‘Granny,’ said Tyler, ‘I really did get a rocket sticker and now it’s lost.’
His eyes were full to the brim and his bottom lip was quivering. ‘Daddy said it was just a dream, but it’s not, Granny.’
My son-in-law almost shouted at him ‘Look – just get dressed – and stop being such a girl, Tyler. It’s not on your sweatshirt. You’ve either dreamed it, or lost it on the way back from school last night.’
‘I didn’t,’ retaliated Tyler under his breath as he pulled on his grey, school socks. ‘It said well done for knowing my numbers.’
It was 8.25 this morning before I finally began to give my eight month-old granddaughter her breakfast. With my daughter and son-in-law flapping around because they were both late for work, Tyler in a strop over the rocket sticker and Sophie doing her level best to spread porridge all over my work clothes I was beginning to panic. We needed to leave the house by 8.45 at the latest or else Tyler would be late.
Today was just a typical weekday morning. It saddens me that, having worked so hard to get their degrees, buy a nice modest semi for their family and give their children a reasonable standard of living, the price they have to pay for their success is heavy childcare costs and a stressful, hectic lifestyle. Despite my son-in-law having a secure professional job, they still can’t afford for my daughter to be a full-time mum. I feel so sorry for today’s hard-working parents because they have so little choice. They have to take on a hefty mortgage to buy a house and then row their own boat in this upstream world, give up huge amounts of their salaries in taxes and then pay heavily for the privilege of rushing out to work each day – helped by an army of grandparents who had thought their school-run days were over!
On the short walk to school, Tyler said, ‘I told my teacher that you went to the moon.’
‘No,’ I said. ‘I haven’t been to the moon – only astronauts go to the moon.’
‘You did, Granny. You said you watched the men land on the moon when you were a little girl, and your mummy told you off because it was in the middle of the night and you should have been in bed.’
Over a year ago, we all visited the Science Museum in London. It was a throwaway comment about my memory of that night in July 1969 when men first walked on the moon. We had been looking at a replica of the luna module at the time. I couldn’t believe he had remembered that far back but had to smile at the way he had taken my comment literally and had actually thought I had visited the moon in the middle of the night in some sort of magical, fairytale rocket trip.
Going back to Millbrook School every day brings back so many memories for me. I had thought I’d feel old and out of place at the school gates, but the truth is there are loads and loads of grandparents there, just like me, saving their adult children childcare costs before they rush off to work themselves.
Something tells me this is not progress. I think we were all better off when women stayed at home, looked after the house and children and perhaps just worked part-time while their men went out to work, mowed the lawns and cleaned the car at weekends.
Controversial view, I know, but I’m thankful that I was, probably, one of the last generation of stay-at-home mums.
What do you think?
PS: We found the rocket sticker!