I’m not a very tolerant person. And I’m certainly not a very patient one, either. Hannah and Philippa will tell you that, as well as the folks I worked with at IRRI.
Neither am I a particularly little person person – frankly I’ve never been much into the small child thing, except my own of course. I’m not sure I was a very good father when Hannah and Philippa were growing up. During the 1980s, when I was working at the University of Birmingham, I think I focused rather too much on work and not enough on family. Maybe that is not such an uncommon thing. But looking back on those years, I do regret not dedicating more time to the girls than I did.
I was also a bit of a disciplinarian. There was definitely a line in the sand . . . So it’s come as a bit of a surprise to me to realize just how much I love and enjoy being a Grandad.
When we visited Hannah and Michael in September 2010 and met young Callum Andrew for the first time, it was a LONG time since I’d held a baby. And I think I took to it like a duck to water. One thing though, I don’t do nappies/diapers.
As we have watched Callum grow, seen his personality develop, and all the skills he is developing, it’s such a wonder and joy. Callum and me have a great time playing peek-a-boo, and this continues even on Skype. He has such a welcoming smile – the whole screen lights up. Now that he’s walking, his personality has blossomed, and it seems he’s into everything. I can see that Callum and I are going to be big buddies, and we look forward to visiting again later this year.
Now, Philippa and Andi’s little boy, Elvis Dexter, was born only 4 months ago, and we met him just a couple of weeks later, and then again just before Christmas. What a difference two months can make. It’s really fun taking over for a while, having him snuggle down and go to sleep in my arms. He looks like he’s going to be a tall and slender boy, and we look forward to seeing him growing up.
Our first grand-daughter, Zoe Isobel was born at 00:21 local time on 8 May 2012 in Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota. She’s a little sweetie, and it’s fascinating to see her grow and interact with Callum.
Grandadhood has already brought special times to retirement. But it is just a pity that the grandchildren are not closer to home. Hurrah for the Internet and Skype!
July 2015 update:
Here we are in July and Callum will soon be 5 and starting school in September. Zoë was 3 last May. Elvis will be 4 at the end of September, and his younger brother, Felix, will be 2 on 1 September. Here are a couple of latest photos.