my parents are staying with us for five days to look after the children while we go to a wedding and a 40th birthday party.
MY PARENTS are staying with us for five days to look after the children while we go to a wedding and a 40th birthday party.
Five days does seem a bit excessive, but when we were planning it with them several months ago, this seemed the logical way of doing it.
Part of the reasoning was that my mum and dad are very green-fingered and have been insistent that they want to spend a couple of days sorting out the garden we have acquired with our new house.
Given that my gardening instincts extend little further than making sure I wipe the mud off my feet before coming back in from putting the washing out, I decide to let them.
The first few hours after they arrive remind me of the little idiosyncracies that I got used to as a child but have now lost their familiarity and just seem a bit strange.
My dad kicks things off by taking a tour of the new house and announcing that it has “a lot of potential”.
Given that I spent over a week redecorating it from top to bottom and we have bought new furniture to fill it, I’m not quite sure how much potential still remains untapped.
But then I remember that this is the same man who took in my sister’s very smart new flat in an expensive area of London and the only thing he had to say was that he liked the blind in the spare bedroom.
At this point my sister pointed out that this had been the only item left in the flat when she moved in and didn’t take it as a particular compliment.
For my parents’ visit the heating controls have also had to be altered so that the temperature in our living room is on a par with the meerkat enclosure at Tropical World.
On their first evening with us we watch a film together. While I sit there in a T-shirt, however, I notice that my dad is wearing four layers of clothing, including a thick jumper and zip-up fleece. When I ask if I can turn the heating off he looks at me as though I’ve stolen his pension.
In the bathroom, a bar of Imperial Leather soap has also appeared by the side of the sink. This is because my father insists he can’t get a “proper wash” with the handsoap and shower gel we have provided.
By the second day, my children are refusing to use anything other than “grandad’s soap” when they wash their hands.
Then there is my dad’s habit of putting things in “safe places” and then forgetting where those “safe places” were.
On the night we go to the birthday party, I leave my car keys on the kitchen table in case he needs to move it off the driveway to get to his. The next day, it takes four of us half-an-hour to find them again.
“I think the children must have put them there,” he says when they’re finally located.
The children look unconvinced, but they still insist on using his soap.