This being a Granny is serious stuff. I need to be fun, interesting, a good friend, endlessly patient. I have to get behind parental ‘rules’ – how tantrums need to be managed, what to do when he won’t eat his tea, how much freedom to give him. And one from my own list – helping him understand how relationships work – and that includes him being a great partner.

Learning how to be a great partner - grandparenting for the modern ageI hope one day he’ll fall in love and want to live with/marry another person. And if he does, I want to be there – batty granny up the corner telling everyone who’ll listen about the times he wandered around the garden with nothing on. I might even see if I can claim the position of ‘flower girl’ – should be right up my street, dropping stuff on the floor!

But I must be able to look that person in the eye, knowing that Barry really is a modern bloke. I never wanted to spend my life looking after another adult and, if they have any sense, neither will his new love. So he just needs to assume he’s do the cooking, washing and ironing…… No time like the present – let’s get going.

Let’s sort the priorities

Our Barry has loved a broom from the outset so that’s a good sign. In truth anything that has buttons is Grandparenting - Entertaining Barry - day to day grannyfocus of attention, so vacuum, dishwasher and washing machine come high on his list of exciting toys. He’s just worked out he can push the kitchen steps and climb up to the sink where there is water and all manner of weird and wonderful ‘stuff’. That’s a real winner and the ‘WOW’ of delight always makes me chuckle.

We’ll get to sorting the colours from the whites later on, but he already likes putting stuff in the washing drum: I’ve discovered that some wooden toys was really well thank heaven! Hand washing the cashmere is also on my list of learns, because even if he doesn’t buy it for himself, I’ll be on the case. Mind you, he’s a real ‘hot’ body, so he may not welcome my ministrations. Can you imagine it – ‘oh no, Gran got me cashmere again – when will she learn!’ Mind you, if his chosen person is a ‘cold’ body, they’re going to think I’m great!

Learning to cook

Learning how to be a great partner - grandparenting for the modern age
This won’t be too far away. His mum used to love making ‘mixtures’. All the out of date packets in the cupboard would go in with a large spoon of powder paint to make it interesting and she would spend hours chatting away and doing ‘stuff’. As soon as Barry’s learnt that not everything goes in his mouth, we’ll be on our way.

My guess is that chocolate brownies will be early favourites. I have lovely memories of licking the bowl and I’d hate to deprive him of that. But we need not to stop at cakes. Quiche is a good one – his Dad makes a mean one, so he should be fine with that one.

Cooking the meat will have to be grandads job. Not to mention putting together a good old fashioned Ulster soup full of barley and beans, accompanied by our very own magic ingredient: raucous choruses of ‘Oats and beans and barley grow’.

Stacking the dishwasher

Learning how to be a great partner - grandparenting for the modern ageNow we’re into the serious stuff. This is an art form in the house of granny and grandad. The aim is to get as much in before switching on, thereby saving water and electricity. It’s like a glorious jigsaw puzzle that means it’s full to the gunnels well before a dishwasher tablet touches the sides. He’ll have to pay close attention and learn the exact places that get maximum benefit. Imagine: ‘what did your granny teach you?’ Never mind love, honour, be trustworthy – ‘she taught me how to pack a good dishwasher.’

Social graces

He already knows the value of a smile and a cuddle – the perfect way to wrap me round his little finger. The rest will come later – the delight of a cuppa and a chat; watching a good film together; walking the dogs; being ready to listen and understand; noticing when someone is off colour; generally sharing the love.

We’ll get there and I’ll be able to look his ‘other’ in the eye, knowing Barry is well worth a punt and ready to share the love of a lifetime.

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