I AM a grandfather again.
Did I tell you my daughter was pregnant? Well, not any more of course. Now she’s a mother. Six weeks early.
I think she did it on purpose to qualify for a mother’s day gift on May 13, but maybe it was the exercise the previous day; the wading through knee-high mangrove swamps and hauling a canoe on and off a roof rack.
It’s her first. A girl, weighing in at five pounds six ounces; and I have no idea what that is in kilograms, which is a good thing because a 2.5kg baby would sound like a bag of flour.
And just in case you were worrying (I did) – they’re both doing well. Looks like they’ll be home soon… my daughter and… er…
Six week’s premature will do that. They were discussing names, her and her partner, in the canoe when the indigestion set in. Except that it wasn’t indigestion at all…
So now my granddaughter has a label over her cot that states: B/O Pearce.
I objected, but they assured me it had nothing to do with body odour. It stands for “baby of Pearce”.
Which might not be such a bad thing, given the options. So far their list of possibilities includes Kiki and Chile. Or Chilli, or Chilly… I’m not sure which.
All I’m sure of is that if I’d been saddled with a name like Kiki or Chilli, Chile, or Chilly I probably would — quite justifiably — have grown into an axe-wielding psychopath.
But I’m old fashioned. As a grandfather it’s my job. I’m comfortable with names like Janet and John, which I understand are soon to receive government protection as endangered species.
But old-fashioned or not, there were certain advantages in good, solid Anglo-Saxon names.
There is very little the playground comedians can do with Janet and John, but they’ll have a field day with Kiki and Chilly, Chile or Chilli.
It’s already bad enough with a surname like Pearce, as the title of this column testifies.
But I guess those are all minor irritations in the general scheme of things.
This small bundle or heartbeat and wrinkles has a hand that is smaller than my thumb. There is absolutely no knowing how her life is going to unfold, but for certain there will be a large contingent of uncles and aunts, siblings, cousins, grandparents (of course) and especially parents involved in the unfolding process; peeling off the wrappings as eagerly as kids at Christmas.
After five children of my own I think I’m reasonably well qualified to suggest that none of it will make very much difference at all. She’ll be who she’ll be, despite everyone’s best efforts to muck it up.
No doubt she’ll do some dumb things; no doubt she’ll do some smart things, too. She’ll face accident and illness and, if we’re among the lucky ones, she’ll come through relatively unscathed and she’ll carve out a place for herself that suits her.
I hope she’ll grow up to be compassionate (enough to forgive the people who named her, anyway) and I hope she’ll know enthusiasm, energy and joy – which, thanks to her, we are all overdosing on right now.
But mostly I hope she’ll know about love… about its heartache and its happiness; about its unutterable highs and its unendurable lows; how it can give you wings; how it lets in the sunlight and the rain.
And I hope she’ll always believe, even when she’s my age, that all things are possible.
Even a sensible name.