Char Girl — I had my four-year-old granddaughter on Saturday. We’re making cookies and she begs to take over mixing the butter and flour.
“I do it, I do it! Let me, let me!”
After cleaning up, as there was now batter everywhere, we put a load of towels in the washer.
She stops me again with, “I do it. I do it! Let me, let me!”
Then I pull out the vacuum to clean the floor dusted in flour.
Again, “I do it, I do it! Let me, let me!”
While the cookies are cooling, Theda Bara looks up at me with her baby blues, puts the back of her hand on her sweet forehead and moans, “Work, work, work! All I did today was work! I had to cook, I had to do laundry, I had to vacuum. I had to do everything! I’m exhausted!”
“Poor little char girl,” I say in sympathy. “Here, have a cookie, it’ll revive you.”
Food Fans — Temple and I cook together, then we eat, and while we eat, we name all the ingredients in the dish. During dinner she inquires, “Oma, what are you a fan of?”
Having no idea what she means, I say, “Pardon me?”
She says, “You know, food, what foods are you a fan of.”
I say, “Oh, well, I’m a fan of shrimp, asparagus, sushi, and dark chocolate.”
She then asks, “What are you not a fan of?”
I answer, “Black licorice, coffee, and wine.” So of course I ask her, “What are you a fan of?”
She says, “Broccoli and kale.”
I say, “You are the oddest five-year-old I’ve ever met.”
I Like Kids, Preferably Fried — While fixing breakfast together, Temple says, “Oma, we should open a restaurant.”
I tell her, “Sure, I’ll be the prep cook because I’m the one who knows how to measure, and you can be the one who pours and stirs and flips.”
“I can only work two days a week during the summer,” she says, “because I have swim lessons.”
Talk to the Hand — It’s Saturday morning. As my granddaughter unloads the silverware from the dishwasher she announces that the drawer is a bit of a mess. I offer to let her straighten it. She wants to know why I have five pairs of reading glasses in there. I tell her that’s where they hide, which is why I have to buy new ones all the time. She rolls her eyes. When she’s done, I offer to have her straighten two others. She’s appalled that they’re also in a jumble. After ten minutes she has them in great order. I had things in there that not only had I never used, but I wasn’t even sure what they were for. She proudly shows me both drawers, faces me and spreads her arms like guardian angel wings to protect them, admonishing me that I’m no longer allowed to go in either, and if I do, they’d better look like this next time she’s here. I tell her to talk to the hand. Sheesh. May 2015
Flip of a Switch — Temple and I are making a mango smoothie. With the blender nearly full, I say, “You have to remember not to flip this switch up unless the lid is on.”
She reaches over and flips it. In shock, we look at the walls and each other, now dripping in mango, banana, and yogurt.
“Like that?” she says.
“Like that,” I say.
“Sorry, Oma,” she says.
“I know,” I say.
Stand By Me — Three weeks ago my grandson (age 11) stood by my side at my book-signing event at Readers’ and read aloud a portion from Passages from Behind These Doors. My granddaughter (age 6) asked me beforehand if she could read some of it there, too. I said, “Sure, just one problem.”
She said, “What?”
“You don’t know how to read.”
She laughed and said, “Oh yeah, I forgot.”
That changed last night. Side-by-side in my bed, propped up on pillows, she read her first words to me. Some words that made no sense, like ‘when’ and ‘this,’ and big ones too, like ‘remember.’ I helped some when she was stumped.
After ten minutes she lays her head back and says, “Whew, I’m sweating.”
“I understand,” I said. “It’s hard work reading a whole book out loud for the first time.”
When she finished the last page, she had a huge smile. When she closed the cover and carefully laid both her hands on it, I cried.