babysitting the boys - grandparents still recovering

George snd Wil, aka Dr Frankenstein and Igor, carried out a number of scientific tests. Picture: Get

George snd Wil, aka Dr Frankenstein and Igor, carried out a number of scientific tests. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Micha Chodya - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It was our first time looking after all three small grandsons overnight... so that’s what it’s like to be up with the lark

There is little that compares with the joy of watching one’s husband assemble an Ikea highchair.

The first tut and sigh came when he looked at the instructions. The second when he found a small, yellow, plastic thing that didn’t appear to feature anywhere in the directions.

“I don’t know what this is,” he said, looking at it suspiciously. I’m sure he has put it somewhere safe, just in case.

The threading of the retaining straps was the most complicated part of the process.

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“I’ve done this wrong,” he said, jabbing his finger at figure 7 in the illustrated booklet.

You will by now have observed that I was being uncommonly quiet. This was deliberate. The worst thing that can happen when he is in caveman-cum-Einstein mode is that I get drawn into the proceedings and subsequently blamed when something goes wrong.

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In fact, it wasn’t too draining. The chair didn’t have shelves or screws, no Allen keys were needed and all parts were present and correct including a small yellow thing and so there was no full-scale meltdown.

Now baby Herbie has somewhere to sit and gum a low-sugar rusk.

We got rid of the previous high chair because, after his brothers had taken turns at splattering it with spaghetti Bolognese, ketchup, baked beans and soft fruit, it was beyond help. Herbie needed to be able to launch his own food attack. Now he can create his own slobbery mess and confine it to the chair, a square metre of carpet, his clothes, his face, his hair and all parts of the high chair.

Now five months old, he is also in the desperate position of wanting to join in with George, 5, and Wil, 3, but being unable to do so due to lack of co-ordination, inability to sit up, walk or move in the desired direction. Instead he watches them obsessively as he smiles, laughs, drinks milk, burps, and exercises other bodily functions.

Last week, we babysat all three boys overnight.

George and Wil (Dr Frankenstein and Igor?) spent the early evening in the garden setting up a laboratory for their experiments. This involved filling receptacles with water and adding sand, leaves and petals.

“We have to carry out some tests,” said George.

“Perhaps he’s going to be a scientist,” said grandpa.

It was a very hot night and I slept lightly, on doze-alert for the patter of small feet along the landing.

George was the first to stir. Sometimes he has a half-asleep wander and can be led back to bed where he will carry on sleeping. Unfortunately, his peregrinations woke up Wil who immediately needed his potty and then didn’t want to go back to his bed.

“Would you like to get into bed with grandma?” asked grandpa.

“No,” said Wil in a tone that didn’t brook argument.

Then, spotting his brother, he called out: “George... George!” This woke up Herbie, who yelled. His cries fully woke up George and so all three boys were wide awake and raring to go. It was 5.20am.

Two zombie grandparents provided drinks and breakfast. Herbie had milk and a nappy change. Grandma had tea and shower. Grandpa had tea, a shave and a shower. George and Wil had waffles with maple syrup and watched a Sooty dvd.

Only another two hours before we could let them out into the garden to run around.

At about midday (we’d already been up for six-and-a-half hours) we took the boys to a play centre and gave them some e-numbers and let them loose.

“Where do they get their energy from?” I wondered.

George, who has just finished his first year at school, is an observant child. Catching sight of grandpa’s head from the top of the play equipment, he observed: “Grandpa, you’re nearly bald.”

After tea, their mum and dad took the three sleepy boys home leaving sleepy grandpa and I to clear a passage through the dinosaur park and dismantle Frankenstein’s laboratory. One flash of lightning and who knows what might have happened. We slumped on to the sofa.

“I miss them when they’re gone, don’t you?” said grandpa.

“Give me till tomorrow,” I said.

? It’s good to know I’m not the only one who didn’t find Monty Python funny.

Malcolm from Tiptree emailed: “Couldn’t agree more regarding Monty Python! Although both the wife and I do laugh at Fawlty Towers. The other popular comedians but not for me were Morecambe & Wise. Probably nice guys but the humour passed me by.” (Not even the Grieg Piano Concerto by Grieg sketch?)

My friend Dorinda was also with me on the subject of Python: “Not only did I not find it funny, I totally failed to understand it and can well remember going into the office after it had been on, to find everyone else swapping quotes and falling about laughing... What I did, and still do find funny are the Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise...

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