As I mentioned in the first part of this article my husband and I had been living loco parentis at the house of two of our precious grandchildren. We had given the parents a week in the sun, without children, to celebrate their joint birthdays and tenth wedding anniversary.
FATHER’S DAY FIASCO
The email clearly asked whether fathers or grandfathers would be present at the Father’s Day picnic. It was to be at noon that coming Friday.
“Did you know anything about this Eddie?” a hopeful Grandad asked.
The shrug and pursed lips said it all.
“What about those children without a Dad or Grandad; who will they take to the school picnic?” I asked, mistakenly thinking that Grandad had the wisdom of Solomon.
The shrug and pursed lips said it all. Now I know where the seven-year-old got that particular body language.
“There must be lots of children without a Dad, just think of the children of same sex partners for a start, although they’ve got a Dad really, but what about single Mum’s? Plus lots of Dad’s will have to go to work in any case.”
“I’ll just empty the bins.” Grandad replied as he stood up and headed for the kitchen door. Emptying bins being preferable in his mind to discussing the way of the world in the 21st century.
I once more read the email about the Father’s Day picnic. “They haven’t given us much notice have they?”
“Maybe the parents knew earlier. After all we’re getting all information second hand.”
“Yes, maybe.” I shrugged and realised that I too was succumbing to the familiar body language of the house. “I’ll pop to the shop and get some ham on the way home from school. I’ll need it anyway, because pre-school are having a Father’s Day picnic too, but theirs start at 11.45 am.”
“How do you know?” Grandad looked a little mystified for this bit of information was not on the handwritten list pinned to the corkboard. The list read more like that of a military strategic event in World War Two, with exact times and dates of the many comings and going we oldies needed to know.
Thanks to Dreamtime for the amusing image(my hair isn’t quite this white … yet!)
“One of the ladies at pre-school asked me if I was going to the Father’s Day picnic, plus there’s a large notice outside the pre-school gates.”
“But you’re a grandmother, not a grandfather.”
“I don’t think it matters much. The children like to see someone they know.” I looked at the World War Two list closely, “We’re nearly through with this list you know.”
Grandad nodded. “Yes, thank goodness. We haven’t done too badly all things considering. They’ve both got to wherever they needed to be, on the whole.”
“Well, ye-es. Except for we arrived the wrong night for Beavers Club.”
“Oh well.” Grandad laughed. “What’s left to organise now?”
“Are you sure you want to know? There are four things for Saturday, and three for Sunday…”
“Okay, okay, don’t tell me anymore. The simple days when children played in the street are obviously long gone.” He smiled. “Not long now though, eh? Then we can hand back the reins.”
“No, not long. Four more days and we’re done. Tomorrow it’s the Father’s Day picnics.” I grinned happily, little knowing the fun and mayhem the next day was to bring …”
FATHER’S DAY ARRIVES
The morning of the Father’s Day picnics had arrived and four separate picnics had been packed. We had no idea that this would be a day of super confusion, which could not simply be blamed on the mini heat wave. Perhaps had we known, we’d have gone back to bed once the children were delivered to school and pre-school that morning.
It wasn’t until we oldies returned to the house after saying goodbye to both children, that we released the seven-year old had left his packed lunch behind … yet again!
“Oh well, never mind,” Grandad said, “at least I’ll be there for the picnic so I can give the lunchbox to him then.”
I seated myself on one of the weeny little chairs surrounding the tiny pre-school children who were under a canopy to ward off the searing sun. I noted that, in the main, the young mothers and fathers sat on the floor, so as well as being the grandma who forgot things, I felt that the assistants would now consider me someone who should exercise more.
The children choose songs to sings to the audience and they looked very cute as they either sang the wrong words, sang no words, or in the case of some children poked the child next to them. Melissa had been pleased to see me arrive, but she was even more surprised when a little later, picnic in process, Grandad also arrived.
“Why aren’t you with Eddie?’ I hissed quietly, so as not to alert Melissa to the fact that Grandad was not supposed to be there.
“Ah, it’s all a bit embarrassing. I felt a bit like a paedophile trying to storm the school premises.”
Luckily Melissa didn’t understand the conversation for I continued to quiz. I just couldn’t wait until we were alone later to find out what had happened.
“I couldn’t get in through the normal playground. It was all locked up. So, after walking around the outside of the school a few times, clutching two lunch boxes, I managed to get into the older children’s playground. I saw a lady look out of one of the windows and I headed that way, holding up the lunch boxes.
A top hinged window opened with a crank. “What do you want? How did you get in there?” she demanded, as she shouted upwards towards the tiny top hung window, although why she couldn’t open the large lower window I’ll never know. Anyway, I said I had brought my lunchbox for the picnic, and had one for my grandson too.”
“What did she say?”
“It would be easier to tell you what she didn’t say. She looked me up and down as though I was demented. Then, she shut the window and disappeared. The next thing that happened was that two women appeared in the playground.”
My wide eyes were joined by Melissa’s inquisitive stare.
“I explained again about the picnic and that I had my lunch ready. To be honest, they seemed slightly less hostile when I held up two picnic boxes and actually mentioned Eddie’s name. At this point one of them disappeared indoors, only to return with Eddie who was looking bewildered.
“Oh, thanks Grandad,” he said arms outstretched for his lunchbox.
The two women seemed just a little less aggressive then, although they were not exactly friendly. I was told there was no Father’s Day picnic at the school and they had no idea why I should believe there would be. Then, one of them looked me up and down and said (as though she was addressing someone with cognitive difficulties), that perhaps I should be at the pre-school, five minutes drive away.
I looked puzzled. “But, the pre-school Father’s Day picnic was advertised for a different time than the one we had the email about.”
“Well, that’s as may be, but it seems there is no school picnic today, and I felt really stupid.”
SHOULD HAVE ASKED THE SEVEN-YEAR OLD
Of course, later that day we oldies re-read the email and it was clear enough that there was to be a picnic at twelve noon. It was from someone called Nina, and asked whether any fathers or grandfathers would be present at this Father’s Day picnic. She had asked for replies, and indeed we oldies had replied in the affirmative. It also went on to give information about some school event in the future.
“Well I don’t understand it.” I said.
“What don’t you understand Grandma?” The seven-year-old said as he walked into the room, and as I read the email to him, all became clear.
“Grandma!” he exclaimed. “Nina, runs the pre-school, she hasn’t anything to do with my school.”
“But, she mentions a school event later on.”
“Oh, she does that sometimes. It’s so that if parents have a child about to go to my school they can bring them along. Makes them feel a bit more grown up and ready to move on to proper school I think. If you’d have asked me, I could have told you who Nina was.”
And of course, he was right. We oldies should have asked a seven-year-old. He would have known.
It would be nice to be able say that from that point on everything went along swimmingly, but it would be a lie. However, I can say that we enjoyed the rest of our time with our grandchildren, as only doting grandparents can.