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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Childhood

Two of our grandchildren were here yesterday afternoon.

I love their giggles. I love their energy. I love the way they see the world as their playground, blissfully unaware of the Wars or the debt ceiling or the economy or unemployment, much less the need for Health Care or Immigration Reform.

I love that, when I'm with them, I don't think of those things either.

I love the lovely, awkward way the older one is growing into her growing body. She's a real "tween", both feet firmly planted on the initial arc of an impending meteor-ride to adolescence. She "looooves" Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber and 'games' and fashion.

She loves her mother, adores her father, tolerates her baby sister, and is just beginning to be interested in / curious about boys.  She won't go see the film 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II' because she hasn't finished reading the book. But, she knows how it ends because her friends told her, and that's okay because, she says, "I like the way JK Rowling writes."

The younger one is going to be five years old in a few days and is an angel with muddy feet and  a tarnished halo and all the mischievous lucky charm of a leprechaun. 

She's taking swimming lessons and gymnastics and loves to "practice" - on the couch or the floor, in the living room or kitchen, or on the bed.

Her latest "talent" is to twist her face into weird positions which she supplies as the answer to most questions or serves as her social commentary about the taste of pizza or the quality of ocean water here or a particular toy or game.

That is, when she isn't running her mouth off at 100 miles per hour.

She also loves to tell stories, with a special penchant for scary stories - or, more precisely as she says, "scawy stowies" - preferably told with a flashlight under her chin.

Alternatively, the flashlight serves as a microphone as she sings Lady Gaga's 'Papa, Papa, Paparazzi' or Justin Bieber's "Baby, baby, baby, OOOOO."

But, yesterday, it was "scawy stowies" that served as the channel for her seemingly boundless energy and imaginative mind.

I have no idea what she was talking about. I couldn't follow the plot line, which was probably due to the fact that she was actually acting out a television program or a DVD she had seen. With flashlight firmly under her chin, she recited bits of lines that she had remembered or memorized.

She repeated a bit of the story for me later, at supper, at the local Grotto's Pizza where she absolutely wolfed down a grilled cheese sandwich, 'beach fries' and a large chocolate milk.

An afternoon of swimming and story telling obviously consume a great deal of calories.

Here's a small clip of it.

Warning: Cuteness factor is at Code Red levels. Please be advised that your heart may be in danger of melting, or, if kids are not your thing, may induce waves of nausea. Proceed at your own risk.

video
My favorite part is when she gets her "attitude on" and, using her fingers to form quotation marks, says something about "your little 'future'".

That, and when her older sister breaks in and  - with a piece of pizza crust in the corner of her mouth - asks, "What the heck is wrong with this kid?"

After I took the video, both girls begged me to show it to them and their mom - over and over and over again. They fell over each other with giggles every time.

I love being a Nana. It's simply the best job in the whole world. It's exhausting and invigorating all at the same time. I never tire of their company even if I am just slightly exhausted after they leave - probably because, through it all, I get a chance to be like a little kid again.

Which is probably why Mr. Theo was so frightened of them.

I'm quite sure he's never been around little children before. Their giggles and high energy scared the beejeesus out of him.

I don't know the details, but I know that his 'puppyhood' was far from happy, so I can only imagine what terrors were unleashed in his little mind.

For most of the time they were here, he hid behind the couch or my chair, just shaking with anxiety. It made me so sad for him. 

After they left, he collapsed out on the deck, completely spent from anxiety.

This has become my new project. I have to find a way to slowly introduce him to children and have him spend some time around him. I suspect that this is one place in his little heart that needs the most healing.

I think there are childhood places in all our hearts that need healing.

Indeed, I imagine that, if some of us spent a little more time healing those places which were broken by disappointment or betrayal or abuse or a sense of abandonment, this world would be a better place, filled with more adults who aren't trying to justify the hurts of their childhood by getting into positions of power where they can do things like drag us into the Wars or walk out on important conversations like the debt ceiling or the economy or unemployment, and might actually be able to find a way to reform the health care system and immigration.

We'd have to do all the things we were taught as kids: Share. Be kind to others. Be very careful around strangers - especially those who are overly-friendly and offer you candy.

Eat your peas. As my mother would say, you don't have to like them, but they're good for you, so eat them. At least take a 'no-thank you' helping. And, no making faces or gagging sounds when you eat something you don't like.

Remember, there are children all over the world who are starving and would love to have the peas on your plate. Be grateful for what you have.

Go outside and play and get some fresh air and take a piece of fruit with you.  No, not that fruit. Take the old fruit. You have to eat the old fruit before you eat the new fruit. That's the rule.

And, bring a sweater in case it gets cold any you catch your death-of-pneumonia.

Put a dime in your shoe in case you need to make a phone call.

You can play all day in the neighborhood, but you must be in the yard or on the porch when the street lights come on.

Why? Because I'm the mother and I said so, that's why.

You think I like saying these things? I say them because I'm your mother and love you.

Besides, those are the rules. I'm sorry, those are the rules. I'm sorry, those are the rules.

I don't think these are bad rules. As much as I grumbled about them as a kid, I think they were part of what made the earlier years of my childhood happy ones.

It's important to know the rules which can lead to a sense of well being - even if it's really just an illusion.

Indeed, I think a great deal of my problems in later childhood and early adolescence - besides living in a dysfunctional, addictive family - was that I thought those rules were stupid and irrelevant and sought to break them at every turn.

I can still remember eating a ripe banana while the old brown-speckled banana sat it the bowl. I almost called my mother to tell her what I was doing, but I was enjoying the moment far too much to interrupt it at that point.

I did call her when we got our first home. It was a cold day. I called her and said, "Guess what, Mom? I didn't grow up in a barn, but I've got the heat on and the door has been open for five whole minutes. " And then, I dissolved into hysterical laughter. There was dead silence on the other end of the line.

It's never too late to have a happy childhood.

Grandchildren are proof positive evidence of the truth of that statement.

I strongly recommend it to absolutely everyone.

14 comments:

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Poor Theo! I am sure he was wishing they would go home. Not only were the little people scary, they had converted you into Nana--and he's probably not quite sure yet if Nana has room for Theo, too.

Word verification: dilyz. Yes, they are all dillys, aren't they?

Carol Jo Pettit said...

Dr. Keaton, This is an absolutely delightful, insightful blog. Thank you for sharing your granddaughters with us for a few moments. My granddaughters are now 20, 19, 18, 16, and even though I am so proud of the accomplishments they have earned and the young women they have become, I remember the days of "tween" and "little sister." What fun. (And the life lesson certainly hits home.)
Carol Jo

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - He's still exhausted today, poor baby. That's okay. The girls were really very understanding and lovely to him. He'll learn. He has a lot to unlearn about humans before he can learn the good stuff.

They are silly-dillys fer sure.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Carol Jo. I so thoroughly enjoy these kids. They have really terrific parents and I am doubly proud of them. Life is good.

Carol Jo Pettit said...

You bet! Our great children and grandchildren (5) mean the world to us. God has blessed this "it will never last" 18 y/o couple's marriage with what we wanted--a sound/fun family for 49 years now.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

God bless you and your family!

suzanne said...

A lovely post. You and I grew up with many of the same rules, and it hurts to see parents not passing those rules on to the current crop of children.

I can't get over how tall Mackie has gotten, she looks as if she is all legs, and you're right about Abbie. She's melt your heart cute, and funny.
Blessings to you on this Sunny Lovely Bay day.

BTW, I fed your fish. they looked hungry.

ST

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Suzanne. Mackie IS all legs. She's going to be tall and lanky and stunningly beautiful. Abbi - well, we've had our running shoes on since the day she was born. A real pistol, that one is.

I'm so in love with them I'm absolutely stupid.

JCF said...

I'm a lot like Theo, re small children (but natch, since Theo's way isn't acceptable in adult Homo sapiens, I channel it in other ways. Reading material helps. At the swimming pool, I hang out in the deep end---where the small children generally don't go---w/ a radio playing NPR right by my head)

I'm really AM happy for your Grandkid Happy, Lisbeth.

But I'll skip the vid (now, if you make a video of Theo, I'm in! ;-D)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - I have lots of friends - good friends - who are just not into kids. They are good people and I appreciate their honesty and try to honor it by containing my delight in front of them. So, you are absolutely absolved from watching the video. I'll try to get one up on Theo soon.

MarkBrunson said...

I've always rather felt that any child that I've been able to teach anything useful, morally-relevant, or character-building to be, in some way, my child as well.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

What a great philosophy, Mark. Reminds me of the old adage: "A man is never so tall as when he stoops to help a child."

walter said...

Let us visually reflect with the help of the video you shared, Elizabeth, on “doing things with Attitude”. In Christian language I believe we can say “doing things believing in what we are able to comprehend”. And each of us, regardless of age, may make the creative act as the personal act. To do The Blue Grotto Tavern would not make sense for our God of Life Inherent if we wouldn’t do it with Attitude. The same Attitude that asks for forgiveness of our sin of modesty and praise the Lord making our aims high through The Gospel Connection. Today (28th of July 2011) it is also my birthday. One of the administrators here at the tent of Bethlehem, Daniele, asks what I would like for my birthday and I said that I am thinking of a video camera attachment for my computer so I can also make video recording. I look forward to getting one of those and send you some video material. May these words enfold the silence and continue to speak after I have written it. 143. Lord do teach our mouths to say that which is in our hearts and, conversely, preserve in our hearts what our mouths teach. In the name of the One who keeps us centered and focused, Jesus The Christ.

Walter Vitale

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

A most blessed Natal Feast Day, Walter.