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Monday, 9 July 2018

Reasons why Fran likes her Mondays off work

Most Mondays, my day off work, I go to fetch my grandson Elijah from school. He's six now, having had a birthday last Thursday, and he's got to that leggy stage when they change from small child to boy and suddenly their trainers take up more of the hallway and their appetites take up everything in the fridge.

Here we are, in Zizzis, celebrating his sixness. He's wearing his birthday shirt. I look as though I'm wearing a large garden, I now realise.



Back in the winter, the pick-up-from-school routine went like this:

Welcome Elijah out of school at 3.15 in Arctic playground and persuade him into his coat, gloves and hat.

He says, 'Can I go and play on the swings just behind the school?'

I say, 'It's really cold. Let's go to a cafe instead and I'll buy you cake and hot chocolate.' (This is called bribery generosity)

Walk him up the hill towards a cosy, warm cafe. If he has his scooter at school, run after him up the hill. Puff and pant.

Get into the cafe and sit him at usual table while I queue up. Pick up his scooter from where he's laid it mid-aisle. Discuss scooter etiquette.

Buy him a cake and a giant hot chocolate ('Don't put cold milk in it, Grandma. I want a grown-up one.')

Watch him acquire a chocolate smile and a cake-crumbed school jumper.

Hear him read his reading book. Help him with difficult words. Feel conflicted: am I Grandma here, or English teacher?

Take him to the toilet and cover his ears for him while he dries his hands under a hand dryer that sounds like a jumbo jet.

Race for the bus and stamp our feet and shiver while the bus decides whether to arrive or whether to pootle around Warwickshire just having a nice time.

Sit on bus, making portholes in steamed-up windows so car-enthused Elijah can scan the roads for Aston Martins and Mercedes and BMWs.

Deliver him home, all caked and hot-chocolated and grandmothered.




Now it's summer and the UK weather is all hot and bothered, thinking itself on holiday in the tropics, the routine is very different. Also, the family has moved house. No bus needed.

Today's itinerary, for example ....

Wait in scorching playground to collect Elijah from school. Have in my bag a banana and a bottle of fridge-cold orange juice.

Persuade him into his sunhat. Lather him in suncream until he's as slippery as a hot fish. Collect his scooter from the rack.

He says, 'Can we go and play on the swings just behind the school?'

I say, 'I would much rather Wouldn't you rather go home and stay in the cool shade of the garden?'

He looks at me as if to say, 'Why would I want to do that? I'm a boy, not a pack of butter.'

'Five minutes then,' I concede.

He says, knowingly, 'Is there a banana in your bag and a drink of orange juice, Grandma?'

I say, 'Yes, do you want it now?'

He considers, and says, 'No, I'll keep it for when I have no energy after the park. I will need vitamins then.'

Trudge to the park while he scoots ahead, his curls bobbing. Stand under a tree for shade, guarding the scooter, while he climbs poles, swings 'as high as the clouds', takes risks on the roundabout and yells to his classmates also approaching the park ('Hey, Josie! Look how high I am!').

See his grin when Josie asks him to play hide and seek with her. Watch his puzzlement when I say, 'Make sure I can still see you when you're hiding.' Observe their hilarious attempts to hide behind ladders and poles.

Overhear conversation between him and Josie. (Elijah: Let's pretend we're going to Spain. Josie: Let's pretend we're going to Turkey. Children aren't allowed in Spain because of all the drunk people.)

Give him a five minute warning.

Five minutes later, give another five minute warning.

Five minutes later, note how much fun he's having, showing off his monkey skills on the overhead bars while Josie admires him, and give another five minute warning.

Sweat.

Call, 'Time's up. Come and get your banana and drink. Don't even think about complaining.'

He yells, 'Bye, Josie!' and slowly walks towards me, exhausted and spent bolts across the park towards me, cheeks flushed and shirt hanging out unevenly from his school shorts. Tie askew.

Walk home with him devouring a banana and sloshing back orange juice like a beer drinker on a bender.

I say, 'How was your day?'

He says, 'My friend tripped me up so I kicked him in the peanuts.'

We stop for an ice cream at the shop. He licks it into shapes as we walk home. 'Now it's a hat.' 'Now it's a mountain.'

He says he visited Warwick Castle last week with school and tells me what he knows about moats, portcullises and knights.

'Do you know about jousting?' I say.

'What's jousting?'

We reach home and borrow his father's laptop to look up jousting. Youtube doesn't disappoint in terms of jousting shows and medieval re-enactment societies and Elijah's eyes are as wide as plates.

He wants me to look up 'the real fighting the knights did when they lived at Warwick Castle' and we have a discussion about when Youtube and cameras were invented.


26 comments:

  1. A lovely typical six-year-old boy! No wonder you like Mondays off work :)

    He looks very like you, by the way.

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    1. Do you think so, Jenny? I wish I had his curly hair! I've ALWAYS wanted curly hair.

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    2. Yes, your features are very similar! I wasn't looking at hair :)

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  2. Elijah is a cute kid! But jeez, don't you wish WE still had that kind of energy? Youth is wasted on the young, as they say.

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    1. I think I expended all the energy I was ever given by the time I was thirteen. After that, down hill all the way.

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  3. I like the sound of celebrating sixness

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    1. We had a great time, BadPenny. He's in love with pizza.

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  4. Wonderful! Wednesdays are my grandmotherly days and I love, love, love them 😍

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    1. What I love so much about them is the slowing of pace. The laziness. The trudging along in no real hurry to get anywhere. The conversations that go everywhere and nowhere. Delicious.

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  5. You sound like the best grandma :) x

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    1. Not at all, Mandy. Very imperfect, I imagine. But he seems happy with imperfect, so don't tell him!!

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  6. There's definitely some school teacher mixed in with the grandmothering. He's adorable and very smart too.

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    1. I find it hard to leave schoolteacher behind, that's the problem! But it can be useful :)

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  7. This post actually made my heart hurt for grandchildren! (Come ON young ones!) Wonderfully evocative post ☺️☺️

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    1. I'm just making the most of it while he's still happy to spend time with me. I suspect that won't go on for ever ...

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  8. Currently my grandmotherly skills are the two hands I bring every Monday to my son's where they have 2 month-old twins. Fascinating how someone always - always - needs holding, changing, or feeding. Often at the same time.

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    1. 2 month-old twins!! My my. I'd think you'd need about 90 hands for that, wouldn't you?! It probably feels like that! I bet you're a massive help :)

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  9. And Elijah is a curly-haired cutie.

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  10. So sweet. Thet just can't comprehend that Mr Google and Mr YouTube didn't exist forever can they? "But Grandma....how did you find things out?" So sweet.

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    1. I remember when, very early on, Elijah complained when I phoned him that he couldn't see my face. They're not used to conversations without face-to-face contact so they prefer Skype/Facetime etc. A new world!!

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  11. I wish my adult grandchildren were small again!!

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    1. No, don't say that! It's going too fast already!!

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  12. Love the "Children aren't allowed in Spain, because of all the drunk people" out of the mouths of babes.... Great age 6, you can have the best conversations with them!

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    1. I said to him later, 'By the way, Elijah, children ARE allowed in Spain' which is a sentence I've never had reason to say before!!

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  13. I'm jealous again.
    What's the reason for modern boys fascination with armour? My older grandson is fixated with chain mail and halberds. ( the younger one is more interested in Playmobil elephants and raising the money to aquire more … robbery was mentioned)

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    1. I'd buy him a mini suit of armour for Christmas if I didn't think it would drive his parents witless, listening to him clank around the house like the Tin Man.

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