Barry has not the slightest interest in toys. He prefers to take life as it comes, exploring all the things we take for granted and enjoying everything that comes his way – even sitting with Mummy while she holds a warm up session at her Stagecoach School.

Nonetheless we keep going, presenting wooden toys to die for, searching the loft for the things his mummy loved, bringing out bowls of water and sand. He takes a perfunctory look for about 10 seconds, then he’s back to scouring the house for interesting objects – plugs, old bottles, the broom (that’s a real favourite), pebbles, hammers, cardboard boxes – you name it, he’ll find it.

It’s nerve wracking. He’s into every nook and cranny, finding stuff I’d given up on long gone. He has a good look at everything  – pokes it, pulls it and of course, tastes it. Today he’s putting lids on and off; yesterday he was picking up tools and moving them around the garden. Heaven knows what tomorrow will hold.

Maybe all this investigation is him getting geared up for being a research scientist or maybe he’ll be a hoarder like his paternal great grandmother. It’s going to be an adventure watching what happens. I just have to manage my nerves in the meantime.

Granny has to allow the adventures

Grandad is so much more relaxed than me. Honestly, I’d rather avoid and keep him safe which makes me pretty boring at high peak energy times. Grandad weighs up the risks and lets him explore. Dropping something not too heavy on his toes will be good learning; he has to learn what ‘hot’ means, so touching a coffee cup might be just what he needs; if something tastes bad then he won’t put it in this mouth again.

Like the day that John discovered Barry hated Marmite. Here was the perfect solution to endless garden pebbles going in his mouth – just cover them in the offending gloop. What a great idea! Until the first Mar-pebble went in. Far from pulling a face, he rethought his first response and decided this was rather nice!

A much more successful adventure was discovery of a balloon – always a strange phenomenon. I could watch his reaction over and over.


Clever little boy

In all fairness, Barry has the most remarkable ability to avoid disaster. He doesn’t quite hit his head on the dining table, he just misses tripping over the garden hose, he catches himself at the last minute as he manoeuvres the door step out of the conservatory. He’s like those films where someone walks through chaos just missing every obstacle.

I know this, but I still worry. Grandad knows this and relaxes. It’s a combination that worked well for Barry’s mum. Miriam is much more practical than me, mostly because she had plenty of time with her dad and plenty of practise in mending, exploring, creating. Made her a brilliant ally when the ground floor gutters needed emergency clearing and John was away. She was the one to get out the ladder and get her hand in. Never occurred to me!

So I make an effort to trust and when the strain is just too much, I just have to have my say and take the consequences.

A dirty kid at the end of the day

Of course, it all means he’s in a constant state of muck and damp (especially when it’s time to water the garden).  Fortunately, I’ve always loved the sight of a dirty kid at theentertaining Barry - day to day granny end of the day. It means they’ve had adventures and a great time – dirty and happy!

I dressed my own kids from the second hand shop round the corner. We all enjoyed a trip to Outgrown. I could get what they needed without breaking the budget and they could choose something they loved, just ‘because’. There was the full-length bridesmaid dress that my eldest wore until it fell off her back. And the ballet dresses, dress up outfits and weird tights that found their way finally into the dressing up box. It was perfect, not to mention that it supported my ‘dirty kid at the end of the day’ philosophy really well. Nothing was precious so I never needed to stop an adventure because it would spoil their clothes.

In this day and age, Barry can have the best of both worlds. He’s a snazzy dresser but at a price that allows for accidents. Mind you – they do have ‘Granny and Grandad clothes’ – no point in sending him over to us in his best, smart outfits.

Today is a case in point. I got him dressed after his morning sleep, gave him his lunch and he’s grubby already! I’m off to the washing machine in the hope I can recover it by the time Mummy is home from work. Quick!!




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