Letter to my Grandson (xviii)

Dear Winton,

Thursday was your second birthday. You and your mum and dad came over later in the afternoon for cake and presents with Nana and Papa. These are some photos from our little party. Your mum arranged for cake with a digger, concrete truck and a tip truck on top. You thought that was pretty amazing.

Happy cake.JPG

We bought you another digger to go in the sand pit that your mum and dad  got for your birthday.  You spent the whole night playing with it and I remember thinking that you have a toy that is almost as big as you are and how it is hard for an adult to imagine something like that.

We got  off to a bad start with the digger because we took you with us to the toy shop to buy it.  You are given a choice of a concrete mixer, a tip truck or the digger. You were quite emphatic that you wanted the digger. It was whisked away from you to be wrapped up and taken home for your birthday several days later.

You were not happy and made your displeasure extremely clear to everybody. And quite rightly too, I thought. How were you to know that it would reappear at a later date?


Nonetheless, that is now clearly all behind us.

This is a shot of you watching the birthday cake arrive.


I think the thing that I enjoyed most about this birthday, and indeed your last birthday, was seeing the how much you obviously enjoy birthdays. As indeed you should, they are special times and it is wonderful to watch you being a participant in these family rituals.

This is one of my favourite photos of you at your first birthday party, again cake and presents at 170.11270518_1617276108559495_1559878819163902730_o

Like many small children, you really enjoy birthday parties but today was special because I think you will realise that you are the centre of attention. Well, perhaps only a little more than usual.

I think this may also be the first birthday party that you will have conscious memory of.

We have lots of wonderful photographs of your dad when he was about your age.  This was taken on the beach at Frankston in the days when we had very little care or concern about the effects of ultraviolet radiation on small bodies.

Simon on beach 2

This is another photograph taken at the beach.

SImon in water copy


I’m not certain where this one was taken but like you, he was a fairly fearless, and long-haired, climber.

Simon climbing

He was, also like you, are very happy  little kid.


This is a photograph of me, my Uncle Brian and my grandma (your great, great grandmother) on the lawn at Clifton Terrace in Wellington.  I would have just turned two in this photograph and I do have a vague recollection of putting on Uncle Brian’s beret for the photo.

Back from overseas

Uncle Brian had been overseas serving in the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Second World war. He had served in the Library Corps and I remember being old enough to ask him (probably sometime later but certainly before I turned five) why an army needed a library. I remember him telling me it was because soldiers needed books to read. I also remember finding this a fairly unsatisfactory answer as I was fairly certain that soldiers didn’t read.  But I also remember having a sense that my grandmother was glad that he had served in the Library Corp because it had increased his chances of coming home alive.

This is a picture of your great grandmother, my mother and Uncle Brian’s sister when she was about your age. It was taken on the farm where she lived in the 1920s.


And so you begin your second year, a wonderful and beautiful child. Your mother refers to you as “fiercely independent” which you are. You’re rarely willing to have someone help you with some task that has you baffled, preferring to work it out for yourself.

But there is another side that I saw again last Friday when Nana and I picked you up from playgroup.  You have a remarkable skill for relating to people, both adults and other small children.  I’m always amazed, and also very proud, of the way that you’re able to make friends at the swimming pool.

You had, as usual at the end playgroup, refused to get into your pusher preferring to walk up the hill. There was too much exploring to be done which couldn’t be done from the pusher. But then after a while, a 10-hour day got on top of you and you said “Carry, Nana.”

I was walking behind you and I saw Nana pick you up. You wrapped your arms around her neck and snuggled into her for a while and then you started patting her on the back with both of your hands.  It was your little thank you.



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