I don’t see or speak to grandson every day, but when I do he’s usually on one or other of two speed settings. If you turn to Papa Louie: When Sundae’s Attack as a guide, as you no doubt do, you’ll find Zone X ‘is the final final level, gran’ and therefore the fastest and bounciest one and Level 1 is the first and therefore slow and ponderous and it’s these two I’m talking about.
The other day grandson rang me from Zone X: ‘Gran, gran,’ (so good they named her twice),’ he said excitedly down the phone, ‘did you have a favourite toy when you were young?’ He was obviously on a mission. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘a teddy bear and I’ve still got him.’ Grandson rushed on. ‘What was his name?’ ‘Teddy,’ I replied. Grandson was not impressed. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I’ll call him Dumpy’. ‘But he’s been Teddy for over 60 years,’ I replied and started reminiscing, rambling on about Teddy (aka Dumpy) not having eyes as in the olden days they were on spikes and my dad took them out for safety, etc, etc. But grandson, like Peggy double-jumping in Papa Louie’s Hot Doggeria, had leapt on. ‘But, gran, gran, can you get one like it now?’ ‘I think so,’ I paused to think, but grandson couldn’t wait. ‘And can you bring him here tomorrow early so I can take him to school?’ Hm, early morning dashes across frosty Essex are not really me. Then I heard his mum calmly saying in the background, ‘Gran could send a photo of him on her phone.’
Phew! – but could I? I don’t do Instagram. But, like Utah swim-boosting in Papa Louie 3, WSA, part 2, grandson had zoomed off, probably to write everything up like his mum does after interviewing someone. She took the phone. ‘It’s homework, mum, and don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be in until next week.’ But, how great, I thought. The school is encouraging kids to learn about the past from their wise old grandparents who, of course, speak in words of wisdom, let it be and so forth. My daughter went on: ‘And to send a photo you tap the screen or something and then share or something.’ So I did and I did and off he wooshed – high tech Ted. And I could bring him over in person next week when I was doing the morning school run.
Do other grandparents get ever so slightly stressed doing the morning school run? You know, that fear of being late and having to do the walk of shame past a scary receptionist. So I made it to my daughter’s early as usual – she’d already left, her partner was about to take the secondary sisters to school, granddaughter 3 was on the sofa under a duvet watching Junior Bake Off, The Strawberry Shortcake Session, and grandson was still asleep upstairs. ‘I’m running late,’ said his dad at 8 o’clock, ‘do you mind getting him up?’ Ok, no prob, I was thinking – I’m not above a bit of bribery and corruption when it comes to waking up a grandchild of a morning. ‘Would you like ice cream with sprinkles when you come for chicken dinner next Sunday?’ I asked the mound under the duvet. Result! A smiling face popped up – he was wide awake. So I started with the sales pitch for leaving earlier than usual – some temporary traffic lights had sprouted up around the school like those fog horns in Teletubbyland. ‘Mummy says we need to leave five minutes early today,’ I said.
Grandson was naked – he doesn’t do pyjamas for sleeping. ‘But,’ he explained, ‘I wear them to go downstairs,’ and he started putting on the pj top as if he had all the time in the world, crouching on the bottom bunk bed, clearly stuck in speed Level 1. ‘It’d be easier (i.e. quicker) to put them on out here,’ I said from the side of the bed. ‘But I always do it here,’ he replied. He did up each and every button on his pj top with consummate care and then slowly contorted his legs into his pj trousers. Hurrah! But, oh no, then came the red dressing gown. My blood pressure was rising (I’m on the tablets) – 10 past eight and only half an hour to get out the door. But he had to locate one end of his dressing gown belt and then the other and tie them painstakingly together and then arrange the whole outfit till it was just so – well, he’s always been into stylish dressing. Then he sauntered to the top of the stairs, his hands in his dressing gown pockets like a model on a catwalk. But, oh dear, the dressing gown sprung open and he blooming-well stood there and did it up all over again. Tick tock, tick tock went the clock in my head.
We got to the kitchen: ‘What do you have for breakfast?’ I asked. ‘I do it myself,’ he said. Of course he does, ‘and I can do my sister’s too.’ Of course he can. He dragged out a collapsible stool and carefully climbed up and and started tipping some Krave one bit at a time into his big sis’s bowl. ‘I’m a random cereal pourer,’ he announced. No, I didn’t ask, there wasn’t time. He climbed down, opened the fridge for the milk, returning to climb up on the stool again to concentrate on pouring the milk drip by drip onto the Krave. Then the operation was repeated for his bowl. ‘I’m a random milk pourer too,’ he said, ‘because I can do lots of things.’ Yes he can, but quicker would be good. He found my phone and soon it was going boing buzz boing while his spoon hovered tantalizingly in front of his mouth. ‘Gran, gran, look, look,’ It was Papa Louie: When Sundaes Attack, part 12, The Final Showdown – well, thank god for that. ‘But gran, gran, I still have to go into Zone X,’ he reminded me. Well, I’d have preferred him in Zone X mode at this moment in time – I had to get him and his sister dressed and out the door in 10 minutes.
We got to school in time like we always do. So why do I get so stressed? As Trevor MacDonald said on the tele last week when he wanted to send lateness into Room 101: ‘All those late people will probably live for a very long time’. So maybe I should learn from grandson and calm down a bit. While at the other end of the spectrum, his energy and sheer enthusiasm for life is contagious and that’s something I wouldn’t mind catching these days. p.s. In case you’re wondering, I had a senior moment and forgot to take Teddy/Dumpy over on school run day. But, on reflection, maybe it was just as well – my daughter has suggested recently that granddaughter 2 punch a teddy as an anger management strategy.
*Granny on the frontline is Jill Garner, grandmother of six.