Diary of A Modern Gran | Granny Gets Caught Out

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

“Caught you!” says my daughter.

Oh oh! I didn’t hear her come in after work.  Here we are at the kitchen table. Rose, George and me. My grandchildren are eating their healthy tea which I’ve prepared (broccoli and all). The reason they’re eating so nicely is that they are glued to a very sweet cartoon on the iPad.

I’m tempted to watch it with them but I have to finish my daily goal for my Spanish online course on my own iPad.

Before you raise your hands in horror, I did read them a story during the first part of tea. But they got bored. The thing is that Rose and George are like me. We can’t eat without doing something. When I was their age, I read the back of cereal packets.

Anyway, now we’ve been caught out.  The new rule in my children’s house is to reduce screen time. Not encourage it!

“It’s OK,” says my daughter sinking down onto a chair, tired after her busy day. “I’m really grateful that they seem so happy.”

My favourite time of day

In fact, we’ve had a lovely week. One of my favorite times of the day (as well as sea swimming and writing in the morning) is pick up time from school.

I collect George first. How I love it when he comes through the door, slightly shyly at first before answering my inevitable question, “What did you do today?”

This can vary from telling me about the friends he played with to the gluey creations he’s made. The chat revs up as we drive to Rose’s school. “Do you know that dinosaurs lived a long time ago?” he asks.

“Yes,” I say.

(George is mad on dinosaurs.)

Then he proceeds to spout out so many facts about the “d” word that I can barely keep up. Honestly, I learn so much from my grandchildren! My lessons continue while we wait in the queue for Rose’s class to come out.  It’s a very special time when it’s just one to one with George and me.

“Can you whistle?” he asks.

“Not very well,” I admit.

“It’s easy,” he says. “Follow me.”

I decide it’s time I teach him a few things.  “What’s that letter on the noticeboard?” I ask.

“‘S’ for ‘school,’ he answers in an “I knew that” voice.

So I go a stage further, prompted by the sound of a plane above.

“Do you know where airplanes sleep?” I ask.

“In a bed?”

“Sort of. It’s actually a shed called a hangar.”

“Like the thing we put on our clothes on?”

“We say it like that but we spell it differently. It’s got an ‘a’ at the end instead of an ‘e’.”

“How do you know?” he asks.

“Because great-grandad used to work at a plane factor during the war,” I say. “He told me things like that.”

“War?” He frowns. “What’s a war?”

“It’s when people fight each other,” I say.

“Why do they fight each other?”

Very good question. But he’s expecting an answer…

“There are lots of different reasons,” I say carefully. “But it’s important to be kind in life and always love your family.”

I said this because I know all too many people who have fallen out with loved ones in the last few years, sometimes because of the virus and sometimes because of family tiffs which have escalated.

“Rose is my best friend,” George says solemnly.

This warms my heart. I hope it lasts for ever.

The queue for Rose’s class doesn’t seem to be moving. George is fidgeting. It’s also cold so we do some jumping up and down exercises. Then I get an idea. “I’m going to teach you some Latin,” I say.

“What’s that?”

“An old language.”

“As old as dinosaurs?”

“I’m not sure,” I admit. “Now say this after me…”

George has an amazing memory. But I doubt he’s going to remember all that. After all, he’s only four. Still it passes the time.  Not long after that, Rose comes skipping out bubbling with excitement. “When we get home, do you want to join my craft class?” she asks. “I’m going to be the person on television and you and George have to do what I say.”

Sounds like fun. And it is.

We do this just before the tea I told you about at the beginning of my column. Because there is a link!

“What did you do today?” asks my daughter.

George puts his hand up. “Gan Gan taught me a new language. Amo, amas, amat…”

Wow! So he did remember! And somehow the verb “to love” seems particularly apt in our world right now. Don’t you think?

Have you learnt something from your grandchildren? What kind of things hve you taught them? Do email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Ask Modern Gran

“My wife died some years ago but I’m lucky enough to live near my son, his wife and my grandson who is coming up to three. My daughter-in-law is going back to work and I’m going to be looking after the little one.  She’s suggested that I take him to playgroup – it’s the kind where carers stay too – but I’m worried that I’ll be the only man.” Jim, Cheshire

Jane Corry says:

“Thanks for getting in touch, Jim. I’m so glad you did! When my grandchildren were at toddler group, a grandad joined us and I could see he felt a bit awkward. We all chatted to him and hopefully made him feel at home. In fact, we must have done because he kept coming until the playgroup closed during lockdown. John (not his real name) shared tips and advice with us just as we did with each other. He was also really good at mending broken toys (just like some of us “girls”). We also had a couple of dads who were sharing childcare with their partners.  You might well feel apprehensive when you go in through those doors for the first time. But that’s natural when you do anything new. Remember that everyone there has one thing in common regardless of their gender. You’re all looking after little ones. I wouldn’t mind betting that you’ll make some great friends.”

If you’d like to share a problem, please email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Is Your Answerphone Full?

Do your children ever use the landline to ring you?

No. Me neither.

Until last week.

“I left you a message on the answerphone,” said one of my sons. “Didn’t you get it?”

Actually no. Maybe that’s because the machine is full. We’ve had a busy time with hospital appointments for my husband, work and child care. In fact, we’ve got 37 old messages!

I have to confess something here. Quite a few go back several years because I like to keep the sound of the voices. One is from a much-missed aunt who has since passed away. It’s reassuring  to hear her “Hello, Jane!” voice.

Another – please don’t think I’m name dropping here! – is from the writer Colin Dexter whom I used to know. He was kindly leaving me a quote for one of my books in his message. And there’s one from Nicholas Parsons, regarding arrangements at our local literary festival not long before he died.

How can I delete them? They’re a piece of history.

But the most precious of all are family voices. My 98-year-old dad. My children. My sister. My husband.

So I’ve kept them. (There’s just enough space for a couple of new messages and then I’ll trawl through them again!)

Grandparent of the Week – Yuriko

Yuriko comes from Japan and has been living in the UK for many years. She and her husband have one grandson.

Yuriko and grandsonHow old is your grandson?

“He is one year and 7 months old. I see him once every two months.”

How has he changed your life?

“It’s a great future to look forward.  But for the first time I feel old!”

What do you do with him?

“I play hide and seek and chase him around.”

What lessons do you hope to pass on?

Be honest to yourself and others.

What advice would you give to other grandparents?

Enjoy while they accept you.

.If you’d like to share your week with us, please email moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Did You Know…

There are approximately 14 million grandparents in the UK. One in every three people over the age of 50 years old is a grandparent. (From informationnow.org.uk)

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Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.