As I watch you growing up, I often think to myself, “He is just a normal little boy growing up in a normal sort of way.” And indeed, much of what you do does appear to be wonderfully normal, you love being in the bath, you love playing the park, you’re marvellously curious and you’re finding out about ice cream.
Just a very happy little boy with a beautifully endearing smile.
There are a couple of things about you that are quite different. The first is that older children seem to be very happy to play with you, despite the fact that you steal their toys and clearly have no intention of giving them back, You appear to be able to establish good relationships quickly. This is you and Ned, who has started school now, having a wrestle last Christmas.
And this is a rather endearing photo of the two together. Ned has some particularly promising tendencies as a larrikin. I think that is why you both got on so well together.
You have a wonderful relationship with Millie who comes over every now and then to play. Millie is nearly 18 months older than you but appears very happy to play with you.
You have another friend, called Luther, whom we meet in the park when he is there with his nanny. Luther is a bit older than Mille, very articulate and a very seriously (and well-behaved) liftle boy. We met them both in the library on Tuesday and, watching you, I realised that there are some things about you that quite different and exceptional.
The first is your incredible energy. Nana Di kept saying, “No running in the library, Winton”. It’s a bit like saying to a fish, “Don’t swim.”
You never walk anywhere, you always run, well, what passes for running for a 21 month old. But it’s flat out all the time, you’re getting better at it but usually involves bouncing off the walls a lot and quite a bit of falling over, speed wobbles I call them.
On Tuesday, you arrived at the library at full and normal speed.
You have a pretty bad track record in the library based on your attendance at Rhyme Time which you attended, once, with Ryland. Neither of you are able to tolerate the boredom of the 30 introductions to other members of the rhyme group and headed off to start a radical rearrangement of the library’s Dewey decimal system. So I thought it was a brave call on the part of Nana Di to take you back there. I decided to go to thinking this was likely to be a two-adult outing.
The first thing you did when we got into the library was to run and dive headfirst into both of the beanbags, one after another.
There was a large cube made of parachutes silk with holes for kids to climb in and out of and a long tubular tunnel that could be connected to the holes in the cube in the junior section of the library.
As you began to explore it, Luther came over and joined you and was quite clear that he was extremely reticent to crawl into the tunnel.
But not you. A rat up a drainpipe would be the best description. Once inside the cube, you realised that by running into the sides, you could get to roll round the library rather like the water walking balls only on dry land and cubic.
You have a huge talent having fun and other kids naturally want to join in.
Luther soon overcame his inhibitions and joined in and the two of you created considerable mayhem.
And this brings me to the third remarkable thing about you. You are a real larrikin. You have an outrageous and high-energy idea of what constitutes fun. And you haven’t learned much about danger or risk yet. It’s a dilemma for me as a grandfather. How much I teach you about keeping yourself safe and how much about taking risks, pushing the limits.
Recently, we were both sitting on the sofa and, in typical fashion, you decided to climb up and stand, balancing, on the arm of the sofa. From there, you launched yourself into my lap at the other of the the sofa. Once you had landed,you looked up to me you said, “More,” and climbed back up onto the arm of the sofa. Nana Di was not impressed, “Winton Jack (she always calls you Winton Jack when you’re engaged in some larrikin act) you’re going to fall off.”
You have had a little bit of experience of falling off things and I don’t think you like it very much. But that has not limited your climbing activities and I thought to myself, “Yes, he might fall off but this boy is probably going to fall off a lot of things but he is also going to climb a lot of them as well.” You did hurt yourself, but it was climbing up, rather than falling down and you banged your head on the bookshelf. There were tears and cuddles from Nana Di. Will this deter to you, I don’t think so.
And this is what I like so much about you and what it is that that draws other kids to you: you’re incredible fun to be with.