Children are born different from each other and are moulded over the years into some sort of homogeneity, which is important for social living but it’s nice to enjoy their uniqueness while you can
Looking at him now, it’s hard to believe that when the stork dropped him off four years ago, my grandson was a rank beginner. He ate, he slept and exercised his lungs. That seemed to be the extent of it, but as he lay quiescent on the bunny blanket in the lounge room Jones was absorbing the sights and sounds and storing them up for future reference. When the time was ripe he spoke his first word: tree. (His mum and dad thought he hadn’t got his priorities right.) After that he was off and running. The words and sentences came thick and fast and seemed like a bit of magic. But Jones had been eavesdropping on his elders for some time and had amassed a fair vocabulary before deciding to share it with us.
Jones has been an active learner all his life, cramming in as much as he can before he turns into a self-conscious young adult. That’s when well-meaning adults in his life tell him he has limitations. Not his parents. They don’t believe in micromanaging their children and would prefer to tell him what he can rather than what he can’t do. Jones’ parents know, as I never did, that children should be free to pursue their journey of discovery unfettered and unrestrained.
I watch Jones as he leaps off the staircase at a single bound; tomorrow he will be an artist sculpting glorious structures out of clay; the day after a detective, stalking the suspicious movements of Moocher the cat. Butcher, baker, rocket scientist, astronaut, Jones doesn’t know yet what he wants to be when he grows up, he likes to keep his options open.
Jones’ brother, Eden takes piano lessons, so Grandpa who is the teacher shows Jones how to pick out and play the black and white keys. Perhaps he will be a world famous concert pianist. Or a Grandmaster could be on the cards, I think, as I watch Jones and his dad play pawn wars. No one tells him he has to wait till he’s older.
Eden and I play I spy.
‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with B’ I say.
Cloud’ says Jones, quick as a flash.
‘Great try’, I say, ‘but that word begins with a C. You have to find a word that begins with B. You don’t say bloud do you?’ He smiles and shakes his head and tries again. And on it goes. Jones absorbs this new material as naturally as he learned to walk, talk and breathe. He isn’t aware that he’s doing anything out of the ordinary. Jones just wants to be allowed to join in.
I don’t remember what my first orange tasted like but I’ll never forget the surprised look in his eyes when Jones mashed that first sherbety segment into his mouth. Juice dribbled down his cheeks and a radiant smile creased them. Jones’ world continues to be full of firsts: first step, first tooth, first boo boo; I’m hoping there will not be too many boo boos to follow. And of course in a year’s time there will be the first day at school where many new experiences will abound and our relationship will take a different turn. Because Jones is my last.