Lynne Mortimer: Snakes and Ladders is always a winner for George

Pumpkin soup in the plate

Pumpkin soup in the plate - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Essex branch of the family has moved, writes Lynne Mortimer.

By now Mark, Caitlin and their sons George and Wil, have taken possession of their first mortgage. Over the past couple of weeks there has been much wallpaper stripping, painting, carpet pulling and weeding to prepare the way.

The boys have room to run about in the back garden and their bedroom has a cupboard to hide in. George went inside and asked me to close the door so he could try it out, presumably for future games of hide and seek. These are, as I believe I have previously mentioned, weighted in his favour. When he hides, I count slowly to 10. He tends to hide in full view so he is not startled by my approach so I have to do the: “I wonder where George is,” thing and look behind the water butt and walk round the maple before I notice him. When I hide, he has gabbled out the numbers and called “Coming, ready or not” before I’m a yard away.

He also enjoys playing the board game Snakes and Ladders. Once again he has an unusual approach. When he slides down the snake he says: “I’m winning, grandma,” and when he goes up a ladder he says: “I’m winning, grandma.” It makes the outcome rather predictable. But then, I’m not about to get competitive with a three-year-old... even though I won.

Anyhow, both our children are now on the property ladder and that makes them lucky people because I know how hard it is for young people to afford to buy. Our first home, bought in 1978, cost £9,500 which seems a laughable sum 37 years later. Ridiculously, if we were buying our current home (our third) today, we couldn’t afford it.

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While grandpa joined in with the decorating – he set about stripping the wallpaper in the boys’ bedroom (George had voiced an objection to the bright yellow), I took him (George not grandpa) to Tesco to buy lunch for the workers and it was there he spotted his heart’s desire.

“Grandma, grandma,” he tugged my sleeve.

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“Yes, George?”

“I need a pumpkin,” he declared, pointing out a vast container overflowing with Hallowe’en pumpkins.

“Yes, you may have a pumpkin,” I agreed. (I took some persuading, didn’t I?)

He initially picked a rather odd-shaped vegetable, one lacking the pleasing roundness of a traditional pumpkin. Eventually we chose one nearer the norm and he said he would carry it.

“It’s quite heavy,” I said.

“I’ll carry it,” he insisted.

I placed it into his outstretched arms.

“You carry it, grandma.”

“What are you going to do with your pumpkin, George?”

“Soup,” he said and then reconsidered: “I don’t like pumpkin soup.”

This is always the dilemma. You like a pumpkin but not its products. The best thing to do with it, I think, is to turn it into a coach for Cinderella.

I have been the Fairy Godmother in a production of the pantomime and it is very satisfying to tap a pumpkin with your wand and see it turn into a horse-drawn carriage (hopefully). Anyway, it appears George knew there was something about pumpkins that made them relevant but didn’t quite know what it was. I’m with him on the soup. Returning to the car after purchasing the sort of high-energy snacks you need to sustain the workers, George asked to hold his pumpkin in the car. I sat it on his lap and he wrapped his arms round it. Within five minutes he was asleep with his head on his pumpkin.

Little Wil, meanwhile, is desperate to keep up with his big brother. He wants to walk and run but currently is confined to a sort of caterpillar movement going forwards.

If he tries to crawl on his hands and knees he can only move backwards which he finds hugely frustrating. His forward slither has the side benefit of dusting the laminate. His father is considering attaching a chamois leather to his youngest son and setting him down on the bonnet of the car.

The good thing about home ownership as I have mentioned to the children and will now type in bold is that you can now invite your ageing parents over for Easter and Christmas.

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