I had a great working week in Spain but oh, how I missed my grandchildren! So as soon as I’m back, I whizz round on my bike to their place.
Rose and George fling themselves into my arms. It’s so wonderful to cuddle them again. It feels like months instead of a week!
‘Thank you, Gan Gan,’ says Rose as she opens the presents I’ve brought. I got her and George a Spanish magic painting book each.
They keeps them happy for a bit while I go through my diary to check on child-care dates with my daughter and son in law.
I like to think we’re quite a good team! By the end of our session, we’ve worked out the next three months although it does take a little bit of compromise on everyone’s side.
I play tennis on Tuesday nights which means I can’t be around after 6pm but that’s all right because it’s really Monday and Wednesday which are busy with netball (my daughter), football (my son in law), swimming (the children) and Rainbows (which Rose loves). The last one is a new one on me and I can’t wait to hear more about it.
Then I have the children back with us for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I’m aware that when I was away, George had a bit of a temperature but it’s normal now and besides, he’s consistently tested negative.
We have a lovely time going to the shop for comics. I’m delighted to say that my grandchildren love magazines as much as I did at that age. Maybe they’ll end up writing for one as I did before becoming a novelist.
Parting with old toys
After that, they help me sort out the toys which we keep at our house. There are quite a few which they’ve outgrown but something – maybe a reluctance to let go of their babyhood – has made me hang on to them. But it’s ridiculous! They are way beyond the stage of sorting out shape blocks and besides, someone else might enjoy them.
‘Can we keep this one, Gan Gan?’ asks Rose holding up a jigsaw puzzle. ‘When I have a baby, she might like it.’
I get a lump in my throat. I’ve never been great at maths but even I can work out that I’m unlikely to be around when this happens. Mind, you never know. My grandmother lived until she was 92 and got to see all four of her great grand-children.
‘How do you know she’ll be a ‘she’?’ asks my husband, overhearing.
‘Cos I’m going to have a girl,’ declares Rose.
‘Hah!’ he says. ‘You’ll probably be able to order whatever you want by then.’
I change the subject because it’s getting far too complicated. Besides, it’s time for them to go home for tea. Both are looking rather tired.
“Sorry to tell you…”
Then four hours later, the phone rings. ‘Mum,’ says my daughter. ‘I’m really sorry to tell you this but George has just tested positive.’
Oh no! I hope he’s all right. I also hope he doesn’t pass it to Rose. Then the full significance begins to dawn. What if my husband, with his low-immunity – gets it. And I’m meant to be having an eye operation in a week.
Still, maybe we’ll be all right. After all, we’ve been triple-jabbed.
But a couple of days later, I get a slight headache and a scratchy throat. I also feel rather tired. I do a test and go up for a shower.
‘I’m afraid,’ says my husband when I come down to check the result, ‘it looks like you have it.’
I can’t believe it! But there are the two lines as clear as day.
The day after that, my husband has the same symptoms. I ring the hospital where he’s been treated and they give him the new anti-viral drug.
Now we have to wait and see. I have to say that it’s not pleasant but neither of us (so far) are ill enough to stay in bed all day. George got better quite quickly but now his dad has got it. And then my daughter, who only got over Covid three weeks ago, has tested positive again!
Thank goodness for friends
So now we have two self-isolating households, unable to help each other.
Thank goodness for our friends who are kindly bringing us food and walking our dog. I have to say that writing is a great distraction for me although I do find myself wilting after a bit and having to take a break.
More than anything, I miss my little grandchildren.
On a chirpier note, my youngest son rings. ‘I’m at the airport,’ he says.
Immediately I go into full mother hen mode. ‘What? Where are you going? You didn’t tell me…’
‘Chill out, mum. I’m going to a stag do in Budapest.’
I still find it unreal at times that my youngest’s friends are getting married. It doesn’t feel very long ago that I was hosting teenage sleepovers or nagging about homework.
Anthology for Ukraine
Meanwhile, we are all saying our prayers for the Ukrainian conflict. I’ve donated a short story to an anthology which a writer friend has organised in aid of the appeal. If you’d like to buy a copy, here are the details. https://amazon.co.uk/dp/B09V2YSQCB
Other contributors include Adele Parks, Jessica Fellowes, Milly Johnson, Isabelle Broom and Cathy Bramley.
The Things Children Say…
Thank you to Wendy, a regular reader, who sent in the following:
Our granddaughter, Amelia is 10 and has got to the stage where, if she goes in the shower, she asks us to make sure the door is closed and not to go in. One day she came into our bedroom and saw Grandad naked having just come out of the shower. She came downstairs shouting, “Nanny, nanny, I can’t un-see what I have just seen!”
Have your grandchildren said something funny? Do share it with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask Agony Gran
I recently found my 12-year-old granddaughter going through my purse and taking out a five-pound note. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was ‘looking for something’. I didn’t take it any further but I wonder if I should tell her parents. She’s not an easy child but we’ve always got on well and I don’t want to spoil our relationship.
Amy (not her real name)
Ouch. This physically hurt when I read this, Amy. Because I think you probably already know what to do.
I can see why you don’t want to ‘spoil your relationship’ but turning a blind eye could lead to worse problems. I can’t tell you what to do but this is how I would play it. First, I’d find the next available opportunity to create a relaxed atmosphere when she comes round and say you’ve had a chance to think about what happened. I’d tell her that I’ve been troubled by it and would like to know if she needs money and if so, what for. Is she saving up for something special? Is it for drink or does she owe a friend?
Of course, she might not tell you the truth but at least she’ll be aware you’re concerned. You could also ask her how much pocket money she gets and whether that’s enough? If not, perhaps you could give her some jobs in return for payment. On the other hand, this might not be a good idea if she’s spending money on something like drink or cigarettes or – and I have to say this – drugs.
Again, if it was me, I will say that I won’t tell her parents this time but that if it happens again, I will have no choice. This way, you’re giving her a chance. I would also talk to her about the importance of telling the truth in life and how this can be a hard thing to do – but important in the end. Perhaps you have a story from your own childhood which might help her to understand this. It can be helpful for our children and grandchildren to know that we’re not perfect. Good luck.’
If you’d like to share a problem, please email us at email@example.com. Let us know if you’d like it to be anonymous.
Grandparent of the Week
Nicky has 11 grandchildren aged from 16 down to nearly two. The three younger ones are her son’s children and the others are from her husband’s children, whom she has known since they were babies.
What are you known as?
‘My blood grandchildren call me Granny Nicky because there’s also Granny Grace. The others call me various names including Granny, Nicky and Nanny Noodles. The last one came from a time when we were eating spaghetti and it stuck!’
How often do you see them all?
‘My son’s children live at the other end of the country but I saw them at Christmas and in October. I also hope to see them at Easter. We Facetime and make a lot of WhatsApp videos. My six-year-old grandson decided to Facetime me the other day – it was his idea! He got the other two next to him on the sofa and we had a lovely chat!
‘Last week, my 16-year-old and 12-year-old grandchildren visited with their dad and we went out to a pizza restaurant to celebrate the 16-year-old’s birthday! It was a lovely evening. After we’d eaten, we played cards at the table. It was a lot of fun.’
What are the pluses of being a grandparent?
‘We have more patience and we’re older and wiser. If they have tantrums, you can give them back! It’s more relaxing, generally.’
What advice would you offer to new grandparents?
Be tactful and try not to give advice.
Nicky is very proud of the pictures her grandchildren send her, like this one! What great colours!
You know she’s lying – but so are you!
When Emily makes a mistake at work, she goes running home to Cornwall. But it seems that someone else has moved in during her absence.
Jane Corry is a six-times Sunday Times best-seller. You can order her new Penguin novel We All Have Our Secrets from booksellers and online at linktr.ee/janecorry. Or you can scan this code: