Letter to my grandson (xxxix)

Dear Winton

We were talking recently about what you would like to do when you grow up.

You said, “I would like to drive a very fast speedboat.”

Nana Di said, “I would like you to grow up to help people.”

I said, “He does help people a lot.  He rescues them from fires.”

Indeed, a large amount of our time together is spent on various forms of firefighting and rescue with you variously filling the role of fireman, helicopter pilot and medic.

I remember when I was very young, probably not much older than you, being asked the same question. I replied, “A fireman.”  I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t particularly want to be a fireman but it seemed to be a satisfactory answer and I didn’t have any others available.

Naturally, I would like you to complete a PhD and find a cure for cancer or something equally impressive. A Nobel Laureate would be nice.  Amongst other things, I think your dad would like you to play for Hawthorn.

And I think we all want you to grow up to be the smartest, happiest and best-looking kid in the world.

But the question got me thinking. It’s argued by some educationalists that the basis for what we become in later life is laid down in the first four years. I’m not certain I go along with that completely but it’s an interesting thought and it means that you’re three quarters of the way there.

Nana Di and I have spent quite a lot of your first three years with you.  Not as much as your mum and dad have spent with you for sure but more than my parents were able to spend with your dad or your uncles.

Family in forst.jpg

But, if the theory is right, we will  have been one of the major influences. So the question makes you think, how are we going? Is it time for a progress report?

When you were very little, Nana or I saw you most days, not for long, but usually enough for a cuddle.   We seemed to spend a lot of time in coffee shops.

Then we got into some serious baby cuddling.  Actually, it was more like a cross between cuddling and wrestling. You were a very active child.

Then we got into some very heavy duty baby minding.

So, given that I am not going to be around for the PhD graduation, I’ve been thinking about what I would like to be you like when you grow up.

And, of course that begs the question: When will that be?

And the answer to that is, of course: Tomorrow.

I know it is a cliché but you’re growing up so quickly. You are already a giant. Albeit a quite small one as yet, but a giant nonetheless.

But it is not your physical development that surprises me.

We were sitting with you having dinner and we had been talking about going to the park next day and then I said to you,”I have a question for you, Winton. What animal friend would you like to greet you tomorrow morning?”

I always bring one of your soft toys to greet you at the door when you arrive and you replied that you would like your giraffe next day. That morning, it had been Baby Rabbit.

And then you said, “And now, I have a question for you, Papa. When are you going to take me to the park to see Peppa Pig?”  Your dad explained that the visit to Peppa Pig was to be done in Perth next week when you visited Poppy Tresham.  How did your little brain manage to bring all that together and articulate it in two sentences?  Miraculous.

So what would I like you to be like when you grow up tomorrow?

I would like you to be someone who can surprise and delight me with your mastery  and delight in the use of the language. Someone who can sing, “Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived by the ocean.”

I would like you to be someone who shares his cheese sandwich with his dad, who says “I love you mum” when he kisses her goodbye each morning.

I would like you to be someone who shrieks, “Put me down, put me down.” when his dad lifts him up three metres off the ground so he can drop his basketball through the basketball hoop,  preferring to stand on the ground and try to throw it through himself.

Someone who will wrestle his own dragons.


Someone who can charm and delight.

Someone who takes joy in everything he does.

I think you’re growing up pretty well.

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