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A special bond

A child's drawing of a grandmother and grandchild

“I raised my children, and now’s the time to just enjoy having my grandkids.”

Linda, Nanny to 14 grandchildren, discusses her special bond with her great-grandson, Cayden.



Linda, a member of the Age UK Telephone Friendship Service, is Nanny to 14 grandchildren, but she has a special connection with her youngest great-grandchild, five-year-old Cayden. Here, she explains why she cherishes their time together.

Linda.jpegI look after my great-grandson Cayden about three or four times a week. He starts school in September, so he won't be here as much – I shall miss him.

Cayden loves coming here. He’s always asking his mum, “When am I going down Nanny's?” When he arrives, he runs through the gate, into the front room, and jumps straight onto the settee. He makes himself right at home.

I love having the grandkids over. If I didn’t have the kids to look after, I might as well say goodbye. They keep me going; I don't know where I'd be without them.

Supporting the younger generation

Speaking from experience, I think grandparents sometimes look after the children more than their mothers do during the day because the mums often have to work.

That’s the case with Cayden's mum, my granddaughter. She’s a single parent and she needs to work to support her family. Without our help, I don’t think she’d cope.

She’s very grateful for me looking after Cayden. She always says she doesn’t know how to thank me but I tell her, “There's no need to thank me – it's my pleasure.”

Teaching each other new games

Cayden plays on his tablet when he’s here. He goes on to these games, and he says, “Come on Nanny, play with me”. I tell him that I'm none the wiser when it comes to playing games like that and when I try it, he tells me, “See, you've gone and pressed the wrong button!”

We play chess together, too. He started playing with my husband, who taught him the basics and since then, he's been getting better and better. It’s lucky I know how to play! It takes about an hour for us to play a game together.

Going on adventures

We go out and about together as well. He loves going to the shops with me. We'll go in the shops together to buy him some sweets, and then we head home.

I hope it’s one of those special memories he’ll have of being with his nan. I’ve told him that when he gets a bit bigger, he won't be able to ride on the scooter. He tells me, “Well, I'll be able to walk properly by then, so that’s OK!”

On best behaviour at Nanny’s house

Cayden’s very thoughtful for a five-year-old; he’s very caring. If I've got a headache and I ask him to be quieter for five minutes, he gives me a cuddle and he kisses my head. Then he takes himself off for an hour until I feel better.

He has got a strong personality, though. The other day I asked him if he was being naughty and he says, “No, I’m not – I don't do naughty things near you!” When I asked him if that meant that he was naughty with his mum, he said, “That's different!” Kids, eh?

He's got his own personality, but he knows what's right and what's wrong. If he’s playing up, I don’t shout at him or anything like that. I sit him on the settee and I explain things to him. And he listens, that's the thing; he listens to me because I’m his nan.

Wishing I could watch over them forever

I do worry about all my family – especially about what’s going to happen when I’m gone. The other day, Cayden came up to me and asked, “When are you going to die?” I asked him why he wanted to know, and he said, “because I'm going to miss you and I don't want you to die.” He told me, “I might give you a big kiss, and it might make you come back.” I had tears in my eyes when he said that.

I explained that I'm not going to be here forever, but I said to him, “I'm going to try very hard to stay alive and be with you until you are at least 14 or 15.” He looked at me, gave me a big kiss, and said, “I'll take you up on that!”

At this age, he's just curious. He wants to know what life is and what death is. We don't really know what it’s all about, but I just wish I knew for definite that after I died, I’d be able to look down to see him – that I’d be able to see all my grandkids as they're getting older and know that they're going to be alright.

Looking after grandchildren is so different to raising children; they're my pleasure. I raised my children, and now’s the time to just enjoy having my grandkids – just being with them.

Volunteer to become a telephone friend

The Age UK Telephone Friendship Service is here to support weekly 30-minute calls between an older person and a volunteer. We need more volunteers to ensure we can provide every older person who needs our support with a telephone friend.

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Last updated: Oct 02 2022

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