How a late-night emergency text turned into good fortune for Ollie

Grandma Lorna and Grandad Ron are on babysitting duties to let Ollie and Lizzie have a rare night out to celebrate their wedding anniversary. It isn’t all plain sailing, but it hadn’t got out of control until Ron sent a text…

Ron’s head was ringing. Grandson Jack had been screaming, on and off, for almost 90 minutes. The only pauses were for a couple of minutes when he fell asleep on the shoulder of whichever grandparent happened to be pacing the lounge with him at the time.

Refreshed, after a two or three-minute catnap, he would resume his screaming.

“There’s nothing wrong with him,” Lorna said again. “That’s an angry cry. He’s annoyed because he’s woken up and found we’re here instead of his parents. And he’s tired; look at him.”

“Not having eyes where I keep my ears, I can’t see him,” said Ron. “And anyway, I think there might be something wrong. He’s in pain. He might be teething,” he added, drawing on his limited knowledge of small children, which had been gleaned when Ollie was a similar age almost three decades earlier.

Text message
Ron’s phone chirruped in his pocket. “Text message,” he said, and started trying to fumble the device into his hand. Lorna jumped up and pushed her hand into his pocket, pulling the phone clear. “It’s from Lizzie. You’ve sent her a message and asked her to come home. What did you do that for? We are managing perfectly well. They’ll never ask us to babysit again, now you’ve told her we can’t cope.”

“I haven’t told her any such thing,” Ron protested. “I just said he was crying, that was all.”

“And she’s his mother. What did you expect her to do? Order more prosecco and drink a toast? Of course, she’s coming home. Give him to me.”

A silence descended over the room, unless you count Jack’s lusty screaming, interspersed with its moments of slumber. Lorna rubbed Jack’s back, and shot frosty glances at her husband, who suspected there would be words when they eventually got home.

After a while the spells of slumber grew longer, and the screams subsided to be substituted with soft snoring.

Asleep at last
“There,” said Lorna, in a forceful whisper. “I told you he was angry. He’s got over it now, and he’s asleep. You’ve brought them back from their dinner date for no reason.”

“I thought it was for the best,” Ron protested feebly. “At the time.”

“You’ve got all the patience of a, of a…,” she said, struggling for a metaphor. “You’ve got no patience. Fancy sending a text like that. You know Jack can have a bit of a temper.”

“And where does he get THAT from?” He was spared any response to his reckless question by the sound of the front door opening, heralding the arrival of Lizzie and Ollie.

Lizzie came into the room. “He’s asleep,” she said.

“Yes,” said Ron. “Sorry. Shall I wake him up?”

“NO!” said all three other adults at once.


Lorna spoke. “We didn’t mean to break up your evening, but Dad thought you’d want to be here, if Jack was poorly.”

“He’s not,” said Lizzie. “He gets angry with me sometimes too. And I knew he was in good hands.” Lorna smiled, and Ron said sorry again, adding: “Look, we’d be happy to babysit another time soon, and you can go out for a meal and we promise we won’t disturb you. I’ll even pay the bill,” he said.

Ollie beamed. “Thanks very much Dad. That’s really kind. You’re on. How about next Saturday? Anyway, there was no harm done. We’d finished eating and we were in the car park on our way home when your text landed. But thanks for the offer. It’d be a shame not to take you up on it.”

“We’d love to,” said Lorna.

“Hang on; but…” said Ron.

“As I said, we’d love to. Same time?” asked Lorna.