I have four grandchildren – two bigs and two smalls. The olders are Amelia and Ruby, aged 12, while the youngers are Amarisse, four, and Sienna, three.
God, I hope I have got their ages right or I will be for it. My wife knows the age and birthday of every member of the Royal Family, the names of most wives of Premiership players and, of course, the telephone numbers of every member of our own family.
I have trouble remembering my own. Actually, I do know Amarisse’s birthday as it is 7 January. Same as mine. Same every year, which is ever so helpful.
Though I did, in fact, change my birthday to 7 August for about 20 years. Early January is such a boring dreary time of the year, too near Christmas to ever get a decent present. My mother was not at all amused. It was good enough for her, blah blah.
The younger ones have just gone, so I must go for a lie down. They are so exhausting at that age. It was my own fault, agreeing to play shops. For this I have to dress up each time in old clothes and come to their shop with a basket, put on a funny voice, and pretend to buy stuff. They have hysterics, thinking it’s incredibly funny, which it is, quite, the first two or three times. By the 20th time I am knackered.
My older two grandchildren are still willing to do boring jobs for a few measly coins. Like a bit of weeding, pouring out my Beaujolais…
Then we did hide and seek, for which they never close their eyes, not quite having got the hang of it, though they are excellent at counting – 1, 2, 7, 4, 8, 15, 1,000, coming ready or not, Humpa. That’s my nickname, a combination of Hunter and Grandpa. The grandchildren’s own invention.
My own children never called me by a nickname, just my normal name. I did hope for Sir or Pater, but no luck. Their mother was and is always known as Mum but I was and am always Hunter. What does that show? Lack of respect – or being treated as just another child?
My older two grandchildren have got to the stage and age of being enormously useful – and still willing to do boring jobs for a few measly coins. Like a bit of weeding, pouring out my Beaujolais, carrying the logs up to my fire, though I draw the line at sending them up the chimney. Like what I had to do. So I tell them. You can tell grandchildren any old thing.
“Tell me about the Sixties, Grandpa,” they will say, when they have a school project. I say: “Sixties? They’re not over, are they?”
But of course the best thing about the older ones is that they are technological wizards. They often arrive with a truck to carry all their personal smartphones, laptops, iPads. It does mean they are able to work my digital camera, transfer photos to my computer and show me how to use my mobile phone. I do have one, which I often answer – that does surprise callers – but I need help with texts and as for accessing a voice message, if someone is stupid enough to leave one, I have no idea how to get it out.
Grandchildren, I can recommend them. They do have their uses.