Diary Of A Modern Gran: The Wrong Child

Lady chasing pram Pic: Istockphoto

I’m queueing up outside one of the summer holiday activity camps that my daughter has booked for the children.

As always, I’m 10 minutes early after several years of being late for picking up my own children from school. (I’m determined to do better second time round!).

So I use the time to check my work emails.

Out they troop now, flushed but happy after a day of playing games.

“Did you have a lovely time darling?” I say, bending down, about to kiss George on his head.

He looks up at me. Oh my goodness. It’s not George after all.

“Sorry,” I say, apologetically. “Wrong child.”

“I’m here, Gan Gan,” says George indignantly on the other side of me.

Am I losing my marbles? “No,” reassures a granny friend who is in the queue with me. “They all look pretty much alike to me in their sports kit.”

It reminds me of an incident in the early days of my second marriage, when my husband and I were out shopping.

I’d gone to meet him in a bookshop. There he was in his brown corduroy jacket; his back towards me. I would recognise it anywhere.

“I’ve just bought you a really lovely Valentine’s card,” I said.

He turned round.

That’s when I realised it wasn’t my husband at all.

“That’s quite alright,” he said, his eyes twinkling as I explained. “I’m very flattered.”

Talking of romance, two of my granny friends who have been on their own for a while, have recently found new partners. Neither had been looking for love, but it just happened to land in their direction.

I think that’s rather nice, don’t you? If you’ve found love later in life, do email us with your story!

We’d also like to know what the grandchildren think. One of my granny friends’ children is very happy for her. The other has “reservations” because she doesn’t think it’s fair on the grandchildren who now have to get to know a new grandad in their life.

Quite a high proportion of second marriages actually fail because of disapproval from children in the first marriage. But it would be interesting to see a survey on what grandchildren think about grandparents getting married again.

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending most of my week doing arty crafty things with Rose and George when they’re not at sports clubs. This is one of the lovely things I enjoy about being a grandparent. It gives me permission to have time off.

Talking of which, I’m also working on two novels at the same time.

At this time of the year, I am going through my 2024 novel and also planning the plot for my book in 2025. It means my head is in two places at once. In fact, three if you count my grandchildren.

I’m also lucky enough to have my eldest son back for the summer. He is a brilliant uncle and plays all kinds of childish games with Rose and George.

In fact, I am sometimes not quite sure which one is the under-10 here!

So excuse me while I go and put my son’s cricket whites through the wash, prepare some arty crafty stuff for the children and check the emails from my editor.

“You’re always so busy,” say friends who have retired. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you like being busy? Or have you learned to relax more at this time of life? Do let us know at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

PS I’ve just taken up a new sport called pickle. Have you heard of it? Some people say it’s a cross between table tennis, badminton and paddle. It’s great fun.

So if you happen to spot it being advertised at your local leisure centre, I’d recommend giving it a go!

Ask Agony Gran

“My daughter-in-law is cross with me, because my nine-year-old grandson told her that I said the house was a mess. In fact, I didn’t mean it that way. It happened when I was babysitting for them. Everything was all over the place in the sitting room and I had to tidy up before I could even get my grandson to bed. I think I said something like, ‘What a terrible mess’ and my grandson reported this back to his mother. Now she’s giving me the cold shoulder. I don’t know what to do.” Name withheld

Jane says:

I can see all too easily how this might have happened. Most of us have said things without thinking, haven’t we? I wouldn’t mind betting that your daughter-in-law has, too.

But no one likes being judged. Maybe she’s under a lot of pressure and is feeling particularly vulnerable. I don’t know what your relationship is like, but if it was me, I’d buy her a bunch of flowers and try to have a friendly conversation about how you didn’t mean it and it just came out because you were feeling a bit stressed too. Maybe say that you remember what it was like when you were a mum, rushing around, trying to do everything. Also try to explain to your son the circumstances.

If you ask me, the important thing is that this is nipped in the bud before it becomes something more important. It’s scary how long-standing family issues can stem from small niggles. Good luck.

If you need advice with a family problem, please email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

The Funny Things They Do

“My daughter and partner recently took their children on holiday. It was the first time they’d flown. My granddaughter, five, had – unknown to her parents – put her toy rabbit in an old ice-cream box and carried it on in her backpack. For some reason it came up on the scan and they had to unzip the bag to check the contents. When rabbit emerged – with a metallic tag on one paw – everyone thought it was very sweet. She was let through with it.”

Just as well, Christine. We wouldn’t want rabbit being left behind!

Family News

Over a quarter (27%) of children living in households receiving average incomes cannot afford one holiday a year. For more details, go to www.dannydorling.org.

Grandparent Tip

“My grandchildren (aged 9 and 11) don’t live near me but I keep up with them by sending them a quiz once a week. I do mine on email but you could just write it down and post it. It helps to improve my mind too! I include the answers on a separate sheet but tell them not to cheat!” Winnie, Lancashire

We love this idea, Winnie. Thanks for telling us. If you’ve got any tips to share, please email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

Where To Take The Grandchildren

Discover The Filmmaking Magic. Warner Brothers Studio Tour of Harry Potter, Watford.

Do your grandchildren love Harry Potter? Learn more about sets, props, costumes and the creative inspiration behind one of the most famous literary figures in the world. School trips also available. Advance booking is essential.

Thanks to Tom from Reading for emailing us to recommend this trip. “We recently took our grandchildren. We all loved it!!”

If you’d like to recommend a day out with the grandchildren, please email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk.

Children’s Book Of The Week

Little Acorn book cover

This week’s book choice is Little Acorn. Padded board book by Igloobooks. £7.73

How does an acorn grow into a tree? This isn’t a new book but it comes highly-recommended by a granny friend who bought it for her new grandson. ”It’s easy to hold and we all loved the story.”

There are other titles too in the nature story series such as Little Raindrop, Little Bear, Little Snowflake, Little Chick and Little Sunflower.

Summer Read For You

Coming To Find You book cover

“Have you got somewhere safe to go?” asks the detective. Nancy is hiding in the same seaside house where her grandmother’s best friend lived during the war. Can Elizabeth’s secret from World War Two help Nancy survive?

COMING TO FIND YOU is my latest book, a Sunday Times best-seller available in bookshops, supermarkets and online.