, especially when we’re now having to learn to live with the virus.

It’s strange, isn’t it, that two years ago, we would never have imagined a world like this. Yet many of our younger grandchildren have known nothing else.

The virus has also made me keen to see as much of my grandchildren as possible, even though I’m still working. I know from the emails you’ve sent me, how hard it is for grandparents who live far away from their families.

But I’m also learning that there are times when I need to step back a bit. My little brood need their family time too.

That gives me an idea.

“How do you fancy taking a school trip?” I say to my husband.

He gives me a quizzical look. “I thought we both left school years ago.”

“Well,” I say, “I really meant a socially-distanced trip for the day. Maybe we both need a change of scene.”

“Could do,” he says cautiously.

Watch this space!

The things our grandchildren say…

Thanks to Wendy, a regular reader who sent me this email about last week’s column:

Dear Jane,

Your column made me smile, but then it always does. We had a similar experience to Rosie’s comment “Your hands are old”.  My son has started a high-end car business and my husband has been brought out of retirement and is occasionally called upon to help him collect or deliver cars for him – such a chore driving all these lovely cars! My grandson is also car-mad so my husband said to him, “You’ll never guess what car I drove today.”

“What car was that?”

“A Porsche GT3 R/S. “

Our grandson replied, “You can’t drive a Porsche, Grandad. You’re an old man!’’

Grandparents of the Week – Angela and Graham

Angela and her husband Graham have four grandchildren.

How often do you see your grandchildren?

We see Maddie, 17, and Harrison, 14, about once or twice a month.

We see George, 11 and Rosie, 8 about every 6 weeks, except holidays when they stay once a week so we can help with childcare.

What do you love most about being a granny?

Wendy, Maddie and Harrison on holiday in St Ives before Christmas

Angela, Maddie and Harrison on holiday in St Ives before Christmas

Being able to do all the things they are not supposed to do at home and spoiling them rotten. Hoping also that the times they spend with me will be precious memories in the future.

What, if anything, has surprised you about being a granny?

Just how fit I am and daring when you have to pretend that you are not petrified of going on a big water slide or keeping up with them running around a maze to see who can reach the middle first!

What kind of fun things do you do with them?

We have taken Maddie and Harrison to Tenerife on holiday without their Mum and Dad. That was very exciting, especially being able to have more than one ice cream a day! Also taking George and Rosie to the beach on the bus and then having a sleepover including their favourite tea – pizza and chocolate brownies.

What lessons/advice do you try to pass on to them?

Don’t do anything that I would not do!! Be kind, considerate and respectful to everyone around you.

What advice would you give to other grandparents?

Enjoy every minute of your time with grandchildren when they are young as they grow up too quickly. You are allowed to spoil them too!

And from your husband?

Try to see them as much as possible as they grow up too quickly. If you get the opportunity, get involved with seeing them compete in sporting or school activities and pass on any advice that you have learnt over the years.

A problem shared is a problem halved

“I’m worried that my nine-year-old grandson is very shy,” says Sandy from Liverpool. “His older brother is a chatterbox so it might be that he can’t get a word in edgeways. I’m shy myself and am worried about talking to my son’s partner about it in case I offend her. My son works away from home and isn’t around much.”

Jane writes:

“Your grandson is lucky to have a caring gran like you who understands what it’s like to be shy. Perhaps you could find something special that you can do together that’s ‘your shared treat’. When my youngest son and I were on my own, we would go bowling together at the weekend. It became ‘our’ thing. It doesn’t have to be a sport – just something that you both like or can learn together. One of my granny friends plays an online word game with a grandson who lives a long way off, and another has started doing an online language course with her teenage grandaughter. Good luck!”

If you’d like to share a problem or be a Grandparent of the Week, do email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Love reading?

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.

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