Diary of A Modern Gran | Making The Most Of It

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

“Shall I come round?” I ask my daughter? George isn’t at pre-school today and I’ve reached a break in my writing morning. So I’ve called them on my mobile. So much easier than a text which might not get picked up in the flurry of family life. I don’t want to sound like an old fogey, but I do think it’s so much simpler to have a face-to-face call at times.

“Actually Mum,” she says with an apologetic voice, “I thought I’d have a George day. You don’t mind do you?”

Of course I don’t. These days are so precious. Especially before they’re in school full time. When I was a young mother, everyone told me to make the most of it because time shot by. It didn’t feel like it back then when I was spinning all those balls but now I know exactly what they meant.

Even so, I felt a little disappointed at not seeing my youngest grandson.

I do love to see his cheeky little face and his “I won!” as I play puzzles with him. He’s so much better at jigsaws than I am! (I’ve never had a brain for that kind of thing!)

Yet it’s an important reminder that a grandparent needs to know when to step back. Besides, I need to ring my dad. Regular readers will know that I’m a sandwich Granny with a 98-year-old father above and three children and two grandchildren below. Besides, my sister and I have been trying to persuade our father and stepmother to have help for years but now it is reached crisis point. We finally managed to get through to the right people and now they are getting the support they need. Although I was with them for three days, two weeks ago, they are constantly asking when they will see me next. It’s so difficult. I have got family commitments at this end too and the train strikes have not made it easy. I’m also six hours away. But my sister is going down this weekend and then I’m going down after that.

In the meantime, we are managing on FaceTime. Depending on how he feels, my father enjoys seeing his great-grandchildren for a few minutes although his concentration doesn’t last more than that. It’s also tricky finding a FaceTime slot which works around Rose and George’s routines as well as my father’s.

My grown-up children are also very good at ringing their grandfather although again, they can’t return his calls when they’re at work. “Where are they?” Daddy demands when he calls me to complain that they haven’t picked up. I attempt to explain but he is hard of hearing and refuses to have a hearing aid.

I can’t help wondering what it will be like if I reach that age. “I don’t want to be a bother,” I tell my children. “Just plonk me in the sun somewhere and come and visit when you can.”

I’m only half joking. Who knows what we’re going to feel like at that age? Which is exactly why we need to make the most of the present. One of my greatest friends has a wonderful saying. Award yourself with wellness. Of course we can’t decide whether we’re going to be healthy or not. But we can try to be positive. So I have adapted this to award yourself with optimism.

Then the phone rings. It’s my daughter.

“We just wondered if you wanted to come round after school,” she says. “The children want you to play with the guinea pigs.”

I’m back at my desk by now with my edits for next year’s book. But I don’t need asking twice! So I close down my screen and cycle round to their place.

That advice which I received as a young mum, echoes round my head. “Make the most of these days.”

Doing It For Gran

I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt a lump in my throat when I read that Wimbledon player Katie Boulter dedicated her recent win to her Gran who had recently passed. If, as I hope, her gran was looking down, I’m sure she would have been so proud.

A friend of mine who has severe arthritis, was very moved when one of her grandchildren did a charity walk in aid of the cause. “She’s not just doing it for me,” she told me. “She’s doing it for everyone else who suffers. I’m so proud of her.”

Another one of my friends has a grandchild who has problems walking. When she took her first step, my friend was over the moon.

Pride comes in many shapes and forms. Have your grandchildren done something that’s made you proud of them? Have you done something that’s made your grandchildren proud of you? We’d love to know. Email moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

Ask Agony Gran

I look after my seven-year-old granddaughter after school and help her with homework. But I am really struggling with her reading. I just don’t understand what they call the phonics system which is the way she’s taught. I learnt the old-fashioned way which worked for me! Have you got any advice? Kathleen

Jane says:

“I sympathise. I struggle with the phonic system too. But this is what I’ve learnt to do. I’ve asked my daughter to explain it to me. Yet I still don’t seem to be able to pronounce the letters properly! I’d advise going to your local bookshops and asking if they have some books on the subject. You could also tap ‘phonetic guide to help your child read’ into Google. When I did this, all kinds of games and puzzles came up. It’s great that you’re doing this. I also came across Piper Books which has a special section on its website about teaching your grandchild to read. Log onto piperbooks.co.uk, email: enquiries@piperbooks.co.uk, phone: 07932 638 987. I’m sure you’ll be a great encouragement to your granddaughter. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them!”

Book Of The Week

I'll take That One book cover I’ll Take That One by Kitty Baxter (£12.99, Allison & Busby)

Kitty Baxter was born in London in 1930, the daughter of a road sweeper and a cleaner and one of five children.

War broke out just as Kitty turned nine and she became one of thousands of children evacuated to the countryside.

This would be the first of three times that she was rehoused far from home over the course of the war.

I thoroughly recommend it!

Grandparent of the Week – Kitty Baxter, 92

Author of our Book of the Week, Kitty Baxter has four grandchildren aged 33, 26, 23 and 22. She has recently written a book about her life as an evacuee, because she wanted to tell her grandchildren what life was like during the Second World War.

Kitty and her family“My grandchildren are all doing their own thing now they are grown up! I hear from them quite frequently by text or phone calls. Recently, one of them took me on a river trip from Westminster down the Thames which was lovely.

“My idea behind I’ll Take That One was to tell my grandchildren what it was like to be sent off as an evacuee three times during the war. I hadn’t thought about getting it published. But then I bumped into someone in a park and we began chatting. It happened that he knew someone in publishing and it went on from there!

“I think my grandchildren were quite impressed. They all came to the launch! They seem very interested in what happened to me. It’s a story that has got to be told.  Parents were so worried about their children’s safety that they sent them to complete strangers. It was a big thing.

“Did it make me an anxious parent? No. The opposite. When my two girls were growing up, I’d say, ‘That’s nothing’ or ‘Don’t worry’. They and my grandchildren are all quite balanced about life. They’re not worriers. I’m glad about that. It’s one of the gifts you can give a child.”

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 moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk

Janes new book and QR code to order


Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team twelve years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!