July 25, 2013
Our oldest granddaughter is here, the one who recently turned 4 and has bruises up and down both legs because, as she says, “I play hard.” Play hard is an understatement. What she should really say is, “I play professionally.” She plays like someone with a six-figure contract in the NFL. The girl has one speed, and it is overdrive.
She came for a short summer stay along with two sets of lists. One is her list of things she’d like to do, a list with which we are entirely amenable: Go to Daddy’s old school and playground; eat ice cream or make it from scratch (a brilliant child!), bake cookies for Daddy (an easily influenced child), Skype with Mommy and Daddy, play in the sprinkler and eat chocolate.
We are particularly agreeable to the last one.
On a separate sheet of paper is a list of instructions from her parents. This list we have some mild objections to, particularly the request for a daily quiet time. They might as well have asked us to stop a runaway train or a speeding bullet. The child moves fast, so fast that sometimes we can’t even see her. She’s a blast of wind blowing through the room and a blur of color speeding by.
A 4-year-old does not like quiet time.
Whenever I see a mother at the store with a 4-year-old squirming in the checkout lane and the mother snaps at the child, “What’s the matter with you?” I want to say to the mother, “Nothing is the matter with the child; the child is 4.”
In any case, we are approaching the designated daily quiet time for this 4-year-old child who goes 100 mph. The husband suggests that instead of just sending her off to lie down with a few books, it may be better if one of us would lie down and read with her.
Being that I have already read every children’s book in the house numerous times, he volunteers to be the reader. I agree cautiously, fully aware that this is one of those situations that could go either way. There could be tears, crying, vehement protests and begging to go home to Chicago because she knows she may be tricked into that dreadful state known as sleep. Or she could go along peacefully, enjoy some story time, get a good rest and then resume activity at an increased speed of 200 mph.
Ten minutes after they disappear with an armload of books, a set of footsteps comes thundering down the stairs.
“Not so loud,” I say. “We don’t need a lot of racket during quiet time. So, how did it go?”
“What books did you read?”
“‘Curious George’ and ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog.’”
“Asleep or still awake?” I ask.
“Asleep. Very, very tired. Head on the pillow, asleep with the buffalo and the bear and the coyote.”
“Well, that went better than we expected, now didn’t it?” I say.
“I closed the door, but not all the way.”
“Wonderful,” I say. “And did you say anything as you slipped out?”
“Yes. I said, ‘Good night, Grandpa.’”
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