“I think you two have been party to a monumental work of fiction,” WhatsApped Grannie, her weekend-shift looking after the devil child over. “He was sunny natured, was fully dressed by the time I got up, came upstairs for his breakfast, brushed his hair and did his teeth without being told.”

What? Who is she talking about? I wondered. He’s done his teeth in the morning? This is unheard of. I’d long ago given up trying to get him to do his teeth twice a day. It just wasn’t worth the grief.

There was more.

“He has been amazingly polite, and put his plate in the dishwasher and tidied up after himself without being asked. He’s a delight.”

She added: “My jaw dropped when he washed, dried and put away his crockery.”

To add insult to injury: “Without being asked.”

Who is this child? Did she pick up the wrong one from school on Friday?

Balls to that

The wife and I were taking a well-earned break in that Berlin. (Thoroughly recommended, by the way – if you like war and terror. The beer and nightlife is worth the trip alone, though.)

“We have had no fall out from him coming to yours at all in the lead up to going away,” the wife replied. “He has been remarkably happy and accepting.”

This, indeed, was true. Unexpected for sure, but I’d have given my right bollock (or maybe the left) if someone had promised me that scenario beforehand.

“Yup, he’s relaxed,” responded the child whisperer. “There was an iffy moment when we couldn’t get the Xbox to work, which he coped with amazingly well. But we sorted it out between us so he is very cheerful now. Might not be when I mention the bedtime word… ”

Quickly followed by: “He’s already ready for stories. Blimey!”

A series of expletives on our side followed.

The Xbox scenario was brought home to me even more this weekend, as DS1 raged – screaming at the top of his voice, throwing cushions around the lounge and calling me all the names under the sun – because the Internet had crashed.

“Calm down,” I said. “I’ll just reboot it and it’ll be up and running again in no time.”

“I won’t calm down,” he railed. 

True to his word, he didn’t – until the internet kicked back into life. 

Flat chance

The Sunday we were away brought yet more revelations.

“Showered and homework done before lunch without any argument.”

Before lunch? Is this for real? What happened to, ‘I can’t do my homework before 6pm’ or ‘I can only shower at the last-possible moment before bedtime’?

Surely the homework couldn’t have been done that well, I secretly hoped. I know that’s wrong but why does Grannie not get to go through hell like us? Not because I want her to have a bad time, obviously, but so she gets a better understanding of what it’s like for us. OK, maybe I wanted some schadenfreude – I was in Germany after all.

“He brought [his homework] down to the kitchen of his own accord, but refused to let me look at it or help. He refused point blank to let me see the spellings.” 

Of his own accord? Still, he refused to let her look at it. That must mean he hasn’t done it properly. There’s certainly no way he could have done his spelling sentences without major assistance. That’s an hour-long pulling teeth fest, which despite our best intentions ends up with us dictating a sentence to him – once he’s happy with one we’ve suggested. Most get rejected for being ridiculous. Pot and kettle there.

After picking DS1 up from school on the Monday, I eagerly opened his homework books, hoping Grannie had scored at least one fail.

But it was pretty much perfect. All his spelling sentences were completed, well-thought out and even made sense – he’d even got extra house-points for them.

How is this possible? Maybe the worm had turned.

We talked about his weekend with Grannie. He waxed relatively enthusiastically about it and even admitted he’d done his teeth twice a day.

“Is that because Grannie asked you to?” I asked.

He concurred.

“What about if I ask you?”

“Yeah, good one dad.”

We have reverted to type.

I wouldn’t normally advocate my mother-in-law moving in, but I’m drawing up plans for a Grannie flat.


  • Sherry

    Phil, STOP! Better to draw up plans for a Grandson flat at HER house!!!! Priorities, mate!

    • Lorna Handley

      I am liking your style!

    • Phil Clisby

      Good point. I’ll start packing his bags.

  • Clive

    Brilliant! I behave when I stay with his granny!

    • Phil Clisby

      Me too. She is very scary.


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