Watching granddaughter, Petite Fille, grow to be a happy, healthy, curious twenty month old has been a wonderful reminder of just what life and love is, and how we go about it.
Until recently, Petite Fille has passively received all our love and attention. If we hugged her, or kissed her, she happily submitted, but she was not really capable of initiating it herself, or honestly communicating it.
Oh, we knew she loved us, there were those big smiles, and the books brought to Grandma’s knee to be read, but until the last couple of weeks she never honestly communicated pure love of her own free will.
During my last visit, two moments happened between us that told me that Petite Fille honestly felt what we human’s call the emotion of love.
The first instance was not long after I arrived, when Petite Fille coerced me into her bedroom and once I was inside, pushed the door shut so that we were alone. Yes, poor Mummy had to sit out in the living room, alone! (Secretly, I think she was happy to have some down time!).
Petite Fille lifted her arms and said “Cot.” We were about to play, tuck her teddies in under the blanket. I would give them to her and she would tuck them under her blanket, then she would lie down beside them, well often, on top of them, but the general idea was “with” the teddies. We had a second of all pretending to be asleep when it would start all over again.
Several rounds of that later, Petite Fille changed the game rules, by pointing at the rocking chair beside her cot, pointing and commanding “Sit”. (Not so much “shitting” these days, much clearer “sit”). The game was now, when Grandma is settled on the rocking chair, Petite Fille will throw teddy from the cot and Grandma will retrieve. Petite Fille thought this was hilarious, Grandma not so much.
Any attempt by Grandma to open the door was met by Petite Fille needing to be lifted form the cot so that she could close the door again! Mummy was also not allowed in.
You may be thinking that Petite Fille was just teaching Grandma to sit, fetch and retrieve. Well, maybe she was. Okay, she was! However, there was something bigger happening. She was recognising my relationship with her. The closed door was “this is my time, with my Grandma” and to me it communicated that she was separating from her Mother a little, and creating relationships of her own.
The second example was in fact a series of examples. Throughout my visit, Petite Fille would climb onto my lap and hug me, making her soft “ahhhh” murmur she does when anyone hugs her. Or, she would reach her arms up and want to be picked up so we could cuddle. She hadn’t sort this type of contact before. As I said, she was quit happy for me to hug her, but this was her hugging me.
At the same time, as I was growing these wonderful moments with my granddaughter, I couldn’t help but think of the many, many children who never receive such moments. I teach many children who obviously have never had the gifts of love, or the opportunity to communicate love in the way Petite Fille does.
I’ve been asked many times by people what I have asked my granddaughter to call me, and I always say, Grandma. Often, I am then told of women who refuse to be called Grandma, or a word that clearly denotes Grandmother, afraid it will “age” them. I am sorry if you are one of those people, for no matter what a child names you, you are still their Grandmother, (and the age you are!) and in my opinion, that is something to be truly valued and nurtured.
In my difficult moments, on those days when the world seems against me, I know I have the love of one special little girl and that is all that matters to me. No one can destroy that love …except me.