I skipped having children and moved straight onto the grandchildren stage. Not a miracle, just the way it is with some relationships. I am taken aback by this turn of events – but in a good way. It amuses me that I am in this situation as I doubt anyone would think to describe me as grandparent material. I think I have got the best deal in a way. None of the bother of children of my own but all the fun of being a grandparent. I have warmed to the role but it has certainly not made me regret any earlier decisions and choices about reproducing.
I am not a full-time grandparent. I suppose what it boils down to is that on occasion I get to be the responsible adult looking after a couple of children – who aren’t mine!
There is fun to be had, especially during the short periods of time I am called upon to childmind – usually only a day or two during the school holidays. I can take them to see to the kids films I would feel a bit weird about seeing on my own, I can re-discover my love of colouring-in (see above) and I can get silly with my imagination and tell porkies about all sorts of stuff. Did you know I used to be a drummer in a band?
I take the role seriously as well. Trying hard not to hand them back high on sugar with a whole new vocabulary of swear words. I spend a bit of time thinking of things we can do and places we can go. This half-term it was the cinema, decorating easter eggs and scootering along the promenade to the playground. Oh and cracking open the Minions colouring book.
I see so many of us about – lone adult of a certain age in charge of young children. I wonder if they are as nervous as me? Maybe not, as they probably have the advantage of having being there before – with their own children. This is all new to me and sometimes I am overwhelmed by the responsibility I have for another’s well-being and safety.
I also get overwhelmed by the noise, questions and energy that seems to accompany children. There are squealing queues at the cinema, a background rustle of popcorn during the film and the occasional whinge of unhappiness. Lunch afterwards at Subway – all these frazzled adults trying to corral hungry children and get them to make a decision between ham or chicken in their sandwich. On the train strangers smile indulgently at us as I explain the route the train will take, where we have to change and reassure, for the umpteenth time, that we are on the correct train and no, no-one will sit next to you.
I am now a member of a club that I would, in a previous life, have scorned and complained about. I would have been irritated and angry that ‘these people’ were impinging on my routine. Filling up the train carriages on my commute home from work, grabbing my usual seat in Caffé Nero and generally making the world messier and noisier. But now I’ve experienced it from the perspective of a part-time grandparent and it no longer horrifies me. In fact I am full of admiration for those who do more – the patience and energy, the imagination that is required leaves me exhausted after a couple of days.
I am therefore thankful when I can return to the quietude of my childless state.
And re-charge my batteries in time for Easter.