As youngsters our five grandchildren stayed with us regularly either singularly or together. We loved having them and it gave their parents a chance to have a short holiday or get some redecoration of the house done.All of our grandchildren have treated H rather like a big playmate in the same way as our own two sons did. He is good fun with children and would help them build dens, or climb up the very large tree in our garden. They would all enjoy going off for a hike with him, carrying a packed lunch in their rucksacks, and we would both take them to a local horse riding school for a lesson or a hack which they loved. H would walk them across the Common and down in to the valley hunting for fossils, interesting stones, watching out for birds and wildflowers. Our grandson would look out for branches which he would whittle with his penknife to make into a walking stick.
One day when he was walking over the Common with three of our grandchildren, he asked them if they were afraid of anything. Our 5 year old granddaughter said she had a fear of darkness, and liked her mother to leave a small light glowing on the landing and her bedroom door ajar. Our 8 year old grandson said he was frightened that he might get bullied at school, luckily he has not. Our eldest granddaughter, 11 years old said “I think fear is often as a result of ignorance”.
Those halcyon days seem to have passed in the blink of an eye. The 5 year old has just become a teenager, our grandson is taking his GCSE exams this summer, and our eldest granddaughter is now in her 2nd term at Oxford.
A young relative of H's came to stay for a few days. She had never climbed trees or gone on “hunting hikes”, nor ridden a horse, all the things that we planned to do with her. The first morning of her stay I looked out of the bedroom window and there was H and this young girl sitting in the top of our tree carrying on an animated conversation. Ladders had been rested beside the trunk and they had a system of ropes and pulleys in place to haul up her dolls and teddy to the den at the top of the tree. He would never compromise their safety or put them in danger, that is paramount.
She was a natural at horse riding, and returned from her hike exhausted but full of what she had seen, and continues to have an interest in fossils to this day.
Childhood passes swiftly, from my experience, good and happy memories are lasting.