Monday, 27 April 2009

If you knew Charlie...

"Dossing around at home all day and playing." That's my job. That, and changing the odd nappy. Oh, and writing the (decidedly) odd book. And spending all day with my son you'd think I'd know him really well. I thought I did. Still do. I've seen him tired, grumpy, happy, hungry, lively and the rest of Snow White's small companions. I've cleaned the sick and changed the messy sheets; I've held his little arms and legs while the nurse stuck a frighteningly large-looking needle in his thigh; I've followed him up the slide and down the steps and round on all fours on the floor. I've seen how he behaves in almost every situation.
But I've been taken by surprise. Yasmin and her mum stopped by the other day, prior to a visit to the park. As Sarah went to make some tea with Yasmin's mum, I sat in the living room with Charlie and Yasmin. At kid's club on a Wednesday morning, Charlie's only interaction with the other children is to stop and stare, or pout when someone takes the toy that he's been playing with, or to steal their food when they're not looking. He doesn't 'play' with other children yet. He's too young. On Saturday his toys were scattered all over the floor as usual following a morning's high-octane Charlie play-activity. I sat back expecting him to rummage round for something, play with it for a minute then move on to something else. That's the usual pattern. So I started looking for something Yasmin might find amusing while her mum was in the kitchen. But I was elbowed aside as Charlie suddenly transformed himself into a jealous toy-shop salesman desperate to secure a sale. He spent the next few minutes showing Yasmin all his toys in turn and looking slightly flushed as she turned down each successive offering. I think she was bemused by the attention. "If madam doesn't like the lego bricks, perhaps the musical box would be of interest? Look it plays three different tunes? No? Well how about the train-set then? Or cars? No? Ok, my piece-de-resistance - I present... the Ninky-Nonk!"
I can't remember whether anything did the job. It was just so amusing watching my young man try so, so hard to impress an even-younger lady! But it all became too much for Yasmin, who suddenly noticed that her mum was missing. And when she started crying, Charlie suddenly stopped in his tracks, concerned and confused. For a moment I thought he was about to cry himself. But then he reached across and put his little hand on Yasmin's arm to comfort her. He bent down low to look into her face and smile. And it was me who ended up with tears in my eyes!
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