One of the beauties of having several children, is that they are all so different from each other. Watching each of them grow up and interact with the world around them is fascinating in each case. As a parent, one’s relationship with each of them is rewarding for both the same and different reasons as a result of that individuality. Whilst they are all different however, they are after all the components of a whole. The dynamic is very noticeably different when one is not there, as has been seen of late with our eldest moving away to university. I’ve written a few things on this blog about my pride in my kids…three out of four of them so far. So, it’s more than high time I finished this off and spoke about the youngest of the brood, Imogen Frances Foley.
Today is her 10th birthday (and my 47th), but it still feels just a short while ago that she arrived on my birthday in 2007, the only one of my kids to be born in Bristol. A 37th birthday present to be truly thankful for…in a number of ways (my ever-increasing age gets forgotten about in a flurry of children’s birthday party activity)! Perhaps that feeling of it all being recent is down to her being the youngest, and the knowledge that I’ll never have a child that young again thus grasping onto each experience with her! One wonders how my mother feels, looking at me (her youngest) and I’m 47! Regardless however, Imogen is certainly a unique character.
Being the youngest of four children, sharing is clearly part of the deal. It makes me smile however, that her very first clearly-spoken word was “mine”! Until recently she shared a room with at least one older sister, and being that much younger than other siblings, was more a plaything than play companion! But, a happy child she most certainly was and still is. Each of my children has a “something” that uniquely marks them out when I think of them as they’ve grown. For Imogen, I can certainly say she has always been the most content in her own company compared to the others*, happy playing with her toys with or without company. She likes TV, but was never really bothered by kids TV. She reads voraciously, often surreptitiously staying up far too late doing so. She loves creative activities, and is a determined little so-and-so too. When she was five, she saw a bike for sale second-hand and asked to spend her pocket money on it. She then taught herself to ride in the back garden / local park like Natasha did years ago.
* Having said she’s happy in her own company, she absolutely loves her friends, and is often riding her bike around to see them on weekends, after school and during holidays. Earlier this year, one of the best uses of my time was probably fixing Imogen’s bike and giving it a service to rid it of dirt and rust etc from where it’d been neglected over the winter. She’s barely been off it since!
Imogen being the youngest, and my wife having a couple of part-time jobs (some of the working time of which is timed to be when I’m around for childcare), Imogen and I spend a lot of time together. It’s having done so of late that has really prompted me for this blog post, as my youngest clearly has some very redeeming qualities that make me very proud indeed. Despite being perfectly happy in her own company, she so desperately loves and wants to help out and be useful. Examples include often looking after her little cousin Alex and taking him under her wing during school holidays when she sees him. My stepfather (and to a lesser extent, my mother) have been in failing health this year so I have frequently visited on weekends to help around the house and garden. Without fail, Imogen has come with me (even when its just us going together on the train rather than a family visit) to “help Granny with her garden”. I’m the manager of the 2nd XV at the local rugby club, and she loves coming with me to hang the shirts up in the changing room for the team before the game, fill the water bottles and change the scoreboard numbers during the game. She was disappointed she couldn’t come to the away game last week! We have a lot in common, and just of late she has really enjoyed some of the things I’ve introduced her to (movies, games and the like).
Always wanting to help, always willing to try new things (Tae Kwon-Do for two years, and now cricket of late!) and join in, prepared to stand up for herself and others…content in her own company but gregarious in nature. She’ll always be our baby, but one to certainly be proud of!