“Summer” by 4 year old Athena
I was painting, one summer day, years ago, and my daughter called and asked if I would watch my granddaughter for a while. Gratefully, and happily, like a kid asked if she wanted candy, I said, “Yeah! Bring her over.”
My granddaughter was four at the time. She loved spending time with Grammy, as much as Grammy loved spending time with her. So, she comes over, and she’s all joy and smiles, and I’m all joy and smiles. I pick her up and hug her firmly, and she hugs me firmly, with those sweet, little arms.
I’d been painting, so I gave her a small canvas and told her, “Let’s paint.” She says, “OK!” enthusiastically, with that beautiful, bright smile of hers. My sunshine. She painted quickly, joyfully, and a few minutes later, she announces, “O.K., Grammy. I’m done!”
“Oh, that’s lovely,” I say. “Why don’t you paint a little more on there.”
But she said, “No. I’m done.” Well, if she’s done, she’s done. It’s her painting, I think to myself.
That was fourteen years ago. I still have that painting. She never named it, but since it was summer, I’ve titled it “Summer.” I love the floating heart, and that she painted it blue, not red. Artistic license. I also love the way she placed that sun in the corner, half of it in view. Not to mention giving it dimension with orange lines. I love this painting.
She starts college in the fall. Last week, she attended her orientation. She will be a math major with a minor in computers.
I taught her how to use my computer when she was four. I showed her how move the mouse around, point, and click. I opened a word doc for her, set a large font size so she could easily see the characters. She keyed letters, numbers, and special characters. I showed her how to spell her name. She keyed enthusiastically and joyfully. As she did everything. She put together easy jigsaw puzzles, concentrating intently, putting six or so pieces together. When she was done, she’d say, “Grammy! I did it!”
“You’re amazing,” I’d tell her, “Look at you. Just clicking away.”
One time, she was at the computer. She’s there, click, click, slide, slide, click, click, putting together a puzzle. She turned to see what I was doing. I was reading. I guess she wanted my attention. So, she says, “Look at me, Grammy. I’m just clicking away.”
“Yes, you are,” I said, joyfully laughing. “Look at you, just clicking away. Aren’t you amazing?” That made her happy. And her joy was my joy. Still is.
Since moving to San Francisco nine years ago, I’ve only seen her maybe half a dozen times. Not seeing her more often is grief I carry. Imagine my joy when I do get to see her.
I saw her in June. She told me she has a Tumblr blog. I said, “Oh,what’s the name of it? Can I look at it?” Her eyes averted mine, and I saw her looking here and there, like she’s trying to figure out how to get out of this. So, I said, “That’s all right. You don’t have to tell me. If you’d rather not, you don’t have to.” She looked relieved. Then she proceeded to tell me, with that same enthusiasm she’s always had, what it’s all about. I don’t remember what she said, really, because I think she referenced something she’s familiar with and I’m not. But she talked about her friends liking her blog, and having fun with it. It just makes me happy that she’s happy.
I asked her who was her favorite band. She told me. I said, “Oh, my gawd. I’ve never heard of them.” She chuckled. I don’t even remember who she said. The name just didn’t register. I smile. And I feel sad at the same time. Because she’s in her world, and I’m in mine. But if she’s happy, I’m happy.
Yellow Rose, graphic art by Estela.
When she was little, we were shopping one day. She’s sitting there in the cart, and she says to a woman, a stranger, as she passes by us, “This is my Grammy!” Pointing at me, as if I were some grand prize, a superstar, or something. The woman was cool. She went along with it. She goes, “Is that your grammy? Aren’t you a lucky girl!” She wiggled with delight and joy. I beamed. The woman smiled at me, and we both laughed. She understood this special love, this bond that my little one and I had. My little granddaughter was so charming. She still charms me.
When she was eight, we used to have pretend performances. It was her idea. I’d announce her name, and she’d go up onto the pretend stage. She’d sing and dance. I’d applaud enthusiastically, while she bowed with grandeur. Then it was my turn. “Ladies and gentleman, Grammy!” And I’d do a little song and dance. Then she’d applaud, enthusiastically, “YAY!” Sometimes we did pretend poetry readings. Damn it, I wish I could remember more of the words, but I only remember “into my heart.” She looks up toward the ceiling, a serious expression on her face, dramatically raises one hand up the air, the other on her chest, then cupping her hands over her heart, she says, “…into my heart.” She didn’t know yet that I sometimes did poetry readings. I have no idea where she got her idea of poetry readings. But I was delighted, and impressed, really, with her words, and amused by her melodrama.
I’m not surprised about her minor in computers. But the math thing surprises me. Apparently, it’s an interest she picked up in those nine years that I wasn’t a constant in her life. Hell, I thought she was going to be a writer. She would come up with scripts for us to play out. She’d get a doll, and give me one. Then she’d give me the scenario. Her doll would say something. Then mine would. But she didn’t let me come up with my own lines.
“No, Grammy. She doesn’t say that,” she’d say. Very seriously. Like I didn’t know what I was doing.
“Yes, she does,” I’d say, defending my lines.
“No,” she’d say, shaking her head authoritatively.
“Well, what does she say?” And she’d tell me. I tried, again and again, to come up with my own lines, but, no, uh, uh. That wasn’t what my doll was supposed to say. This always amused and charmed me, of course. I thought, well, maybe she’ll grow up to be a playwright.
My granddaughter doesn’t need my attention in the same way she once did. I need to “grow up” too. Give her space for herself. She’s a young lady. About to enter college. I’m excited for her.
She sent me a sticker that states I’m a grandparent of a student at her university. Awe, that made my day. I adore her. I adore her so very much. To me, she’s poetry. Poetry dressed in glitter.