Today I should have been looking after my grandson but both of us are ill. I have (what feels to me) like one of the worst colds in medical history. His mother reports that he just clings to her and feels sorry for himself.
So she's stayed home from work today to look after him and I've sat on my sofa drinking Lemsip. (For those of you not familiar with Lemsip it's a fluorescent yellow cold cure that tastes a bit like low-level radioactive waste.)
I've spent the day watching old movies. Funnily enough my grandson has been doing the same thing. My daughter found a DVD that used to be my grandson's favourite until it got lost. She was really pleased when she unearthed it but she soon regretted her discovery. He's been watching it over and over again for the last half hour, she told me in a slightly desperate email. Whenever I try to interest him in anything else he cries.
It seems to me that there's an awful lot of repetition in childhood, as if it were all an extended rehearsal. The main performance, every child instinctively believes, comes when you're an adult (and they can't wait to get there). We know different, of course. We know that the performance started the moment they were born and parents, far from being the stars, are just carrying around the props or sweeping up the stage.
Grandparenthood, on the other hand, is a bit like being in the audience for this wonderful performance. Unfortunately, today I missed the show and I can't tell you how sorry I am.