Lessons from a Five year old: Misha Herwin
This week we have our grandson Ollie to stay and I suddenly realised that I hadn’t written my blog. Not having planned anything, I was going to make my apologies when it occurred to me that there are some things about looking after a five year old that are like writing a book.
The first is the question of planning. Do you sort out a list of activities or leave things to evolve? When I write, I plan, with grandchildren I have some ideas about what we might do but mostly I leave things to evolve as it works better if I listen to what the kids want rather than impose my own ideas. Which, come to think about it, is what often happens with characters in a novel. I think I know where they are going and how they view their situations but they can have other ideas. If I try to keep to the original plan the writing becomes really hard work, if I let myself go with the flow then it can be a delight.
That losing myself in the process is key. The days when the story pours out of me, when I am so wrapped up in it that I can’t stop writing are magic.
Being totally absorbed in what we are doing makes being with a grandchild a delight. Yesterday Ollie and I dodged the showers and went to the local park, which has a slide set into the hillside. The slide is very long and very steep and I usually stand at the top and watch but Ollie wanted Granny to have a go and I did. After the first moment of trepidation I was off−and it was brilliant.
Then on the way home he discovered a puddle, a dip in the pavement where the tarmac was cracking up and we spent quite a time picking out loose pieces and throwing them into the water to make the biggest splash.
Later there was frog watching to do by the garden pond; an activity we both love, but I rarely allow myself to indulge in. With a child at my side, however, I have the time to focus on the smoothness of the waterlily pads, the smell of water, the hum of an insect, the stare of a frog sitting and looking at us while we sit and look at it.
It may be hard work looking after a small child but lose yourself in the present as they can do and life becomes simpler, worry free and more vivid.
A little like reading a good book.