Wednesday, July 20, 2011
To each her own
Around this time in 1979 I was confronted by myself. I gave birth to a baby girl. What was confronting about this was that I am not a feminine woman: I neither flounce nor flirt; wear the minimum of makeup; am not into shopping; don't gossip, nor read romance novels. What the hell did I have to offer to a female baby?
As it turned out, that particular female baby is small, delicate and feminine, knows exactly what she likes, thinks, and wants. Somehow she learnt this by osmosis. She did not get it from her mother, the reverse in fact.
So, now she has a daughter of her own. And that is just dandy by me: her mother can do the feminine things; and her grandmother can continue what she was doing thirty years ago.
When I was eight, my family moved from suburban Sydney to a small farm in the Hunter Valley. I am the middle child of three, with a brother either side. In Sydney, we played with our Matchbox cars, our Meccano, and our Hornby train set. In the country, we did the same. We had a long driveway that ended in a round-about. In the centre of this circle, our mother tried to grow flowering bushes, but all I remember is an uprooted tree-trunk. Which suited us fine. We built our city and our farms in, around, through, and under it. Out came the Meccano and the cars. We had entire farming neighbourhoods, and my imagination blossomed.
So, what does this have to do with my grand-daughter Alannah? Just this week, I have job-lot purchased from a cousin, a whole swag of Duplo, and a shopping basket full of Thomas Tank Engine paraphenalia. I am haunting eBay bidding on old Matchbox Lesney models like police cars, fire engines, garbage trucks, tow trucks and the like. Things that show her how her city operates. Toys that she will be able to see on the roads around her suburb. I am, gradually, building up a collection of model farm animals for her to incorporate into her play, learning their names and their sounds. I mix and match. Take some things over to play with her; bring other things back. Hold back some items that are too advanced for next year, or the year after. I have a large wooden trunk, you see: 'Ma's Chest'. It is filling rapidly.
Shhh ... not a word!