Saturday 23 September 2017
Waiting for Grandma (Adventures of L-Plate Gran)
Little G is now three and a half, and ever since You Must Be Mad ended her maternity leave in April, has returned to my dodgy care, along with Small Brother. Having two children to look after goes way beyond my pay grade, so I am lucky that L-Plate Grandad (retired) is now on hand to shoulder some of the responsibility.
Little G is exceedingly good with her small brother, who has reached an unreliable and snatching stage in his development, but every now and then, her tolerance level dips below socially acceptable, and we go upstairs to the playroom for some 'us' time. The playroom used to be You Must Be Mad's room when she was growing up. It has dark blue walls and a massive Pulp Fiction poster.
It also contains the dolls house, a three-storey Victorian edifice that I built for You Must Be Mad when she was six, and which we spent many happy years papering, painting and making/buying furniture for. It is totally unsuitable for a three year old, but nobody has told Little G this, so she delights in taking all the furniture out, re-arranging it and telling herself stories about the dolls house family.
The playroom also contains some of You Must Be Mad's childhood books, which we enjoy dipping into. At the moment, we are reading My Naughty Little Sister, which I remember from my own childhood. It is very much of its time, with a mangle, and kind policemen on bicycles. A few weeks ago, we read the story where My Naughty Little Sister bites Father Christmas' hand. Little G was suitable shocked, and there then followed a big discussion about the role and purpose of Father Christmas, with me trying not to be didactic, in case I deviated from the script that I hadn't been given.
Ever since then, however, it has been Christmas Day in the dolls house. This follows the same routine: the family sit round the kitchen table, which is piled high with a turkey, a birthday cake, tiny jam tarts and two miniature bottles of red wine. After dining, the three babies of dubious provenance are put to bed in the nursery, while the rest of the family slump in the living room, until the presents under the tree are doled out.
At some point, the minute red plastic phone will 'ring', and Little G, acting as surrogate family member, will pick it up. The conversation is always the same: their grandma has called. She is coming round shortly, and has lots of presents. We inhabit a universe of complete chaos, whose moral tectonic plates are spinning out of control, so it is comforting to know that here, in Little G's small post-Narnia world, it is always Christmas. And that grandma is on her way.