Monday 17 August 2020

Sitting in the Back with Godling

My favourite of Godling's toys
I once read in a book about contentment that the most important part of a holiday is the end. It's the end that you remember most, the part that determines your memories of the trip and how much lasting happiness you get from it.

The way our holiday ended was a trip from Polish Pretend Son's house to the airport, with my Goddaughter (Godling for short) in the back with Benedict Ambrose on the left and me in the middle. We had a few car trips like this, for which B.A. and I are very grateful to PPS, especially as we have never driven him anywhere ourselves. I enjoyed all these trips, not least because they were on the normal (i.e. the right) side of the road, but I especially loved the opportunities to spend more time with Godling.

Godling is 7 months old and beautiful. She has dark slanted-down eyes, a lot of reddish-blond hair that is as yet so fine that she looks bald, two minuscule bottom teeth that have only recently appeared, and a lot of baby fat. She is at the stage where she can't crawl, exactly, but she can pull herself forward with her arms to get what she wants. When she realises she needs to employ her knees and lift her tummy, she'll be a speed demon. She hasn't said a discernible word yet, but she is certainly vocal. One of her monologues sounds like "Gid-gid-gid-gid-gid-gid." She can be entertained with such simple toys as a golf ball or a beer mat attached to a piece of string, and when I gave her a cardboard English-Polish book about animals, she was more interested in gumming the corners than in looking at the pictures. She is, usually, a very happy baby.

I am suddenly overwhelmed by a desire to get my passport, get on the bus, and get on a plane to see Godling again.

Godling's principal toy is a wooden fish inset with a row of beads that rattle back and forth. She had this with her in the back of the car when we went to the airport, but she found it insufficiently entertaining, so I rummaged in my handbag and found a small flashlight on a chain. I clicked this on and waved it back and forth, which distracted Godling from fussing. Entertaining Godling was how our holiday ended, and it was awesome.

I had lots of opportunities to entertain Godling during the week, especially thanks to impromptu dinner parties outside the country hotel we all stayed in. The hotel consists of two parts--a large butter-yellow "clubhouse" and stupendous butter-yellow mid-19th century ex-German Schloss. Between the house and the palace, there are beautifully landscaped gardens with a fountain in the middle, and behind the palace there is the smaller part of the golf course. The properly huge part of the golf course is across the rural highway, to which golfers scoot in buggies on the driveway between the house and a row of umbrella-covered tables. In the evenings,  we sat at one of these tables, drank prosecco (Italian champagne), ate filling and delicious Polish suppers, watched PPS spray wasps, and slapped at  mosquitoes.

A changing and fascinating array of PPS' family members and friends joined us outside the hotel as the week went on, and sometimes I held the baby. On one particularly memorable occasion, Godling's mother played folk tunes on her fiddle while my husband beat the rhythm on a tambour. The baby was passed around the table, but she soon stopped with me.

On an earlier memorable occasion, Pretend Polish Daughter-in-Law and Godling spent part of the afternoon on the small golf course, not far from where BA was reading his book and watching golfers contend with the water trap, rolling about by one of the holes, into which Godling threw a golf ball--her first hole-in-one. PPDIL wanted to go the driving range and practise her swing, so we went along, too. BA walked to the range, and I sat beside PPDIL in the golf cart, clutching the baby as she zoomed across the road and around the golf course. While PPDIL, now barefoot, taught BA how to hit the ball and proceeded to hit two baskets of balls herself, Godling and I played with a golf ball.

Apparently Polish Pretend Daughter-in-Law would like me to  come back and entertain Godling while she does something else for a few hours of the day, and if they had a room to keep B.A. and me in, I would do it in a heartbeat.

BA and I were supposed to have a small dinner party yesterday, which I hoped would take the sting out of being suddenly alone again. Unfortunately BA picked up a tummy bug of some kind in Poland (no symptoms of the Vile Germ, I'm relieved to report), so we had to cancel our party. Instead we watched a film about a woman who runs an informal boarding house in 1970s California (the boarding is clearly to help pay for the beautiful old building's restoration) and often invites people to dinner. Seeing the crowd around the table, and the impromptu conversations with boarders and drop-ins in the kitchen made me feel intensely nostalgic.

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