A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


A Long Spring In Fall
Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rebecca, 9, has this fondness for stuffed animal toys. When she sees one she wants it. Her mother, Hilary has imposed a rule on her that forces to give away one of her old animals if she is to bring a new one to the house. In Morelia, last August Rebecca nagged us about a beaver (Chippy) she saw at Sanborn's. We pointed out the ludicrous fact that here you had a Canadian icon made in Indonesia that was being sold in Mexico. It didn't make any difference, she wanted it. When we went to the Morelia zoo (at 200 acres it is the largest zoo in Mexico) Rebecca insisted on taking George. Several generations of plush toys later I anger Rebecca when I tell her that she had abandoned Chippy for whatever animal is her favourite at the moment. She insists, "Chippy is at home in my room and he is happy with Rose, Evelyn,......"

I explain to Rebecca about adult things. We talk about Hitler and evil or I teach her about how sadly Paul Desmond played his alto saxophone the day his mother died (I was there). Hilary, her mother and my wife Rosemary insist that Rebecca needs to be the little girl she is. Perhaps Hilary insists more than Rosemary. I catch myself when I almost begin to say to Rebecca, "Rebecca, you are 9, you don't need another stuffed animal."

Yesterday we all went to VanDusen for a walk. This is a favourite place for Rebecca and Lauren. Lauren, in particular, likes to get lost in the maze. Rebecca and I touched rhododendron leaves to see which would have that soft indumentum that reminds us of the inside of a cat's ear or, even, of one of Rebecca's animals.

But Rosemary and I knew that as soon as we finished the walk we were going to have a problem at the VanDusen store. Rebecca wanted one of the bears. I tried to explain to Rebecca that as soon as it is about mid November it is useless to ask for anything. Christmas is just around the corner. Rebecca almost began to cry as I taunted her with the spelling of no in Spanish, "¬° N-O, no! over and over until Rosemary told me to shut up. In the car I told Rebecca that if I were a millionaire I would never be able to say no to her.

And I always remember that quote from Dag Hammarskjöld's Markings:

You find it hard to forgive those who, early in life, have come to enjoy the advantages that come with maturity. Aside from any other consideration, why don't you put into the balance the long spring enjoyed by a youth who matured late.

Rebecca, don't grow up; not just yet.


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