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A Refreshing Walk with My Grand

imgres “Wots dat?” Neil asked and pointed toward white, feathery puffs of cotton that floated above his head.

“It’s seeds from cottonwood trees,” I said. He reached his hands high to catch the seeds, but they floated around him and onto the ground. He picked up a delicate seed and closed it inside his fist. When he spread his fingers wide, the seed seemed to have disappeared. He wrinkled his forehead, cocked his head, and picked up another seed.

Neil, my almost two-year-old Grand, seemed perplexed. He gathered several cottonseeds -one at a time- closed his hand, and when he opened it, he didn’t see the same white cotton puff. “Gone!” he announced and then began walking.

Neil and I were taking a morning walk. In his neighborhood, on the sidewalk, to a nearby park. “Wots dat?” Neil pointed to a white spot on the sidewalk. “Bird poo. Don’t touch it,” I told him and held his hand tightly. “POO!” he shouted and wiggled his hand free from mine. We had reached the park and Neil ran to and climbed upon a green metal bench. “POO!” he said and patted white spots on the bench.

A robin hopped on the grass, pecked at the ground, and raised its head. I held Neil in my lap and told him that the robin was searching for worms to eat. The robin flew low to the ground and Neil’s feet hit the ground running. Arms stretched in front of him, legs churning, Neil ran toward the bird. Mr. Robin stopped, pecked the ground again, and when Neil was only a few feet away, the bird flew. All around the open grassy field, the two played chase.

But, of course, Neil never came close to Mr. Robin. Finally, the robin perched in a pine tree. Neil ran to the tree and looked up. I pointed to the bird and suggested that he was full and ready for a rest. “Gone!” Neil announced.

Holding hands Neil and I walked along the sidewalk to the duck pond. “Wot dey doing?” Neil asked when we saw several ducks with their heads tucked along their backs. I said, “Probably sleeping.” Neil asked, “Why?” I explained that ducks get tired just like we do and, knowing that why questions never end, I veered our walk toward Neil’s home.

My Grand gathered short sticks that he gave me to hold and we talked about things we saw. Airplane contrails that crisscrossed the sky. White puffy clouds. A man who was power washing his driveway. A brown rabbit that hopped from shrub to shrub. A red pickup truck. Yellow tulips that Neil couldn’t pick.

“Wots dat?” Neil suddenly stopped walking. “It sounds like a fire truck,” I said. A fire truck that didn’t come within our sight, but kept Neil still long enough that he spotted ants, tiny brown ones, on the concrete walk. He squatted so low that his knees touched his chin and he watched the ants scurry to their anthill in the grass and then back onto the sidewalk. One ant hurried away from the others and Neil, still in a tight squat, shuffled his feet and followed it until it crawled into the grass.

“We’re home,” I told Neil. He rushed into his house and gave his older brother a treasure – one of his sticks.

There’s nothing quite so refreshing as taking a walk with a toddler. Everything is fascinating. Even seeds and ants and sticks.



From Sweatshirts to Tee Shirts


Good-bye, fleece pants and sweatshirts.  Hello, shorts and tee shirts.  It’s that time.  Time to fill dresser drawers with summer clothes.  So I asked Daughter in a text, “Can I help with changing out clothes?”  She immediately replied, “Sure!”

Stacks of pass-‘em-down summer clothes, sorted by sizes, were piled on the girls’ bedroom floor.  My three granddaughters, ages 6, 4, and almost 2, jumped over the stacks.  “Let me have Elaine,” I said.  I claimed a corner and sat on a bed where I hoped to keep my constant-moving young Grand corralled.

“These are the size 2’s, but some are big and some are little.  Just slip them on her and you can tell,” Daughter told me.  Elaine held her arms high over her head and lifted her chin as I took off her long sleeve shirt.  She willingly pushed her hand through a white, short-sleeve tee shirt with a pink flower on the front.  “Perfect!”  I said and stripped it off, over her head.

While I put that shirt in the ‘keep pile’ and reached for another, my Grand toddled away and grabbed a pencil in one hand and a Lego piece in the other.  She’s always liked to hold things, and I knew she’d be happier clutching something, but there was no way that I was willing to navigate a pencil through shirt sleeves.  Using my greatest negotiating ability, I convinced Elaine to swap her long pencil for a pencil eraser.  I maneuvered her closed fists through the next shirt and the next and the next.  One was too short.  One too tight.   One was just right.  It was time for me to eyeball ‘just right.’  I stood Elaine on the floor between my knees and laid shirts across her shoulders and guessed ‘just right.’  “Try some of these size 3’s and here’s some shorts,” Daughter said.

“Okay, Elaine, let’s try on shorts,” I said.  I put my hands under her arms to lift her onto my lap.  She slithered to the floor.  How does a kid know how to do that?  She stretched her arms, flat against her ears, straight above her head and slid.  She lay limp.  In a ball.

I sang a silly made-up song, “Let’s try on some shorts.  Let’s try on some shorts.  Elaine, Elaine.  Try on shorts.”  My Grand responded with a smile.  She only had to try on two pairs for me to determine which of the others would stay up and were the right length.  I continued to sing silly songs, and I bounced her on my knees.

“Here’s a couple of dresses to try,” Daughter said.  By now, Elaine wanted to escape.  She ran from our try-on corner to a baby doll bed.  I coaxed her back and quickly pulled a dress down over her head as she squirmed and wiggled.  It fit.  I lifted the dress off and Elaine again slithered to the floor.  Dressed only in her diaper, my Grand lay on her tummy.  Thumb in mouth.

I knew just how she felt.