The other morning on our walk, I recalled the three generations of sea otters we’d seen at the Seattle Aquarium before heading to the airport to drop off Lady Baby and her parents. I commented to my good-natured husband that I enjoyed seeing that grandmother, mother, and child.
(He said: “Oh that toddler in the restaurant – he fell asleep in the grandma’s arms!” And I did love watching that grandmother, too, as she ate her yam fries and salad slowly, right over top of the snoozer while the mom enjoyed her lunch.)
At the aquarium baby, mother, and grandmother sea otters live together in one huge tank. I stood with Mrs. Hughes and Lady Baby and watched our parallels in the tank. They non-stop groomed the baby, fed the baby, played with the baby – flipping over and over and floating in that irresistibly cute way of sea otters, paws on chest, dismantling and enjoying and sharing shrimp.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the privilege of grandparentdom. How thankful I am to have lived this long to watch my children grow up and know the joy of this new generation.
Lady Baby and I had wonderful times on this visit, wonderful times doing pretty much nothing – slowly. We took two hours to walk down the little road to feed carrots to Ivan the horse and Paddy the donkey, and then we sat on the grass by their paddock and put dandelion blossoms on the fence rail (in the hopes that Paddy might eat them later).
Walking home we stopped at the Buffalito. The day before we’d shown Lady Baby the Buffalito – without a lot of seeming interest. But this time, she took off her shoes, climbed on the bed, gazed out the window, looked to see another small “moose” (you’d say deer), and then sank back against the pillows and smiled. We sat on the tiny porch to put on our shoes, Lady Baby walked a few steps, then turned back to sit longer on the porch.
OK, we’ll sit a while longer. That’s the grandparent privilege. We didn’t have anywhere to be, only needed to be together, listening to chickadees and squirrels (a very busy weekend for them – fir cones are everywhere under big Doug firs, waiting to be gathered and stored), and talking together of all the farm animals we’d seen. Did you see a “neigh neigh?” A “cock-a-doodle-do?” (“Yeaah!”)
And talking about family, Lady Baby “in the bosom of her family” loves to name us all. Her aunt is “toon,” her uncle became “too too” or “unc,” her grandfather “papa,” and I am still “Kay-tee!” With hard initial consonants and an exclamation mark or two at the end.
Her most enchanting word now is “pease” for please, and it’s magic. Everyone tries hard to understand what’s needed when the request comes in the form of an engaging “pease” – sometimes clear, as in “up, pease” or “walk, pease,” and sometimes just a very elongated “peaaase” with hand gestures.
At the aquarium gift shop, we found a little backpack with a furry sea otter forming the pouch. When I offered it, Lady Baby reached out, smiled, and accepting help, donned the otter.
Then she strode off – calling to Mama and Dada to follow – back north to Alaska!