Monday, 6 July 2015

Letter to a Granddaughter: Peas in a Pod.






Dear Small Grand-Daughter,

High on a list of my wishes for you is a creative imagination, along with good health and happiness and all the usual grand-motherly concerns. Imagination can be the spice of life, creating magic from the humdrum, peace from the turmoil, fun from the banal......and last weekend, joy from pea-pods. Who would have predicted that shelling peas could be such a wonderful entertainment; for you as the pods went 'pop' and for your parents and me as we watched you quivering with anticipation.......'Do it again, Annie. Do it again,'?

Then you decided that each pod contained a family of peas; mummies and daddies, babies, uncles, aunties, cousins, grannies, so each had to be checked out, and some families were found to be larger and more complex than others. After that came the need to taste uncooked peas, and perhaps their pods as well. It takes quite a time to prepare lunch this way, and perhaps it's only grannies who have the time and patience to do it.
So, thank you for giving me a weekend to spend with you and your widening horizons, and to give me the realisation that grannies are good things with lots to give, even if they can't run about very much.

The question, 'Why?' has become significant lately. Sometimes it is used as a delaying tactic when you've been asked to do something else, but more often it is a real need to know, fuelled by imagination and by your great enthusiasm for books and stories.
We worked through some of your favourites, looking at why things happened the way they did. Peter Rabbit, for instance, had been specifically told not to go into Mr. McGregor's garden, but defied his mother and did so. A few weeks ago you told me that Mr McGregor was 'not kind' shouting at Peter, chasing him and taking his little coat and shoes. This time you worked out that it was Peter who was not kind, eating the vegetables that Mr. McGregor had grown, and that Peter was a bad rabbit, taking things.
Similarly you now think that Goldilocks was wrong, going into someone's house, eating their breakfast, breaking a chair, sleeping in someone else's bed without asking them. You used to think the bears were not good, coming back and frightening her, but now it's Goldilocks who is not kind, frightening the bears.
Not kind.
Not kind at all.
Kindness is important.

In the peace and seclusion of Walnut Cottage we ventured into thoughts of why people ask you not to do things, and we reached a sort of conclusion that it is because Mummy and Daddy don't want you to be hurt. This was clearly the case with Peter Rabbit.

Then you cooked a few meals in your cottage - fish and cheese with tomatoes and carrot juice - yum! You fed your new horse  who is called 'RideaCockHorse' and you are a Fine Lady when you sit on him, although Banbury Cross defeats you somewhat.
You made a lot of (private) phone calls on the remote control for the old t.v. because we couldn't find your official plastic phone. 'Hello...yes, I'm working.....at Annie's house. Yes, cooking now....... I'm too busy. Bye!'
This afternoon many people call you via the old remote control, people you know, people from books and nursery rhymes. The witch from Room on the Broom really needed a quick word, but again you were busy in your house, working hard, keeping an eye on the plastic babies in their cradle, constantly mashing up juice in the little liquidiser.....'Tomato or orange, Annie?' 'Have you any cucumber juice?' 'Oh, you are silly, Annie!'

At least  a year ago I found myself marvelling at how much you knew, and how you were making sense of the world.
Now I'm really marvelling, and I have to remind myself that you are someone whose age can still be counted just in months (32).
How on earth has all this happened?

Thank you for teaching me so much, and for reminding me constantly of the simple joys to be found in life.
With love from Granny (Annie).


10 comments:

Pam (Isabelle) said...

Oh yes, I know exactly what you mean! It's so wonderful to be a granny and your letter is so beautifully put.

Elephant's Child said...

A beautiful evocation of magic I will never know.
Thank you.

Zhoen said...

How wonderful, to be so concerned with kindness.

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle/Pam: I know we share a great appreciation of grandchildren. What would we make of each other's. do you think? I have loved and empathised with many small children over the years, but there is something a bit special about this one!

E.C: thank you for your kind and generous comment.

Zhoen: it's impressive when someone who still wears a nappy (diaper?) at night-time is concerned about motivation. She tries so hard to make sense of the world.

Molly Bon said...

How beautifully you describe her. I was similarly enchanted by our little grand daughter when she was here from the UK in May. She is 29 months, a little bit younger than yours but just as fascinated with the world....

Relatively Retiring said...

Molly: thank you. I think 2 - 3 years is the most wonderful age, when everything is new and fresh, and nothing is taken for granted.

Frances said...

Such a lovely post as always, RR.

Relatively Retiring said...

Frances: thank you. I hope she will read them for herself one day.

Jenny Woolf said...

How lovely it is to see little minds expanding.
I can remember being very disapproving of Goldilocks and not being in a least surprised that people didn't like her eating their food. Perhaps my feelings were based on personal experience of trying to eat other peoples' food...

Relatively Retiring said...

Jenny: there is a lot of foolish behaviour in nursery stories and rhymes, and it's very good to see it being analysed.
Little E. likes to 'share' other people's food, which actually means eating yours and her own.