Diary Of A Modern Gran: It’s A Date

Lady chasing a pram Illustration: Istockphoto

It’s a date. No it isn’t. Goodness me! My daughter and I have got our diaries tomorrow to work out which one of us is having little Rose and George (and on which day) over the soon-to-be summer holidays.

This will be the first time I’ve done this as my daughter now works four days a week. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it. I feel honoured and flattered that my daughter and son-in-law are entrusting my grandchildren to me. (“No other choice!” jokes my daughter when she reads this.)

But my diary is beginning to look a real mess!

“I thought I’d look into some local holiday clubs to give you a bit of a break,” says my daughter as we sit at the kitchen table with our pencils.

It will also give the children some time with other little ones instead of having me fussing over them.

I take my hat off to my daughter. She’s found some great holiday activities for them. Wish they’d been around in my day! There’s got to be a catch. And there is!

“This one starts at 8.15!” I gasp.

“That’s right, Mum.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m up early too. But I do like to swim in the sea at 7am. And it’s going to be a rush to get back, dry off and then cycle over to the children.

Maybe I’ll start my swim at 6.30 instead.

But there’s another catch too.

“How much!” I gasp (again).

These clubs don’t come cheap. Then again, they are offering some great things to do like gymnastics, acting, singing and… gosh, I wouldn’t mind joining in myself!

In fact, there are so many children’s activities being held by the local council and gym and an acting school that Rose and George could almost go to one every day. There are also some free activities at the local library.

But it seems sensible to sandwich “rest days” in between where Rose, George and I can just chill and hang out on the beach or paint on the kitchen table. I’m also planning on doing a bit of fun homework with them too.

Hang on. I’ve forgotten something. That’s right. I’ve got “homework” as well! I’m working on the next stage of my novel for 2024.

When am I going to do that if I’m looking after my grandchildren? No problem. I’ll do what I did when my own children were small. I’ll change my working hours (that’s the beauty of being self-employed) and head for my computer in the evening.

In fact, although I usually consider myself to be a “morning writer”, I discovered – when I was a single working parent – that it’s possible to teach yourself to adapt to new routines  when it comes to time.

Talking of times and dates, I’m writing this as I’m on my way to London to watch my youngest son record his music podcast in front of a live audience.

This is quite a big deal for him in his career and he has kindly given me a “guest pass”! It seems a long time since the days when he was 14 and I’d be driving him and his mates to gigs round the country!

But….yes that’s right…. there’s another date catch. It means I am missing George and Rose’s sports day. This really hurts. I almost feel I’ve had to choose between children.

But I see much more of my grandchildren than I do of my youngest because he lives so far away and because he’s always busy.

Yet I know that when I see those pictures of George and Rose racing up to the finishing line, my heart will do a little sad plod in my chest because I won’t be there.

Sometimes it’s hard to be around for everyone, isn’t it?

Have you had to make decisions between children and grandchildren? Do email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

Ask Agony Gran

“I collect my nine-year-old grandson from school every day as my daughter works full-time. The school is a good 25-minute walk away and there isn’t a bus route. (We live in the country.) So I collect him in my car. I’ve always enjoyed this time with him and I thought he did too. But recently, some of his friends have started walking home in a group and now he wants to do that. My daughter (who’s on her own) says that he’s old enough to do this now and that he’ll feel left out if she doesn’t let him. But I’m worried about the narrow lanes and fast cars. There are long stretches without pavements.” Name withheld

Jane says:

I do feel for you. I would feel the same myself to be honest. But I also see your grandson’s point of view – and your daughter’s. At the end of the day, she is the parent. That’s one of the hard things about being a grandparent. There are times when we have to stand on the sidelines. Part of growing up is to move into the next stage – such as going home from school without an adult in charge. If your grandson doesn’t do this, he will feel left out and might become anxious of other future steps.

On the other hand, you’re right – there is a safety issue here. We live in the country too and have to watch out for fast cars on narrow lanes. Presumably your daughter will talk to your grandson about watching out and facing ongoing traffic. But I don’t see why you can’t mention the same points to him without overdoing it. (This sometimes has the opposite effect when we do that, doesn’t it?)

With autumn not that far away, it might be a very good idea to buy reflective neon armbands so this little group can be spotted.

Meanwhile, try not to take any of this as a personal rejection. Your grandson just wants to be like his friends. There will be other times when you can hang out together. You might also find that when the weather gets worse and the nights get earlier, walking home won’t seem so attractive to your grandson. You might well suddenly find yourself being popular again! Good luck.

If you would like to share a problem anonymously, please email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

The Funny Things They Do and Say

This joke is doing the rounds. My own grandchildren sprang this on me the other day – I’m passing it on!

“Gan Gan, what’s your name?”

“Gan Gan,” I say, feeling puzzled.

“Now touch your nose and say what it is out loud!”

“Nose,” I say, intrigued.

“Now close your hand and open it. What do you see?”

“Nothing,” I say.

They fall about laughing. “You’ve just said that Gan Gan knows nothing!”

You’ve been warned!

Do email us about your grandchildren’s ‘funnies’ at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

Your Feedback

Thanks for your emails about sleepovers after last week’s Diary Of A Modern Gran.

“I keep two sets of new toothbrushes and also pyjamas and a clean change of clothing for my grandchildren in our spare bedroom. I also put out a cuddly toy. They don’t stay over very often but it means that if they do, we have the essentials. This came in very useful the other month when my son had to take one of my grandchildren to the hospital when he had a high temperature. They dropped off his brother with me on the way. It helped that I had what I needed from a practical point of view so I could concentrate on settling him to sleep. Luckily my other grandson’s temperature came down the next day.” Pam

Grandparent Tip

“I recently bought a shoebox size storage container from our local hardware shop to keep my four-year-old granddaughter’s drawings in. I put some on the fridge door for display using magnets but I didn’t want to throw the others away. So the container is perfect! I’m now going back to buy some more!” Sue

Great idea, Sue. I know what you mean about not wanting to throw away grandchildren’s drawings!

Family News

Children say that they are “bored” on an average of seven times a week according to a new study. We’d love to know if your grandchildren say the same. Email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

Where to Take The Grandchildren

There’s something about a treasure trail that gets both children and adults excited! One of my granny friends went on the trail below and she loved it. So did the children! You can download the route onto your phone and then look for the hidden clues on statues, signposts and landmarks. Check if there is something similar in your area.

The Chelmsford Mystery Treasure Trail, Chelmsford, Essex
Tel 01872 263692

Children’s Book Of The Week

Under The Table book cover

Each week we pick out a book that the younger members of your family will love! This week it’s Under The Table by Allan Ahlberg. Illustrated by Bruce Ingman. £12.99. Hardback. Age three upwards.

A lovely story about little things that appear under the table! Meet runaway eggs, wandering cutlery and unexpected animals. Banjo and his little sister Elsie – and the rest of the family – don’t know what’s going to turn up next! A joy to read aloud for both adults and children. Hold on while I go and look under our kitchen table!

Number 7 In The Sunday Times Chart!

Hope you don’t mind me sharing some exciting news with you! My new novel COMING TO FIND YOU is number 7 in the Sunday Times paperback chart. My novel is about two women who live in the same seaside house at different times. Elizabeth is a mother during the Second World War and will do anything to protect her son. Nancy is my present-day heroine. Both are under threat. Both are strong women. Both are determined to survive.

You can find my novel in bookshops, supermarkets (including Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda) and also online. If you’re a Kindle reader, it’s on special offer for 99p (limited time only).  Here’s the link just in case you fancy reading it! https://amzn.to/3NRv8kB.

Also available in audio.