Who’d be a Grandpa?

“Come on, Grandpa! Why are you being so slow?” asked five-year-old Samuel.

It was the second occasion that day. The first was on the train returning from Kew Gardens. He’d been helping me solve the day’s Wordle puzzle, to which I’d just been introduced. We’d struggled; ‘CYNIC’ wasn’t a word any five-year-old would know. Or so I would hope.

Having narrowly avoided running out of turns, we came home to a relaxing cup of tea. Then the indefatiguable Sam invited us to play Mastermind using the set we bought for our children in 1986. Sam, accompanied by my wife (Grandma) Jane, set up the four concealed pegs at the end of the board, each of which could be Black, White, Red, Blue, Green or Yellow. I’d ten turns to work out which colours they were, with Sam and Jane using pins after each effort to indicate how many correct colours I’d got.  Usually it takes about five goes.

“Grandpa should be an expert at this,” said my affirming wife, “He used to be very good at number puzzles.” On this occasion my solving method didn’t work. I tried to be ‘too clever by half’ and ended up nowhere near a solution with only one go left. Oh, the shame! A whole career spent in statistical problem-solving and separation of variables was about to go up in smoke.

“Perhaps he’s getting old, and he’s not very good at it any more?” ventured Jane to Samuel in ‘let’s pretend-it’s-confidential’ tones. I muttered something about Grandpa having an ‘off day’ before finally getting my head together and correctly guessing the colours at the last gasp.

We babysat that evening. I take off my hat to Jane for the way she calmed 8-month-old Grace, sitting her on her lap at the piano whilst she played the Nutcracker Suite with one-and-a-half hands. Grace’s squawks eventually gave way to joining in by whalloping her palms onto the lower keys to provide a bass accompaniment. 

We slept very, very soundly that night.


The following morning, Grandma and Samuel made a batch of chocolates. Firstly, they broke up two bars into squares, and Grandpa melted the chocolate with a little butter and icing sugar so it could be formed into balls. When these had cooled, Sam and Grandma coated the balls with strands of ‘hundreds and thousands’.

“Grandma,” queried Sam, “why didn’t we just eat the chocolate bars instead of melting them?” A question to which there were no easy answers.

On another culinary note, we were presented with a jar of ‘Sam Jam’, essentially blackberry from which he’d strained out the seeds, made for us with help from his parents The label featured a cartoon picture of his face. The jam is beautifully fruity and delicious on toast or a hot cross bun.


I shouldn’t complain, should I? Children introduce you to their world of wide-eyed wonder. Little Grace sits calmly, her eyes darting this way and that, taking in everything she sees around her.

And Samuel? I could mention his amazement at the plethora of cacti and at the golden frogs in the building housing the orchid display (much more interesting to him than the beautiful orchids that we went to see). His response to the buttons he pressed at the Horniman Museum at Forrest Hill. Firstly in the cat and dog exhibition, then in the splendid musical instrument display. The ‘storybook’ he fished out that evening, full of facts about the composition of the earth (“did you know that, Grandpa?”) And the joy of being able to ride his bicycle for a whole fifty yards unaided! Now he just has to master the brakes…

What did Jesus mean when he said that, to enter God’s Kingdom, you have to become like a little child?

3 thoughts on “Who’d be a Grandpa?

  1. You must be losing it John. Most Grandads always lose it’s the grandkid law unlike your own kids who 99.99% of the time lost board games!


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