Recently I spent the best part of three weeks traveling north and south to visit these important people:
Sweet Baby, who is 20 months old now, wraps her arms around my neck and legs around my waist in exuberant hugs – she expresses sheer delight and love better than anybody.
She speed walks through her house, curving gracefully around obstacles, but is never faster than when she spots an open gate or unlatched drawer. She’s a tiny detective with the legs of a sprinter.
Sweet Baby identifies animals in her books (in both Thai and English), and can repeat any word back to you. She asks her mom for nam and me for milk. She has phrases that are particularly her own, “no-me, no-me, no-me” might translate as “do it myself.” And she names all of us in photos – her uncle, Mr. Carson, is “Cheddar” – and Lady Baby rates a handclap along with her name.
Books fill a long, double-decker set of cubbies in her bedroom. Sometimes when we read she slides off my lap and picks a different book, other times she sits and listens to many long stories. (In the “Lion in The Library,” she begins to anticipate his roar when she sees the picture of the lion’s mouth wide open.)
Baby Brother sleeps, eats, smiles, and enjoys – watching with fascination his sister and the menagerie. I’m convinced he will always be this way, good-natured, strong and tall, beloved.
Privileged grandmother moments filled this visit – time holding him as he slept (a huge warm bundle against my chest), and daily walks – his sturdy stroller an anchor on slippery streets. Now, when he catches your eye, he breaks into a huge grin, and love washes over his face at the sight of his mom. In a totally distinguishing feature, he grunts and makes loud noise – while sound asleep (!) in the early morning. It’s so him.
On Halloween evening with Lady Baby’s help, Mr. Carson put a huge, moving spider in the front yard, and Mrs. Hughes added bones and a skull, and black paper rats to the porch. While the others followed Lady Baby, a waddling penguin, as she trick or treated, I stayed behind wearing Baby Brother in the Ergo and answered the door at Downtown Abbey. (One puzzled pirate asked, “Is that a real baby?”)
Lady Baby’s daily routine is specific now, and when I visit I try to fit in – take her to school in the morning, stay home with her brother while her mom picks her up, and still make time for “doing not much” together.
One day we set out for a walk and after the first block she asked me to tell her some things I’d been doing (how often does anyone ask that!). While we ate our muffins at the bakery, we played hide and seek on the table top with the resident plastic animals (hiding them under napkins and behind the sugar container).
At the used bookstore, where she helped me find old favorites for Sweet Baby, Lady Baby selected books for herself about knights, insects, and polar bears. And back at home, I read all of “King Ottocar’s Sceptre” – a whole Tin Tin volume out loud in one sitting – not an easy thing to do, but a grandmother thing to do.
These three are very important to each other also, and for these Thanksgiving days, they’ll be together!
I wish you a peaceful, loving holiday with food and family and friends!
You are such a keen observer of children, Katy, and they will benefit from a Grandmother who sees each as an individual, responds to their inclinations with tolerance and appreciation and imagination. Maybe it is the artist’s eye, the habit of looking carefully at things to capture their deeper essence?
I just spent a couple of days at a seminar, “A Good Childhood: Learning from Scandinavian Pre-schools” at Scandinavia House here in NYC. It was fantastic. In the Nordic world, “a good childhood” means a childhood unstructured, with lots of support from adults, but also freedom to explore (especially the out-of-doors) at a child’s own pace, and with as much risk as children feel comfortable to embrace. There is emphasis on “solidarity” –i.e. thinking of others and of the group as much as of oneself, but also the freedom to BE oneself and to learn at one’s own pace. It all sounds so idyllic.
The love and the fun seeps through your drawings and your words. Happy Thansgiving to you and yours. I am thankful to have you in my world.
Thank you so much Bonny – so interesting to read about the seminar you attended – how great that sounds, idyllic yes, but you’d wish it for all children. And Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Such sweet children, and how lucky to be put down on paper in your lovely paintings and words. The world of grandparenting is the best. xoxo
It is indeed the best! Thanks Carol always.
Such sweet pictures and descriptions — when I’m able, I’m going to begin corralling all the early ages books that I’ve saved. As you know, I’m SO looking forward to some of this grandmother stuff!
You’re gonna be great!
I’m just catching up—I LOVE these portraits! Lucky, lucky grandchildren!
Oh thank you Michelle! – I’m glad you are catching up from nearby!