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Posts Tagged ‘childhood innocence’

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. (A.A. Milne in Winnie-the-Pooh)

Rebe leads our play—sometimes with linear logic, sometimes not. In a child’s imagination, anything can happen. I ask questions only when I don’t understand the current scene: Is it day or night? Is the couch a make-believe car or taxi?

Usually I laugh at my granddaughter’s off-the-wall scenarios. Her sense of humor has developed far beyond the understanding of a nine-year-old child.

Today she dives into the serious. I don’t offer more than attention. Her doll, Ava, wears a layer of dirt from being dragged everywhere, but since her midsection is cloth, a full bath is not possible. In Rebe’s scene, her child has a fictitious illness, grow disease—her version of failure to thrive taken to the ultimate.

On a culturally learned keep-everything-nice level, I want to lead her to a gentler setting, but I let her continue, and listen. Perhaps she practices for real-life grief, in her own controlled setting, close to Grandma on this tangible, ordinary Wednesday. I don’t know. She is game initiator.

I play the role of surviving daughter. My baby-doll sister doesn’t make it through surgery. However, the next thirty-second-later day, Rebe lets me know something bizarre and unexplained happens. Both of us die and go to heaven. We have a party and then continue a regular routine. From the other side of the clouds.

“Let’s bake something,” she suggests.

“In heaven?” I ask.

Apparently, that scenario has ended. She wants to know if I have ever tasted flour.

“Yes. Probably when I was your age. It doesn’t taste like anything. Go ahead. Try it. It’s an organic brand.”

She lifts one flour-covered finger to her lips and agrees.

True, the taste of the flour is the-definition-of-bland. We discuss how different it is when the rest of the cookie recipe ingredients are added and baked.

Her eyes shine and smile broadens with the notion of how things change when they are mixed together.

People change, too. Sure, I enjoy my silent hours alone when I can create without needing to wash the floors later. Hours to play with words, mix them, add and subtract them. Give them power. However, I would have nothing with heart to create if all I had were continuous quiet.

Yes, Piglet, your heart is small, but size doesn’t have much to do with gratitude or love. Love and gratitude don’t take up space; they embrace people. And change them.

Thanks for a great day, Rebe. I love you.

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My grandchildren are fabulous and funny. (Erica Jong)

Nine-year-old Rebe (Rebecca) announces that it is time to play. Her tone suggests Grandma hasn’t been feeling well and needs more entertainment and less work. At the same time, she is here to entertain and be entertained. It’s the nature of the grandparent/grandchild relationship.

Imagination explodes through these small rooms as Rebe and thirteen-year-old Kate feed off one idea after another.

“I’m getting married,” Rebe announces.

She’s marrying a famous film star Kate suggests. However, Rebe constantly calls him by the wrong name, Ansel.

“You’re marrying someone, and don’t know his name?” I ask.

“That’s okay. I’ll just call him sweetie.”

She leaves the room to hunt for bridal gowns—at a local dollar outlet.

On the offbeat wedding day with the famous-actor-without-an-identity groom. Kate and Rebe design the veil: a shawl, held securely on her head with a pair of antediluvian white cotton underwear.

Then, seconds after Rebe removes the bridal dress, one of my white t-shirts, she is ready to deliver her first child. Or rather fifteen babies.

I don’t have anywhere near that many dolls and stuffed animals. Our fertile mama’s hyperbole delivery lowers to ten infants. Kate improvises the last child. She designs a creature from some of my summer clothes, and a pillow, held together with an Ace wrap and stretch band, with a toy Dora, the Explorer backpack head.

My grandchildren’s ingenuity can’t stay wrapped around pillows and scattered across the floor as make-believe infants forever. However, I celebrate this moment and cough through laughs.

No life is perfect. Illness, as well as problems both personal and world-wide, interfere and must be faced. Yet, beauty is not dead. I see it in two pair of bright eyes and hear it in two young voices.

I can echo Erica Jong: my grandchildren are mighty fabulous and funny, too. And I am grateful.

 

 

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Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. (Carl Sagan)

I laugh at my middle granddaughter Rebecca’s antics long after she leaves with Daddy. She loves to play with an old pair of crutches that are too big for a nine-year-old girl. Each time she has a different pretend reason why she needs them.

Today’s reason: “I have boneless disease.”

She relays the surgical procedure, including plastic-skull placement with an occasional ouch; then she rises from a chair and reaches for the crutches. The OR is our backyard. She claims that all she needs to sustain her now, besides the beloved crutches, is a house filled with medicine. She pretends to swallow the first roomful.

I smile on the outside and chuckle internally.

“You raised my daddy. You raised my daddy,” she repeats the same line with a rising chuckle. Yet, I know she wants to be just like her father.

Rebe’s daddy, Gregory Petersen, is an author and a stand-up comic. Rebe’s wit is already sharp. Moreover, she has my complete attention, and she thrives on it.

When she is not in pretend-mode, Rebe is one-hundred percent honest. Two years ago, when I gave her a signed copy of The Curse Under the Freckles, a middle-grade fantasy, she took one look at it and asked where the pictures were. She knows I write, but she sees me as her ancient playmate.

Imagination doesn’t need to disappear with childhood. I happen to be a very old youngster.

By late spring, early summer, the sequel to my first book will appear—Stinky, Rotten, Threats. (No link yet. All is in progress.)

Chase Powers and his magic woods friends are attending summer school. Chase failed sixth grade—he studies both everyday fractions as well as how to use magical skills. His friends are self-motivated. They have natural smarts; they grew up with magic.

Of course, even school in a magical setting doesn’t follow the teacher’s plan. The adults in Chase’s family enter the woods for instruction, and Chase sees how much trouble newbies can be. Add interference from the evil Malefics… Then, Chase sees a change in the magical world he could never imagine even with the most potent tools.

Boneless disease never appears in my story. That fantasy belongs to my granddaughter.

Chase Powers is a fantasy character in a world that does not exist. However, his character thinks, feels, and acts like a twelve-year-old boy.  Anna, his friend, is a near-genius who has a knack for unintentionally getting under Chase’s skin, the way real people do sometimes.

Even so, something incredible is about to happen.  In the story, and in real life. Yes, a lot of bad news rolls off commentators’ tongues with the same tone of voice used to forecast a partly cloudy day. Ugliness is real.

However, so is beauty. A friend calls. A child draws a picture—just for Grandma, Mommy or the dog. Not all brightness comes from sun. Hope is like a seed, or a plot. You can’t tell how it will grow in the beginning.

I do hope you will bother to turn a page that promises a lead out of darkness. Of course, I would recommend my own work. However, if anyone has suggestions for inspirational titles, go for it. I am always glad to hear about a good, positive-minded book.

Peace, and may something incredible touch all.

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I am much less sure about most things than I used to be. But I feel the pull of the love of God all the time and I don’t care nearly so much about not understanding. (Barbara Cawthorne Crafton)

My father died in December more than a decade ago. I brought home a few of the plants from his funeral and hoped they would survive at least the winter.  I could never forget my dad. However, proper botanical maintenance has never been one of my gifts. My older son joked that if killing plants were a felony I’d be on death row.

Nevertheless, one of those pots survived—even now—and occasionally blooms. It has a flower now.

“Hi, Dad,” I say, as if the white flower carried a heavenly listening device. “What’s it like on the other side?”

Dad doesn’t answer. I suppose I’d be totally freaked if he did, but I move the pot and blossom from the corner to a more prominent position in the sun. My memories answer, though. Too many of them. Hours later. Some are as bright as the sun that shines so bright I wear a baseball hat so I can see the computer screen.

Other memories appear as dark as the Good Fridays of my youth. Always somber. Filled with thou-shalt-nots and guilt.

Somehow storms never coincided with Good Friday and a halo-sun never rose on Easter. Meteorology and religion don’t speak the same language.

I think about a book I’m reading, The Alsolife, by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton. I’m not halfway through, and yet I’m tempted to begin reading again from page one. Then again, perhaps I should wait until I’ve read the last word of the last chapter. Then, I’ll read again with a fuller perspective.

Sometimes today is more than I can absorb, and this is a super-busy week.

The Alsolife explores existence in a fuller context, not as a linear concept—but as past, present, future, the universe—existing as one reality.

Forget aiming toward focusing on punishment. Hell. War. Hate… Choose forgiveness. Sounds right and good. And yet, Reverend Crafton describes how bitter the experience of real-life hurt can be, understood, maybe, only in context with the whole.

I recall a Holy Saturday more than a half-century ago when I thought I would be a corpse the next morning. I lived, but in the aftermath, I believed a morgue would have been a better Easter celebration. Years later, I would see the day differently, with a husband, two handsome sons, and three incredible grandchildren. Color and beauty returned. One moment never remains forever, and yet nothing from the past can be erased.

Now, on this Friday afternoon, I celebrate a moment of silence, sun, the quiet and gentle support of my husband, friends both new and old, family, and the peculiar gift called life—even if I never understand its secrets.

 

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You can never spend enough time with children. (Dwayne Hickman)

Dakota sits in the Captain’s chair as he punches tickets for passengers. When he isn’t driving an imaginary boat, I use that seat to work at the computer. (However, when I write I don’t use the swivel function for steering.) Dakota is spending time with me and Jay because his mommy is working toward a degree. She is in class, and Dakota isn’t. He is recovering from an ear infection. With the same speed he does everything else, quickly.

“How much are the tickets?” I ask, knowing that as a crew member this question would be ludicrous. Uh, shouldn’t that be printed somewhere on a board with letters the size of the E on an eye chart? Dakota is in a fantasy world. I am investigating his play. For fun. Imagination adjusts the rules.

“Three dollars.”

That sounds reasonable. However, after a few more hole punches and the tiny centers create confetti on the rug, he hands me the next ticket. “Four dollars.”

From my point of view the cost difference is either for inflation or the cost of clean-up. Then he turns, eyes wide. “This one is twenty-three-hundred dollars.”

For the boat? “Wow! That seat must be really special.”

His eyes sparkle. I manage not to laugh out loud, and he nods. I place the ticket, representing the position of the paying passenger, next to his chair.

My little buddy is priceless.

I had other plans for today, nothing set in stone, only in intention—to finish more projects than possible. Instead, I received the opportunity to meet heart-to-heart with an almost six-year-old boy, a far richer time for my spirit.

Dakota takes a picture of me while I take one of him.

 

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. (Dr. Seuss, author and illustrator)

 Caring isn’t necessarily the difficult part; fighting through the messy stuff in the real world is. Sure, I’ve met folk who seem to have as little compassion as an exploding grenade. Fortunately, not everyone fits into this category.

“I really have a busy schedule today,” I say. And then, the universe hears and grins with a peculiar plan for mischief. “Uh, huh,” it responds. “So do I, and I’m a lot bigger than you are.”

And that’s where priorities come in. Okay, the story I wanted to have critiqued for tomorrow night’s writers’ meeting won’t be as polished as I want it to be. My fingers won’t get the practice they want on guitar chords. These arthritis digits may need to settle for half the time—my eyes may not waste the few minutes I do have staring into space between songs.

I don’t waste time. Do I? Well, yes.

Another cup of coffee? Uh uh, Terry. Try water. More basic. It doesn’t contain caffeine or further complications.

Is family first? Will the world fall apart if I miss a self-imposed goal? Is my heart well-positioned, or do I have reservations? Okay, at least I’m working on it.

Next?

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The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. (Victor Hugo)

Ella has scarcely removed her coat when she runs to a shoe box full of small toys. A special Friday. A day off school. Time to play.

She grabs the plastic slide and the character, Diego. I know she will want Dora the Explorer next, so I reach for the figure closer to the same size. (We have several Doras in the box.) Ella chooses the slightly larger figure.

Size is not significant in the world of make-believe. I forget. Play is my granddaughter’s realm. She makes most of the choices here. She needs to yield to the adult world often enough. In make-believe, she has more experience.

We take turns leading the figures down the slide: on their bellies, head first, up the wrong way, and one friend giving the other a gentle nudge to move faster. Then Ella decides head first means vertical, with feet facing up. She laughs.

She is a child, but she lives in the real world, too. She is aware of the attitudes others have toward her whether she can verbally express what she knows or not. Talking about her struggles in her presence, is unfair. Even cruel.

Yes, Ella has Down syndrome. She needs to work harder in some areas. However, she has been reading for several years—sounding out words, not simply memorizing them. Ella has a sense of humor.

“Look!” she says. She turns Diego’s head around.

“Are you doing that again?” I say for Dora. Then I turn Dora’s head around. “But, you do it so much better, Diego.”

Ella howls with laughter.

I suggest placing the two figures on the back of a plush ladybug. “Let’s fly.” Our fantasy world continues.

That’s how I know I’ve been completely accepted into her imaginative space. I consider it a promotion.

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