Wednesday, October 31, 2012

When I was 32...

Happy Hallowe'en. My knitted ghosts are waving to you.

Tony the Painter has been and gone (having decorated very satisfactorily, though he no longer addresses me by name, mine own or anyone else's) and the study is nice and fresh. All the stuff from the study, however, is still in what was my Mum's bedroom, because T the P was able to come earlier than he'd expected and we hadn't at that point ordered the new carpet. It'll be a week or two before it arrives so we can't reinstate things.

I have, however, found a folder full of letters that I wrote to my best school and university friend when the children were small. For a long time after she moved to London, which was when we were 22, we wrote every week but eventually children and being too busy took over our lives so we phoned instead, and now we mainly keep in touch by email.

We used to return each other's letters since they were a record of our lives, and I've been rereading mine.

Here's an extract from one written in May 1983, when Daughter 1 was three and a half and Daughter 2 was nearly 2.

I've been looking after a friend's 15-month-old son for the last couple of mornings and have been astonished to find that, as his mother predicted, he is no bother. I mean NO bother. He doesn't talk yet, which makes a nice change from the constant chattering of our two - he's actually completely silent. You restrain him from emptying the sideboard or sticking his head down the loo or throwing things down the stairwell - and he just looks mildly surprised AND STOPS!!! Does he cast himself on the floor and scream for ten minutes? No. Does he embark on long explanations as to why he should actually be allowed to do whatever it was? No. He just wanders slowly off and does something else. He doesn't try to get out of the pushchair; he doesn't kick me in the teeth when I try to change his nappy. He doesn't demand a second biscuit. He doesn't run around screaming with excitement. I'm definitely ordering one like that next time. It's a whole new world.

Yes, dear daughters. I appear to be describing your behaviour (at times). Actually, I don't remember you behaving like this at all. Time is a great healer... . You were lovely most of the time, I'm sure.

I suspect that I thought that the small boy in question, N, was possibly slightly dim or if nothing else, a touch unenterprising. However, I can report that when he grew up he got a first class honours degree in linguistics from a prestigious English university followed by a master's from a well-respected American university, became a stockbroker, did another master's in some environmental topic which I forget and is now married and living in California doing environmental things. And is very handsome, witty and sporty.

Grandson, also 15 months, does speak, though you couldn't claim that his vocabulary is extensive. His most recent word, strangely, is "na", which appears to mean "light". Having read the above letter, I don't think I'll worry about it.


  1. Girls talk sooner than boys , who seem to keener on moving about first .
    Anyway your grandson's smile speaks volumes !

  2. Still waters run deep!

  3. i am always astonished when the unrelated little ones i care for during the day do what i ask them to do without giving me any grief about it ... those who call me Nona, however, are little maniacs All. Day. Long.

    and when the parents of the unrelated darlings arrive, their kids become demanding, tantrum-throwing, screaming little banshees ... which leads their parents to believe that i am addle-brained when i tell them how well-behaved their children are.

  4. The idea of returning each others letters was interesting to read them back to yourself.

  5. for awhile I used to write - or rather type - my letters with carbon paper so that I would have a record.
    I worked as a nanny as a teen and was shocked to see the almost immediate change in the two boys as soon as their parents came home.

  6. How fun to have your old letters to read. And you definitely don't have to worry about grandson -- one look and we know he's brilliant!

  7. It's so fun to see how little ones turn out as adults... ('turn out' seems such an odd expression now that I've typed it.) I enjoy rereading old letters too - many forgotten tidbits come rushing back.

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