When Alexander was born, I made a promise to myself not to mourn for the auntihood I might have had. Even saying that sounds melodramatic, but I have a manipulative imp and this is just the sort of thing it'll pick on when it wants me to feel sorry for myself.
Alex was born exactly ten years and one day after I acquired these limitations. I was never going to be any other kind of auntie. Before Alexander was conceived, I didn't know I was going to be any kind of auntie and whilst I had my hopes, I wouldn't have had any complaints if it wasn't to be. Alexander is a gift. And he can only be better off having me as opposed to no auntie at all.
But. This week Alex and Rosie have been staying at my folks, I've seen a lot of them both and earlier in the week I began to feel rather sad and guilty.
Alexander is the most physically active not-yet-two-year-old I have ever encountered. He can sit and play quietly or be read to, but he seems to need to spend most of his waking time hurtling about, dancing and climbing things. Fortunately he is also very good on his feet and resilient; he doesn't often fall over, but when he does he generally picks himself up and carries on without complaint. At the play park, he heads straight for the big children's climbing frame.
So there's a part of me that minds that I can't play all the games he wants to play. And I feel very guilty that I can really only cope with a few hours of his company before I am fantastically exhausted. And when fantastically exhausted, I need and desperately want to be away from him as soon as possible. Which is an awful way to feel about a small child, when they're not even playing up.
And I was thinking about this when I read (I forget where) someone lamenting the tragedy of their becoming disabled with, “I should be playing football with my grandchildren!”
The focus of loss is a personal thing - maybe this was a relative young person who had been a keen footballer - but it struck me as an interesting kind of should. Because of course, lots of grandparents can't play football with their grandchildren. Personally, I knew I was lucky to even get to know all four of my grandparents; I know people are living longer and healthier lives than they were, but still. I imagine impairment would be quite different for parents; there are some roles it must be very difficult not to be able to perform oneself, but the rest of us? We're all here to throw in whatever we've got to offer. It's all complimentary, for both parties.
Then we were visiting my Gran and I had taken a very restless Alex into the garden. I followed him to the end of the garden once and back and realising I couldn't do this a second time, I sat down in the middle of the grass and watched as he ran ahead. He took his place on the bench and waited for me, rather anxious to find I wasn't right behind him.
So I waved at him and he waved back. Then he watched me for a moment and giggled. He waved at me and I waved back. Then he ran at me, with opened arms and smiling face and at such tremendous speed that he knocked me right over. This, he thought, was very funny.
After that I found several other games that involved Alex moving about a great deal while I stayed very still. My favourite was one where I threatened to come grab him and made very slight movements as if about to pounce; Alex would run away giggling, then edge back towards me, still giggling, until some twitch of the finger sent him running again. And thus I got over myself.
It has been a lovely hectic week. I shall now enjoy the silence and catch up with my blog-reading. Oh and happy Independence Day to my American friends, hope you've all had a good one.