Diary of A Modern Gran | Hungry Caterpillars

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

“Gan Gan,” chirps George on the phone. “We’ve got caterpillars! Mine is called Dave. But I’ve also got Harry and Snuggles and…”

Then he reels off the list of names so fast in his excitement that I can hardly keep up!

Rose is asking for the phone now. “Mine all begin with ‘C’,” she explains. “It’s because that’s the letter that ‘caterpillar’ starts with.”

So she reels off her names too, which include one of her best friends. (Crystal, Chrissie, Curly, Cicci…) I can’t help feeling rather amused.

“We’re going to watch them turn into butterflies,” she adds.

What a clever idea! There’s nothing like a “practical” to show children (and adults) how things work. Nature really is a miracle, isn’t’ it? I’d almost taken it for granted that a caterpillar grows into a butterfly but the enthusiasm in my grandchildren’s voices reminds me that this is magic in the making.

“They’re going to sleep in our bedroom until they become butterflies,” adds George who has got the phone back.

Really? I hope they get some sleep. I’m talking about the caterpillars rather than Rose and George who, I suspect, will be checking on their every move. They’re going to keep a diary on their progress and I can’t wait to read it. It’s also a great excuse, as if we need one, to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar book (by Eric Carle) together.

In fact, I’d like to leap on my bike and pedal straight round but unfortunately my husband has succumbed to a really nasty bout of ‘flu.

Have you got it in your area? I’ve heard it’s doing the rounds.

I’ve been trying to administer drinks and paracetamol to him from a distance but I’ve had some headaches and a few aches and pains myself. (We’ve both tested negative.) So I’m worried about going too near the grandchildren in case they catch it, especially as my daughter has low immunity.

Unfortunately, it means that I can’t do my Thursday pick up from school followed by the ballet class and gym class. Luckily my daughter is able to re-organise her working hours but I feel terribly guilty.

It’s not as though I feel terribly ill but there is an element of doubt. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I passed it on.

Do you think I did the right thing? If you help to look after your grandchildren, do you have a back-up for times when you are poorly or simply can’t make it? We’d love to hear, so do email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

Meanwhile, I wonder if we could chat about hair. My daughter, son-in-law and I have a bit of a joke about this. If I offer to help out at bath time, I’ll always check first if it’s hair-washing night.

This is quite a palaver as my grandchildren both get done at the same time on alternate nights. Rose has the most wonderful long hair (like a mermaid) which takes quite a lot of care and patience. The other night, I took ages trying to rinse out the conditioner without success.

We also tend to use a jug with clean water from the taps or stand them under a shower. “Towel please!” is a constant cry when the shampoo goes in their eyes.

“Sorry,” I say.

So if you’ve got any clever tips and tricks on how to wash children’s hair, please send them over! Email moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

Ask Agony Gran

“My seven-year granddaughter is always needing a wee. She’s been like this almost since she was potty trained. My daughter took her to the doctor but was told she would ‘grow out of it.’ My daughter-in-law accepted this but I think my granddaughter should be referred to a consultant.” Name withheld

Jane says:

It’s never easy when you have different ideas in a family – or  any other group for that matter. “Helpful advice” can be taken the wrong way. In fact, this is one of the most common problems that readers write to me about.

However, personally, I think you have a point. There can be all kind of medical reasons which can lead to the frequent passing of urine. Maybe the doctor has already done some tests. Perhaps  your daughter-in-law doesn’t want to talk about. She could be embarrassed.

If it was me, I might wait a bit and then if it continues, print out some of the information you can find on the web. For example, there’s some helpful advice from Great Ormond Street’s website, www.gosh.nhs.uk. You might consider showing this to your daughter-in-law or son. But tread carefully. Good luck.


iPad at Mealtimes?

“I couldn’t help smiling when I read about the reader who doesn’t think her grandchildren should watch the iPad while eating. I was always being told off as a child for sneaking my book into meals. Now I often read my Kindle while eating. When I visit my grandchildren, I happily allow them to watch the iPad during meals if I’m in charge!” Sandi from London

Long Marriages?

“You asked what we felt about long marriages after a recent article which said they might be dying out. I’m lucky enough to have a happy, long marriage myself and it has been a great support for my children and grandchildren. But I have friends who have stuck with their marriages even though they aren’t happy. This has led to a tricky atmosphere which affects everyone.” Yvonne, Cambridgeshire

Where To Take The Grandchildren

Thanks to the reader who contacted us about a site called www.growingkids.co.uk

It has  a list of places to take children including Felinwynt Rain Forest Centre, West Wales (Tel :01239 810250) where there are butterflies, waterfalls and ponds. Sounds great!

Please carry on sending us your suggestions. Email moderngran@dctmedia.co.uk.

The Funny Things They Say

Thanks to Mick who sent this in.

“I’m learning to speak Italian using headphones and an app. The other day my 16-year-old grandson came over to  see us.

“Can I  have a go?” he asked.

“I didn’t know you were interested in Italian,” I said.

“I’m not, but I ‘d like to check out your headphones. They look pretty cool.”

No flies on your grandson, Mick!

Children’s Book Of The Week

Max Magic book cover

Each week I choose a book that’s ideal reading for the younger members of the family.

This time it’s Max Magic, The Greatest Show On Earth by Stephen Mulhern. For 7-12 year olds, £7.99, Piccadilly Press.

Max Mullers learned to do magic tricks from his gran. And now he’s about to enter a talent show competition! He dreams of winning – but someone has other ideas. Great illustrations with an entertaining and thought-provoking story about friendship, family and magic.

Jane's Books

Jane Corry is a journalist and best-selling Sunday Times 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.