If you could be a really tiny creature, what would you choose to be?
This was the quandary faced by grandson James (the Middle
of the Not So Very Little Welsh Boys) and me this morning. After some thought, during which the video connection on FaceTime kept failing, leaving us both waiting impatiently to catch sight of each other again, I chose to be a ladybird and James chose a tadpole.
So far, so good - however our next task was to come up with five advantages of being tiny. Well, we made a right meal out of that...
It’s Wednesday morning and James had messaged me to ask if I would be free for “Bitesize at 10.45”. Unfortunately, not being the kind of person permanently attached to my mobile phone,
I didn’t pick up the message until after 11 and I knew it would take me time to rescue my aged laptop from under the sideboard and crank it up to meet the demands of on-line lessons. Could we make it 11.30, I responded. I didn’t hear back so I
took silence as assent - in my experience, this is usually a better call than assuming the worst.
As regular readers know, one of the unforeseen benefits of Life
in Lockdown has been the opportunities it has presented for connecting with my dear but distant Welsh Boys through the medium of on-line lessons on BBC Bitesize. I have almost certainly seen more of them over the last 100 days than I would have done had they
been at school.
Indeed I had mixed feelings when I heard that pupils in Welsh schools would be returning this week - pleased for the boys (and their parents!)
but rather sorry for myself. Did this development, I asked myself, signal the End of Bitesize for me and my “pupils”? As it turned out, it is a one day a week return to school, hence for the moment at least my services are still required.
To begin with, everything seemed to go wrong today - James and I simply couldn’t coordinate our Shakespeare lessons. He was all ready to listen to excerpts from A Midsummer
Night’s Dream while on my screen, we were all ready to go with Macbeth. It took us half an hour to admit defeat. It was part-comedy, part-tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.
We finally accepted defeat and turned to a book called “Charlie Changes into a Chicken” by Simon Copeland which, while not exactly Shakespeare, is apparently very popular. In other books in the same series, Charlie
(a boy of many parts) finds himself turning into a T-Rex and morphing into a mammoth. We stayed with the chicken and James read aloud for me the moment when Charlie became a fowl. There was almost a (Midsummer Night’s) dream quality about it.
The reading was followed by the exercise about the advantages of being tiny. Concentrating on our respective alter egos (me a ladybird, James a tadpole) we did manage to
come up with (i) being able to crawl / swim into small spaces; (ii) being able to hide easily from predators. I contributed the thought that, being tiny I would be able to hide out of sight and eavesdrop on other people’s conversations - a fly on the
wall, if you like. Only with spots. This doesn’t say very much about my character..
Initially I thought the best things about being a ladybird would be (i)
having a nursery rhyme written about you and (ii) the fact that people were generally pleased to see you in their gardens, unlike slugs and snails, for example. Then I remembered the Ladybird Summer of 1976 when the whole country suffered a plague of Swarming
Spotted Ones - and recalled that the nursery rhyme about ladybirds contains the lines “Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home / your home is on fire, your children are gone...” I mean, it’s positively Shakespearean in its tragic consequences.
How about the best thing about being a tadpole, I asked my grandson. As matriarch of my own fairly large tribe (albeit not of the Tadpole Variety) I loved, loved, loved his
answer: “You would have a really, really large family,” he said.
That’s my boy!