The grandparents keep young families going

Grandparents give you cancer. Many of us heard this news on the radio last week as we bundled our children into their coats, their hats, the hat with ears, why do all kids’ hats have ears?

What’s behind H&M’s grand plan to turn every child under five into a rodent by new year, they’re kids for God’s sake, let them live.

And the news was that, in a world where childcare costs are unaffordable, and almost 2 million grandparents have given up jobs to look after grandchildren, the twist is that as well as being essential, valuable cogs in the kids’ lives, these kindly pensioners are also killing them.

Killing them with their sedentary lifestyles, their passive smoke, their bottomless biscuit jar.

This study by the University of Glasgow was reported as though these people, with their yoga bodies – you know, grandparents really don’t look like the illustrations in the books any more, these days they’re younger than their daughters – had practically rigged their houses up like Macauley Culkin at Christmas, a series of terrible traps sure to result in obesity or death.

Not that my daughter’s grandparents do this, of course. Not that they give her treats as reward for tasks as mundane as pulling up her tights properly.

Not that whole sections of their kitchens could be mistaken for small town sweet shops, with varieties of chocolate previously only seen in the hand luggage of web designers returning from Tokyo.

Not that she learned the lyrics to the entire film of Oliver! off the telly and how to unlock an iPhone while her dad was on a double shift, or that on holiday we realised she was calmly drinking pink wine at 18 months.

Not that my daughter’s grandparents bought special espresso cups for her “babyccinos”, or that she thinks pudding is a kind of post-dessert, the second in a menu of three, or that the base note of her smell is KitKat. Continue reading

  • Eva Wiseman is commissioning editor on the Observer magazine.
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