January 18, 2019
I kept The Child this morning. I’m pleased to think that week by week she’s learning things from me, her venerable ‘Honey.’ What I know for sure is that I’m learning from her. Not least to slow myself down and let the magic of a one-year-old girl work its quiet warm sweetness.
So here’s a confession: I love earrings, the bigger the better. Having been warned by sadder but wiser fellow grandmas of the danger of ripped lobes, and owing a pair of big silver clip-ons, I made these clip-ons into a fun ritual with the Child. Week by week, in my arms, she would spy one, then the other, yanking them off my ears, shaking them to kingdom come. We both thought this was hilarious. And we got used to it. And I did not think beyond that.
About a month ago a close relative of The Child spoke a quiet prophetic word: ‘She might be learning from that game that it’s fun to do it to others.’ Cut to the heart! I wasted little time in self-reproach but you can believe the silver earring game was over.
Today I arrived at The Child’s house and took her in my arms. When she stopped wriggling and realized Honey had her, she delighted (and sobered) me by looking quickly from one of my ears to the other. Then, in turn, she fingered each of my empty lobes.
She further educated me by rolling with the new reality. Abandoning my lobes, she placed a tiny finger on my mouth, and I said, “Mouth.” Then she placed a tiny finger on my nose, and I said, “Nose.”
It must be revealed that when I was in the kitchen cutting up a banana for her, she speed-crawled to my feet, and it wasn’t me she wanted, oh no. She was here to practice a new skill: opening cabinets. Whereas my boys of yore would have instantly raked out the contents, she spent some time examining the inside of the doors themselves. She was so thrilled with her findings that she planted a kiss on the navy-painted wood. Only then did she bring forth one Tupperware lid for examination. One! Such restraint.
We went for a walk. From my perspective of stroller-pushing servant, I watched the back of her head, as the fog dampened her hair. I was too entranced to give a thought to what it was doing to mine, baby-fine as hers! I watch the precious head swivel to each new sight and sound. Gray squirrels frisking, rooster inexplicably bellowing at 9:30 a.m. Approaching her own dear house again, I stopped the stroller, planted a kiss on her calm round cheek, presented her with a bright red leaf from a gum tree. She took it by the stem, shook it to kingdom come. Then she began to deconstruct it, reducing it to smaller and smaller pieces. I see a lab girl in the making. Or a cabinet maker. Or a theologian. Or a mystic. At any rate the cutest one-year-old girl that ever was. See what you think: