Grandson Jack and I are inspecting the Christmas gifts display in TK Maxx.
This is not because we are intending to actually buy anything but because his sister Hazel is
locked away in a changing room with her mother, aka the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, and a selection of trousers and skirts which she has plucked from the clothes racks. They look, to be honest, rather like lots of other clothes she already has in her
wardrobe but Hazel is clinically unable to walk past TK Maxx without another attack on the clothes racks. Jack and I are therefore keeping each other company while we wait for the Fashionista to emerge from the changing room with her choice of skirt / dress
/ trousers. Jack says he doesn't need any more clothes. This is the difference between the siblings. Mind you, if we were in that shop so appropriately called Game, the roles would be completely reversed.
eye is drawn to a bookend shaped like a large, green soldier. Neither Jack nor I can imagine anyone would want to find such a present in their Christmas stocking. Nor can we imagine anyone who would want to pay out £19.99 for it. We agree it takes the
prize as our Least Wanted Christmas Present out of all those on display. Having decided silently not to invest in the bookend, we find a couple of seats outside the fitting room and Jack shows me how it is possible to play Pointless on a mobile phone. Live
and learn, that's what being a grandparent is all about. I am lucky in my ever patient teacher.
The trio arrived at ours late last night, having driven down after their last rehearsal for "Grease" which opens
on Friday evening (Jack's hair was appropriately all gelled up - he reminded me of my Dad who always used lashings of Brylcreem to keep his hair plastered to his head.) It must have been midnight before we all made it to bed. This was to be a flying visit
incorporating the six-monthly check up with the dentist - which wouldn't be most people's idea of a Half a Term Treat but then, we're not most people.
What's more it's a terrible day. The rain
is lashing down and I keep stepping in deep puddles so the bottoms of my trouser legs are completely sodden. If only the weather had been like yesterday, we could have enjoyed a sea-front walk after the dentist - as it is, the best we can manage in the short
amount of time at our disposal is a visit to Costa Coffee and lunch at the Sea Lane Cafe.
"I'm sorry it's a bit of a boring day," I tell Jack apologetically as we wait for our coffee to arrive. Jack is generous
in his acceptance of the situation and out of the corner of my eye I see that a chap at the next table is smiling at us, as if agreeing that, well, that's life.
At the dentist I make a fool of myself by saying
that, if I had a chipped tooth caused by injudicious crunching on a boiled sweet, I would pretend I had done it playing rugby. The dentist, the dental nurse and both grandchildren all find this extremely funny. There are times when I wonder at the daft things
that emerge from my mouth. Still, it keeps the grandkids listening to me, for fear of missing the next Little Gem.
We have been coming to this dentist for years and years, ever since Hazel was two
years old when I remember she clambered into the chair and opened her mouth as wide as it would go before being told. She's a good girl, then and now, even if she can't walk past TK-Maxx. In as far as it is possible, we have always managed to make the six
monthly dental check-up an enjoyable experience. We are strange like that.
It takes the Youngest of the Darling Daughters three long hours to drive home, due to a collision on the M3 which brings the
traffic to a standstill. I rather fear she must have wished she'd never come on this flying visit.
Me? I treasured every minute.