Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Letter to a Five Month-Old
Dear Small Grand-daughter,
It is hard to believe that you have been here for only five months, such a complete person, so clear in your needs and wants, and now so interested in everything around you.
Is it possible that your age is still measured in weeks when I think of what you have learned since your birth?
Is it possible to think of you in terms of weeks when I think of how you have changed our lives, and when I see what you have managed to acquire?
Your parents used to toss a few things into their hatch-back car and go off for a day. Now you and they travel in their camper-van, and even that is not always enough for your equipment.....the pushchair, the travel cot, the changing mat and all its accessories, the changes of clothing, the toys, the jingly things you like, the owl with rustling wings. You sit in your padded seat, surrounded, protected, safe in your red coat with black spots, a ladybird.
Weeks it is, and only weeks since your parents could have a lie-in at the weekends, and I was careful never to ring too early. Last weekend I came downstairs early to find you and your father sitting beside the fire, reading a book about a pig and a frog who apparently have a meaningful relationship and are trying to find a way to live together. You were both rather interested, in your different ways.
Later in the day a couple of your father's old school friends came to visit. One of them brought his son, a week or two younger than you, a cool dude in two-inch long Nike trainers and a pirate bib patterned with skulls and cross-bones. You and he glared at each other, but how wonderful to see these men proudly displaying their babies. Oh, how the very young and innocent can change lives.
Your parents went out for a meal, the first time in five months that they have done so without you.
I felt the most interesting weight of grand-motherhood as we spent a few hours together. Not only is there the joyfully huge responsibility of caring for you, but the extra layer of responsibility towards your parents. Grand-motherhood seems weightier than motherhood, lovelier, infinitely precious.
With age I become more aware of the fleeting quality of life and the preciousness of time. I want to hold it back a bit, to say, 'Don't change too much. Stay like this a little longer'. But you can't and you won't.
You beam when you see me, and that is the most amazing thing.
I know your father used to do it too, and still does on occasion, but from you it is more profound. Because I don't see you so very often I am deeply touched by your interest in me, and in my house. You want to be held and carried round to look very carefully at everything.
There is a great deal to look at in this house. You know where there are prisms in a sunny window, and you have seen the magic of rainbows fluttering round the room when the sun shines. As you are carried into the room you twist around to see them.
There are specific things in each room that you know are there, and you know how to turn towards them - the clocks, the mirrors, the Chinese cat that waves good fortune your way. You know where they are, yet you have only visited here a very few times.
How can you possibly know so much?
What entrances you most at the moment are your hands and feet. You analyse your hands, moving regally from the wrist. You can grasp both feet and get them up to your mouth. Your hands and feet must seem as magical as the fluttering rainbows.
Your life is full of wonder and discovery.
Long, long may it stay that way.
With love from Grandma.