It’s an older photo now, but it still checks out. The items are the same, and the place. There is still the precise placement of things: train tracks, plastic straws covered in sticky tape, a plastic cup filled with wet grass. They still squat to play.
Two of them have started school, the youngest Finn, kindergarten. The teachers have names, and they say things. There are libraries and readers and kids.
When I ask, how was school, they say good. Sometimes they roll their eyes and say good. They are casual: yeah, that happened at school. They are excited: yeah, that happened at school. They are tired: yeah, that happened at school.
They are complex.
‘Nanna, who is your mum?
‘My mum is Nanna Pat.’
‘Is that my greatest Nanna?’
‘I’m sure she’d think that.’
‘She’s your mum but not my dad’s sister?’
‘But why don’t you have a cat?’
‘What died her?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t remember.’
‘Why don’t you remember?’
They are observant, and they share intimate knowledge with me.
‘Rubee and Ian can paint things. Like shirts and walls.’
‘Cooper got in trouble.’
‘Mum works on her laptop in bed.’
They are agile and efficient. I have seen one small grandson stand in the doorway of the toilet and urinate while leaning backwards to talk to a cousin in the hall. Some of the urine found the toilet.
And they like superheros. Finn, staying over, found a box of superhero books. He said,
‘So the superheros have written their own book.’
He poured over the books and chose The Incredible Hulk. We read it in bed. We read it 4 times, although I urged other books. I have thousands of other books. But Finn needed to work on The Hulk.
‘Was he always not like that?’
‘I don’t think so?’
‘Was he in an experiment?’
‘I think so.’
‘Where’s his powers?’
‘I’m not sure.’
Finn is disappointed in me. I try harder.
‘He got caught in this green explosion, and that started all the problems.’
‘Nanny, have you got superpowers?’
I admit that I do.
‘Where are they?’
I tell him that anyone with a library has superpowers. He is not impressed. He rolls his eyes. I smile: he’ll find out.
Then he drifts off to sleep. There are 13 superhero books in bed with him, a plastic drink bottle, a dinosaur, a pair of shorts from another grandson, a small cardboard box and a spoon.