It has been a bit of a hectic weekend, with three overnight guests on Saturday and the whole family here on Sunday, for the first time ever.
Jayne has been a bit tense and panicky all week in anticipation, but it all went very well.Jayne’s oldest daughter, didn’t live with her, and I never met her until she was eighteen. Since then I have aonly met her a few times because she lives down in Hastings and has only visited here for some specific big events. Her son I had only met once before, quite soon after he was born. We took him up with us when we visited my dad the week before he died. He is now 6 and obviously has changed a lot.
I got the impression that he is a bit wary of meeting new people, especially a family he grew up without much contact with or knowledge of. Jayne has been visited a couple of times on her own, and with Frankie and Chrystal, introducing him to his family gradually.
Finally they decided that he was ready to come up here for a visit. I was worried about what would happen if it was all too much for him, and with so much caution about it I was starting to form a mental picture of somebody a bit neurotic – not helped when I was told this week that the boy is really, really scared of dogs…
Saturday afternoon came along and Ami & Alfie turned up and everything was fine. We had locked the dogs out in the back garden, just in case because Noche is not only a big dog but very enthusiastic. Alfie seemed OK with me and sort of OK with the dogs: a mixture of fascinated and terrified. To give him a break I took him upstairs to meet the cats, because he likes cats. As soon as Chiquita saw him she started hissing and spitting, so that he decided maybe the dogs weren’t too bad after all.
We decided to go up to Tilgate forest to walk the dogs, during which time Alfie somehow turned into Noche’s best friend. Towards the end of the walk we put the dogs on their leads so that Alfie could walk Diablo – he doesn’t think its a proper dog-walking if they are running free. After that we didn’t need to worry about the logistics of keeping a child and dogs aprt in a small house. By Sunday he wanted to take Noche home with him.
Funny that he should end up bonding with the big scary dog and still be a bit wary of the small, cute one, but staffs are notoriously good with children.
When we got home Chrystal had arrived from Gosport so the house was starting to get full. On Sunday Frankie and Charlie turned up and Frankie has his girl Lottie with him. This was quite remarkable because it was the first time all four of Jayne’s children and both grandchildren have been in the same place at the same time.
It is what she has been looking forward to for weeks, but also dreading in case anything went wrong. As it happened, the little ones got on fine with each other, and Alfie got on OK with his uncles, aunts, granddad and the dogs so it couldn’t have been better.
In fact the only problem was having nine people for dinner and only four dining chairs (two are still on loan to Chrystal until she gets all her own furniture in her new flat) but somehow we managed. I enjoyed meeting Alfie and I hope that now the ice is broken he will visit more often, maybe even on his own, and we can go out and do some things.
I think Jayne knew it would work out. On Saturday afternoon she said I should get on with Alfie better than with Lottie because he is more my age. I know what she means. I don’t understand small children. When I met Jayne, her youngest was 6 so I understand that. Anything younger than that I have no experience of.
Apart from anything else, it all gave me an opportunity to use the remote control shutter release on my camera, which I am still chuffed about.