Only read this if you have grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or a squirrely neighbor kid who peeks up from his Spiderman hiding place in the bushes as you pass by on your way to the mailbox. If you are in close proximity to any of these – think babysitting – you will be in a precarious position. That of instructor. It can be a tough gig. For instance.
“No, you’ve had enough sugar today. No more Capri Sun.”
“But Grandma, I only had one. Sierra had two not me.”
And of course I can’t really remember how many each one has had so I pause. And that’s just long enough for her to assail me with a hand on her hip and a grin. Like she’ll forgive me, go watch Paw Patrol (if you don’t know, don’t ask) and leave me in peace until the next commercial. It’s a teachable moment – in that she’s just taught me what a wimp I am as I hand over the Strawberry Kiwi pouch.
But then there are the times when I really nail it. Like I deserve a Masters in Child Communications or something. It goes like this.
Last week I posted about Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, The Swing. Since several of this man’s poems were recited to me by my own mother, I feel love bound to pass them on. Every Tuesday in the summer I have charge of our two youngest granddaughters. It’s been our habit after lunch to retire to the big bed in my half office / half bedroom for story time. Two Tuesdays ago they were introduced to a classic.
“Okay, I have something really fun to read to you today,” I said as I held “A Child’s Garden of Verses” behind my back. “Take off your shoes and get on the bed. You have to close your eyes.”
Oh, boy, what’s this? Melodi’s eyes questioned me. She’s a savvy seven-year-old and not much gets by her these days. But she complied and her little sister plopped her head onto the pillow and squeezed her eyes shut, giggling in anticipation.
“Now,” I said. “Think of all the times you’ve been on the swing outside. Your dad pulls you way, way back and you go up in the air and down again. Keep your eyes closed and tell me what you’re thinking as I read.”
Then, in my best Grandma reading voice, I gave them The Swing. To my delight they both were still while I read (thank you Mr. Stevenson for not being too long winded here). When I stopped there was a brief pause and then they opened their eyes and began to babble. Sierra even popped up into my face to let me know her thoughts. I wish I could have recorded them.
This was my humble way of introducing something wonderful and classic to them. Passing on their great grandmother’s love and mine without them even realizing it. It was a moment to cherish, I’ll tell you that.
We didn’t stop there. I read four other selections, Leaving the Farm, The Hayloft, The Wind, and The Dumb Soldier (which I explained only meant that the lead soldier could neither hear nor speak). And then we were done. You can only go classic for a little while and then they want . . . another Capri Sun.
This week? Hamlet by William Shakespeare. For that kid in the bushes. Stop laughing.
Photo: The book I bought for a buck at a tag sale many years ago.