Being a grandparent isn’t all water buffaloes and ice cream

Lynne's pic for Feb 29, by Bev Baddeley

Lynne's pic for Feb 29, by Bev Baddeley - Credit: Archant

Shaun the Sheep straddles the radiator.

Little Wil, now aged one, made the fluffy Aardman Animation toy so sticky grandma had to sponge both of them down. The coffee table, twice washed and polished is also, still mysteriously sticky.

Yes, it’s been another action-packed weekend in the company of the grandsons. It was half term week, traditionally the time for parents to attempt to buy new shoes for the children. It is traditionally also, the time the shoe shop doesn’t have that style in the right size for your child. It is always the one there’s been a “run on”. I’m told, you can now book appointments at shoe shops. There was a ticket system when my children were small and you’d go into the shop, take your ticket from the dispenser, sit down and find you have 194 while the wall counter shows they are up to 145.

Fortunately, responsibility for footwear no longer falls into my remit. Grandpa and I carry the joint ministerial portfolio for fun, forbidden food and late nights although, currently, we remain divided on Europe.

The Museum was, as usual, first choice for fun. Personal Private Secretary (PPS) Auntie Ruth joined us because grandpa was at work. George, three, is especially enamoured of the woolly mammoth and the museum shop. This time he acquired, via the ministerial expense account, a water buffalo which he renamed a water beast before upturning it to inspect its anatomically accurate undercarriage. “It’s a boy,” he correctly observed. Wil got a handwoven maraca... which I take to be the singular of maracas.


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After a messy lunch in the Marks and Spencer café (I picked up what I could from the floor), we headed for a local recreation ground that has swings, slides and climbing apparatus. Wil was happy on a swing while the PPS chased George through the maze. He never gets caught. He never loses at nought and crosses or Snakes and Ladders, either.

The next day, Saturday, we struck out for the seaside. Wil was asleep so I was happy to stay in the car with him.

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Grandpa tucked the football under his arm as he and George, holding bucket and spade, headed for the beach in a gale-force wind and horizontal rain.

“I don’t think you should take the ball,” I said.

“Why not?” said grandpa, his scarf flying out Biggles-like behind him.

In the end they executed one sand castle and left the beach and found a nice warm ice cream parlour (the parlour was warm, not the ice cream). Looking across the street, George spotted a children’s soft play area with ball pool and so, off we traipsed again. This was a real hit. George was immediately on the bouncy castle up the scramble board, down the chute.

“Come on, grandpa!” he commanded.

It was one of those rare occasions on which grandpa felt unable to comply, mainly on account of being a full-grown, 60-something and thus unsuitable for play equipment aimed at small boys and girls. George soon recruited a new circle of friends to order about.

On this occcasion our PPS was unable to be with us. She was at the wedding hire shop where her fiancé Kev, was trying on suits. They are getting married in October and having settled on the bridal gown it was the groom’s turn to look lovely. Ruth sent me a picture of him in his suit (very classical…well, not that classical, it’s not a toga). I nearly texted back that he looked “hot” but reconsidered. That’s not the sort of thing a prospective mother-in-law should say in response to a picture of her already slightly-wary son-in-law. I showed the picture to George.

“Who’s that, George?” I asked.

“Auntie Kev,” he replied. Regular readers may recall he used to call Kev “Dave” so there’s been marked progress.

After another anarchic lunch, and rescuing Wil for the umpteenth time after another of his reckless attempts to conquer the stairs we took the boys back to their home in the wilds of north Essex. We bunged disc one of Now That’s What I Call Disney in the CD player and headed south.

We arrived back home weary. You know you’re tired when you have to eat an entire tube of Pringles to stay awake.

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