I hadn’t seen you for three days when you turned on our doorstep late on Friday afternoon with your dad. It had been a combination of grown-up things, work, tradesmen, housecleaning but there you were climbing our front steps with a huge grin on your face. I have missed you.
You didn’t pause for any pleasantries but were off down the hallway to your toy cupboard. You only have one preferred speed when moving from one place to another, flat-out. It is very rare to see you walking anywhere. Only over short distances when you haven’t got a chance to get up a decent head of speed. It’s as if you can’t wait get on to the next exciting adventure. What’s amazing is that your life seems to be so full of exciting adventures.
While you are making your toy selections, as usual by hurling unwanted toys in all directions, Nana Di arrived home. As she was coming down the hallway, I said to you, “I haven’t had a cuddle today.” It was a bit of a long shot, as All you’re not good on gratuitous cuddles. But you turned around and jumped up into my arms and I said, “I think Nana Di wants a cuddle too.”
We have this game where you cling to one of us and the other says, “I’m coming after you,” and pretends to have big grabby claws. You cling on and shriek with laughter as we chase around the house. This time, we wound up having a group cuddle with you in the middle. I don’t know if you will remember what it was like in that little cuddle, but I know that I certainly will and I hope that one day you might have a little grandchild that you can hold like that.
There are certain number of things that you know are pretty much off-limits. Rolls of toilet paper and rubbish bags are pretty high up the list as they have a tendency to unravel at the slightest provocation and you’re pretty good at slight provocation. But you’ve worked out that you can talk Nana Di into letting you have a roll of rubbish bags if you tell her that you are taking it to Papa. You brought it round to me and said, “Garbage truck.” and put the rubbish bags in the back of your garbage truck. We had sidestepped the issue of the rubbish bags unravelling all round the house so I considered that we were ahead on points.
You then began filling the garbage truck up with your plastic animals and so I asked you if you would like me to read you the story of Mr Gumby’s Motorcar.
You agreed and while I was doing reading it, you took your little basket of clothes pegs over to Nana and asked her to make you a peg aeroplane which you then happily flew between me, your dad and Nana. It was as if you were developing your own little story for the afternoon, a combination of bits of Mr Gumpy, animals and rubbish bags,aeroplanes and people who love you.
Later, Nana read you Pamela Allen’s Inside Mary Elizabeth’s House
It is an interesting story because it has a particularly fearsome monster which lives at Mary Elizabeth’s house.
You were sitting on Nana’s knee and although you didn’t want to get down, you were quite positive that you didn’t want to see this page.
When the story was over you said, “Monster outside,”and pointed outside. We reassured you that there were no monsters but I wonder if we really did reassure you.
I remember a particularly fearsome one iiving in one of the cupboards in Nick’s bedroom at Grosvenor St and being particularly difficult to dislodge.
And I realised that you were now reaching a stage where monsters are going to become a part of your life and that if you are going to be interested in books, fairytales, stories, myths, legends and poetry, you can’t avoid monsters.
We should probably introduce you to Maurice Sendak’s Max who got on top of the problem pretty early.
You and I have stories at bath time now and we’re starting on to some pretty serious ones, The Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The first two have a big bad wolf and giant and it’s interesting that when I give you a choice of which one you would like, you choose Goldilocks.
I wonder how I can tell you that we can close covers of the book and leave the terrors inside.