“Look at this Gan Gan!”
My seven-year-old granddaughter is excitedly lifting the bowling ball and running towards the alley. She throws it with an impressive force and we watch as it skedaddles into the skittles, knocking several of them over.
The screen above us starts to flash madly.
“You’ve got a half strike!” I call out, clapping my hands.
She skips in the air excitedly. Goodness! We haven’t had such fun for ages.
But there’s one big catch.
It’s a Thursday. She’s meant to be at school at what is an informative part of her learning life. My granddaughter may just have scored a half-stroke. But all over the country, teachers like hers are on full strike today and yesterday too.
Now I’m not going to get into politics. I can see their grievances. But I can also see that it’s tough on children whose education has already been disrupted by the virus. And it’s tough on parents and carers who have had their days disrupted.
“‘We had enough of that when we did homeschool during lockdown,” says one of my granny friends.
The irony is that my grandson is at school today because his year isn’t affected by the strikes. (This happened a fortnight ago as well.)
Thank goodness that I and many other grandparents/carers are able to step into the breach (although I will say that I’m up against a big deadline for next year’s novel).
To be honest, I’m really enjoying this one-to-one time with my granddaughter. In fact, we’re not the only ones! When we arrived at the bowling alley, we bumped into one of Rose’s best friends, accompanied by her granny and her great-granny!
We joined forces and had a great time chatting between throwing balls. In fact, I was sad when our session finished. But it’s time to collect George from school.
“We went bowling!” chants Rose.
Her little brother’s face falls. “I wanted to go too.”
“You will,” I assure him. “We’ll go very soon. I promise.”
But I can see he’s still upset so I take him into town to buy him a little consolation present. He chooses a squeezy ball which is just like the one that a friend of mine gave me for stress. (That reminds me – I must look it out!)
Then we pop into our bookshop with some World Book Day vouchers. Wow! How amazing. We can buy a book for just one pound!
George promptly heads for a Spider Man paperback but Rose’s prefers one of her “chapter” books which costs a bit more. It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad they love reading.
Then I spot a title which takes me right back to my childhood, My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards.
Do you remember that? My sister is seven years younger than me so I always felt that book had been meant for me when I was about Rose’s age.
“I’ll keep this at home,” I say to the children. “We can read it when we have that sleepover next month.”
But yes – you’ve guessed! I’m going to read it myself first!
When I hand the children back to Mummy at the end of the day, I realise – to my horror – that there’s some homework in my granddaughter’s bag which I hadn’t noticed.
Oh dear. Perhaps we should have done that instead of bowling. Still, we really did have a lovely day together.
P.S. Did I mention that I got two full strikes?
As I write this, it’s my daughter’s birthday. I cannot believe that thirty-seven years ago, I was being rushed into hospital as a possible caesarean case. In fact, it wasn’t necessary and my daughter was born safe (thank goodness) on the dot of midday.
Every day, I give thanks for my children and grandchildren in my prayers.
But there are times when I’m aware that we’re all so busy, rushing around with our work and frantic schedules, that I don’t have enough one-to-one time with my adult children.
So today, my daughter and I are going to a local spa for two hours to read and swim and chill. I can’t wait.
I’m also about to post a family WhatsApp with the story of her birth. I do this every year with all my children. It consists of a funny resume of their delivery (cutting out the tricky bits) and telling them how much I love them. Sometimes I write a poem too.
Do you have any birthday traditions in your family? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at email@example.com.
Ask Agony Gran
“My daughter is about to have her first baby and I can’t help feeling very nervous. She’s my only child. I didn’t want any more because I had such a difficult time with her. I haven’t told anyone because I feel silly. But as the weeks get closer, I am feeling more and more anxious. I haven’t said anything as she doesn’t seem worried.” Name withheld
It’s not silly at all. Birth is a big thing. It’s natural to feel worried and apprehensive especially as you had a difficult time yourself. I can also see that you don’t want to share your feelings with your daughter. However, she might be hiding her own worries, not wanting to make you nervous.
Sometimes it can help to do something really practical when you are anxious (this applies to all kinds of situations). If it was me, I’d throw myself into helping her get ready for the baby and maybe go to antenatal appointments with her if she’s happy for you to do this and if it’s practical. Talk about how they’ll tell you when baby’s arrived and work out how you will get to the hospital or their home to see your new grandchild.
I found, when my daughter was expecting, that it helped me to knit. Now I must tell you that I’m a terrible knitter! But the repetition of the movement (and the challenge of the dropped stitches) provided a distraction, especially when my daughter was in the final hours of labour.
Try also to think of the wonderful time which hopefully lies ahead. You are entering a new stage of your life as a grandparent. Good luck – and please let us know how you all get on.
Feel free to share your problems by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Funny Things They Say
“This one comes from my grandson who asked me the following question this week. ‘If you were a bus driver and you let eight people on a bus and then six got off and two more got on, what would your name be?’
“Now I’ve never been any good at maths. But what on earth does this question have to do with the driver’s name?
“I don’t know,” I say.
“It’s Gan Gan,” he says, roaring with laughter. “I said if you were a bus driver…”
Now I get it! The people on the bus were a red herring. Oh dear. Fooled again…
Please send us your grandchildren’s funnies at email@example.com.
My piece on school trips last week seemed to strike a nerve! Thanks to Jean from Ipswich for sending this in.
“I’m a retired teacher and helped to supervise several school trips during my time. We were always very careful to count children’s heads and make sure we didn’t leave anyone behind. However, on one occasion, we went to a playpark where there was a maze. All the children found their way out but one of the mothers got lost! I had to go in and help her find her way out!”
Every day, 20 people are diagnosed with kidney failure. But did you know about kidney pairing? I didn’t until a friend of mine got in touch to tell me that her 31-year-old son is having a kidney transplant shortly. Fortunately, both his brothers are matches.
However, if you can’t find a match for someone in your family, you might consider the kidney pairing system which works like a chain. A living donor gives a kidney to someone on the list. The donor’s chosen recipient then gets put onto the list to get one from someone else. And so on. Apparently, this can be quicker than some other routes.
Where To Take The Grandkids
Legoland, Windsor, www.legoland.co.uk.
Lots of rides and attractions designed for children aged 3-12.
Thanks to Denise who took her grandchildren her recently. “We had a great time. None of us wanted to leave!”
Children’s Book of the Week
Mr Men Little Miss: The New King by Adam Hargreaves. Picture book for 3-year-olds upwards. Published by Farshore.
The new king is visiting Mr Men and Little Miss on his royal tour. Everyone is very excited! But will the visit go to plan?
A timely book in view of the coronation. This could be a good way to talk about this special occasion to your grandchildren.
Jane Corry is a journalist and novelist. You can find out more about her books at www.janecorryauthor.com. You’ll also find a link to her newsletter and a free short story.