Something is up. The house is very quiet. Where are they all? I know they’re expecting me.
“Look,” whispers my daughter when I go into the sitting room.
My two grandchildren are sitting on the sofa. I’ve never seen them looking so peaceful. And then I realise. Each one of them is stroking a small furry bundle on their laps. They have the air of new parents, concerned in case someone wakes up the baby – or in this case twins.
Of course! They were going to collect the guinea pigs today. Regular readers might recall that I had promised them a rabbit if they improved their table manners.
George immediately obeyed although Rose is taking a little longer. “It’s so hard to remember,” she says. I’m beginning to think that my nagging is making it worse. At the same time, the rabbit appears to have turned into guinea pigs.
This is no magic trick! My daughter decided it would be better to have guinea pigs instead and here we are.
“Actually, Mum,” she says, “we’ve got something else to show you.”
Then I see my son-in-law on another sofa with a “baby” in his lap too! “He was the last one left,” he says. “We couldn’t leave him.”
I completely agree. But where is the hutch? I can only see what appears to be a giant dolls house outside the back door.
Wow! Hutches have changed since my day. This one is really pretty.
Mind you, so it should be considering the price tag.
I must say that I didn’t realise the total cost when I offered my bribe! Still, the look on the children’s faces is worth it. And the guinea pigs have definitely come to a good home.
“Would you like to hold one?” says my daughter.
Not really. I spent years when my three were little, looking after a variety of pets, both big and small. Now I’m quite happy with our dog.
“Go on, Gan Gan,” says Rose.
I sit down next to her on the sofa. Very gently she puts a soft white bundle on my lap. Nervously I stroke it. It really is very sweet.
Pets are brilliant for children. They can teach them all kinds of things such as responsibility. But their lifespan varies. At some point, they won’t be here any more. And that worries me. But at the moment, they are babies. And with laps like these – not to mention their mansion outside – they are in clover.
It’s been a whirlwind week, sandwiching the publication of my new novel We All Have Our Secrets with looking after my dad and being a granny. I’ve had lots of exciting events including talks (both physical and online), my book launch and answering lots of your lovely messages on social media.
But there’s nothing like the school run for bringing you back to earth.
That’s why I offered to do it with my daughter one day this week, even though she didn’t really need me. In fact, it was rather good fun doing it together. “George has been talking about guinea pigs all day,” says one of the pre-school staff when we collect him.
This reminded me of something. When I was young, my grandmother gave me a copy of The Day The Guinea Pig Talked. Perhaps I still have it! I rush up to my study which is lined with books. But I can’t see it anywhere.
“Let me try and find it online”’ says my husband, seeing my disappointment. “Goodness. Look at the prices of the ones with the original covers!”
I look at the picture. It has exactly the same cover as the book I remember. I have a sudden yearning to buy it. I know my grandmother would really like the idea. “I’ll put in a bid,” says my husband.
A bid? I don’t like the sound of this. I want security and certainty. But I’m old enough to know that that doesn’t always happen. Still, watch this space!
As I’m writing this, I’m babysitting. Both children are asleep upstairs. The responsibility of being “parents” has made them sleepy.
So am I, to be honest. But I don’t want to nod off. The guinea pigs might wake up and need me. I’d better start learning guinea pig language…
What kind of pets do your grandchildren have? We’d love to hear from you. Email email@example.com.
Ask Agony Gran – My Grandson Tells Lies
“I feel very embarrassed about this. But my seven-year-old grandson tells lies. It started when he was about five. I look after him when his mum is working. If I asked whether he had some reading homework to do, he’d say he didn’t. But then I’d find the book in his bag. I thought it was because he was just young. But now he lies about other things too. The other night, I told him to clean his teeth before bed. He said he had. But I could smell that he hadn’t. I’ve told him that it’s wrong to lie. But he just smiles and says he won’t do it again. Do you have any tips?” Anonymous
“This is a tricky one, isn’t it? There’s no easy remedy although I think you’re right to be concerned. Lying needs to be nipped in the bud. At this age, children are still learning the difference between right and wrong. So I personally think it’s important to point it out to them when you are sure that they are lying. You could say something like ‘Big boys/girls don’t lie.’ In my experience, some children of this age like to think of themselves as grown up. I would also explain (as simply as possible) why lying is wrong. For example, with the teeth cleaning, you could say ‘if you lie about cleaning your teeth, your teeth might get rotten and fall out when you’re older. But if you look after them, they’ll be big and strong and you’ll be able to eat all kinds of nice things.’
“With homework, you could say ‘If you lie about your homework, your teacher might give you a black mark. But if you do it, you could be top of your class.’ You’ll see that I’ve included a positive outcome as well as a negative one!
“Sometimes it’s easy to think they’re lying rather than telling the truth. So do check your facts first!
“I wonder if you have spoken to your daughter about this. It’s always helpful if a child’s carers sing from the same song sheet, as it were. Good luck.”
The Things They Say
Thanks to Gerry for sending this in.
“I recently visited my two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter. She was very excited to tell me how she’d learned to count. ‘One, two, tweee…!”
Children’s Book of The Week
Join two little dino-fans determined to spot some dinosaurs on their day out at the park.
It isn’t long before they’re in luck. A lovely rhyming books for children who like dinosaurs!
Grandparent of the Week – Jane
Congratulations to Jane, who has become a grandmother for the first time. Here are her thoughts.
“The best thing about meeting my new grandchild for the first time was seeing and sharing my daughter’s joy. A few weeks on and the immense happiness that a single smile from my grandson brings, defies all reason!
“My advice for new grandparents is to encourage your child (with your support) to hold a christening celebration or some other welcome to the world for the new baby. It brings an opportunity to share the delight of the new arrival and to catch up with family and friends. I find that major celebratory events are lovely to reflect upon for years.
“The best thing about being a granny is having a new and important person in the centre of one’s life to delight in.”
We’d Love To Hear From You
If you’d like to get in touch with us with a problem or a book recommendation or a funny saying from our grandchild, do drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jane’s new book – out now!
Do you have a secret? Emily and Francoise do! So does Harold, Emily’s elderly father. All three live by the sea in a rambling house that is hiding all kinds of memories. WE ALL HAVE OUR SECRETS is a family mystery by Sunday Times best-seller Jane Corry, published by Penguin. You can buy it from supermarkets, bookshops and online at https://linktr.ee/janecorry.
Jane is giving away free bookmarks to celebrate. If you would like a bookmark, please email email@example.com