I am left bedazzled by a few things when I visit our youngest granddaughter, Maya. She’s beautiful…just like her mother, Emily…and that’s beautiful!!! She has a continuous energy that does not wane until her inner clock chimes out and suddenly what was once joy, turns to tears, her happiness to frustration and immediately begins to rub her eyes.
This rub of her eyes is much like the signal a third base coach gives to a base runner. The first time she signals with a quick rub, and then she increases the rub just like a third base coach would when he realizes he’s dealing with an idiot monkey for a base runner. Her distress signals becomes ever more fervent and frequent. Then come the waterworks. Here you are left with two options. You can feed her, if it’s time to eat and then take her for naptime, or maybe if she is way past settling down…you know what I mean moms…. beyond out of their mind and in an inconsolable meltdown….straight to the crib. I’ve witnessed many fine performances when one of my grandkids fell or bumped their little heads. Some get over whatever has happened pretty quickly. Some have a lower pain tolerance and they cry for a bit. But in the third category, I have seen a little chipmunk begin to cry as they pan the room, find their audience and summon up their thespian skills. You may not realize it, but you have just entered their theater and the show has already begun. This is a performance of sorrow and angst that would bring a great actor like Sir Laurence Olivier to tears, and with no hesitation whatsoever, extend an offer to attend his acting school on a full ride scholarship.
From the time they get up in the morning it’s full tilt boogie. Maya is operating at optimum speed as she does the “toddler amble” around the house. First there is a smiley hug as she first wakes up and then a meeting on the floor of her room to read a book. She has an amazing ability to page through several books within in a few minutes and then it’s off to travel the rest of the house. She plays with her toys in the living room and I sit down to rest. Big mistake. All of sudden I don’t see her. “Maya…Where is Maya?’…Where did she go?…..She was just here. As every parent knows, it is an ominous feeling when your toddler is not in “line of sight’. I leap out of the chair in the living room and head for the kitchen. Oh good, there she is. OH NO, she’s eating something….OH MY GOODNESS she’s chawing down on some tasty nibbles from the dog food bowl. She’s tossing this stuff down like I do eating Captain Crunch. No, Maya let’s go over here and play. She has a treasure trove of toys with which to play, but her favorite toy for now is the almost empty bottle of water I brought in from the car when we arrived. It seems to be all she really wants to play with. Go figure. I would discover later that day that you don’t drink the remaining water in the bottle, because that ruins the whole toy thing for her. That, all by itself evokes another tear shower until I can get to the sink to fill the bottle with the same amount of water it once enjoyed. Hence, another storm evaded.
I’m tired, but now it’s time to go to the kid’s museum where Maya can run around and do whatever she wants and hopefully get pooped put in the process. The museum is a complete success and we arrive back home. Time for a nap… and she goes off to bed. Now maybe I can get something done…Did I say get something done…That’s not going to happen. I barely fall to sleep on the couch and her nap is over…..WHAT?….Pam just laid her down. Nope..battle stations. Maya is talking up a storm and I’m exhausted.
Something miraculous happens when they wake up from their nap. It’s like they decide to throw their hat into the ring to become the next “most reasonable child ever”. Just a diaper change and she’s off to her “happy place.”
It isn’t but within a few minutes and the “little one” has gone missing again. I head back into the kitchen..no Maya. “Maya…oh, Maya’ Where is my little “June bug?” I hear something…is that the toilet flushing? OMGoodness…she’s in the bathroom. Rushing into the loo, I find her having the time of her life, what with toilet paper there are countless choices from which a kid can choose. Tearing it, ripping it, rolling around in it or a particular delectable favorite….eating the toilet paper. (Why not the parental units just got back from Costco with a brand new supply…”Toilet paper for all my men!!!) It’s a proverbial panacea of “Confettis pour enfants”.
Fortunately Ben and Emily’s home is a virtual Fort Knox of safety locks. These devices are on drawers, outlets, cupboards…and in this case, toilets. The only problem with the toilet locks, is when Poppie and Grandma get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom in a sleep worn stupor…a child lock can be hard to unlock. I was so frustrated the first night because I really had to “go” and I couldn’t unlock the dumb toilet…about that time the sink was looking pretty good to me…but I finally managed to unlock the “throne of mercy” and find relief once more.
Then that thing that kids do some times, happened. She was talking and talking and I’m trying to make sense of what she’s saying, talking back to her, and all of a sudden it happens…the stare. I’m talking to her and I say, “Maya…Maya.” She is still staring and I can’t get her attention. It’s momentary, but she’s obviously hyper focused on something. It hearkens back to me sitting in a third grade classroom, staring out the window thinking about ..well about, you know..stuff. I don’t know exactly what…but it is settling to me. “Greg…Greg” …Miss Fuxa is trying to get my attention, but I’m thinking about important stuff like why they had to kill Ole Yeller. Finally, Eldon Haugen, who sits in the desk behind me taps me on the shoulder and I hear kids laughing. What follows is the most familiar phrase in my younger days. It’s the voice of my teacher saying, “Greg, would you like to join the rest of the class?” I was quickened to the reality of my classroom. Thus befuddled, I tried to recover by raising my hand. Miss Fuxa informed me, “You don’t have to raise your hand, Greg. You just need to pay attention.”
It’s why I relate to this stare of Maya’s. She’s in a very special place…a place of her own…No one else can be there except the people she invites… or the places she wants to be. It’s hers alone. Then just like that, she snaps out of it and begins to march around the room again. She climbs up on the couch with me and presses her little arms around my neck, clinging to me like a baby koala.
These are the moments I wait for, the moments unexplainable. When these times come, I feel her warmth, I take in the fragrance of her baby shampooed hair and the softness of her cheeks. Those little fingers like the finest silk, rub my arms….and I’m at peace. If just for a moment…it is for a lifetime I remember.