It is less than two days since the grandkids left and already the house is a different place. For a start, I can now negotiate the stairs without having to pass through checkpoints, stair gates and security barriers. And when I make my way into the kitchen to make early morning coffee I can find a work surface free on which to put my cups and saucers.
Even more fascinating is the fact that I can see the house gradually emptying from all the myriad paraphernalia that accompanies today’s modern children. The garage is gradually filling up with buggies, highchairs, seats that adjust with age and size, and children’s car seats – all ready for their next visit.
The dayroom floor is no longer awash with cars and various balls, and other toys. I can make my way around the entire house without damaging my feet on some sharp small object that has been overlooked in the nightly round up of playthings. In other words this is gradually returning to an adult house once more.
And yet the last three weeks have been an absolute blast. There are few things to beat waking up to an excited little face about two inches away from yours, asking you to wake up and come and see something. Or the huge smile that completely fills the room as your six month old granddaughter spots you coming into the room. Those are priceless moments to be treasured forever.
Of course there is a downside, everything seems to take forever to get underway. Whereas normally you announce that you are off to the shops and then go. With the presence of small beings suddenly there are approximately 243 steps before anything actually happens.
Everything from nappy checks to coats and shoes; from questions about the weather and clothing; or whether your trip involves one or both children and so on. I am sure that you are getting the idea by now.
I know that memory fades fast, but I am sure that when we were at the same stage, things seemed to be much more devil may care. You made sure that some kind of waterproof outerwear was available and then we set off. And if it was just a quick trip to the local shops then hell, we didn’t even bother with that. If it rained and we got wet, then we would be back home and could dry off and laugh about it.
But modern sensibilities suggest that gumboots need to be kept handy – especially if there is any chance of puddles being around.
So what lessons have been learned over the last three weeks?
Apart from the need to place anything remotely breakable in a place of safety, such as another house, there are several key pieces that are forever burned into our consciousnesses.
First of all remember that truth is dangerous. More than that, it is positively unnecessary when relating things back to parents of a nervous disposition. There is absolutely no need to worry them with the tales about things that almost, but didn’t quite happen.
Modern parents have a ridiculously overactive sense of protectiveness and so would panic if you ever mentioned that their offspring had been in a kitchen when food was being prepared using heat and electricity and sharp implements. Apparently they are to be kept occupied at a safe distance or in another room whilst dangerous kitchen stuff takes place.
Personally I have been tempted to erect the playpen and then stand in the middle of it safely away from the small but deadly children, but that is apparently not the modern way.
Similarly you should not mention that when a mini tantrum was in full swing you completely ignored it and the child until it blew itself out. And please never mention the fact that toys were removed until the child became semi human once more. These are particularly old- fashioned approaches and not to be countenanced by today’s child experts.
But all that is for another time. For now let’s just say that the house is curiously empty and in need of lots more noise and nonsense – but not for a week or two until we get our breath back!