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Posts Tagged ‘childhood innocence’

You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, “Am I having fun?” (Christopher Meloni)

I watched as my beloved Toyota was being towed away. Her replacement existed. Among a few possibilities. Nevertheless, Little Beige and I had seen many miles together. We fit old-sneaker comfortably; until that last crashing moment I knew what to expect. She didn’t complain when one of the kids spilled drinks on her back seat. I knew how her few buttons worked.

Now, I wait as my husband and the used car salesman work out the final details. Jay has a business degree, as well as a knack for checking out the facts. I listen, unaware that my granddaughter, Ella, has also been listening.

As Jay and the dealer leave the building for some checks on his car, Ella takes over the salesman’s chair.

“What kind of car do you want?” she asks.

“Green with an orange steering wheel.”

“We can do that.” She pauses. “I will have to make it.”

After a few arm swirls, she hands me the invisible product. “Do you need anything else?”

“How about a truck? Purple.”

Once again, the request is no problem. One item costs me $54.56. The other costs $56.56.

She laughs when I ask for a tractor complete with farmer. So does a fellow customer at the next desk.

Before Jay and the salesman return I am also the proud owner of a motorcycle and yellow school bus. Fortunately, the imagination doesn’t limit size. It doesn’t care about the age of user or seller either.

“We can go home and play now, Ella,” I tell her.

The day lilies by our driveway have dried by afternoon. The morning dew has evaporated. Each hour has its cost and its gift. I’d like to say I have forgotten about the fearful moment when I knew my 2005 Toyota had breathed its last breath.

Yet, somehow, I survived. Each minute brings something different—both pleasant and miserable.

Ella and I play. The sun rises and sets. We are part of a larger whole. A whole I may never understand until my life is completed, and perhaps not by then. After all, knowledge isn’t my goal; love is.

 

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They say the universe is expanding. That should help with the traffic. (Steven Wright)

I wonder how many drivers have made road trips—without wondering what the…heck is that guy doing? Traveling at NASCAR speed or moving twenty-miles-an-hour in a fifty zone.

When my younger son was about kindergarten age I turned onto a narrow road behind a woman, obviously elderly. Her shoulders sloped, and head leaned over the steering wheel. She drove the center yellow line as if she were failing a sobriety test. In slow motion.

When I reacted, my youngster responded, “Oh Mom, maybe she just has old-timer’s disease.

I don’t recall how I got around her, or when she turned onto another road. My son’s innocence, however, stays with me.

His simplicity didn’t nullify the lady as a roadway threat. It did help me get through the moment.

Years later, my middle granddaughter was in the car when a driver cut me off with half a foot to spare.

I gasped, but my granddaughter saved the moment again.

“Grandma, is that what’s called a jackass?”

“Bad driver,” I answered.

Unfortunately, not every accident is an almost. Signs above the highway note the statistics. They can’t relate experience. Pain. Loss. Fear.

Today I drive in the rain. Someone, male or female—it doesn’t matter—passes me on the left over the center line, misses an oncoming car by about a foot, and then repeats the favor with the next car.

Peace, I think. Not in pieces. Someday. Somehow.

 

 

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Reading between the lines

 

One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter—who was a child at the time—asked me, “Daddy, why are you writing so fast?” And I replied, “Because I want to see how the story turns out!” (Louis L’Amour, novelist)

My grandson and I were riding in the backseat of the car as my husband drove to kindergarten.

As we talked, Dakota picked up my second book in the Star League Chronicles. “What is your picture doing on the back?”

“Uh, I wrote the book.”

“Really?” he said. “It must have taken you at least a half-hour to write.”

“At least,” I responded. “Two years.”

My little buddy was amazed by my slow progress. I didn’t take umbrage. When my middle granddaughter saw my first book, The Curse Under the Freckles, she wanted to know where the pictures were. Grandparents, by my grandchildren’s measure, were invented as playmates, not boring adults who put together words on paper. And take years to write a single story.

Dakota and I enjoy becoming pretend pilots where the newbie Grandma-pilot does practice flights with a hundred passengers aboard. He decides how much gas a plane needs to fly cross-country. Five-dollars’ worth. Or we invent a game played in the gym with a mini football instead of a basketball.

In both plot and play, reality is suspended. Grandson and I open jet windows to shoo birds while Dakota snacks on cheese dipped in hot sauce. Literary subjects never come up.

Of course, the best fictional stories appear real as they unfold. Each life’s story has a beginning, middle, and end, often unplanned.

Sure, I wonder how my life will turn out. Change can happen in the last scene. However, savoring each day seems more satisfying than typing at deadline speed. Life’s end will come soon enough. In the meantime, I have a lot of seeds soaked in love to plant.

 

 

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Luke and ThomasGrandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old. Mary H. Waldrip

Imagination, it gets soaked with the ugliness of world events and can be destroyed. I need space in between each hit from hate. Meditation, exercise, and play help both my physical and mental state.

My youngest granddaughter is here today to bring welcome sunshine. She names a toy koala, Thomas and a toy cow, Luke. (Since the doll-version is gender-neutral, the name doesn’t really matter in fantasy. Ella was Daddy in our last game.) The boundaries of reality expand in play.

“How high can you jump, Luke?” I ask as Thomas.

Apparently, the surface of my bed has lost gravity. Or fuzzy, button-eyed cows have super powers.

Thomas leaps and lands on a blue blanket—a cave, with a bear inside. Time to explore.

Danger means excitement, never malice. The bear growls, yet never attacks. The toys fall. Their injuries are healed with imaginary bandages. Within seconds.

And so am I…

 

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both books (2)_LI

I’m growing older, but not up. (Jimmy Buffett)

The tension in my neck tells me I am not in synch with the world as it is. Mass natural disasters are difficult enough to understand; mass hatred is another. I don’t need to delineate any of it. The blind can hear about it, and the deaf can read closed-caption. The unaffected remain in a narrow, wire-thin margin.

Pain begins before the first commercial on any news channel. Gentle heat helps my muscles. Distraction, blended with love, helps my spirit.

My husband and I take Dakota to afternoon kindergarten on Thursdays. Dakota asks me to sit in the back seat with him. We discuss the six-year-old boy world and his unique observations along the familiar route.

This young man notices details: The recycling truck has two steering wheels and two sets of brakes… He discerns how a toy train track fits together. His mechanical expertise will probably surpass mine before he reaches third grade!

During a rare pause Dakota notices the back cover of my second book, Stinky Rotten Threats. It is on the back seat between us.

“Isn’t that your picture? Why is it there?”

I smile. When I am with this young man, my intention is to focus on him. My successes, failures, and mundane trips to the doctor or post office don’t come up. He probably assumes I don’t pretend to pilot a plane without knowing what an instrument panel is. However, other than stocking the refrigerator with his favorite cheese and hot sauce, he wouldn’t know what else fills my day.

“This is what I do, buddy. I write. This is my second book.” (The first was The Curse Under the Freckles.)

“Wow,” he says flipping through the pages without looking at them. “It must have taken you more than an hour and a half.”

Dakota’s notion of numbers and time hasn’t developed yet. I realize I want world change overnight, in my spirit, even if my head knows a sudden transformation is as impossible as writing a middle-grade fantasy adventure in an hour and a half. The Star League Chronicles fights evil—not with fists and swords, but with truth. Even in make-believe, a story takes more than one page for goodness to win.

“Two years,” I answer. “It took me two years.”

He doesn’t say anything, but I suspect he thinks I must be mighty slow.

I don’t mind. Slow is the general idea. My neck thanks me. Growing up all the way isn’t recommended anyway.

 

 

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Sometimes the best wisdom and advice comes through the simple purity of a child. They don’t see the world as complicated as adults do. (Nishan Panwar)

Dakota and I set up a ramp for his cars in the living room. Since the action tends to include a lot of collision and upside-down accidents, an on-site mechanic becomes necessary. I have the six-year old man for the job.

While his work is magically quick, he doesn’t have a concept of money yet. His bill for removing a nail in my vehicle’s tire is $300. True, the bill includes a heart and secret code, DN. Dependable NASCAR grease monkey? I don’t ask. The F and heart placed together definitely don’t require mentioning. Besides, Dakota accepts invisible cash.

Later, we take turns as airplane pilot. The plane is the couch. Take-off begins in recliner mode. Believable or not, I’ll take it.

“How far are we going this trip, captain?” I ask.

“Twenty miles,” he answers. “And it will take twenty hours.”

“Okay,” I reply, then call back to our ever-changing number of passengers to buckle their seatbelts. My belly laugh remains inside, saved for later. For now, levity heals any lingering abdominal pain.

“I love you, little buddy,” I finally get a chance to say. He doesn’t need to answer back. His grin is enough response. I’ll go back to grownup mode in a few hours—with just a little bit more energy to face the ugly places.

 

 

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There is always more goodness in the world than there appears to be, because goodness is of its very nature modest and retiring. (Evelyn Beatrice Hall, biographer, 1868-1956) 

Since I have three granddaughters, stuffed animals, dolls, and plastic dishes rule our toy room. Dakota needs some male space. We go to a local discount store to find the first installment on a transition toward a more balanced collection. I can’t afford renovation. Gradual change is more fun for a little person anyway because our one male child is in on it.

As Dakota places his five-dollar car purchase on the counter, he smiles. The cashier responds. “Okay if I give you a hug?”

My little guy looks confused, his eyes searching his hairline, but he accepts the quick squeeze. He has no idea how much charm he emanates. Since I am present, I suspect he knows the cashier’s gesture is okay.

Dakota and I arrive home and create a mini traffic world. Up and down the grass outside, on the rug in the living room. Life is contained and uncomplicated—at least for a while.

Later, I smile as I think about how fortunate I am that this little man came into my life—a future step grandson.

The news repeats the same stories in an endless loop. Rationalizations for maintaining the status quo continue. The word change becomes a platitude, no more than a vague promise hidden behind plans for the wealthy to grow richer and stronger.

The world needs more than any one voice to discover answers. Argument is counterproductive. The world could use more people who give a gosh-darn for more than themselves. Political motivation gets in the way. Forget party affiliation; look at what is happening to human beings—everywhere. Simple, not easy.

In the meantime, beauty lives hidden within places that keep the spirit alive. In the nonjudgmental acceptance of a child, in the presence of each day, in genuine friendship, in the ability to continue to give.

Peace, upon all.

My little man likes to clean. He is cleaning our coffee table and dusting pictures.

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