“Gan Gan!” calls out Rose, as she throws herself into my arms in the arrivals lounge. George is hot on her heels, followed by a sun-tanned mummy and daddy. They are back! Goodness, I’ve missed them.
The adults look rather shaken. “We had a really scary flight, Mum. The turbulence was terrible. But the children didn’t seem at all bothered.”
It was only when we heard the news later that day, that we realised they’d been flying through one of the recent storms over Spain. In fact, they were lucky to have got out in time before the airport delays.
Meanwhile, my daughter has an infected toe and had been advised by the doctor in Spain to go straight to A & E when she landed. So she and I head for the hospital and my husband, son-in-law and the children go back to their place. (Why do these things always happen on a bank holiday?)
Actually, my daughter and I only have to wait two and a half hours before being seen. Meanwhile, it’s rather nice for us to catch up. There’s quite a lot to organise, including my “what to do with the children” schedule this week while the parents are working.
It’s the last week of holidays before school starts so I decide to get cracking with some extra homework. (They’ve already been doing quite a lot but there’s no harm in getting ahead!)
So the following day, George and I apply ourselves to the mysteries of the “b” and “p” and “d” and which stroke goes up and down or left and right. We also practice getting our letters to sit on the wall (eg the line) instead of hovering mid-air. I find that a bit of humour makes this much easier to go down as Mary Poppins might have said!
Funny, isn’t it? When you start to analyse the English language, it doesn’t seem very logical. But then there comes a point when it all makes sense.
Rose is a natural storyteller, so she spent the morning at our kitchen table, writing a story about a little girl making cupcakes. We did a bit of work on the inverted comma to show when someone is speaking. “One tip,” I told her, “is to read the sentences out loud and then put up your hand every time one of your characters speak and then when they finish. That’s when you put in the inverted commas.”
“I see!” she says, her face lighting up.
I used to really enjoy helping my own children with homework during the holidays, and although my daughter and son-in-law have been encouraging them to practise regularly, I get quite a thrill out of doing my bit.
We also play tennis and – on one of the rainy days – go bowling. George gets half a strike which puts Rose’s nose out of joint a bit. It’s hard, isn’t it, when one of them gets something and the other doesn’t?
At the same time, I’m still working on next year’s novel, so I get up early to put in an hour before they arrive and then scarper back upstairs to my office to resume after they go.
Soon I’m off for a week in Spain myself. I’m tutoring a group on how to create characters and also describe how “point of view” works. This is a way of explaining “whose eyes are you looking through?” when you’re writing or reading a novel.
Meanwhile, as I write this, my daughter is off to a local city centre to search for school shoes. She tried before and couldn’t find the right fit. Hopefully she’ll have more luck this time. Why are school shoes so difficult? It was the same in my day. If you ask me, Cinderella was very lucky to get a slipper that fitted first time!
Talking of footwear, there is great excitement this morning when a much-awaited parcel arrives with a “mobility department” sticker on it.
“Grandad,” shouts Rose. “Your new leg is here!”
I should say here that my husband has a dropped foot after surgery and needs a fibreglass shield. The last one needs replacing and he’s been waiting for its successor.
“Brilliant,” he says.
Rose and George are fascinated.
Even the dog, who is extremely advanced in years and walks with a pronounced limp himself, is excited.
But oh no. The leg is broken. (The false one, that is.) Could it have happened in the post? My husband rings the relevant hospital department but it’s 5 o’clock on a Friday evening and there’s no reply. It will have to wait until Monday.
“Will the broken leg have to go into plaster?” asks Rose.
“They’ll probably make another one,” I explain.
I can’t wait to see if this comes it into one of her stories!
As I write, it’s nearly the end of the day. I’m still scraping off glue from the kitchen table and discovering left-behind things like George’s special shell (which I’ll drop round later). The house is a tip. I need to pack for my working trip. I’m exhausted! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ask Agony Gran
“My son and his wife are planning their baby’s christening. I was looking forward to it until I heard that they’ve invited my brother. We haven’t spoken for some years following a family argument and I’m not looking forward to seeing him. He made me very upset about something and it has been easier not to have any contact. However, he has replied to say he’d be delighted. Obviously, I can’t miss the christening it, but the event is clouded over by worry. Have you got any advice?”
It’s very difficult, isn’t it? There’s something particularly painful about falling out with siblings when we are older. As parents, we want our children to be friends, but there’s nothing we can do about it if they don’t “gel”. Yet family relationships can change. Maybe the christening is a chance to reconnect. I’m not saying you’re going to be best friends, but it might help to spend some time in each other’s company where everyone has to be on their best behaviour. Obviously, it goes without saying that this is a special day and no one wants to do anything to spoil that.
Even if you just say the odd word to each other, it might be a start. If it starts to go wrong, I suggest going to talk to someone else instead of feeding an argument. You will be the bigger person for it. Good luck.
The Funny Things They Say
“Recently we were looking after our six-year-old grandson for the day. My husband was playing board games with him while I was making lunch. Then our grandson came running in. ‘Nanny,’ he said. ‘Grandad’s just lost a finger but he’s put it back again.’
“My husband had done that trick where he’d bent a knuckle to make it look broken and then put another finger on top of it to make it ‘better’.” Avril, Swindon
Many of us will remember that trick from our youth, too! Works every time, doesn’t it!
Selling Clothes Online
“I had a go at selling some outfits online recently. Three of them went quite quickly but the others haven’t had any takers even though I’ve reduced the price. I’m still hoping! If they don’t get taken in a month, I’ll drop them off at the local charity shop.” Val from Berkshire
When Do You Stop Giving Birthday Presents?
“I’ve told all my grandchildren that when they get to 13, they can either have £15 in cash or an Amazon voucher for the same amount. Below that age, I buy them a present for about £20. I also save up for this by putting money aside during each month of the year.” Sam, Yorkshire
“I do a school run with my grandchildren. If they’re noisy in the back, I try to divert them with a new version of I Spy. The first person has to begin with an A. The second with a B. The third with a C and so on. There are no winners – they just take it in turn to avoid arguments. I play as well.” Stephanie, East Anglia
We like this idea, Stephanie. Thank you!
Several schools are closing because of dangerous concrete. Some are providing alternative locations and others are setting up remote learning. Has your family been affected? We’d like to know. Please email us at email@example.com.
Where To Take The Grandkids
There’s still time to take the grandchildren to the Coronation display exhibition which is part of the Summer Opening Of The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. You can see the robes which the King and Queen wore as well as magnificent jewellery. Open until September 24. Under-fives free. For tickets, visit www.rct.uk
Children’s Book Of The Week
Here’s a lovely, easy-to-hold-for-adults book which allows you to share the beautiful pictures and text with children. Our testers loved the story.
Betty And The Mysterious Visitor by Anne Twist, ilustrated by Emily Sutton. Walker Books, £12.99, hardback.
Betty loves visiting her grandmother and playing in her garden, known as Acorn Hollows. But then a mysterious creature starts to destroy it. Can Betty save the day?
Jane Corry is a journalist and award-winning author. Her latest novel, Coming To Find You, is told from the points of view of Elizabeth who lived in Tall Chimneys by the sea during World War 2 and Nancy who lives in the same house in the present day. This Sunday Times bestseller is published by Penguin £8.99. Available in print, digital and audio.
If you’d like to recommend any children’s books, share tips , tell us about funny things your grandchildren have said or ask advice on a family problem, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.