Thursday, 16 August 2018
IT is a truth universally acknowledged that when one turns 70, one also turns into a sweet, kindly, lovely grandparent a la Miss Marple who’s not only as smart as a whip, but always quick with a comforting Werther’s Original or three when out for a Sunday drive in the country.
It’s also a taken-for-granted, lesser-known truth that when one’s only daughter leaves it a bit late to have kids and then ends up divorced, one will put one’s own life somewhat on hold so that one can be available for babysitting and educational days out at a moment’s notice, should the need ever arise.
Which makes it two memos my mum and dad didn’t get.
Because while they’re fiercely intelligent and lovely in their own ways, they’re simply not what anyone would immediately recognise as particularly kindly or sweet.
And as for toffees, urgh, no thanks. Play merry hell with your Poligrip, those Werther’s.
They have, however, looked after the kids every now and again. And when I say “kids”, I mean one baby and by “every now and again”, I mean just once.
When the 10-year-old teenager was six months old, her Grumpy Granddad, in a flurry of selflessness, suggested Grannie look after her at their London flat while myself and The Ex went out for dinner.
We grabbed the chance with both hands and nearly got whiplash, we took off so fast.
But when we got back to their place at a respectable and defo not-taking-the-mickey 9pm, we found Grumpy Granddad on Skype, yelling at some poor old friend of his in Australia, the TYOT bawling her eyes out and Grannie singing Twinkle, Twinkle menacingly, through gritted teeth, as she held the baby at arm’s length.
“Finally!” Grannie gasped as she handed the TYOT over to me, smoothing down her silk blouse and patting her hair. “Never again!”
“Why didn’t you change her?” I winced, the fumes from the TYOT’s heavy, soiled nappy making my eyes water.
“I wasn’t going to use one of my good towels!” Grannie snapped back. “And anyway, I don’t have any nappy pins or Napisan and, quite frankly, my dear, it’s just not my sort of thing.”
I rolled my eyes to the ceiling and met The Ex’s (he’s 6ft 2in to my 5ft nothing) who jerked his head towards the nappy bag on the floor and the pile of Pampers next to it.
“Disposables, Mum,” I sighed, kneeling on the floor to change the TYOT while Grannie poured herself a rather large glass of Merlot.
“Don’t be disgusting, darling,” she replied, heading for the front room muttering something about missing New Tricks.
And their dastardly plan worked: Granddad never offered Grannie’s babysitting services again and I never asked.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re Grandparents of the Year when it comes to barking unsolicited advice and bringing us back from the brink of financial collapse.
And even when they’re banging on about Europe going to the dogs or how Doc Martin’s gorn orf ever since he and Louisa got together, they’re still the best parents a girl could ever ask for.
But they’re coming to stay this weekend (as long as I’ve “put that bloody dog in the kennels”), expecting some good food and lively debate about current events.
Pity, then, that it’s beans on toast, my daughter never looks up from her phone and all my son ever wants to debate is who farted.
Still, maybe they’ll find common ground and bond over something unexpected. Like my endless “epic mummy fails” the kids are so fond of pointing out.
But that’s another story…
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