“No Poppy! Leave Grandad’s muesli alone!”
When my stepdaughter, Layla, and her wee ones came to visit us back in the summer, this statement almost had me spraying my breakfast over the table as though I’d been whacked across the back of the skull with the blunt end of Death's scythe.
I picked a few loose oat flakes out of my beard and cardigan, wriggled my toes inside my slippers and reflected on how old I suddenly felt.
While most of the time it’s taken in my stride, occasionally it strikes me as all a bit odd. Maggie is 9 years older than me and had three children already with her when we first met. They are now aged 19, 22 and 24, and my 22-year-old stepdaughter has 2 children of her own. I clearly remember the day, nearly two years ago, when Layla asked me if I wanted to be called “Grandad or Grandpa” and all I could think was that both sounded too bloody old to me.
Added to that, Maggie was the baby of her family, with her brothers being a decade or so older than her. This meant that back in the summer, at my in-law’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary, one of the prime topics of conversation was about early retirement.
So despite the fact that I am in fact only 39, it’s not uncommon to feel like I’m at least a generation older.
And there are days, usually when I’m feeling a bit low and flat, and wondering if I’m ever actually going to do anything decent with my life, that I hear the phrase “No Poppy! Leave Grandad’s muesli alone!” echoing around my skull, and I feel terribly old indeed.