As I write this from my apartment on the banks of the recently opened canal in Business Bay, Dubai (I am told it is Dubai’s Manhattan), my thoughts go once again to my three grandchildren. My husband and I are lucky to have two girls and a boy, growing up fast. Having just packed my case to the brim for my annual February half term visit, (something I have done each year since the birth of number one grand-daughter) in readiness to fly early tomorrow morning, I start to think of the past ten years and the changes made by moving to live in the Middle East.
My thoughts are only with our family in England as I plan my next flight to the mother country which is no longer our home. We made that cutting of the umbilical cord over ten years ago. Now when I think of England my thoughts are always with our grandchildren and our three boys, of course. The boys are all in good jobs and married (always a bonus these days), and the grandchildren are growing up, with the youngest, the boy, eleven and the two girls, one rapidly approaching thirteen and the eldest now fifteen. I don’t envy their parents dealing with three teenagers in the years to come; there are two years between each. As a family, they have travelled every year to southern France to holiday with us in our home in the Limousin. I have treasured photographs of the children taken each summer sitting on the wide window ledge beside the blue shutters outside the house. The changes from childhood to almost adulthood can be seen by these photographs which is why they are so special.
This coming week will be filled with making things, cooking, reading stories and a bit of glitter thrown in for good measure. This annoys son number one, the children’s father, but it hoovers up without any bother and always provides entertainment on a rainy day. As they grow older, however, my story readings are becoming less and less. They can read extremely well on their own. The glittering is something they do as it pleases Grandma. I know this, but ignore it, as we sit and talk together while concentrating on production. We still like to make up stories together thank goodness.
Whilst living in Doha two years ago, a busy, traffic filled dusty city, I made the decision not to drive due to the appalling local drivers I’d observed. Instead, I started to write stories for the youngest grandson. I couldn’t find anything on the internet to read to him that didn’t feature vampires, zombies and farting – not that there is anything wrong with those featuring in children’s stories – but not great at bedtime when you want them to have a nightmare free sleep.
The children visited us here in Dubai, early in our adventure as ‘ex-pats’ abroad. The youngest was almost two, so they came while he was under the free flight age with our local airline, and the girls young enough to enjoy wearing the airline stewardesses’ hats. We have the photograph of them smiling and welcoming other passengers on board. Our grandson, however, being a sturdy toddler was not having any of the hat wearing; he wanted to walk all the way to Dubai on board the aircraft. Our son and daughter-in-law arrived exhausted. We packed in a fun filled week with them. Dune bashing, camel riding, dinner cruise along the creek and visits to the local water park where our eldest grand-daughter was given a round of applause by people watching her take on the death slide – an almost vertical, long drop into the water, not attempted by adults who arrived at the top only to climb back down. Respect for one aged seven!