On Thursday I answered a phone call from my eldest daughter.
All I could hear on the other end of the call was a loud wailing, which eventually subsided, to be replaced with incoherent babbling. I managed to make out the words "boys", "shouting", "mess", "fighting" and "running away from home" - which seemed to apply to her, not the aforementioned boys.
I looked at the calendar. Yep, school holidays, week one.
When the sounds on the other end of the call had quietened down to what seemed to be a humming and rocking noise, beyond which I could hear the thundering of feet and children yelling, I asked her "which one of them do you currently like the least?"
She replied "the littlest one."
"He won't wear clothes, he put his breakfast on his head, he won't stop talking and I think he might be a victim of demonic possession".
Surely not, I told her.
The littlest grandson is four, with blonde curls and wide blue eyes and a cherubic face. He couldn't possibly be annoying.
"I'm coming to get him," I told her. "He can have a sleepover with Nannie and Grandad."
Her fervent repetitions of "thank you, thank you ..." drowned out my goodbyes.
I went and collected the grandchild. It took me only five minutes to get there but he was already dressed, packed and parked, bouncing and squealing, on the front doorstep to be collected.
"Gosh, someone is keen," I said to my daughter.
"Yes," she replied. "Me".
Littlest grandson was excited. "Where are we going?" he asked. "To my house," I replied.
"What?" he asked. "To my house," I repeated. "Why?" he asked. "Because it's holidays and I want a visit from one of my favourite boys," I told him. "Who?" he asked. "You," I answered. "Why?" he replied.
I had to get out of the car then to open the gate. Then I got back in.
"What were you doing, Nannie?" he asked. "Opening the gate," I told him. "Why?" he asked. "So we can drive through it" I explained. "What?" he said. "So we can drive through the gateway and go to the house."
We drove through the gateway and got to the house. Littlest grandson insisted on getting himself out of the car and helping me to close the gate. It was very cute. Then we carried his bags inside.
"What are you doing Nannie?"
"Carrying your bags inside."
"So you can have your clothes and toys inside the house."
I decided it was time to feed the chickens. The grandkids love to feed the chickens. They love to collect the eggs too. Usually we get three a day.
When the boys are staying we get three also, but sometimes only two make it into the house. Or on the day that the eldest was so pleased with the two eggs he was holding that he clapped his hands - just one.
On Thursday there were three eggs, and a prone chicken.
"That chicken is dead," said the grandson. "No, it's just sitting on the ground," I told him.
"No, it's dead," he said. And as it happened, it was.
"Why is the chicken dead, Nannie?"
"Because it was old."
"Why was it old, Nannie?"
"Because it had lived a long time."
"What long time, Nannie?"
I decided it was time to run the dogs. As I am babysitting some extras, there are currently eight dogs.
Grandson classifies them according to colour. One black one he calls the black one. The other black one, he tell me, is white. According to him, the rest are all grey.
"What's this one's name, Nannie?"
"And what's the black one called?"
"And what's the white one called?"
"It's black and it's Tam."
"And what's this one called, Nannie?"
"That's Mungo again."
Grandson helped run the dogs. Then he helped feed the dogs. Then he "helped" put them away. He "helped" cook himself bacon and eggs (one brown egg and one white egg ... "why is one brown and one white, Nannie") and then he watched the bacon and eggs get cold while he filled up on two cups of Milo ("why is it Milo, Nannie?).
Then he refused to get into the bath, then he refused to get out of the bath. Then he refused to go to bed ("why do I have to go to bed?"), went to bed, fell immediately asleep and finally looked cherubic.
He was up bright and early the next morning, appearing behind me as I popped out to put washing in the dryer.
"What are you doing, Nannie?"
"Ringing your mother" I answered him and I rang his mother.
My daughter answered the phone. I told her her littlest son had had a lovely time and so had I, but I really, really thought it was time he went home now.
"Why?" she asked me.
When I could speak coherently again we packed up and I took the littlest grandson home.
"Why am I going home?" he asked me.
"Because Nannie needs to go to work now," I told him.
"Why do you need to go to work?" he asked.
"Nannie needs to go to work for some peace and quiet," I answered.
"Why?" he asked.
"Ask your mother." I said.