Three grandsons in one go - at least the gingerbread men died smiling

George and Wil's gingerbread men - possibly the victims of a terrible, terrible crime. Picture: LJM

George and Wil's gingerbread men - possibly the victims of a terrible, terrible crime. Picture: LJM - Credit: Archant

Keeping three grandsons entertained, fed, clean and happy is more of a hurricane than a breeze...

It was the longest time we had looked after our three grandsons by ourselves.

Two whole nights with George, six, Wil, four and Herbie, one. We were looking forward to it... in our own way. We had done a massive online food order because, as I have mentioned, George is currently vegetarian except for McDonalds, Wil doesn’t eat potatoes and Herbie eats anything, including Comic Relief red noses and green felt tip pens.

We panicked when we saw that the baby boy had a bright green mouth and worked hard to make sure it was all gone by the time mummy and daddy came to collect him. “Everything’s fine... no, no problems at all.”

Wil scratched his knee on the bath plug chain and had to have a Paw Patrol plaster applied. George claimed an invisible wound that also required a character plaster.

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After reconfiguring the child seats in the Ford so we could get all the boys, grandpa and most of grandma in the car, we went to a farm park for the day. Here, the children chiefly played on the playground, giving the baby animals a cursory look. I still have a half-inch covering of animal feed pellets at the bottom of my handbag as a result of the boys’ reluctance to feed the goats.

On day two, we took them to an indoor play area where the two bigger boys shot off in different directions and we lost sight of them for minutes at a time... is it okay to microchip children?

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Wil likes having a bath at grandpa’s house because we let him blow bubbles. Consequently he started asking if he could have a bath at 2pm.

While George and Wil went to bed like angels, Herbie did not. He does not like being left and even when asleep seems to divine that he is alone and sits up and sobs real tears... even though his eyes have not opened.

We had the answer to that one. He slept with grandma on Thursday night and grandpa on Friday night (it is probably not the Mumsnet answer but it worked for us).

The wee chappie is still not quite walking so we put him outside in the back garden with his trolley full of bricks so that he could have a stroll. He toddled as far as the bird bath and promptly stuck both hands in it. Cue grandma, entering from the patio doors with anti-bac wipes.

As for the bricks we are still missing a green one and suspect it may be on the lawn.

On Thursday, I took Herbie to Clarks to buy him a first pair of shoes. You would have thought he was victim of extraordinary rendition. As soon as the shoe lady put his foot into the measuring device he began to howl - more real tears. A young man, aged nine, who happened to be in the shop with his mum, kindly galloped up and down to distract Herbie. It was a good ruse and worked well... until he stopped running.

When Herbie’s little foot (4F) was put into the shoe, you would have thought he was being subjected to some Pythonesque form of torture, the footwear equivalent of the comfy chair. “Noooo! - not the navy shoe!”

We bought the shoes, of course. I was too embarrassed not to.

Grandpa took his brothers on to the park and was about to buy them an ice cream each when he discovered that the £10 note he had put in his back pocket for this very purpose was gone.

“I’m sorry,” he said to the boys, “but I’ve lost my money.” Whereupon a woman who was walking her dog and had overheard, pressed £5 into my husband’s hand. “Buy them an ice cream,” she said.

We do not know who the lovely person was but are enormously grateful for her kind gesture. Six-year-old George announced that this was: “Values in action.” It’s something they do at school.

Meanwhile, back at home we have a thick plastic, cloth-backed cover for the dining table so that the boys can explore their creativity. To be honest, it looked more like a war zone than an art collection as they mixed all the paints with PVA glue and applied it liberally to all surfaces, including their skin.

Wil discovered he could operate the tap in the downstairs loo and found a number of excuses for washing his hands - for “washing his hands” read filling the sink to the brim, adding soap and attempting to whisk up bubbles.

Their artistic efforts continued when they went home to Essex, as they decorated gingerbread people. Their father commented that it looked as if they (the gingerbread people) were the victims of a “terrible, terrible crime”. “At least they died smiling,” said someone else.

One wag suggested this was their punishment, having made off with “hundreds and thousands”.

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