Well, there's always the 'hang yourself in the bathroom' option, but, let's face it, what a waste of your new silk dressing gown cord when Fran has advice for you which could change everything.
Grandma and Grandpa will be finding things particularly difficult. You can tell, because they will be making the following comments about the children. (Note that these are invariably made in the third person, directed to a parent.)
1. Does she have to answer her mobile phone at the table?
2. Won't he get square eyes if he looks at that computer much longer?
3. Isn't one chocolate enough for a small child?
4. Do the children always choose their own clothes to wear?
5. When do the children have their nap?
6. Should they be allowed pudding if they didn't eat their cabbage?
7. Is there a 'silent' button on that device he's playing with?
8. Shouldn't that baby be weaned by now if he's feeding every half an hour?
9. Wouldn't it be better if they got some proper exercise rather than leaping around in front of a screen?
10. Isn't it the children's turn to wash up?
Grandma and Grandpa may also be making the following remarks at mealtimes. These will be meant for the cook but not directly addressed to the cook.
1. Is this beef meant to be pink in the middle?
2. What is balsamic vinegar anyway?
3. When are we going to have potatoes rather than rice or couscous?
4. Did you mean to cook these strange crunchy beans?
5. Is there any salad cream?
6. What do you mean, roasted vegetables? Do you mean potatoes?
7. Oh, peppers and onions again! How very Mediterranean of us!
8. Mascarpone? I've not heard of it. Do you have custard?
9. Wine? With lunch?
10. You mean, you throw the innards of the chicken away? What about a nice stock?
This can all get a little tiresome, so it's time to think of some fun activities for Grandma and Grandpa which will make this holiday season as memorable as possible for them and will distract them from the rest of the family's activities and habits, of which they most heartily disapprove, in the main.
Here are several ideas.
1. The 'Nostalgia in the Attic' game. All old people love looking back. Nostalgia is their favourite thing. So, help them up the ladder to the attic (don't listen to any demurring - even 98 year olds need to retain a sense of adventure) and ask them to spend a few days up there sorting through all the items that have been hoarded since 1859. Obviously, you won't want to keep the entrance to the attic open otherwise they might fall through, so make sure you shut the opening firmly up and take the ladder away to leave them to their happy task in peace. Otherwise, gosh, wouldn't it be awful if they fell out of the attic and got hurt while they were staying with you? Anyway, once they've got going on their task, you can sit and have a well-earned gin and tonic (even really thin, frail old people take some getting up a ladder, after all) and the children can play on the Wii, and when you hear banging and knocking on the ceiling above you you'll know the oldies are having such a great time with all the memories that they are celebrating with a little dance.
2. The 'Hide the Dentures' game. If you have quite a few elderly relatives staying, one really fun game is called 'Hide the Dentures'. Everyone who has false teeth has to take them out and put them in a bag. Then, someone else hides them around the house. On 'Go', all the elderly people have to go round the house looking for their dentures, trying on any sets they find until they discover the right ones. A way of making this even more fun and absorbing is splitting the sets and mixing up the top and bottom dentures (you can tell them you're doing this if you like, but it's not essential). What with making their way around the house on their frames and with their walking sticks, and if the person hiding the dentures has been as inventive as possible (concealing them on high shelves, under beds and down the bottom of the garden, for instance), this game can go on and on for hours. An extra incentive can be set by telling all the elderlies that the menus that day are based around nut dishes, cold meats and toffee-based desserts. This helps the fun along big-time and may even result in fewer old people to feed by the end of a long day's denture-hunting.
|Grandma was going to have to look harder for her dentures as there was no way she'd cope|
with the nut roast and toffee cheesecake
3. The 'Blindfold War Story' game. This is another fascinating activity. Everyone in the family gathers round Grandpa and he is asked to choose an anecdote to tell from his war service. There are rules though: if he hesitates or pauses, he has to start again and he's not allowed to use any words beginning with vowels, or he has to think of a different story to tell. Once he is five minutes into his story (ie still trying to remember the exact date the story started), he is blindfolded and told that recent research has proved that memory is always sharper when one has the sense of sight removed. When he resumes his story, one by one everyone can leave the room to go on Facebook or play on their PS2 while Grandpa finishes his tale. This game can be adapted for Grandma ('Blindfold Advice about How to Discipline Modern Children' is a good choice) or even for both Grandpa and Grandma ('Blindfold Tell Us How, Where and When You First Met'). This last one is a wise option should the whole family want to go out to the sales and do some serious shopping, as a special rule for this one is, 'If you disagree on any small details, you have to start from the beginning' and Grandma and Grandpa will love all the extra tension this will add to the game.
Please let me know how you get on with using my tips and advice. You know I love to get feedback, especially if I have managed to make a real, tangible difference to your family's health and happiness.