Sunday, 12 June 2011

My father claims he did not

take an interest in his children when they were babies. I am not sure that is absolutely correct. My father takes an interest in all humans, although very new humans frighten him a little. They frighten me too - because they are such a huge responsibility.
My father did not change nappies but he did, according to my mother, walk up and down with me to try and put me to sleep. (I was apparently not very good at going to sleep. My mother was adhering rigidly to the "rules" and I was being fed at pre-set times etc etc. My siblings fared much better.)
Modern fathers, at least the two I observed last night and also my brother, are much better. When my eldest nephew was born my brother took six months leave and cared for him. My brother would take him to the school where my sister-in-law was teaching for a midday feed and then return home and continue the renovations while my nephew slept or watched. It worked very well for them although some people, including my mother, thought it was very odd.
Now my nephew and his wife have a daughter of their own, one at the "just walking" stage. My nephew was the one who saw to her meal and he takes it in turn to get up at night, bath etc.
My niece has a ten week old baby. The baby was carried in through the door by her father. He is also getting adept at the nappy changes and the bathing. He settled her down over his shoulder.
It is all very different.
My father made the most of last night. He, with some trepidation, cuddled the newest great-grandchild. There were plenty of photographs taken so she will be able to see them in the future. The toddler cuddled too. Photographs were taken. They played trains. More photographs were taken.
They will be here for the rest of the weekend. Today there will be a car trip but there will still be chances for play and photographs aplenty. I was about the same age as my great-niece when I had my one and only encounter with my maternal great-great aunt. I can just remember it. It was not a pleasant experience. I am sure this child will, if she remembers anything at all, remember it differently. At just fifteen months I was apparently talking a good deal and "reading" books to myself. My niece has some words and loves to look at pictures but I wonder if there will be enough words there for her to remember the experience.
Getting everyone here has been an effort. Travelling with small children, especially a new baby, requires major strategic planning at both ends. It was worth it just to see the expression on my father's face.
My father would, I think, have liked to be more involved with his children when they were tiny but it just was "not done". Now another generation lives too far away but he will make the most of every opportunity.

2 comments:

virtualquilter said...

Cat,

Nearly every time you write about your father you could almost be writing about mine! A generational thing!

Judy B

jeanfromcornwall said...

Yes this is so much a generational thing. My Mother said that my Father took care not to be left in charge of me until I was of school age.
My children's Father took a great interest, and was ready to do anything that was needed - especially in any kind of emergency.
My Son-in-law shares completely, and has done from the earliest days.
I think this is a good thing all round since he is building a very strong bond with his daughter, and, come the terrible teens, there is twice the chance that there will be a parent who has a line of communication open to the distressed young.