I have been trying to pen this blog post for four days now, but I have an excuse for my distraction. I currently live with a four year old. Well, his parents live here, too, through a recent twist of fate, the Louisiana flood, which landed them back home for a few weeks as they relocate. As he so simply describes it, “the river came and took all of my toys, but it’s OK.” He is resilient, which is only one of his many charms. So for now, ours is a three generational home. But that’s not the story here. He is.
I haven’t been around a young one so consistently since my own children were that age. My other grandchildren are older (and more worldly, of course), so I am having such fun with this one. And I have once again been immersed into that magical world of wonderment, where life is filled with giggles and big wet kisses. It is snakes and snails and puppy dog tails around here, and it is pretty darned special.
I have watched with fascination as he has rearranged the patio, his careful construction of chairs and sprinklers and empty pots and random bits of cardboard resulting in elaborate tableaus, which serve a purpose. One, he has labeled a “bee catcher;” another is a “grasshopper playground.” I marvel at his designs, the engineering both intricate and intriguing. But I am also inspired by his imagination, his never-waning spirit of fun and adventure. We have taken walks to the lake, where we built a “sand” castle, mostly made of mud, and took to the woods, collecting pine cones to put in a bowl as a nod to autumn. We are sharing moments, making memories.
Last night, he fell on the floor as he launched into his best android routine. Apparently, it is something he does with regularity, a routine performance, but staged just for me. His stiffened movements, carefully choreographed, did make him seem rather mechanical and robotic; his one-liners, silly catchphrases, added to the affect. It was cute. I was instructed to press the imaginary reset button on his back and the other on his nose and then much to my delight, watched him spring into action, returning, like a modern day Pinocchio, into a real boy. It is hard to conceal my amusement over his antics.
As soon as he wakes in the morning, he is searching for me, squealing with delight as he announces, “found you.” I am greeted by a toothy grin, followed by a bear hug. It is one of those lovely life moments that never fails to thrill me. And when he is gone, I will miss it. You see, in his world, I am special, the one who secretly passes him cookies before dinner and never tells him “no.” It is a grandparent privilege earned from raising my own children to responsible adulthood.
Like me, he is talkative: his constant chatter, both engaging and insightful. His speech is punctuated by “OK?” to show his need for understanding and “Come on: are you kidding me?” as he gestures wildly over something he finds hard to believe. I found myself using those same words yesterday, his influence on me far greater than mine on him.
He loves the doggies, lavishing them with attention. And even the old one, our blind canine curmudgeon, who bites anybody who gets too close, has fallen under his spell, allowing himself to be poked and prodded with a patience we rarely get to see. Today, he proudly pronounced that when he grows us up he is going to be a “vet doctor.” He will be a good one.
There is something enchanting about children, the way they view the world and their place in it. They lack the cynicism that comes with growing up. And I am ever so grateful for this concentrated bit of time with my youngest grandson, who has enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined. Ironically, I wrote last week about leaving something behind, particularly in reference to my writing. But as I spend time with this precious little boy, I am reminded that a true legacy isn’t in anything tangible: it is in the children who carry your genes and share your history. It is in the memories you make with those who are part of your very soul. I could write more, of course, but he is waiting for me. He wants to play. And right now, that is my priority.