Tell Congress to Protect Older Americans on Medicare and Not the Profits of the Big Drug Companies. Take Action Now!

Valued Social Butterfly


Message 1 of 2

Kids are just so great, aren't they?  So magical.   

Have you read Love That Dog by Sharon Creech?   Maybe some of your older grandkids would enjoy it.    It makes good use of The Red Wheelbarrow.  Smiley Happy  

Report Inappropriate Content
Valued Social Butterfly


Message 2 of 2


A Sparkling Performance on the Fourth of July

My wife and I celebrated Independence Day with a family gathering at our beach house. Five-year-old Ahava, my youngest granddaughter, played hide and seek with me downstairs. At one point, I could not locate her, no matter how exhaustively I tried. After vainly searching under the beds, in the closets, behind the shower curtain, and between stacks of boxes, I gave up and went upstairs. Soon, Ahava triumphantly strode up the metal staircase and joined the rest of the family. She informed all of us that she had been hiding under the scrunched-up bedspread in the boy’s room—a clever ploy. Then, in a dramatic flourish, she wagged her finger at me, and exclaimed: “Papa has finding issues.” How articulate! But she was not done chiding me. Pursing her lips in mock disgust, Ahava accused me of being a quitter: “You should not give up, mister.” Such histrionics!

If Ahava becomes an actress, I will fondly look back at her fire-cracker performance as a launching pad for her theatrical career.


Brava to Ahava

Last night, Ahava, my kindergarten-ready granddaughter once again displayed her verbal skills. At first, my wife asked Ahava how the cooking was divvied up in our daughter’s household. Ahava said that her older sister Emmi, who had just baked a birthday cake at our family gathering to honor her sister Mia, “literally” did most of the cooking. I would have expected Ahava to have used one of her favorite expressions, “actually.” Last night, she upgraded her vocabulary. But Ahava was just getting started.

When she discovered that my sister-in-law Theresa is one year older than I am, Ahava figured that if I had my birthday right that moment, I would be the same age as Theresa. My wife joked that she herself would have had a hard time “thinking” so fast. Ahava, quick witted as she is, then had a solution, “Don’t worry, Nana. I’ll do your thinking for you. I’ll be the head, and you can be the legs. I’ll be your brain.’’ As an afterthought, Ahava drew Theresa and me into the picture: “Theresa, you could be the arms” and “Papa, you could be the chest.”

I fondly remember that my daughter, Erica, had precocious language skills before she could read. She loved to listen to a story-book tape of Cinderella.  One day (and many days after that) Erica, with uncanny expression, recited the fairy tale to us verbatim. Ahava may not have that particular talent, but when it comes to word usage and repartee, she is clearly (and dramatically) my daughter’s child.


Noah Tests Papa

On Independence Day, I played Monopoly with Noah, my son’s six-year-old boy. As usual, he legitimately won, as he does every time I play a board game or card game with him. Instead of diversifying (as he smartly did), I used all of my money and mortgaged all of my remaining property for a motel on Boardwalk. If he happened to land on that spot just once, he’d be bankrupt. I would have to repeatedly land on his plentifully housed properties to be broke. Although he worried a lot, he never landed on Boardwalk. I, however, frequently plunked down on his properties; and inevitably, I lost the game.

At one point, while I was still solvent, Noah excused himself to go to the bathroom. When he returned, he became edgy. He asked me if I had seen his second $500 bill. But from what I could recall, and I told him so, he had only amassed one $500 bill, not two.  And as banker, I explained that I kept meticulous track of financial outlays. He, however, certain that the money could not have just disappeared, frantically searched for it. Figuring that maybe I had miscalculated, I joined him. We double checked his funds, sorted through the Chance and Community Chest cards, and looked under the bank’s money slots and the game board itself. I began to wonder if Noah thought that I was the one who had misplaced his money. In fact, considering his panic, perhaps he would be desperate enough to frisk me.

Before either one of us had the presence of mind to tally up the total number of $500 bills to see if one of them was missing, Noah began to laugh. He said that he was just teasing me. He was very much aware that he never had more than one $500 bill. But it would be so much fun to try to fool Papa. And I admitted that I was beginning to consider refunding him the misplaced money. He sure bamboozled me.

Suspecting that I am an easy mark, my grandkids sometimes elaborately try to kid me. And they usually succeed. Whether I am just indulgent or just easily gulled, I always enjoy their antics.


How Endearing!

Yesterday, for an uninterrupted hour, I babysat Shila, my two-year-old granddaughter. We were sheltered on the porch during a rainstorm. Shila wasn’t impressed much by the downpours, but she was fascinated with the planter beside us.  At one point, she broke off a couple of low-hanging leaves and then started to meticulously tear them apart. I cautioned her not to pluck off any more leaves, and she grudgingly obeyed. I felt sorry for her, so I hand-pruned some straggly limbs from a bunch of easy-to-reach bushes. I bit by bit gave Shila a handful of leaves. She ever so slowly dismembered them.

After a while, she stopped shredding. Instead, she plopped a lot of intact leaves into the planter. Turning to me, not with delight but with sadness, even remorse, she said that the planter was “crying.” Shila evidently wanted to make amends for earlier depriving the planter of its two leaves.

I was touched by her compassion. She, like so many two-year-olds, is predominately full of herself, often echoing the word mine, mine, mine. But yesterday, I saw how unselfish Shila could be. Without any prompting, she stopped doing what she was preoccupied with in order to show lovingkindness to something in nature that she had hurt. I applauded her sacrificial offering. Shila didn’t bow, but she did give me a warm hug.

Occasionally, the terrible twos are a misnomer. Yesterday, I witnessed the terrific twos.


Shila Revisited

The second rainy day when Shila and I were on the porch, Shila told me to cover my ears every time a car came by. I could look but not listen. We faithfully played this engaging game until a junky red truck ever so slowly emerged at the beginning of our road. After we saw it crawl toward us, we turned away for a second to watch a white car slice past us. When we looked back for the red truck, it was unaccountably gone. Shila and I were both dumfounded. Unless it had sped up to take a side road (if it had that much energy), where did it go?

When Shila stared down the street, as if she was waiting for the truck to come back, I breathlessly told her that the truck had “disappeared. It was a mystery.” She then hypnotically repeated my words for a few moments, and each time she seemed to be more convinced that what I said was true. Soon we resumed our vehicle vigil, more alert than ever for other strange happenings; but everything turned out to be routine. 

Later that day at our family dinner, I began to recount my outing with Shila. Just as I mentioned the red truck, Shila lifted her arms as if she were conducting a séance, and confidentially whispered these words:  “It disappeared…it was a mystery.”

The next day, the big event was a drive to the Golden Corral. Shila, perhaps noticing that none of the trucks on the road we encountered so far were red, reminded us that all red trucks must be a “mystery.”

It’s nice to know that I have such a lingering linguistic influence over a two-year-old. I wish that some of my college community students paid that much attention in our literature discussions. In fact, perhaps I would have gotten more awe and wonderment if I had changed the title of one of the earliest poems I had ever taught, William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow,” to “The Red Truck,” both “glazed with rain water.”

Report Inappropriate Content
Prepare to Care: A Resource Guide for Families download this free guide developed by AARP to help make caregiving more manageable. It includes information on how to have vital conversations with older family members, organize important documents, assess your loved one's needs and locate important resources.