“School is closed today,” says my daughter on the Thursday evening. “It’s because of the gale. We’re in the direct path of the storm.”
I can’t help feeling apprehensive. But Rose and George are quite excited. Even though they love school, they’re looking forward to a “wind” day with Mummy, snuggled up on the sofa or playing games.
It takes me back to the 60s when we’d have occasional snow days and be unable to get to school. My mother had been a nurse at the time. Only now do I realise that this must have presented huge childcare difficulties for her.
My daughter usually uses Fridays as a preparation day for her teaching job. But I can’t help out with Rose and George until later as I am knee-deep in revisions for next year’s book. My deadline is in two weeks and I’m up against the clock after taking time off when my daughter had COVID.
We’re also going to visit my 97-year-old father next week. You don’t want to put dates off at his age.
“We’ll be fine Mum,” my daughter reassures me. But she still isn’t 100 per cent after the virus.
Meanwhile Rose has been sick in the night. Could it have been the shepherd’s pie I made her for tea the day before? “She does find mince a bit heavy,” says my daughter. “I think she’s a natural vegetarian like me.”
I’m a pescatorian myself but I can’t help worrying. My daughter was only six when she insisted on going meat- free. We lived on a farm at the time and she made the association between the friendly lambs outside and meat on the plate.
In those days, we didn’t know as much about healthy vegetarian eating as we do now. So I’m ashamed to say that I gave her meat balls, disguised with cabbage. She promptly discovered this and didn’t trust me after that. Even when I gave her vegetarian food from packets, she didn’t believe it. At the age of 7, I found her on the phone to the customer services line checking that their food was really meat-free. I’d love to know what they thought of that!
And now it might well continue down the family line.
Does anyone else have grandchildren who are vegetarian? I’d love to know your views.
Meanwhile, back to our wind day which firmed out to be a wind weekend…
We stayed in as advised but then it seemed to die down. So we went for a walk and suddenly the wind whipped up again with hailstones are sharp as bullets.
We were all scared. And we were right to be. Many people tragically lost their lives.
It seems like one more thing to deal with as the world is slowly emerging into the nearest kind of normality we may have. But as my meditation app says, life is constantly changing. I’ve realised something else too. We have to put a brave face on whatever life throws at us.
But this doesn’t apply to jigsaws! I’ve never been a great fan of putting together all those little bits of cardboard. But on the third windy day, Rose produces a puzzle. 100 pieces! That’s way beyond me.
“You just have to find the bits with straight edges,” my granddaughter tells me solemnly. “Then we fill them in.”
Yawn, yawn! But then something strange happens. I find myself really getting into this. We work together, heads bowed, until we create the frame. (George was more engrossed with a shark game on his screen.)
“I’m bored now,” says Rose. “Can I write a letter instead?”
(She loves writing to her friends.)
“Can’t we finish the jigsaw first?” I plead.
“Pleese, Gan Gan!”
I gave in, of course, as I always do. But I’ve left it out on the carpet. My daughter says I can go back when the children are in bed and finish it! I can’t wait!
How was your Valentine’s Day?
I celebrated by helping my daughter make heart-shaped biscuits with Rose and George. The expression on their faces was pure magic. I was so impressed by my daughter. She’s such a good mum.
“Did they wash their hands first?” asks my husband when I bring some back for him.
“Thought so,” he says, making a face. “I can taste the hand san!”
Valentine’s Day always brings back memories of my grandmother who used to send me a card every year until I got married in case I didn’t get one from anyone else. I didn’t find out for years. I’ve kept some of them in a special box where I also keep drawings from my children and grandchildren. Memories like this are priceless, don’t you think?
Ask Modern Gran
“My daughter has been living with her partner for some years and has just announced they don’t want children,” writes Karen from Wales. “I know it’s her choice but I can’t help feeling she’s going to miss out and I’m also upset by the idea of not being a grandmother. Is this selfish of me? I’ve always thought that when I retire (quite soon), I’d help out with childcare.”
“Dear Karen, I feel for you. But in a way you’ve answered your own question. It’s your daughter’s choice and her partner’s. Having said that, you may well find that they change their minds later on. I’ve seen this myself with friends’ children. It’s also natural, rather than selfish, for you to be upset at missing out on being a granny. My advice is to allow yourself time to grieve. Then ask yourself what you’d really like to do for yourself during retirement. Are there any hobbies you’ve always wanted to take up? Now restrictions are easing, you might be able to travel more. Could you help out with community projects like playgroups? I’d also like to tell you about my Uncle Arthur and Aunt Maude. They lived in our street and were our ‘honorary’ grandparents. My sister and I would make fudge with them and listen to their stories about their childhoods. They were as important to us as blood relatives. Maybe life might give you a chance to be an honorary grandparent one day. Good luck.”
If you’d like advice with a problem, please email us at email@example.com.
Grandparent of the Week – Sharyn from the West Country
Sharyn is in her seventies and she has a granddaughter of four and a grandson of two.
How often do you see your grandchildren?
About every two months. Either I go to them or they come and stay with us. I’ve had them on their own for sleepovers from quite a young age. My daughter has sensibly stuck to quite a firm routine when it comes to bedtime and meals. And it works!
What sort of things do you do with them?
I’ve dug out all the old toys which my children had, such as a tractor which my daughter loved and an ancient pram. They enjoy pushing that around! They also “make us tea” with plastic pizza shapes! We read to them and they like reading to us! It will be along the lines of “Once upon a time… ,” swiftly followed by “The end!”. They are both full of imagination!
At the end of the day, we often have some fresh air before bath time and bed. We sometimes have a gentle stroll down to the river. We look out for any crocodiles, monsters or dinosaurs and then walk back through the orchard to see the fruit growing through the seasons. It settles them down very nicely.”
What sort of lessons have you learned as a gran?
The realization that they don’t stay long as babies. I feel very upset that we lost two years of their life because of lockdowns. Now it’s lovely to hear their vocabulary taking off. When my grandson started to talk, it was in the third person and then the next time I saw him, it was in the first person! My granddaughter loves laying the table and putting place names out which she has written herself!’
What funny things have they said?
The other day, I asked my four-year-old granddaughter what she’d like for breakfast and she replied, “What are the options?” It seemed like such a grown up thing to say!
Curl up with a book
When Emily makes a mistake at work, she goes running home to her elderly father in Cornwall – only to be met by a stranger. WE ALL HAVE OUR SECRETS is Jane Corry’s latest Penguin novel. You can pre-order on http://linktr.ee/janecorry