When Grandma came to stay

As I mentioned in my last post, my mother in law lives in New Zealand, having moved there about 11 and a half years ago.  This of course means that we don’t see her very often – we Skype with her once a month or so, but actual visits are few and far between.  So there was great excitement in the house at the end of last week as Grandma was coming to stay for five days (she spends 3 or 4 weeks in the UK in total, but comes to Aberdeen for only a part of that).  It would be the first time she would meet A, and she hadn’t seen B in 18 months.  I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t feeling that excited – the thought of a houseguest when I am surviving on about 4 hours sleep a night thanks to A did not really float my boat, plus MIL is a vegetarian, so I had to get creative with my weekly menu!!!

Things got off to a bad start on Friday evening when Grandma’s flight up from London was delayed.  We’d told B she would be with us for teatime, but because of the delay that didn’t happen.  It also meant hubby wasn’t home for tea as he was picking her up from the airport, so me and B sat eating the vegetable and chickpea stew I’d made in the slow cooker (could have had meat after all!!!!!), with B asking every two minutes where Grandma was….  Eventually I could keep A going no longer, so gave him his bath, got B washed and told her to get into her pjs while I fed A, so at least she was ready for bed – and I promised she could stay up late if there was no sign of them arriving by the time I’d got A settled.  Just as B was getting her pjs on, the front door went and she shot off downstairs, only to return less than five minutes later.  I think she had just got over excited, and was tired after a busy day at nursery, and had just been a bit overwhelmed by it all!!  I managed to persuade her to take a book downstairs for Grandma to read her – then I heard hubby saying “But Grandma needs to have her tea”, at which point I very nearly shot off my chair with A still feeding to tell him not to be so bloody ridiculous, the poor child had been waiting for 18 months and two hours to see her Grandma, and surely dinner could wait five minutes!??!  Thankfully Grandma’s common sense prevailed and B got her story, then settled down to sleep no problem.

We had various things planned for B to do with Grandma over the course of her visit, so in an attempt to let Grandma spend a little bit of time with A, I managed to persuade B to go to her drama class on Saturday morning.  Added bonus for me was that it meant an hour on my own sitting in the café reading my book while I waited for her (I know, not as daft as I look!!!).  We headed home at lunchtime (sandwiches, easy!), then B had a skiing lesson in the afternoon which she wanted Grandma to watch.  When they came back from that, B wanted to do some colouring with Grandma, then we had lots of fun singing and dancing to the Frozen soundtrack!!  To give her her due, Grandma joined in with gusto!  Tea was a Chinese takeaway, so easy to cater for everyone’s tastes.

Sunday morning we went swimming, followed by lunch at my mum’s to fill some time!  It turned into a lovely afternoon, so when we got back from mum’s B wanted to go out on her bike, so that got everyone out from under my feet for a while!  I’d planned to have pasta for dinner, but my mum had made minestrone soup for lunch, so I had a quick change of plan and we had pizzas and salad instead.  By bathtime B was nearly asleep on the living room floor – all the excitement and exercise was wearing her out!

We had no specific plans for Monday, but it was the start of the school holidays and I’d seen a craft fair and play session advertised in Union Terrace Gardens for that morning, so we decided to head there.  It was a bit of a let down unfortunately – there were two ladies who were in charge of the play session, but they made no attempt at all to engage with us or get B involved.  Not that B was fussed, she got stuck in anyway, playing stepping stones with bits of wood and building a tower and a bridge out of plastic bits.  I think the intention is to encourage free play with equipment that they provide, but a “welcome” would have been nice!  Similarly, there wasn’t much to the craft fair either – a guy displaying 3D printing, and the opportunity to do a drawing to be added to a giant Easter Egg that will be displayed in Aberdeen Art Gallery.  So B did some drawing, by which time it was starting to rain and A was due a feed, so we headed to the shopping centre – B and daddy for a browse round the Early Learning Centre and me, A and Grandma to the John Lewis café for refreshments!!  After lunch at home, B decorated a couple of eggs for her nursery Easter competition, then hubby suggested taking her to see the Lego movie.  The cinema trip meant another couple of hours of one on one time for me and A, which is always nice, and while he napped I made the pasta dish I’d planned to make the previous night, with lentil and veg sauce (recipe here courtesy of Tealady Mumbles!).  The cinema goers came home having thoroughly enjoyed the film (daddy possibly most of all!!), and straight away B wanted to get her Lego out!

Yesterday saw another trip out for B with hubby and Grandma, this time to the theatre to see Aliens Love Underpants!  B loves the theatre, and I think it’s great to give kids the opportunity to go to things like that if you can.  Again me and A stayed at home, but went into town and met the other three for lunch after their show, which was a big hit with B.  We went to Café Rouge, who incidentally do a really nice kids menu.  While hubby was off walking A in the buggy in an attempt to get him to nap, he came across free face painting in the shopping centre, so we headed over there after we’d eaten and B got her face done as a butterfly!  We headed home about 2.30 so I could get tea started (prawn pilau, hooray for fish eating vegetarians!!) and B and Grandma literally spent the rest of the afternoon playing Barbies.  I wasn’t allowed in B’s room!  Because it had turned into a gorgeous evening and we were finished tea pretty early, B then got out for a bike ride before her bath – a lovely way to round off Grandma’s last day.

This morning Grandma’s cases were all packed, and my dad arrived to take her down to the station to get the train down to Glasgow to see my brother in law (nicely timed to coincide with his 30th this weekend).  I thought B would be upset when she left, but she gave her a hug and waved from the window, then got on with getting ready for her day at my mum’s.  It was then I realised that she doesn’t really have any concept that she won’t see her Grandma for at least another 18 months.

We had all this ‘stuff’ planned for when Grandma, but I bet if I ask B what her favourite part of Grandma’s visit was, she would say playing Barbies, or Grandma pushing her on the swing in the garden.  I certainly appreciated the extra pair of hands, whether they were keeping B entertained, or carting A around when he was grouchy.  I don’t suppose I’ve ever really thought about it before, but it does make me wonder how different things would be if she lived in the UK.  It also makes me appreciate once again how lucky I am to have my own parents on our doorstep, sharing so closely in my children’s lives as they grow up.

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