Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Letter to Charlie - 12 months

Dear Charlie

You are almost 13 months old now. It has taken me so long to write your letter.

The last few months have been a bit of a blur, Charlie. We packed up our house in Canberra, stayed with your grandmas and then moved down to Melbourne. As if all that wasn't enough, right when we were about to settle in to our new place and host a little birthday party for you, I scooped you up and flew back to Canberra to spend some time with your great-grandfather before he died. And so, quite unexpectedly, you spent your first birthday with family after-all (but no party).

Your Uncle Jono also travelled to Canberra to see Papa Phil, and Aunty Nattie and your big cousin Amira came with him. You and Amira had a fantastic time playing together. Watching someone almost your age (well, exactly twice your age, as it happens) walking around seemed to inspire you and so you took your first steps the day after your birthday. Your grandpa and your great-grandparents got to watch too, which was nice.

You continue to be a sunny, happy little person Charlie. You love to laugh and to make other people laugh with you. You love to eat and have become very adept at feeding yourself up in your high chair. You now rarely tip your food everywhere until you have become bored with it. You also love to drink water, which I think is fabulous. You love music and will often sing along to tunes that take your fancy. You love your big sister, although you do think that hitting her is a good way of starting play and she isn't so sure about that.

You are obsessed with being outdoors. You beg to go outside immediately upon waking. You are most fond of digging in your sandpit, but enjoying being pushed on the swing or crawling about on the trampoline with Lil (or digging up the veggie patch, eating dirt, filling the watering can full of gravel, trying to ride the little bike, pushing the cart around, banging things on your tool bench...).

You are also quite obsessed with birds, especially crows, and would watch them all day if given the opportunity. When we stayed with your grandmas they had a crow that had become a little focused on pecking their bedroom window. For them this was annoying, but for you it was fantastic. You begged constantly to be taken to the window to watch for this crow, saying "Aaah Aaah" and pointing furiously towards that end of the house. Your grandmas were most obliging and took you on many birds hunts, both indoors and out. Now when you see them you also expect to see birds. "Aaah Aaah?" you will say and virtually leap into their arms. My Mum has started calling herself "Bird girl" as a result.

Although you took your first steps a few weeks ago it wasn't until the other night that you worked out how to actually walk. Something clicked in your head and you figured out how to stand up unassisted, to walk, to stop, to turn around and then to keep walking again. The look on your little face was priceless. You were so pleased, so proud. I love those moments.

You haven't been quite so focused on language and don't really have many more words than you did at 10 months. Although you are remarkably good at communicating your needs with your current handful of sounds. "Meh" means variously milk, water, food, or more of what ever you were just doing and enjoying. "Ba" means outside or going into another room. And then you have Mama, Papa/Dada, Lily, and an random array of animal noises, including "Aaah Aaah" for birds. You have also said Grandpa and Grandma before, but only a few times.

We won't discuss sleep, except to say that I hope you become a little better at it soon.

I love you so much Charlie. Thank you for bringing so much sunshine into our lives.


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Saying goodbye

I came back to Canberra this week because my grandfather is dying.

I guess you could say that he has been dying since they discovered the cancer and he decided against treatment - preferring to stay home rather than enduring the indignity and discomfort of anymore time in hospitals. But until this week it hasn't felt that way.

He's been sick, but he's also been writing two books (two more books to add to his sizeable collection). He's been sick, but we've had robust discussions about education, politics, sustainability and child development. He's attended family celebrations and been able to watch my kids grow. He's been keeping up with the football, attending church, and going to the farmers markets, the Art gallery and cafes.

But now he's in bed. He's still sharp as ever. He can still see my kids and tell us why he started following Essenden all those years ago (his eldest was delivered by a Nurse Coleman whose brother played for them). But he's tired and he's sleeping more and more.

For some reason I thought that by this point I would be ready to say goodbye. But I'm not.


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