Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

I just met my first grandson over Zoom – that and WhatsApp will have to do for now

We couldn't be happier. Well, we would be if we could be there in person. But it’s easier to handle situations when you really have no other choice

Cath and Nick Donaldson, proud new grandparents, from afar. Courtesy Nick Donaldson 
Cath and Nick Donaldson, proud new grandparents, from afar. Courtesy Nick Donaldson 

Becoming a grandparent is one of those life moments that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, but it certainly is a marker. Signifying the move from middle to old age, it's a realisation that you’re getting-on, but one wrapped in an overwhelming sea of pride and joy.

Throw the Covid lockdown and 7,500 kilometres between you and the new arrival into the equation and it becomes an emotional roller coaster.

We are among the first Gen-Xers to become grandparents, and it’s odd.

I feel I’ve been in training for this since I was a kid. I’m a natural grandad: lots of fun and little responsibility is how I roll

We are young, at least at heart, and only somewhat creaky in knee and with just the odd grey hair.

We are from the generation of hip-hop and indie, and we have always been a bit, as our parents would say: "cool".

How did we become grandad and granny? Having our oldest son, the dad, while still at art college certainly helped, but to be honest, being a grandad is my dream job.

I feel I’ve been in training for this since I was a kid. I’m a natural grandad: lots of fun and little responsibility is how I roll.

Sadly, imagining is all I’m able to do right now, until we can get on a plane and fly home to the UK to meet our new grandson. Even when we are allowed to hop on the plane, we will likely be faced with two weeks isolation back in Britain before we get that first cuddle.

If we stuck to our usual two weeks back in the UK over the summer, two weeks isolation means a quick hug at the airport just before flying back. Not ideal.

I imagine that being an expat grandparent involves a lot of missing out, even at the best of times, but the lockdown and an inability to fly means I need to employ unexpected patience for a stretch, which is thankfully tempered by my practical fatalism.

Coronavirus has presented so many problems to so many people, and so ours only rates as a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but it is something that we have had to deal with.

We battled through the long hours of labour with our son via WhatsApp, him covid-banned from the maternity unit until the business end started. He was then only allowed an hour or two with his wife and son before being banished until the following day.

We paced the floor with him throughout. But that is how it is, I can see the reasoning of why he couldn't be there, and why we can't, and I agree with it.

It’s easier to handle situations when you really have no other choice, even when the path is difficult.

So, for the foreseeable future, its Zoom, WhatsApp, virtual cuddles and virtual grandparenting.

I'm sat at my working-from-home spot in our spare bedroom with a picture of my grandson stuck next to me. Him in London, us in Abu Dhabi.

What I do know is that this too will pass, and one day he’ll be fast asleep in this very room while his parents take a well-earned break and enjoy the sun and beaches while we just, I don’t know, watch him a while.

Frank Elvis Donaldson (Yes, really). Born on 31 May, 2020. 8.5lb bruiser.

My first grandson.

Meet Frank
Meet Frank

Updated: June 3, 2020 07:26 PM

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