Diary of A Modern Gran | Told Off By A Four Year Old!

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

“Gan Gan,” says my four-year-old grandson when I go to pick him up from nursery school. “Why is your car so messy inside?”

Hmmm…. he has a point. Mind you, he and his sister are partly to blame. They’re always hungry when they come out of school. Their mother and her brothers were just the same. “I’m starving,” they’d cry! You’d think they hadn’t been fed for a week!

When I first started doing my granny school run twice a week, I forgotten this. So now I come well prepared with snacks and juice.

But I’d also forgotten something else. Where to put the rubbish!

I’ve always thought that a car should come with an inbuilt waste paper bin. Maybe some do. But not this one. The only four-wheeled vehicle in our house which is suitable for children’s car seats is my eldest son’s 17-year-old car which is a true warrier. Now that the said son is living in Spain, his car lives with us. My husband used to groan endlessly about the parking space it fills, plus MOT and tax etc. But it’s really come into its own. Without it, we would be walking 15 miles a day. (Very healthy but it would mean a 6am start.)

My son’s car also has a handy hatchback which is perfect for lobbing empty cartons and crisp packets. This was my idea! It was easier to encourage my two grandchildren to chuck all the rubbish behind them, rather than on the floor by their feet where it would get trodden in.

Of course, in an ideal world, I’d remember to bring a carrier bag with me to put the rubbish in. Sometimes I do. But not today.

Still, it’s good to know that George is on the ball. “Would you like to help me clean it out when we’re home?” I ask.

“I’m a bit busy,” he says, cagily. I’ve noticed George is becoming quite adult in his replies. Part of me is impressed.

“Busy?” I repeat. “Doing what?”

“I want to make some more paper aeroplanes,” he says.

“Help yourself,” I say. “There are quite a few on the floor of the car.”

Well, there are only so many paper aeroplanes we can take back from nursery. So forgive me if I’ve grounded them for a bit instead of remembering to take them into the house.

Then I pick up Rose from school. She is clutching a packet of sweets. “Where did that come from?” I ask

“It was someone’s birthday,” she says, before tucking in. There’s the sound of an empty packet being thrown into the back to add to the collection.

“I wanted one,” wails George.

Oh dear. Too late. So I persuade him to open his lunchbox and see if there are any leftovers.

There are two grapes. Squish. Something else to clear up.

Of course I never drive when they’re eating. You hear all kinds of horror stories about that.

But I have to say that eating before leaving does add to the length of the school run because I have to wait until they finish chomping before starting the engine. In fact, all this is making me feel rather peckish myself. I root through the glovebox and discover a mint. It’s better than nothing.

“Have you got a wipe for my hands?” asks Rose. Oh dear. I’m sure I’ve seen the packet somewhere but I can’t find it in the mess.

Talking of mess, I had a friend who actually discovered mice in her car. She swore they were attracted by the children’s crumbs. The memory makes me rather nervous. So at the weekend, I put on my rubber gloves and take out a dustbin bag. This is despite the fact that there’s a storm brewing. I feel a bit like an explorer going into the unknown!

By the time I finish, the inside of the car looks clean and my dustbin bag is full. I’ve also made some discoveries! There’s a “Please Fill In” school slip which I should have handed to my daughter at the end of last week. And two odd gloves from last winter. (One brown ‘adult’ and one blue ‘small’.) I have also accumulated £3.20 in loose change. It’s amazing how coins manage to fall into little crevices, isn’t it?

And I’ve found the wipes! (Under one of the children’s car seats.) Never mind. I’m sure they’ll come in useful next time.

Now all I have to do is wash the outside of the car! Maybe I can persuade the children to help me with that. Of course I’ll have to bribe them. And guess where the packaging will go…

What kind of pet would you recommend?

Regular readers might remember that I’ve promised to get my grandchildren a rabbit.But now we’re a bit worried in case one of the cats hurts it. The rabbit would of course live in the cage but we’d take it out to be stroked.

When my own children were small, we had all kinds of animals ranging from goldfish to a pony. I’d love to know what kind of animals your grandchildren have and whether you’d recommend them. Please email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

The things they say…

Thank you to David for sending this in.

“I help to look after our four-year-old granddaughter. The other day, I happened to remark that the sun had gone in.”

“Into where?” she asked.

“Into its house,” I said.

“But I can’t see it,” she replied.

“Maybe that’s because of the clouds,’ I said.

“Then I decided to make it into a game. We imagined all the different places that the sun could go to when it goes in and out! Sometimes it’s the shops. Sometimes it’s school. Sometimes it’s going for a walk. I’d recommend it!”

Ask Agony Gran

“I’ve got to go in for an operation soon. It means I’ve got to recuperate for six weeks afterwards and won’t be able to help out with my grandchildren (aged eight and six). My daughter and son-in-law have arranged for a neighbour to pick them up from school and look after them until they’re back from work . However, I’m really going to miss them. I’m also worried that the lack of contact means they won’t be so fond of me when I come back.” Bev from Glasgow

Jane says:

“I’m sorry to hear this, Bev. We wish you all the best for your operation. I understand your fears. When you see your grandchildren regularly, it’s very hard if something stops that. Many of us found that during the virus. However, in my experience, children are a bit like elephants. They don’t forget! In fact, I wouldn’t mind betting that they will miss you as much as you will miss them.

“Have you talked to your daughter and son-in-law about explaining what’s going on to your grandchildren? That would be my first step. You could also keep in touch with phone calls and cards. I’m sure they will do the same. Years ago, when my mother had to go to hospital for three months – I was six at the time – she used to send me children’s books with messages in the front. I still have them. Maybe you could do the same.

“You don’t say what your operation is for but if you are allowed visitors at home, that might help both of you. However, children can be alarmed by illness. So you and your adult children might want to have a think about how to prepare them.

“In some ways, tough as this is, it’s a learning experience for your grandchildren. If you can be positive, they might be less fearful in the future about operations or being separated. Good luck.”

If you’ve got a problem that you would like advice about, please email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Grandparents of the Week – Sue and Rog

Sue and her husband Rog are both very hands-on grandparents. They share the role of Nana and Grandpa now that Rog is semi retired,  working two days a week.

How many grandchildren to you have and how often do you see them?

We have four granddaughters! Rebecca, our eldest daughter, and her husband Dave have Imogen (6) and Matilda (2).  Jodie, our youngest, and Jack, have Iris (4) and Pearl (7 months).

Rebecca, Dave, Imogen and Matilda live a good 30 minutes drive from us!

We visit them each week on a Wednesday morning and all day on a Thursday and Friday during term time!

We take Matilda to “Action Tots” and “Disco Duck” on a Thursday and Friday morning and we pick Imogen up from school!

We visit them at weekends for special occasions but, as a six year old, Imogen participates in swimming and ballet lessons as well as the party scene!

Jodie, Jack, Iris and Pearl live at the other end of the country in Scotland.

I frequently fly up  to spend time with them all and help. We also Facetime, daily!

Rog and I often drive or fly up to see them during school holidays when we are not looking after Matilda, although Rog is completely OK to look after her on his own!

Sue, Rog and their children and grandchildrenWhat sort of things do you do together?

When we visit, we frequently go out as a family to explore the amazing Scottish scenery, its lochs, castles and historic environment.

Iris is very interested in museums, wildlife parks as well as anything to do with water!!!

Both sets come and stay with us – in fact, we all try to spend time together whenever possible!

We have an annual week together in Bude, Cornwall spending each day on the beach, swimming and surfing! Imogen and Iris just love the sea and happily wear wetsuits.

Imogen surfed on a bodyboard like a pro last July!!

We also have shared weeks during the Christmas, Easter and half term breaks.

We all love our visits to Audley End Miniature Railway in Essex, which transports us all through a Christmas, Easter Bunny or Fairy Wonderland! Magical for young and old alike!

Do you read to them a lot?

We have always tried to read books to them that continue their particular interests.

Imogen went through a long stage of liking dinosaurs and loved Dinosaur Roar by Paul and Henrietta Stickland as well as Stomp Chomp, Big Roars Here come the DINOSAURS! by Kaye Umansky and Nick Sharrat! And we cannot believe the books she is able to read independently as well as those she is sharing with her mum and dad!! And grandparents!!!

Iris has loved a huge range of books, too! Her recent favourites have included the Nick Sharratt books, such as Octopus, Socktopus! Also, The Squirrel who Squabbled by Rachel Bright

The Pip and Posy books by Axel Scheffler have been a real hit with Matilda and we have really loved reading them together!

Little Pearl is at the chewing stage, love her, but still loves to share a story with her big sister, Iris!

They definitely all adore books!!!

What are you known as?

We are known as Nana and Grandpa.

‘Pa’ was one of Matilda’s first words!

What funny things have they said?

Iris said that she preferred her grandparents to her mum and dad! (She has Nana Tracy and Grandad and Nana Sue (me) and Grandpa)

She also said, after Pearl was born last October, “You need to put Pearl in the post and send her to Grandpa!” (She was nearly 4 at the time!)

Bec, sensibly, wrote a few of Imogen’s phrases down! (At 3 and a half! ) “Starving for a wee!” (I really need to go!) “You are my pleasure!” ( you’re welcome)

What do you like about being grandparents?

We just loooove being Grandparents! The love, affection and trust that they show you! The hugs, cuddles and kisses! They are just soooooo funny! We laugh (and cry!) continually! The unbelievable love you have for them! And the massive concern you have for them when they are poorly!

Of course, going home at the end of the day and the large glass of wine is a bonus!!!

What advice do you have for new grandparents?

Enjoy every minute you have with them! Spend as much time as you can with them! You will not believe the love you feel for them!


Would you like to join me for an online launch to celebrate my new novel ‘WE ALL HAVE OUR SECRETS’? My story is about two women who are staying in a Cornish house. One is running. One is hiding. Both are lying. Then there is Harold, the elderly owner of the house, whose secrets go back to the Second World War. I will be talking about how to write a novel with my Penguin editor on Wednesday, June 22 between 6 and 7 pm. If you would like an invitation, please get in touch by emailing moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

If you would like a free bookmark, or to get in touch about anything else, please contact us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Janes new book and QR code to order