Opinion: I love being a young grandad - just ask my knees

PUBLISHED: 11:32 25 November 2017

Steven Downes enjoying being a grandfather...

Steven Downes enjoying being a grandfather...


Opinion: So some people might be shocked at MP Angela Rayner being a gran at 37. But Steven Downes says: good luck to her.

When my Mum had my brother, then me, in her late 20s, she was surrounded by younger mothers and considered to be pretty old.

In the early 1970s, having your first baby in your late teens or early 20s was far from uncommon.

Fast-forward to when my two boys were born when I was 25 and 27, and the sands had shifted. I was seen as a very young father.

By the time many of my friends had started to produce offspring, mine were growing up fast.

And so, while some of my mates are chasing toddlers at the age of 43, I’m playing football and going to the pub with my stepchildren and children.

I’m also chasing a toddler - my lovely granddaughter, Isla.

To be honest, it can be pretty tiring (the football and the toddler-trailing). But it’s great to be able to do it at such a relatively young age.

I can actually kneel on the floor to join Isla in playing with her toys. It goes well, as long as she doesn’t try to take them from me.

The other day, she and I were clambering over the pirate ship play equipment on Cromer seafront. I must’ve looked ridiculous, but I was loving it.

If the trend of delaying parenthood continues, my friends will be in their 70s before they have their first grandchild. And I can guarantee that they won’t be doing any chasing or clambering.

I, on the other hand, will be celebrating the arrival of my latest great-grandchild.

Someone who is ahead of me is Labour MP Angela Rayner, who this week became a grandma at age 37.

Shocking, isn’t it? Er, no. Actually, I think it’s tremendous.

First up, there’s an MP who can draw on the experience of being a mum at 16 and a gran at 37. It’s real, gritty and human - unlike the Oxbridge bubble too many have floated around in.

Second, she is going to have an absolute ball being a young gran.

She’ll get plenty of opportunities to preen herself as people mistake her for the baby’s mum (I have had the odd comment about being a dad instead of a granddad, but I prefer not to encourage it, as it’s cruel to Isla).

She has already given herself the nickname Grangela, which sounds a bit like a monster mother from Game of Thrones. I’m trying to decide between Greve and Standad.

Circumstances are different for everybody, but I do worry that too many people are postponing having children for too long.

Mortgage, career, car and other things are hugely important, but people shouldn’t automatically push parenthood to the bottom of the list.

I loved having the energy of a young dad and love having the (diminishing) energy of a young granddad.

I guess it’s a coin toss: do our children benefit more from having younger parents, or is it more enriching to have older parents and a bigger house?

I’d say get started young if you can, and worry about the rest as you go.

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