I’m sure pretty well every family has stories like this (well, perhaps not like this, but you know what I mean); stories which are repeated endlessly at every opportunity, especially when new people enter the family circle, teenage boy- or girl-friends, new neighbours, and so on. Over a cup of tea or a glass of wine, we tell the story, accompanied by grimaces, giggles and people finishing each other’s sentences.
This is one of my family’s such stories. This is the tale of “The Day Grandma fell in the Toy Box”.
The scene is set quite early in my childhood, when I was probably about three or so. My mother used to get a large cardboard box from the corner shop, and use it to keep my toys tidy. The box was kept in the back room of the house, known as “Grandma’s Room” because that is where Grandma sat in her old leather armchair, fairly immobilised by rheumatoid arthritis, and so always available to read a story or play a game.
One morning while I was in the front room of the house, probably playing with my breakfast, I heard Grandma calling for help. My parents were upstairs, making beds and talking quietly. They certainly couldn’t hear Grandma from where they were. I ran through into Grandma’s room to find her inexplicably sitting in my toy box, folded neatly at the waist, with her feet dangling in the air. I thought this was rather odd; she was struggling to get out without success.
Grandma had some heavy, full length curtains over the window and French doors in her room. The French doors opened out into the garden, which meant they were rather draughty in winter because they weren’t fully sealed. My toy box sat in front of the French windows, and Grandma had tripped and fallen into it when drawing back the curtains. Now she was stuck, and laughing at her predicament. I seem to remember my main concern was for my teddies, Big Ted and Little Ted, who were in the box underneath my grandmother.
I tried to pull her out but was completely unable to move her; in fact I seemed to make it worse, no doubt making her aching joints twinge with pain as I tugged her arms. Anyway, she told me to go and get my parents. Off I went to the foot of the stairs and called out.
“What is it?” asked my mother.
“Grandma’s in my toy box,” I said, accurately, but probably not very convinvingly.
“Don’t be silly!” my mother retorted.
Well, that was that. I went back to tell Grandma that for some reason my parents didn’t believe me. She just laughed again and said we had better wait.
A few minutes later my parents came back down to find Grandma was, indeed, as I had told them, in the toy box. All the grown-ups were laughing at this point, and they hauled her out and sat her down with a cup of tea. My dad said they would believe me next time! Grandma didn’t suffer any ill effects, although I am sure she was a bit sore from it. I am pleased to report Big and Little Teds were both safe and sound as well.
I like to remember that story, because although it sounds banal to tell it in this medium (you can’t do the voices properly like this), what I do remember is how amused everyone was. My poor Grandma must have been really very uncomfortable, but she was able to laugh at herself and the situation – while I, as an indignant three year old, was quite annoyed until I learned from her that actually it was nothing to get upset about.
I suppose the sub-title of the tale is “The day I discovered how stupid adults are”.