Tag Archives: Grandparents

Guest post: Keeping the magic alive? A grandparent’s dilemma

Children's MagicTwo birthdays and countless chocolate eggs meant Easter was packed full of fun. It was also full of magic – or was it?! My dad, aka Grandy, shares his dilemma on keeping the magic alive for his grandchildren versus trying to keep it real.

Grandchildren pose all sorts of problems and dilemmas, particularly to a simple soul like me. In the rosy glow of retrospect raising children seemed simpler years ago.  Should I tell my granddaughter she is pretty? That she is clever? Interestingly I have no difficulty in telling her she has been naughty!  Should I encourage my grandson in his boisterous games or should I be developing his gentler side?  Is ‘grandparent spoiling’ undermining parental authority?

However all these issues paled into insignificance recently when a truly moral dilemma emerged.  It all started innocently enough. Scrip was pretending to be two magical unicorns – one at a time obviously – as well as herself and each time she appeared I had to ask to whom I was speaking: Daisy Unicorn,  Ruby Unicorn or Scrip.  Scrip was given magical powers via a fairy wand by the unicorns and we ‘saw’ non-frightening mythical figures appear and disappear in a friendly fashion with every wave of the wand and  Scrip’s appropriate incantation.

Somehow this morphed into ‘reality’ as Scrip decided that her magical powers were such that she could make toast in the toaster and lo and behold she did – not realising that innocently a piece of bread was already gently browning there! She was so excited that I didn’t like to tell her what had really happened – a vivid imagination and suspension of disbelief is after all a blessing in my world.

Others then joined in and Scrip was able to make a flower in a vase in the kitchen disappear and re-appear by ‘recharging’ her wand in another room after each incantation. All this to her great excitement and delight. So far so good; although I did feel slightly shame-faced about playing on her youthful naivety but her delight and enjoyment allowed met put those feeling aside.

As mid-morning was approaching Scrip then went off and got dressed – ours is far from a formal house – although I hasten to add I was setting a good practical example as I was already fully dressed and showered! The moral dilemma first appeared when a thoughtful Scrip sat with her mid morning cocoa and said: ‘ Did I really magic those things or were you tricking me?’

I felt I had to tell the truth despite the fact that it would disappoint her, not just because she wasn’t really able to work magic but also because it revealed me as duplicitous and might undermine further trust in me and indeed the others who had  been part of the magic session.  I said that I hadn’t meant to be mean but admitted that I had ‘helped the magic tricks along’.  Her face fell and she made off without a word leaving me wondering what was the right answer to her question or indeed whether I should have allowed a situation to arise where she could ask such a question.

My confusion was made worse later when Scrip’s Mum and Aunt said, in front of Scrip, that they were really surprised that I had tried to fool Scrip by telling her that she hadn’t worked real magic! What was I thinking, of course the magic was real? Scrip looked on apparently relishing my being exposed as a fraud. What was I to say? Damned if I agreed with my daughters’ accusations; damned if I stuck by my assertion that the magic wasn’t real.

Feebly I argued that I had simply agreed with Scrip’s doubts since ‘honesty is the best policy’ but I am far from sure that in this instance it was. Is there an absolute set of rules to be followed when interacting with the young or are all rules relative?  Answers on a post card please…

Guest post: Holiday thoughts from home

Holiday thoughtsAfter a lovely family holiday where I actually managed to read a book (an actual book!) my dad sent through some of his thoughts. Here’s a Granddad-eye-view on our extended family holiday.

I am very lucky – or at least I think I am – as my family seem to want to spend some holiday time with my wife and me, and not just in Cornwall. Whether Scrip’s and D’s Dad feels the same I don’t know, but I think he does, or at least he is a very good actor!

We have all just returned from a holiday in France having made our respective ways there at different times by land, sea and air. No doubt growing older decreases tolerance and distance lends enchantment to our view of the past, but it did seem that nowadays a significant number of children on our ferry were left to their own rather annoying and noisy devices, whilst parents – especially fathers – sat glued to their iPads or iPhones. Fortunately, we could escape to the luxury of a daytime cabin, something my family were keen to point out that had never figured when we all travelled together.

Looking after children is a tiring and stressful job and I admire the way that Scrip’s and D’s parents have coped – albeit, as I am sure they would admit, with help and support from their aunts. There is no more important job than bringing up the next generation and I am full of sympathy for parents today who have so many pressures on them. Life was much simpler for my generation, although I shudder to look back at some of the things we did – driving in an open-top sports car with the baby tucked up in a carry cot behind our seats or travelling through France with three unbelted children playing school in the luggage space of an estate car.

Of course we had had concerns in those far off days but personal computers were still a thing of the future, so there was no online ‘information’ immediately available to worry you or to make you compare your children to the apparently perfect family; phones were fixed, and not hearing from family members, often for weeks on end, wasn’t a reason for concern.

This holiday meant we were able to see how Scrip was coming to terms with a new baby and this was fascinating. Clearly having been the centre of attention for 3 years, adjustment was bound to be necessary. Her physical expressions of sisterly love sometimes bordered on the over-enthusiastic and D’s feeding times coincided with extra attention-seeking but she was able to vocalise and play out her feelings both about D, as well as her recent entry to a nursery, with help from a French supermarket acquired ‘Sofia the First’ doll – once I’d learnt to say the name right! Sofia was obviously able and did to say things that might have been taboo for Scrip.

As always the speed of change in the children came as a surprise, both in the case of baby D, who looks increasingly as if he will play in the second row, and Scrip. Her co-ordination and ball skills, helped no doubt by attending Playball regularly, and her increasing command of the subtleties of language lulled me into subconsciously regarding her as older than she is and made the few occasions where tiredness and frustration led to tears seem deliberately contrived when, on reflection, it was clear that they were not and it was my understanding that was at fault.

Still who can blame me when in the middle of ‘playing’ table tennis pre-lunch Scrip paused, look thoughtful and said ‘Hang on, there is something in the sky that shouldn’t be there’. Indeed there was, a full pale moon – try explaining to a 3 year old why despite being always the moon can only be seen sometimes. No wonder I am tired.

A very pleasing feature of the holiday was the way in which Scrip took to French food both at home and in restaurants. Frites of course, pain chocolate and croissants, and crepes, both sweet and savoury, were polished off with gusto, albeit at different times! Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, when she comes to Cornwall we have to buy in extra olives. D meanwhile stayed on his diet of mother’s milk provided with scarce a disapproving glance from the French.

The best part of the holiday was the privilege of seeing things – not just the moon – through the un-jaundiced eyes of a child and thus being able to rediscover the wonders that surround us daily, especially deep in the French countryside.

Guest Post from Grandy: bear-hunts, bamboo thickets and Giant Bolster

Scrip and Grandy cuddleMy dad, AKA Grandy, (who was undoubtedly the hit of the holiday for Scrip) wrote a few words after our recent stay in Cornwall. They made me cry (in a good way). Thank you Grandy and you are always welcome to come and see us in the Big Smoke, chickens allowing.

Just for the record now they have all gone back: IT IS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO SEE MY FAMILY.

In the far west one gets used to isolation; that and age have combined to produce post-visit exhaustion syndrome. My mind doesn’t recognise my body’s insistence that I’m a 70 plus OAP. For that I’m glad, otherwise I would not have  been catching Scrip time after time to stop her falling into the pond as she Continue reading

Welsh cakes: a family recipe

welsh cakesA Rayburn is ideal for making these, but in my West London kitchen a flat griddle pan on top of my gas oven works almost as well. Even so, I’m still perfecting my technique whereas my Welsh dad, who’s been eating and then making them for as long as he remembers, makes a delicious batch each time.

Scrip has just joined in with him to cut out a few and they’re currently cooling in time for tea later on. Here’s a tried and tested recipe from BBC Good Food. Welsh cakes are simple and great for freezing or keeping in a tin for up to a week. We have them cooled on their own but they’re also nice warm or with butter and jam. Mwynhau (sorry to Nan if that’s wrong).

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 85g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 50g butter, cut into small pieces
  • 50g lard, cut into small pieces (or Trex, which is what I use) plus extra for frying
  • 50g currants
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • splash milk

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A Grandma and Grandy weekend

IMG_4892We’re so lucky my parents live in Cornwall – we can enjoy the best summer holiday England offers or can jump in the car and escape for a long weekend when we feel like it (we do this in our minds – in practice we plan and pack for days before).

The main downside is not having them close by to pop in for coffee and a play or a bedtime story with Scrip. But that does mean when they Continue reading

Dealing with a toddler cling-on

The title is perhaps a little cruel – Scrip isn’t being a nuisance (well, no more so than you’d expect from a 16 month-old) and of course I love being close to her – but not necessarily physically attached at all times, and at the exclusion of everyone else.

photoEveryone else isn’t strictly true – as well as wanting to be near me at all times, she’s also very drawn to my mum and my sisters, in that order, but not so much to my main supporter, her joint-number one fan and 50% of her gene pool: Daddy. I’m sure it’s the most natural thing in the world and I’m also sure it’s ‘just a phase’ (as are so many baby behaviours), but it doesn’t stop it from being tough – particularly for my husband, who’s just as keen and excited to see and play with her as he ever has been.

It’s not just that she looks for Mummy every time she falls over – which, judging by the little criss-crossing scars all over her knees, is all the time – I’m also the only one she wants to pick her up, read to her, feed her and play posting little shapes into holes with. ‘Do you want Daddy to help?’ is often met by a dramatic shake of the head and a grimace.

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Cornwall: Callestick, Cyder and Children’s Choppers

At the risk of sounding very English, we’ve been so lucky with the weather this week – we’ve been enjoying a week of sand, sea and child-size pasties in my native Cornwall. I can’t remember it being this hot consistently for a week – it’s so much warmer than our week in Limoges was, back in June.

Cornwall beach

Scrip’s done a lot of running around, too – we’ve hardly had the pushchair out. We’re fortunate enough to be able to stay with my parents with lots of things to see and do – like feeding the chickens, putting pebbles in the paddling pool (she’s not that keen on putting herself in it just yet) and destroying the sand castles we enthusiastically and carefully make for her. We’ve been to the beach, which is just 5 minutes down the road, each day – going after her dinner which has been perfect timing for low tide, the temperature and to tire her out before bedtime, which has crept back to 8pm this week…

I’m keen that Scrip gets used to the sea – so we’ve had lots of encouragement and shallow paddling. It’s helped that there are quite a few little ones running in and out of the water for her to copy. She’s christened the wetsuit she had for Christmas from her Cornwall grandparents – it’s been great. It’s easier to put on than the wetsuits I remember struggling in and out of when I was little, and there’s room to grow, so that it should still be useful next year. It’s a baby shortie from Two Bare Feet. It’s also helped that there’s been very little surf each day – so even though we’re on the north coast we haven’t had to worry about waves crashing around her.

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Five things we’ve learnt on holiday

We’re just back from a week near Limoges in France – freshly bronzed (those of us who weren’t plastered in factor 50) and so relaxed that we feel even more tired than when we went away. We had a lovely week and we’ve come back wiser (on at least five things):

IMG_50251.  Swimming pool alarms are no substitute for a gate. Apparently, it’s the law in France to have either an alarm on your pool or a gate around the outside – ours had an alarm. It was fiddly and temperamental – we forgot about it on one occasion and my husband was half way through a length when it sudden went off. We watched Scrip at all times and introduced the ‘holding hands near the pool rule’ (rather unpopular) but I’d have felt a lot happier if there was a gate instead.

2. Saying ‘thank you’ works. Those repetitions have finally paid off – Scrip can now say thank you (in her own rather appealing way) and seems to understand what it means. Unfortunately, she also thinks if she points at Continue reading

5 reasons to enjoy time apart

IMG_3696I’ve just enjoyed a rare day off. I’m working a full week in a couple of weeks so I decided to take a day off in lieu. I considered looking after Scrip today, which would have been lovely, but then I thought about her normal routine and how much more I could get done (and could rest) if it was just me.

So I’ve decided to look after her a bit longer in the morning and evening and have the middle part of the day to myself.

Time apart from your baby is a contentious issue – you’re never far away from a comment about people spending too little time with their children, too much time or not quite getting the balance right in between. I often feel guilty and am sometimes made to feel more guilty by people with big opinions that they’re very willing to share.

There’s no right or wrong – truly I think it’s for everyone to decide what’s best for them and their children. Provided both sides are considered in the decision making process (as my dad would say) and you’re willing to be flexible if things aren’t working out. Happy parents help make happy children.

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Time and space

When I first went back to work, one of the things I realised I hadn’t missed at all during my ten months off was my daily commute. I’d hardly used the tube since Scrip was born – apart from struggling into town from one step-free access station to another, a handful of times. As an adopted Londoner, the tube should be my default mode of transport – so how, I wondered, had I never realised how crowded and claustrophobic and generally unpleasant it was?

photoI’m now back into the working groove and hardly notice when I’m squashed up against someone’s shoulder for 30 minutes on a rainy morning – I can keep my head down and read my soggy Metro with the best of them. But I do still long for the luxury of space – and time, as I rush from one meeting to the next and then home again. And that was one of the benefits about my husband’s wonderful birthday surprise to me.

On Saturday, we set off from Kent for a day trip to France that he’d arranged. It was just the two of us – we did consider taking Scrip but the idea was that this was a day to do exactly what we wanted to do – and that we didn’t compromise her routine and our mini mini-break along the way. And it was lovely.

Scrip spent the day playing with her Nana and Grandpa and we spent the day pootling down the coast road from Calais to Boulogne, stopping wherever we fancied and enjoying the bright sunshine and gorgeous scenery along the way. There couldn’t have been more open space to roam around – on the beaches, the promenade in Wimereux and around the edge of Boulogne Old Town. We had a lovely French lunch outside, stocked up at the supermarché and took our time along the way. And we were even back in time for bathtime.

I couldn’t believe all this freedom was just a 35 minute Eurotunnel train ride away – a very different kind of train journey to my daily commute and one I’d wholeheartedly recommend.