When we set off on a journey through parenthood, most of us have little more to guide us than a few verbal directions. And the problem with verbal directions is a significant one. More often than not, people who know where you're heading, having trodden the route themselves, attempt to get you to your destination via their own wrong turnings, past long demolished landmarks. It's a confusing time. So confusing, in fact, that you'll soon be thumbing your way through handbooks filled with theories and bullet-pointed lists on how to put one faltering foot in front of the other.
For most grandparents (usually those who haven't elected to become providers of half-remembered directions) the expedition is less of an ordeal. If undertaken correctly, the way through and around grandparenthood is achieved in a series of small steps, unexpected stop-overs and a reintroduction to the wonders of art. There will be little hands to lead you in any number of merry dances, and episodes of razor-sharp logic, to which you will respond in ways that are both delightful and surprising...especially to yourself.
My daughter bought me The Summer Book by Tove Jansson for my birthday, last month. It's not exactly a tome, so I've no real excuse for taking so long to read it. But I finished it this morning, and I know that it's a book I'll be keeping close at hand as I progress through grandparenthood. I won't say more than that. Well, I will actually. Read it!