Diary of A Modern Gran | End of Term Report

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

“Look Gan Gan,” says George. “I’ve got something really exciting to show you!”

He hands me a collection of printed out sheets which have been lovingly put together by the staff at his family-run play school. Each one has a series of mini photographs of my lovely four-year-old grandson. They go back for over a year and a half to when he started.

On the first page, a rather shy and apprehensive little boy looks at the camera. On the last page, he has blossomed into a confident, enthusiastic attendee with a cheeky sense of humour!

“Is this a report?” asks my husband. In a way. But it’s also a wonderful memory “showcase” before George starts big school in September with his older sister Rose.

In fact, it brings tears to my eyes. A year and a half might not sound very long but children change so much at this age in such a short time, don’t they?

It hardly seems possible that this is the last day of term…

From September, George will be going from three days a week to five – although the first few weeks will be mornings only.

“Hah!” says my husband when I explain this. “In my day, we were thrown straight in.”

Me too. In fact, it makes me shudder to think of it.

It’s so nice to see a gentler approach nowadays.

My daughter and son-in-law are feeling quite emotional as well. This really is a rite of passage. In fact, my daughter has been fiercely cherishing these last “free” days with George on her own.

I can remember that doing the same with her when she was little. You suddenly realise that you won’t be able to take them to the local farm or playground on a Tuesday morning because they’ll be behind a desk.

Whoops! I should say table. Traditional desks with those lift up lids don’t seem to be as popular now as they used to be. Do you remember yours? I used to have postcards of the Isle of Wight on my desk lid. My godmother lived there and we would go down every summer. My dream then was to live by the sea although it took me the next 50 years to get there!

Then Rose comes back from school – this time with a more formal report. I have to say that I have a huge admiration for teachers who somehow manage to find individual things to say for each child. When there’s a class of 30 odd, this must be a real challenge.

I won’t go into details about my granddaughter’s report but I have to say that I was thrilled. She loves writing stories and I can’t help hoping that she will be a writer. She’s also good at maths, taking after her father. That’s a relief. Our side of the family have never been great at numbers.

“Hah!” says my husband. (He is full of “hahs” this week!) “Just think yourself lucky that you don’t get a report at the end of term.”

But maybe I should! Immediately, my imagination kicks in. Perhaps this is what my report might look like…

TIMING. Could improve. If I say I’ll be at their place to look after the children at 9 o’clock, it means 9 o’clock and not 9.30. (In my defence, I do sometimes have to pull in on my bike and take calls from my 98 year -old-dad.)

CONCENTRATION. Could be better. But it’s very tempting to check work emails at the table while the children are eating tea.

STICKING TO THE RULES. Oh, oh. I don’t even need to read this one. I put my hand up. Yes, I do let them have tea on the sofa sometimes because they tend to eat it without a fuss. And yes I know the sofa is a bit stained as a result. But I have learned to get stricter when I’m babysitting. I don’t let them stay downstairs but instead I go up and read with them until they fall asleep.

DISCIPLINE. Patchy.  Could be more consistent. A ‘no’ should mean ‘no’. Not ‘all right then’ after a few minutes.

DRESS SENSE. Definitely could be improved! ‘Is that a swimming costume under your t-shirt,’ asked Rose the other day. Guilty as charged. But a Gan Gan has to have some chill-out time in the sea after work!

I could go on but I think that’s probably enough. Already I’ve got plans to reform. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, excuse me while I go and sort out a cupboard in the spare room. It’s full of my children’s old school reports. I’ve no intention of throwing them away. But I’m looking forward to some hours of nostalgic reading…

The Things They Say…

Thanks to Kathy who sent this in.

“My grandson is only six but he’s very aware of our environment. The other day it was my birthday and he brought me a present. He explained that it wasn’t wrapped because he didn’t want to waste paper. ‘Anyway,’ he said, ‘I thought you’d want to see it straight away!’ In case you’re wondering what the present was, it was a bottle of my favourite perfume.”

Ask Agony Gran

“I’m getting married again after being divorced for many years. My children are happy about this (on the whole) and so are my six grandchildren (aged two to 15). I thought it would be nice to have the small ones as flower girls but I don’t want to leave out the others. I also know it might upset their respective parents if I do. We’re having a small ceremony at the registry office and then a reception at a hall afterwards have you got any ideas?” Janice from Sussex

Jane says:

“Congratulations, Janice! We wish you all the best. I think you’re right to be ‘fair’ in dishing out the various roles to your grandchildren. Recently, I had a friend who got married again and her small grandchildren were flower girls. At the reception, the older ones read out a poem which they had written themselves. Maybe yours could do the same. Alternatively, they could read out a poem which someone else has written. Another idea might be for them to make a list of things that they all love about you! You could also involve them in choosing a bouquet and maybe your outfit! Do let us know how you get on.”

Grandparent of the Week – Ann, 68

Thanks to Ann, who was happy to tell us about her life as a grandma, even though she is currently suffering from shingles. We hope you feel better soon, Ann!

How old are your grandchildren?

4, 2 and 8 months! They are all boys!

Are you a hands-on gran?

Yes! I’ve always helped my daughter with the children and before that, I helped her in her dressmaking/alterations shop. Retirement was not really for me! Being a grandparent has put me on a new path! Luckily, I only live about 40 minutes away.

Ann and grandsonsCongratulations on the recent birth of your third grandson! How does this feel?

Wonderful. My second grandson was born before the first lockdown and before we had a bubble. That was very upsetting because I wasn’t able to get to know him or be a big part of his life until he was six months old. Now I’ve got to know him more, I realise he is more like my side of the family!

My new grandson is like a fresh start because I’ve seen him from the word go. He is such a contented baby and his giggles and smiles are infectious!  It’s lovely to have three boys although it’s very tiring! But I love them all the same. They give me lovely cuddles.

How do you manage, looking after three grandchildren?

It’s full on. They love water play and bath time. They all like to sit on my lap so I did wonder, at first, where I was going to put the little one! But it seems to work out. My eldest grandson loves playing with his toys and likes my input while my middle one is good at playing on his own. The little one is happy if he’s fed and watered! We also do lots of chatting even though I don’t know how much he understands!

What do they call you?

The older two used to call me “Ganny”. Then the second one started calling me “Harry” although we didn’t know why! A few months later, they all began calling me Granny so I’m sticking with that!

What do you love about being a granny?

I love the fact that they are so interested in everything! They sponge things up. Mine enjoy making cakes and jam tarts. I’m an ex-teacher which helps. We like reading stories and I also help them with recognising numbers, early reading and writing activities. It’s “Granny’s School”!

I never knew my own grandfathers and I am sad that my grand boys will never know my husband who would have doted on them. Both my grans lived a distance away so were only visited infrequently at Christmas and in the summer holiday. I never felt that I knew them. My own mother was a fantastic support and she is the model I used when bringing up my three daughters and now with the boys.

Jane’s new book – out now!

Jane Corry is a novelist and journalist. Her Penguin seaside mystery is called WE ALL HAVE OUR SECRETS. Available in supermarkets, bookshops and online. This month (July only) it’s just 99p on Kindle.

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. Buy the book 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


If you’d like to be our grandparent of the week, or let us know about the funny things you grandchildren say, please email us at moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.