“I wonder what happened to your diary, Gan Gan?” asks Rose.
I look up absentmindedly from the pizza packet I’m unwrapping. Yes – that’s right. I used to spend hours making food from scratch for my own children. Now, when I do the school run and tea twice a week, I opt for the easy route. Besides, as I’ve discovered, pizza is delicious!
“My diary?” I repeat. “It must be in the kitchen somewhere. Or else I left it upstairs in my study.”
The diary is the focal point of my day. It features all kinds of hot dates such as “must finish chapter” to “don’t forget to collect children”.
Rose, George and I have a delicious tea, sitting on the sofa in front of the television. Honestly – I sometimes bother why I instilled strict rules and regulations on my three when they were little. To be honest, it caused more distress than achievement. Don’t get me wrong. My grandchildren and I are not completely slovenly. I set them up with a little table and I make sure that they eat properly with knives and forks and observe table manners.
How I love Tuesday and Thursday afternoons when it’s school pick up time. Mind you, I’ve learnt not to quiz them too much about what they did. I’ve found that it doesn’t always lead to the truth because they say things that they will please me. For example, my first question to Rose always used to be “Did you have a story?”
“Yes,” she would reply. “Red Riding Hood.” When this went on every day for a whole term, I began to suspect that either Red Riding Hood had been expanded into Gone With The Wind or she was trying to keep me quiet. Now I let them take the lead and find the juicy bits come out in dribs and drabs. Of course I can’t tell you what they are! I’ve signed the Granny Security Act.
After pizza and Hey Duggee, we play their favourite game. It’s the magnetic stick one that my children had when they were little. You have to move one stick without nudging the others. I’m getting much better at this – and they no longer try to cheat. It’s a learning curve for everyone but the most important thing is that we end up roaring with laughter.
“Let’s play noughts and crosses,” suggests George. Good idea! At least I thought it was, until I point out that he has to have a straight line. “No, I don’t,” he declares staunchly. I’m determined not to let him get away with this one. There are certain rules one has to obey. However, as a sweetener, I allow him to win next time. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt both as a child and as a mum/gran, it’s that self-confidence is really important. If you continually fail at something – as I did at maths at school until a wonderful teacher finally helped – it affects your self-esteem. On the other hand, you also have to learn how to cope with failure because it’s part of life. It’s a tricky part to navigate and as grandparents, we are still trying. Don’t you think?
Meanwhile, I’m looking after the children for a little bit longer today because it’s parents evening! My daughter and son-in-law are going to Rose’s school straight after work for their allotted slot.
“Parents’ evening?” questions my husband. “For a six-year-old?”
There are times when I forget my husband hasn’t had children.
“It makes me think of my days in the office when we had our annual review,” he says, shuddering. “I’m glad those days are over.”
As a young journalist, we didn’t have any office reviews. Instead we were either told to go back and re-write a feature or wait to see it appear in print. The latter suggested it was good enough to appear on the newsstands. My favourite feature – printed a year before my eldest son was born – was an interview with a young actress. “Her name is going to be everywhere next month when she comes out in a film,” my editor said.
I took the actress out to lunch and we had a jolly time. My editor was right. Her name was everywhere soon afterwards. It was Julie Walters.
But I digress. Where are my daughter and son-in-law? Has Rose’s review taken longer than expected? If so, why? To be honest, I’m feeling a little nervous.
I want Rose to have good feedback. Like I said just now, self-esteem is so important. The clock ticks by.
My thoughts go back to parents’ evenings when my three were little – especially the youngest whom I brought up on my own during his teenage years. One of the most memorable occasions was asking his form teacher if he could have three days off to tour with his band. The teacher wasn’t very thrilled by the idea as you can imagine but she kindly granted it. My son then went on to play at Reading Festival and is now a music journalist. However, I did come away from that parents’ evening feeling as though I had just been given a black mark. And maybe rightly so.
Rose, George and I have just finished raiding the cake tin – containing healthy snacks – when my daughter returns. “We’re so proud of you, Rose,” says my daughter, giving her a big cuddle. “You’re doing brilliantly!”
Phew! But it’s the look on my granddaughter’s face that really counts. She is truly glowing.
It makes me decide to praise my nearest and dearest more often. With any luck it might be catching. I’m always being told off about loading the dishwasher in the wrong way.!
Later that evening, when my husband is plumping up the sofa cushions, he notices that something is out of line. “Look what I’ve found,” he says waving a black book. “Your diary.”
“How odd,” I say. “Rose was asking me where it was earlier on. I wondered why she’d mentioned it.”
Then it dawns on me. The little monkey must have hidden it. As I hadn’t noticed it was missing, she’d asked me where it was! But why?
“Maybe,” suggests my husband, “she realises what day it is.”
I look at the calendar on the wall. April 1. April Fool! She had been a little late since you’re meant to do your pranks in the morning. But I’m still impressed.
It certainly solves the future. Rose’s career path is obvious. She’s destined for The Secret Service! Watch this space in 20 years’ time!
The funny things they say…
Thanks to Janine from Cardiff who sent this in.
“My four-year-old grandson is learning about dinosaurs. Granny he says to me the other day. Did you know that they are exstinks?”
Ask Agony Gran
“My daughter and her husband are shortly going to be adopting an eight-year-old boy. They are very excited but I can’t help feeling a little nervous. I want to be a good hands-on grandparent (I live nearby) but I’m also aware we won’t be related by blood. I’m out of touch with young children and I don’t know how to play with them.” Joan from East Anglia
First of all, congratulations. This may well have been a long journey for your family. It will also be a learning curve for everyone which is why a support network can be very helpful. You say you’re concerned you won’t be related by blood. But I suspect that once your new grandson arrives, you will forget all about that. Instead you will just see a little boy in need of a home. Maybe you can start gathering toys and games that are suitable. Doing something together can be a great bond. Simply being there for your daughter and son-in-law will also be a reassurance. The following organisations might also be helpful for you – www.adoptionuk.org, www.pac-uk.org.
We’d like to hear from you!
Please get in touch to tell us if you’d like to be grandparent of the week or to tell us something funny that your grandchild has said. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Julie, for this heart-warming email you sent us. We were very touched by this.
“Just wanted to say that last year I bought a subscription for my mum.
“It was for her birthday. She was poorly and frail at the time and wasn’t interested in very much with what was going on around her. But she showed such joy when she received her magazine through the post weekly. She died in November but I was so glad that she had that little bit happiness each week along with seeing her family.”
Grandparents of the Week – Jan and Richard from Devon
Jan and Richard are retired hospital consultants and they have five grandchildren living nearby.
“We have two lots of seven years olds; a pair of five year olds and one three-year-old. Once a week, we do a school run for the seven and five-year-old. We also try to be on call for all of them when we’re needed.
“We’re known as granny and grandpa. We love being grandparents! It’s an opportunity to teach our grandchildren about our favourite things such as history; geography; space, music and visiting places. The other day we were talking about Henry VIII’s wives and what happened to them all. I taught them that old saying about ‘divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.’
“They knew all about the beheaded but they didn’t know what divorced was! We also love playing silly games like charades and Articulate for kids. This is a great stage because they can play proper games rather than us sitting and watching them play with plastic toys!
“Recently we took out subscriptions for educational magazines for the older children. It’s so exciting for them to get something through the letter box. We make time to do some of the activities in the magazines with them.
“When I had my own children, I went to work. I have no regrets about that but it’s lovely to have some time with our grandchildren. I love the funny things they say. The other day, we were talking about the difference between the Antartica and the Arctic. One of them said, ‘But that’s easy. Father Christmas lives in the Arctic!’
“Another favorite activity is playing with a skeleton called Charlie from our working lives. The children love taking him apart and putting him back together! They’re very creative too. Our fridge door is very ‘busy’ with their works of art as you can see from the picture!”
Jane’s new book – out June 23!
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 Sunday Times best-seller and writes thrillers about families. Her next novel is called WE ALL HAVE OUR SECRETS and is about the complex relationship between father and daughter, set in Cornwall. You can pre-order here: http://linktr.ee/janecorry. If you would like a free bookmark, or to get in touch about anything else, please contact us at email@example.com.