It’s the first time in over a week that little footsteps and the gentlest of touches on my head didn’t pull me back from dreams. Once I’d stirred, the gentle three-year-old would transform into his alter-ego and clamber boisterously into the bed, giggling, attacking me with pillows or force-feeding me ‘pie’ or ‘cake’ made of plastic toys.
There are worse ways to awake. This morning’s was easier, but felt a little lonely.
My grandson and his family were here for nine days. Sleep was hard to come by; a hungry, teething 6 month old saw to that. My cottage, which feels spacious and airy to me when I’m alone was transformed into a tiny, cramped place by the mountains of paraphernalia required by a young baby and toddler.
We made bugs from egg boxes, watched dragonflies in the garden, did pirate treasure hunts for ‘golda balloons’ (yes, it took me quite a while to work that one out!) and made a fire engine from a huge packing box. We yelled anxiously to Mr Punch when the crocodile tried to steal his sausages and sang whispered lullabies to little sister when she couldn’t sleep.
To my grandson, everyone is a friend. Having just had his face painted as Spiderman, he shouted a cheery greeting to a pair of lads we passed drinking and smoking outside a pub.
“He waved to us!” one remarked.
“Look out, Spidy’s about,” laughed his friend.
“D’ya think I look cool?” the little one asked, tugging on my hand to go and chat with his new friends.
“Very cool,” they grinned, “Yeah.”
As I marched him on towards the playground he continued waving and shouting fond farewells.
Of course he’s been warned about strangers, but he stares reproachfully at us when such things are spoken. For him there are loving adults surrounding him and the world is a place he trusts and enjoys, filled with excitement and fun. His heart is so open it almost hurts to watch him sometimes.
As we sat in a cafe, he looked around the table, telling each of us in turn that he loved us.
“Hah!” winked the old man at the next table, knowingly. “What’s he after then? There’s always a catch when they say that.”
I thought about that man’s experience of the world and my grandson’s.
There was no catch. He loves unconditionally. Certainly he can throw a mega-tantrum because he wanted his drink in the blue cup and it’s been poured into the red one, but he makes few enough demands.
“The thing what would make me really happy,” he told my daughter on his journey home yesterday, “is if I could sit on the sofa, watch a DVD and eat toast.”
When that very modest request was granted, he phoned me to tell me how good it had been and how happy he now was.
I feel so privileged that this lovely small person has arrived in my life and poured so much love into it.