Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Letter to an Eight-Month Old

Dear Small Grand-daughter,
You were eight months old yesterday, and you are making so many determined efforts to be independent. Your efforts currently take you backwards as you attempt to crawl. You are poised, rocking in baby push-ups on hands and knees. When you realise, as you will at any moment now, that in order to move forwards you will have to move your hands you will probably pitch  forward on to your nose and it won't be pleasant. None of those who love you can prevent this shock and possible hurt.
It is essential for growth that we make mistakes and learn by them.
In learning to sit we fall backwards, in crawling we pitch forwards, and in walking the bumps and bashes are immeasurable.
At the moment you are still factory-fresh, protected and unmarked.
It can't stay that way.

So much of growth and learning can be disconcerting, shocking, even painful. It's going to stay this way. because it's also essential, valuable and wonderful.
I think you are already learning that life can be quite an emotional mixture.

I have been with you for a few days, enjoying proper interaction now, a lot of chat and play, some clear questions as you look for information, lots of reading and book-study (manual and oral), many, many smiles and laughs, and then some real tears because I put on my spectacles and changed from someone who is now familiar into a stranger with a different face.

You can control things. At the moment I must not wear spectacles, and your father may not wear a hat because that changes his shape, too, as the spectacles change me..
You can tell us very clearly what you like and dislike - most visibly and graphically in the way of food.
You like noise and music, especially making music with your father. You watch his hand movements and copy them, then resort to a closed fist for greater effect.
You approve of (almost) everything your mother says and does, and you like to keep an eye on her all the time, swivelling to watch her as she moves around, stilling when you hear her voice from another room.
You like cats very much and want closer contact, but fortunately they are more agile than you.
You want to see everything, be involved with everything .........and so you hate your essential daytime naps and resist them with every fibre of your being.

Your hands, which three months ago were a source of wonder to you as they moved around, are now precision tools which can pick up tiny items, a fleck of spinach or a scrap of fluff in a pincer grip and then flatten them with an open handed swipe.
Such power!
Your vision, which a few more months ago was limited to black-and-white, bold colours and shapes, can now follow the erratic flight of a bee in the garden and detect small changes in familiar items.
Your hearing is acute and you are distracted by unfamiliar sounds. Yesterday we sat together at the kitchen table, just listening and quietly commenting on sounds, a distant motorbike, a helicopter, the tattoo of fingernails on the table top, the crumpling of metallic paper, bird song.
Everything is new and fresh and interesting, and now it's beginning to make sense.
I wish you safe adventuring and endless learning, Little One.

With love from Grandma.


Jee said...

Pointing and waving are baby F's current amusements - also crawling backward! Apparently you can now buy crash helmets for crawling and toddling babies - how did we all survive to adult hood ?

Relatively Retiring said...

I am astounded - uncomfortably so - by the amount of equipment available for babies, and, according to the advertising, deemed 'essential'. How did our offspring learn to walk without it, let alone the previous generations?

Isabelle said...

How lovely! Our Louisa is still at the stage of being fascinated by her hands as they flap in and out of sight. Aren't grandchildren the best?

marigold jam said...

I'd forgotten just how much a baby needs to learn! Lovely letter I am sure your grand daughter will read it and take heed or maybe like my daughter among whose first words were "read it" she will enjoy your reading it to her!!!

Zhoen said...

When she is grown, more - when she is your age, and can hold this missive in her hands, she will know how loved she is. What I wouldn't give for something like this.

Aunt Evelyn says I had trouble with her in her glasses for a while.

Molly said...

Lovely description of babies learning and growing---aren't they amazing? I will see my little grand daughter over there this month for the first time. Your post has reminded me of all the things I will love about finally meeting her!

Frances said...

Douglas Adams spoke of the fascination of watching the baby rebooting.
Whar a lucky little girl to receive these lovely letters, RR.

Elephant's Child said...

How I wish I had known either of my grandmothers - if, that is, they were as perfectly equipped to fill the role as you are.
These letters to your grand-daughter are moving, beautiful and destined to become heirlooms.

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle, Marigold, Zhoen, Molly, Frances and E.C.: thank you all for your kind comments. I am sadly aware that, at my age, I won't see my Grand-daughter through to maturity, so this is a record of my thoughts and feelings for her. Her parents don't read this, as far as I know, so I will have to ensure that she is directed to it in due course.
The strength of feeling for a grand-child has taken me by surprise - you are right, Isabelle, and there is the bonus of being able to give undivided attention.
Thinking of reading, Marigold, both my sons used the term 'knee books' for their early reading material.

Leslee said...

So sweet, and so amazing to watch them learn and grow. Lucky you to get to spend this time with her now - and I hope you get to spend much more.

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: thank you. I am very fortunate that she has parents who want me involved.