Sunday, 16 March 2014

Letter to a Grand-Daughter - Bye Bye Babyhood!

Dear Small Grand-Daughter,
There's a twinge of sadness in bidding farewell to your babyhood, and a high level of joy in greeting your
all-singing, all-dancing, walking, talking, climbing, splashing, laughing, yelling, gleeful, totally interactive toddler-hood.

It all happened so quickly.
One minute you were lying on a sheepskin, sucking your toes, and the next you're mastering light-switches and door knobs........ and I'm not even going to mention mobile phones and touch-screens.

I have always respected your self-awareness, and now it's even more apparent. You assess what you can do, and then you do it carefully. A month ago you took some hesitant sideways steps, crablike, in my house.
How we applauded, and how you joined in the applause, knowing achievement when you felt it in the strengthening knees and spine.
Then you took your time, developed your skills. Now you march about, turning, carrying things, stamping in puddles, confident and skilled. But when you approach the steps down into the kitchen, or out of the front door you go into careful reverse-crawling mode.
Wise child.

Knowledgeable child.
How do you know so much?
How do you know that a cartoon giraffe in a book is the same animal as a giraffe photograph in another book? You've never seen a real giraffe, and it might be quite a shock when you do.
I know the theories of concept formation, and I must have witnessed it happening before in your father and his brother, but somehow, in you, it seems even more magical, more powerful.
Oh, the power of grand-parenthood, when somebody thinks you're wonderful.
Which you are.
Never doubt it.

You pick up my ultra-special silver pen (which no one else is allowed to touch) and you draw a spirited abstract in my ultra-special One-Sketch-a-Day book ( which, need I say it, no one else would be allowed to do). You draw in lively fashion but within the small confines of the space for the day. You study it for a moment, then give me back my pen. You take the pen again to check that you have clicked it off and then point out my ultra-special pen case, making sure I put it away properly.
You are sixteen months old.

Then we go outside and examine some very stale water in some discarded plant pots. Everything is interesting, everything is worthy of detailed examination.
You throw the water about a bit, you plunge your arm in and get soaked, you stamp in the water on the path. You shout and jig about because you are in need of music, a bit more entertainment.

We go back inside and after a brief skirmish over washing, you have a snack. Blueberries eaten one at a time, biscuits picked to bits and thrown to the cat, milk drunk boldly and gluggingly from a two handled mug, like a Tudor serving wench. You roar with laughter at my jokes, you screech with delight at the other cat who pushes his way through the cat flap. You struggle to get out of your restraining seat. You want to get through the cat-flap yourself.
I know you.
You are sixteen months old and many people think you're wonderful.
Which you are.
Always remember that,

With love from Grandma.


Elephant's Child said...

I don't know who I envy more. You for the magical soul you are sharing time with or her for the love, and these letters to prove just how cherished she is.

Zhoen said...

Oh, I have no doubt, I would I were your granddaughter. Although, I think Aunt Alma felt much the same of me. Took no offense, let me be myself.

Relatively Retiring said...

E.C. and Zhoen: pure delight for all concerned (with the possible exception of the cats). Also exhausting. When I got back home I slept for 12 hours.
Glad you had Aunt Alma, Zhoen.

Jee said...

My grandmother - the only grandparent I knew - was distant to say the least. But she did a few things for me that I still cherish even if she wasn't warm and loving. I'm sad for her now I'm a granny that she didn't have the enjoyment from her grandchildren (or her children).
I too am finding this 17 -18 month stage seems so much more exciting than it did with my daughter. Have we just got more time or are we older and wiser. Either way, to be recognised in a shop or carpark with a glowing smile and excited dancing as one walks towards a grandchild is just magical.

Leslee said...

How delightful. And what care - to check to be sure the pen is clicked! Lucky you to have her near to watch her grow, and lucky her to have you to give her all your love.

Relatively Retiring said...

Jee: I think it's because of more time, and the degree of separation....especially to be able to come home and sleep for twelve hours!
Leslee: there was a wonderful contrast in being so careful with the pen, and so reckless with the dirty water. She's learning to appreciate degrees of important.

Peregrina said...

This photograph brings back decades-old memories of little bodies hauling themselves up onto the sofa, flopping face-down onto the cushions, then turning round and sitting up, smiling triumphantly at the tremendous achievement.

And what a remarkable achievement it was! Just a few months previously they hadn't even been able to sit unaided and a few months before that their necks hadn't been strong enough to support the weight of their heads.

Relatively Retiring said...

Peregrina - yes, for us the equivalent of climbing up on to a very tall chest of drawers. A triumph indeed. I hope she is always as proud of her achievements and will always give herself a round of applause, as she does now (but perhaps more discreetly!).

pohanginapete said...

These letters are extraordinary in so many respects. I'm not sure what I can say, other than pointing out that the subject herself isn't the only pure delight.

Relatively Retiring said...

P.Pete: thank you, and I really hope you two meet up some time.

Isabelle said...

Beautifully put! I feel just the same about my two. As a granny, you have time to observe in detail. It's such a compensation for being older and creakier...

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle; that's so true. Your time is the best thing you can give to grandchildren.

Jenny Woolf said...

What a delightful and loving post - you bring her entirely to life for me. And an adorable picture.

Relatively Retiring said...

Jenny: thank you. She's changing every day. My daughter-in-law has warned me that she's now running everywhere so I need to plan ahead for the weekend visit.

Fire Bird said...

what a joy to read this, and the photograph too!

Relatively Retiring said...

Firebird: thank you - a powerful character in a small package!