Letter to my grandson (xi)

We have some golden days when you come round on your babysitting days. Not that they aren’t all good, but some are just special and last Tuesday was one of those very special days.

Nana Di decided that we should take you to the museum. It proved to be a wonderful idea. You have a great love of open spaces, both indoor and outdoor and soon as your feet touched ground, you were off, as fast as your little turbocharged legs would carry you.

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You only stopped once in 2.5 hours and then only briefly.

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You had discovered that the Museum has escalators. You love escalators. Your first experience of them was in the NGV in Federation Square.  There, Nana Di had insisted on carrying you to travel up and down. I didn’t think that would last. Now you’re a fully fledged and independent escalator traveller. It was probably the highlight of your day but then there were lots of highlights, like the polar bear.

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But it was only one of many and the designers of the museum have made everything accessible especially for small children. However, just as the escalators were a highlight of your visit to the NGV, you picked out other non-museum highlights.

You were fascinated by the lighting of one of the long walkways and stopped to examine every one at the lights. They were all the same but you examined each one, methodically and carefully. That’s something that I love about you, when you start to do something you carry it through and finish it, whether it’s transporting your rock collection from inside to your digger outside or picking up the pegs that you spilt on the floor. You always complete the task and I find that pretty amazing.

I’m always interested in watching you with other children and, like most parents and grandparents, are always making comparisons. In your case, invariably favourable. When you first arrived, you teamed up with a boy who was about two and a half and the two of you wandered around together. When his mother asked him to do something he wasn’t happy about, he had a small emotional meltdown and wound up tethered, kicking and screaming, to his little brother’s pusher.

While all this was happening, I watch you trotting off with Nana Di to the next exhibit. I love the way our relationship with you is developing. Despite your incredible energy and curiosity, you are remarkably well-behaved little boy which makes you a pleasure to go out with. And this led me to start thinking about why this is the case. Most of the time, both at home and when we are out, you have pretty much unlimited free to roam wherever you wish.

Nana Di is a master at control and influence. Whenever she wants you to do something, there’s always an incentive: “Get in the pusher, and Nana Di will give you a chippy”,  “Let’s stop doing that and go outside and see if we can see a rubbish truck.” You love rubbish trucks, so it works like a charm.

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What this means is that you are beginning to understand that when Nana Di asks you  to do something, you know that something good is going to happen as result. Consequently, it’s pretty easy to guide you through museum which has stimulation beyond what even you normally get.  And is also getting pretty easy to get you to do as you told.

While we were at the museum, we took you to the Museum Shop. Museum marketers must love small children accompanied by grandparents.  When we go shopping, you will often choose something that you like and of course Nana Di and Grandpa Tim will always buy for you. Most of the time, Nana Di will do this even when you’re not there.

Today, you chose a large cuddly dinosaur.

When I caught up with you and Nana Di, you had your arms wrapped around it. I know it sounds shockingly indulgent, but our view is that if there is something you want, we should buy it for you.

But then, something interesting happened. When reached to checkout, you decided that you did not want the dinosaur and handed it back.  No fuss, no “you can’t have that today”.  Just gave it back and, I might add, then made another choice. But what a brilliant one. You chose an umbrella and set off using it the way a gentleman in the financial district of London uses his umbrella.

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The umbrella comes up your shoulder but you have mastered the art of walking with it. Where on earth did you learn to do that? I tried to get you to walk with it tucked under your arm but you would have none of it No gentleman walks with his umbrella tucked under his arm!

It was a long day. Your mom dropped you off at 7.30am and you stayed for dinner because your mum and dad were going to a farewell party for friend. You only slept for about 15 minutes, so you must’ve been getting tired by 9 o’clock at night But you remained cheerful happy and well-behaved all day and at 9 o’clock, you were sitting up at the table with Nana Di and me, happily sharing our dinner, having I might add, eating well earlier in the evening.

And this is what made this one of the golden days, you are happy all day and when you’re happy you’re an absolute joy to have around.

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