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Posts Tagged ‘grandchildren quips’

Hahvey

Unconditional love is hard to compete with. (Abbi Glines)              

Greetings! My name is Hahvey, (Hah-VAY) official household greeter, master purr machine, and symbol for unconditional love.

Okay, I may slip in your way as you walk up the stairs. However, certain hazards occur when cats lead. Relax and love me back. I’m leading the way to your room for the night. Extra warmth provided as needed by orange fur. Your sister, my wonderful keeper-of-the-can-opener? Well, you already know how devoted she is.

You left your purse at the annual party, the fest with all the beautiful songs. The purse contained prized possessions, like your phone, and your sister turned around and drove through the ice and snow. A good four inches of it. Temperatures my beautiful fur won’t touch. Not when I could freeze my nose, tail, or valuable parts in between.

You appear puzzled. Unfortunately, feline and human languages don’t align perfectly. I have inflections in my meow; my body language is easy to read. You need words from a dictionary thicker than my litter box to communicate. You are busy with many things. Recognize the line?

Unwind. Spend some quality time with your only sister. Okay? My feline buddy, Oui, and I will keep your entertained. You know we can do it. You’ve seen pictures of our antics.

By the way, you already know Oui means yes in French. He’s a positive addition to our group of living, loving creatures here. Did you know Hahvey is a diminutive form of a Hebrew word, Ahavah? Ahavah means love. No surprise, huh?

Oh, by the way, one more scratch. Behind the left ear this time. Yeah, you caught my drift.

Happy New Year, Ahavah-style.

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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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Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. (Buddha) 

Ella’s daddy wants her to have a nap today. The stitches on her chest became infected. They had to be surgically repaired last week. She needs to catch up on her sleep and recover. Ella, however, has a different plan. I lie down next to her because we don’t have a bed for her. Napping at our house is not part of time-with-grandparents routine.

I had told her it was time to sleep and she told me it wasn’t dark out.

“Nap, Ella, not nighttime.”

She grins. I know what tactic she is forming so I open the book we just got from the library and begin to read. She decides she wants to tell the story.

This is a ploy, but I want to hear her version. She flips the pages back and forth and makes faces at me. Yep, I was right. Our granddaughter wants me to laugh, actually outright giggle. This will stop the possibility of sleep in the middle of a perfectly good day for play.

Oh, why was I made out of malleable wet sand when it comes to my grandchildren? I try to keep my lips set into a serious straight line, something like holding back the water from a burst pipe with a paper bag.

“Okay, sleep time,” I say.

“Night, night, Mawmaw,” Ella says, at least a hundred times—in different tones. “I love you,” she finally says.

“I love you, too,” I respond.

Then she makes a tent of the book over my face. I finally laugh. She has won. She giggles and I want to hug her forever.

You are ornery and sneaky, little girl, I think. But I wouldn’t change anything about you—even if I could.

“Uh, the nap was a bust,” I tell my husband and see disappointment in his face. We didn’t follow instructions. Okay, I didn’t follow directions. But they required willingness from another participant who didn’t want to miss one minute of the day.

I am so glad Ella’s heart is now working properly. Her spirit has always shone, even with a blocked valve, and her ability to find contentment in the simple inspires me.

Chances are I won’t seek employment as chief disciplinarian anywhere. This story wouldn’t fit well in the resume. But the position of Grandma, also known as Mawmaw, works just fine for now.

Actually, I feel somewhat honored.

listen to your heart

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Life isn’t about getting and having, it’s about giving and being. (Kevin Kruse)

 As I’m dusting the windowsill I see the note Kate wrote to Ella, probably several years ago. I saved it because it reflects who Kate is. Ordinarily I choose to publish only quotes and pictures that include correct spelling and grammar. However, there are times when perfection can ruin the beauty of the moment. The sincerity of my eldest granddaughter’s wish blasts out from her innocence. She wants the best for her young cousin. I can’t fault that.

However, no one experiences a perfect life. Our Ella probably understands that better than many people do. She approaches a quarantine time. Her open heart surgery has been postponed twice. Now, so that she can move forward, we must keep her away from crowds and lots of germs. Of course she has no fear of infection. Saturday she dropped a vending machine M&M on a restaurant floor and then picked up the candy and chomped on it. Fear of another sick day does not govern her life.

I would like to delete fear from my own life. I would also like to send a message like Kate’s to a few other folk I know, to wish safety, health, and simple joys.

There is a young woman at a place I visit frequently who has recently had a recurrence of cancer. She is frightened, as anyone would be. She says she does not expect to recover this time.

She shows me the site from her biopsy, just below her throat. We share a few tears. I hug her. This is all I have to give. She says six words that scream a lifetime of experience: “I have always been the oddball.”

We are standing in front of a public bathroom mirror. I want to turn her toward the glass and point out what I see—a beauty that isn’t superficial. Tenacity and willingness to serve don’t appear in a flat reflection. Yet, I can’t find an opening in her spirit to explain that different is not a synonym for inferior. She is devastated, too broken for words to seep in yet.

I recall how I was the taunted kid through twelve grades of school. And I never understood why, except for the innate inferiority theory. After all, my parents never told me that I had gifts of any value.

This young woman has struggled through developmental handicaps. She has gone through chemotherapy. She volunteers. Daily. With a smile. She is in too much pain to understand more than a hug. Moreover, my recent accomplishments can obscure the realities of the past. She doesn’t see a future. Now is not the time for me to talk, but to listen.

Then I see her again this morning. She wears a pink fighting-breast-cancer scarf. She readily accepts my embrace and tells me she is taking her driving test on Tuesday. I grin. She talks about her nervousness. I think about facing tons of steel on the road. I envision this young lady approaching a 32-wheeler on the expressway and crushing cancer in the passing lane.

Perhaps enough people have listened to this volunteer. Maybe she is beginning to see her own worth, prayer answered before it was barely begun…

May that power continue to grow.

 

Dear Ella

 

 

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Giving opens the way for receiving. (Florence Scovel Shinn)

The cord to the tree lights is a tad out of my reach. Sure, I could ask Jay to help, but he is in the middle of working on our finances. The two older grandchildren will be here any minute. I’d like to greet Kate and Rebe with some sparkle from the tree, up for only a few more days. Str-e-e-tch your short body, Terry, one more inch, one m-o-o-o-o-re…

Maybe not such a good idea. Crash! My son is pulling into the driveway. The girls run to the front door. They are greeted by broken glass and scattered ornaments. Son number one is going to be late for work. And he can blame it on his clumsy mama. Fortunately, he doesn’t waste time with unnecessary words. He sets the tree upright and leaves with a pleasant good-bye, see-you-later as I get the garbage can and Kate cracks the eggs for breakfast.

Electricity becomes the un-theme of the day after Kate becomes enthralled with a battery-operated candle flame and tiny glass lantern. She decides we will pretend to be a pre-modern-appliance-aged family. We weave our own clothes, plant and grow our own fruits and vegetables, as well as maintain an orchard, an old artificial pine with a few wayward branches in the real world. The television and iPad remain off for most of the day.

Some exquisitely embroidered pillows, a precious and unexpected late Christmas gift to the girls, also become an important part of the game. They provide portable bedding—the pillows travel from one-room cabin to tent to wagon train as the day progresses. The photo below was taken under a sheet tent made with the dining room chairs as posts.

“Don’t you want to go out somewhere today?” I ask the girls.

“No, we want to stay here and play, they both answer.

“Besides,” Kate adds. “Cars haven’t been invented yet.” Okay, so the answer is something of an anachronism, but if our house is a suitable playground, I guess I really can’t complain, even if the day did begin with a broken-glass cleanup. The tree comes down by the feast of the Epiphany anyway. The fun, I’m hoping, lives here.

pillows from Nora

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Innocence is one of the most exciting things in the world. (Eartha Kitt)

My old cell phone hasn’t had a battery for who-knows-how-long. However, five-year-old Ella picks it up and brings it to life with her imagination. She mimics the motions she has seen in adults, complete with subtle movements and voice tones. When her conversation has ended she closes the flip top slowly, deliberately. I’m the follower in this scenario, the fortunate observer. Ella understands but is not able to fully verbalize what she knows.

I guess the phone has rung again as she says, “hello,” hands the blackened screen to me, and adds, “It’s Dy,” short for Daddy.

She grins when I say that he is playing baseball and not at work. Daddy is working, but explaining an office setting to a five-year-old doesn’t create fun play.

“Should he stop at the store and get bananas on the way home?” I try for mock seriousness and hope she buys it.

“Yes,” she answers.

“What else?”

“A bike,” she adds.

I refrain from laughing. Nothing seems random in a child’s world. After we finish with several quick turns saying hi, bye, and what-are-you-doing-now, we enter a pretend playground where Dora, the Explorer; a tennis ball; and a plush ladybug all take turns going down a plastic slide. Reality is suspended for a while.

And I feel strangely free, privileged, invited to this spot on the floor surrounded by toys on an ordinary Thursday morning.

The folk who read my blog regularly know that my youngest granddaughter has Down syndrome; Down syndrome does not own my granddaughter. She continues to play as I get her ready to leave for the day. I have trouble getting her shoes on properly. They need to give her adequate ankle support. She seems to understand my frailties and doesn’t fuss. I thank her for her patience and wonder how much she intuits. This little blonde with the huge blue eyes is amazingly easy to love.

I envision her at Daycare after school some day as she plays with a toy phone. Does she ever say, “Hi, Mawmaw?” This isn’t the kind of thing I am likely to know. My hearing isn’t that good within the same room, with amplification, much less from one part of town to another. Nevertheless, I smile thinking about it.

She smiles back now. That’s more than good enough.

the world as it should be

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The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. (Albert Einstein)

While I loved and admired my grandmother, we didn’t share that many secrets and stories. I treasure the few incidents from her life that she did tell me. Her health wasn’t good. She lacked the stamina for running or getting down on the floor with an active child. Moreover, those were formal times. The generations were held together with a love focused on respect instead of interaction. I’m grateful for a break in the generation barrier that allows me to play with my grandchildren—to enter into their imaginative realm.

During an out-of-the-box moment I try to teach pretending-to-be toddlers Kate and Rebe how to say Mama. They refuse. They can speak in full, well expressed sentences. The word, Mama, however, isn’t on their list. They giggle at the absurdity of it, and I roll my eyes.

“You can say paparazzi,” I say with an exaggerated sigh.

“Paparazzi,” they repeat with perfect diction.

Their laughter fills the room.

“But not Mama?” I plead.

They shake their heads.

“What about historiography?”

“Historiography!” the girls say, not missing a syllable.

Then Kate breaks the tone of the game. “What does it mean, Grandma?”

“That’s a college word. It is the study of history and how it is put together from the tellers’ viewpoint. The South would have a completely different way of seeing the Civil War than the North would.”

She nods, appearing to understand.

She runs to get a note card to write down the information. It is storming, so I am glad that I don’t go to the computer for an official definition. Dictionary.com presents a meaning less easy to process—true, but nowhere near as child-friendly.

“More words! More words!” Kate exclaims returning to character.

But Grandpa enters the room. It is time for a different activity.

I hope we play this game again. We reach from the real into the unreal and back again, with elastic minds. Sometimes I learn from my girls; sometimes they learn from me. Our time is always an adventure.

believe in magic

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Dare to be naïve. (Richard Buckminster Fuller )

Our youngest granddaughter, four-year-old Ella, sounds out words but doesn’t talk in many sentences yet. Down syndrome has affected her speech. She understands, but is limited in her ability to speak fluently.

I am giving Ella a bubble bath as she plays with water toys. The boat soon becomes a cooking pot where she makes soup.

“What kind is it?” I ask.

“Green.”

As she pours that pot out into the tub, she dips more suds into her boat-pot. “White soup.”

I suspect that she wants to add some dessert to the menu when she says, “pie.”

“What kind?”

She grins—with an energy that reaches across her face, pauses, and then mouths what sounds like flatulence.

That is not the answer I expect. Apparently her interaction with other children at school and daycare has extended her life appreciation in multiple directions. “Fart-sound pie,” I tell the towel rack.

“Fart,” she says, once, the R well-rounded and clear. She giggles. So do I. Fortunately the word does not become a mantra the way it does with most children when they discover minor vulgarity.

She merely laughs, her blue eyes flashing simple delight. After she is dried and dressed she runs holding the boat out in front of her, leading it from one room to the other. She has places to go and is eager to travel—wherever her path leads.

When her older cousins, Kate and Rebe, arrive several days later the first thing they want to know is when they can see Ella next. Since I don’t have a date yet I share the bathtub story. Ella’s sense of humor can be present anyway.

Kate and Rebe repeat the tale as if they are putting it into a mini-drama and need to memorize every detail. It will grow stale, in time, replaced by another incident. But I hope the three girls are always eager to see one another, to celebrate the freshness of who-they-are. May their naivety remain intact for many years. And may they continue sharing it with Grandma.

After all, Ella’s first full sentence was, “I love you.”

 

bath toys

 

 

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What a pity every child couldn’t learn to read under a willow tree… (Elizabeth George Speare)

“Book,” Ella says with enthusiasm.

She hasn’t been talking for longer than a few months. However, our four-year-old granddaughter reads.

When she first began vocalizing she chose the alphabet and tried to sound-out such letters as e-x-i-t in stores and libraries. But, most of her communication remained through sign language. Now she reads with me as I turn back to page one of “The Wheels on the Bus” for the five-thousand-four-hundred and sixty-third time. Well, I feel like the doors on the bus have opened and closed at least that many times “all day long.” Ella knows these last three words especially well and repeats them with a joy that is contagious. How can I mind the repetition when she is so excited?

When we get to the last page she turns to the vocabulary words, takes my finger and points to them. She wants to absorb each one, learn, grow—and I want to celebrate that expansion with her.

I decide to see how much more our little girl understands. Down syndrome has limited, but not stopped her. Among the books is a Dora the Explorer coloring book. I ask if she wants the crayons. She answers, “yes,” but then hands them to me. I decide to turn this situation around.

“What color should I use?” I ask.

She gives me green for the grass, and then points out places that I have missed, including hidden background. The walk, as she calls it, close enough for sidewalk, needs to be gray. She chooses red for the barn. Usually when I color with my grandchildren I shade the edges, layer color, blend yellows and oranges, play the artist. Not now. The focus is not on perfection, but on Ella as director. Not many four-year-old kids gets to legitimately play that role. In less than an hour we will need to tell her it is time to get her coat, get in the car, and go to physical therapy. For now she can be the guide for the next move, however simple it may be.

Early in the evening I see a video made by Ella’s maternal grandmother on her phone: Ella and her daddy are in a restaurant. He is printing words on a placemat: up, down, do, cat, and dog. Ella reads them all with a voice so sweet I could listen to her as many times as I have read “The Wheels on the Bus.”

She isn’t performing. She reads for the innate satisfaction of language. Competition from others hasn’t appeared yet. I consider my creative projects and question my motives. Do I approach them seeking success or to live this moment through them?

I love you, Ella, and I hope to become a better me because of you.

flower blooming in adversity

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Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play. (Heraclitus, philosopher, 500 BCE)

Sometimes what begins as a mistake can end right-side-up.

I’ve left physical therapy and I’m on my way to pick up Rebecca from kindergarten. Her daddy calls my cell phone. Both Daddy and I remembered the wrong dismissal time. Rebe’s big sister is in fourth grade now. That seems like longer ago than it is. Morning kindergarten ends at 11:00, not 11:30. Since the time in my car reads 11:10, the chance of a punctual arrival doesn’t exist. My ancient Toyota has no time-machine properties. In fact it locks and unlocks with an old-fashioned key—not a remote control.

“Rebe’s okay,” my son assures me. “She’s in the office.”

Now I need to keep the speed somewhere close to the limit. The needle on the gauge wants to jump into the panic zone, next to how I feel. However, after turning left instead of right only once, I arrive. My granddaughter has the attention of everyone in the office. She trusts that Grandma will come. Her smile calms me immediately.

Since Grandpa is out-of-town until Tuesday he couldn’t have helped. Her babysitter isn’t available today. We would never have planned for the office to take over for a half hour. But today it worked, and I’m grateful. My therapy didn’t end until 11:00.

“We have six hours of Grandma-Rebe time,” I tell my granddaughter.

“Is that long?”

“Long enough to have lunch, go swimming, and have dinner together.”

“Yay! Can we go to your house, too?” she asks.

“Don’t see why not. It’s our day. Let’s play follow the leader. You lead.”

“The kids stay on this side of the sidewalk because it’s safer. We had a fire drill today, with fake smoke. I kept away from it though because we were learning what to do if it was real.” Rebe walks as if she were on a tightrope. My act looks less natural. I consider it a privilege to follow the kids’ route.

I watch my granddaughter and know the example I follow is worthy. She enjoys the moment, recognizes its beauty.

“What are you going to dress up as for Halloween?” I ask.

“Rosie, the Riveter.”

“Great. That’s history. From what was called World War II. Did you know that Rosie, the Riveter is older than I am?”

“Older than Mommy, too.”

I’m grateful for swallowed laughter. Our little girl’s feelings get hurt when she thinks I’m laughing at her, not her innocence. Rebe’s mommy is a tall, attractive brunette—she’s the same age as my son. However, time and age are relative terms in our kindergartener’s world. When she turned six a little over a week ago, she told her daddy, “In ten years I can drive.”

Right now I would rather play follow the leader, and act as if time didn’t exist. This day is precious. The gift of unconditional love abounds. And I’m enfolded in its child-sized arms.

Rosie-The-Riveter-Button

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