In loco parentis by Angela Caldin
Our daughter and her husband have departed for the UK with the sad task of burying my son-in-law’s beloved mother who died unexpectedly a few days ago. We have been entrusted for the duration with the care and sustenance of our three delightful granddaughters aged 11, 9 and 6. What a responsibility, what an honour.
Our daughter has made us a spreadsheet so that we know exactly what each child is meant to be doing each day. As always happens here in any crisis, friends have rallied round with offers of help, support, childcare, entertainment and food. It’s all on the spreadsheet for us to digest and act upon. Even so, after day one, I was exhausted by my new responsibilities and retired to bed early, realising that I had forgotten how tiring the role of a parent is.
But day two saw me rested, refreshed and ready to assume my new role with a bit more vim and vigour. I took two granddaughters to Paper Plus to pick up their stationery packs for the new term starting next week. We got the packs and then had a wander round the shop. Middle granddaughter spotted some rolls of sticky back paper that can be used for backing books. ‘Would you like to buy some?’ I asked. ‘Do you know how to use it?’ she queried. ‘Of course she doesn’t’, snorted youngest granddaughter, ‘they didn’t have that kind of thing in olden times.’ I absorbed this remark with mixed emotions: relief that I wouldn’t have to cope with backing books with that sticky stuff, getting it all crooked and full of air bubbles, but deflation that I was perceived as belonging to a bygone age with primitive resources.
So much to remember
It’s the juggling numerous balls in the air that one gets out of the habit of. You’ve got to remember so many things: have they got their togs, have they got sun cream on, have they got a hat, have they got a snack if they need one. You can’t just stroll casually out to the car; you’ve got to mentally run through a long list of possibilities. I’m amazed to think that I did all this myself thirty odd years ago and not just for ten days, but for years and years.
So I’ve got the spreadsheet and I’ve got the responsibility, but more than that, I’ve got the trust and the confidence that my daughter and her husband have placed in me. That’s what makes it an honour to look after these three amazing beings who share some of my genes and who approach life with such energy, enthusiasm and grace.