Grandpa started the day by venturing downstairs foolishly thinking it was later than it was and was met by the 2 year old who recruited him for some early morning cutting, drawing, tent making and channel surfing. When I rescued him at 8am Grandpa proudly told me that he had given the 2 year old some juice and had worked out how to turn the TV on. This boded well for his childcare duties during the rest of the day.
I went to work at 9.45 and returned to an empty house at 3.15. Fifteen minutes later a cold and tired looking Grandpa followed by two cold but remarkably perky children arrived home. Grandpa had been busy. He had taken them ‘rock jumping’ this morning (loosely translated = dog walking near some rocks which the children hurl themselves off). They came home for lunch, then ventured out again to Salts Mill (arty shops and a very nice café – full of yummy mummy’s – as a friend points out “I feel really skanky when I go there”) which is down a very steep hill from our house and has a lovely bookshop.
Grandpa told the children they could have a book each. The 2 year old gathered several books and formed a tower whilst the 4 year old and Grandpa found a book from which you can construct ’29 beautiful paper butterflies and display them on models representing three different habitats’ – what was he thinking? On further examination you require a pair of scissors fit for the Borrowers, a glue stick the size of a pen lid, a stiff drink and the patience of a saint. When he comes to stay again he will spend most of his time creating 29 beautiful paper butterflies. He must reap what he sowed.
The 2 year old was forced to whittle his pile of 30 books down to one and picked a book on Diggers (no glue stick required). They went to a café, ate biscuits and drank Ribena (one of the things which makes the 4 year old hyper). On the way home they had a trip to a playground, fed the ducks and rather aggressive swan. The 2 year old nearly fell into the canal twice. It was OK though because Grandpa had a backup plan. If he had to dive in he would leave his mobile phone on the side in case he had to ring my husband to come and get them. I think an ambulance may be more appropriate in temperatures of 0°C.
The last part of his journey was a steep hill home which I usually avoid at all cost due to the whine factor and because it usually ends in me carrying one child, shouting at the other for walking at the speed of a snail and nearly having a heart attack at the top. So when he arrived home he was rather stressed and tired.
By 5.30pm he had started on the wine and by 6.30 had single handed finished a bottle and was moving on to the next (he doesn't normally drink much). Auntie K, big boy cousin and big girl cousin arrived for tea and we all sat down to eat. Grandpa by this point was discussing the finer points of cheap supermarkets and kept shouting “LIDL” in a German accent which somehow then moved on to him shouting “vichyssoise” in a French accent (French translation = cold potato leek soup) … which then within 5 minutes moved on to him shouting “MERDE” (no translation required).
Grandpa decided to put himself forward to be thrashed by the 4 year old at ‘Hop and Pop’ (Asda’s cheapo version of Frustration). He then collapsed on the sofa with some water and biscuits to watch a light documentary called ‘The Yamato’ about was a battleship of the Imperial japanese Navy durin World War II which was sent on a suicidal mission against more than 1000 US ships off Okinawa. This triggered him to speak in a Japanese accent for the duration of the documentary, but there was no further swearing.
As I was washing up tonight I came across the almost empty beaker that the 2 year old had been drinking from this morning with Grandpa. In the bottom was thick liquid. He hadn’t diluted the juice ... just given it neat.
He never ceases to amaze me. Last year during a visit we were in a busy bookshop when the 4 year old decided to satisfy her hunger with a banana. I was holding the 2 year old and several books so told her to go and ask Grandpa to do it. Across a packed bookshop he shouted “I don’t know how to peel a banana”. The shop fell silent as people stopped and stared at this man in his late fifties who was unable to assist his grandchild with a simple fruit based act.
When asked what she did during the holidays I hope the 4 year old doesn’t tell her teacher that Grandpa is ‘merde’ at Hop and Pop.