“I wish George wouldn’t copy me,” says Rose as we walk along the pavement. She is jumping and skipping and George is shadowing her.
Oh dear. I remember my little sister trying to do that.
“It’s a compliment,” I say.
“What’s a compliment?” she asks.
“What’s a compliment?” echoes George.
“It means you should be pleased. He wants to be like you because he looks up to you.”
“But I’m taller than him,” points out Rose. “He has to look up.”
George tugs at my hand. “I’m tall too!”
The two of them get on so well that it’s very touching. They really do love each other. But it’s interesting to see how George is determined to do exactly what his big sister does. After all, there’s only 20 months between them. (There’s six and a half years between my sister and me!)
There are pros and cons about short and long age gaps, aren’t there? There’s just two years between my older two and then a jump of five years down to the “baby” who is now in his early thirties and taller than either of his older siblings!
I still remember feeding him by the side of a roller skating rink while supervising my seven-year old’s birthday party. It was extremely stressful…
Meanwhile, as I write, it’s half-term and the children have come back to our house to play while Mummy is at the hairdresser having a well-deserved hour off.
“We love coming here,” says Rose.
“That’s because Gan Gan doesn’t have any rules,” chips in my husband.
Not true, actually! In fact, if you remember my column on table manners the other month, I’d like to say that Rose and George have both come on in leaps and bounds! They now eat very nicely and ask if they can get down from the table. This is due to a three pronged offensive from their parents and me plus and some table manner books which I bought.
To be fair, I think this would have happened much earlier if it hadn’t been for the virus. As well as the terrible destruction it caused, it also disrupted family routines and made it harder to impose discipline. I don’t think I’m the only granny who didn’t want to tell off my grandchildren after months of not being able to see them regularly.
Mind you, I still give in every now and then…
“May we have some custard?” asks Rose.
“May we have custard?” repeats her little brother.
“Don’t copy me, George!”
“It’s not tea time,” I say doubtfully.
“And chocolate biscuits too?”
“Chocolate biscuits too?” echoes George.
Oh oh! My daughter is coming through the door. We’ve been caught in the act.
“Custard and chocolate biscuits?” she enquires, raising an eyebrow. “Oh well. I suppose it is half-term!”
It’s All In The Name!
My grandchildren have reached a stage which I remember very well from my childhood. It’s when you take great delight in learning how to spell your name backwards. Mine is ‘Egroeg’ announces George triumphantly.
I am most impressed. I don’t have that kind of mind and never have.
“What’s yours Gan Gan?” they ask.
I think for a minute, trying to work it out. I don’t have that kind of mind.
So Rose and George help me out.
“N…A…G,” they suggest
Oh no. I don’t believe it!
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.
“I’m really worried about the state of the world,” writes Margaret from East Anglia. “First the virus and now Russia. The other day, I read about the possibility of aliens invading. I’m really scared about the future of my grandchildren. They’re only little now but what is life going to be like when they’re older?”
“We know how you feel, Margaret. Life in general can be very frightening at times. As a granny myself, I get worried too. But in the last two years, I’ve been trying to live in the moment. I don’t always succeed but when I do, I feel calmer. One friend says that she is always working out emergency plans in case something goes wrong. But when it doesn’t, she’s wasted a lot of energy worrying. The old saying ‘It may never happen’ is very true.
“A dear writer chum, who has now passed away, gave me this valuable piece of advice when my first marriage was breaking up. Look back on your life and imagine it as a road map. Then ‘draw’ stops like stations to represent difficult times in your life. Light them up in your head to show that you got through them. Tell yourself that if you did that before, you can do it again. So every time you get through a tricky situation, see it as a light on the map and use it as inspiration to go forward. I hope this helps you. Meditation can also help and deep breathing.
“You could also make a list of tips and advice you would like to pass onto your grandchildren. Writing this down can be very cathartic and also reassuring for you. I speak from experience. When my mother was dying at the age of 56, she told me that bad things would happen to me in life but that I would get through them. She was right and her words have stayed with me forever. Have faith, Margaret. Love, kindness and friendship will give us strength to get through.”
Grandparent of the Week – Gill
Gill and her husband have three grandchildren, Charlie (3), Poppy (2) and Alfie (1)
What are you known as?
Mimi. There’s no particular reason why – I just liked the name!
What sort of things do you do together?
We are lucky enough to live near all three so we help out quite a lot. We cook, paint, do some crayoning and play shops! There’s also a lot of imaginary play. Another favourite is looking for snails in stone wall cracks as we walk along. They are all quite creative. In the picture below, Poppy made a card for great-great Uncle Roy’s 100th birthday. He was a war veteran and a hero.
What’s the best thing about being a granny?
The love I have for them. It’s as great as that for my own children yet at the same time, it’s a different kind of love. A real closeness. When they were toddlers, they stretched out their arms to be hugged by me.
How is it different being a granny from being a parent?
You have more time as a grandparent. You’re not caught up in all those domestic chores so you can have more fun. You also don’t have to do the ‘bringing up’ part and setting rules.
Do you have a different relationship with each grandchild?
Yes – although it’s difficult to explain it. Alfie is only one but there’s still that eye to eye contact and a certain understanding between us.
Do you see your own boys in your grandchildren?
Every now and then, I get glimpses. It’s like déjà vu.
If you’d like to be our Grandparent of the Week, or ask a question, or tell us about your experiences as a grandparent, please get in touch. Email us at email@example.com.
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