Tuesday, July 21, 2020

About the milk

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.

                                                        Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

One of the great pleasures of my life is spending time with my granddaughter, "Frog." We babysit her at least once a week. She is 21 months old. Her latest obsession is my doll collection, which is kept up high, in my "china cabinet" - out of reach for youngsters, and requiring an adult's focused attention for her to peruse. To share these dolls with her is to go down memory lane myself; my collection began when my father sent me a couple Vietnamese dolls nearly 50 years ago, when he served there for the Navy. When I travel (remember that? traveling?), I always try to pick up a special doll, crafted locally. This week, Frog is obsessed with my matryushka doll, and, over and over again, we bring these over to a low table and painstakingly open and close all ten nesting dolls. To sit alongside this child as she carefully examines these - how can I adequately describe the joy and gratitude I have for these days of endless quiet, these days to luxuriate in her? Yes, there are - for me - extraordinary silver linings to this time of pandemic and surprise retirement. I have nothing 'on my plate,' yet, I have EVERYTHING. There are moments when I want to pinch myself - it feels like magic elixir to be in her company, able to watch her grow. Yes, I am giving her so much - but, truly, she is giving me so much more...insight, words, understanding, perspective, serenity. 

Our laugh out loud this past visit...we let her drink milk from a ceramic "Winnie the Pooh" child's cup...a gift from someone, to one of my boys when they were born; ha, funny that I cannot remember who received or who gave...of course, as a parent, this cup was rarely if ever used, I had not the time or patience to supervise a toddler drinking from a breakable cup. Things are different with a grandchild! Let's bring out the special cup! 

Frog was in awe of this little cup - with its bear on the side, to which she said "grrrrr!" Although she sat very calmly in her highchair (she has one of those seats that attach to the table), she wielded the cup like a plastic toy, wildly moving it this way and that, daring to hold it with only one hand, with the milk tipping near the edge on one side and then teetering back the other way; at one point, she drank from the opposite/farther edge of the cup - basically daring all the milk to wash down into her bib. That surprised her. (I - early childhood teacher - had only given her a precious little amount of milk, so that I had less to wipe up!) 

Throughout this whole first experience, her Papa and Nana coached and gesticulated, lots of 'OH! YES! TWO HANDS! TRY AGAIN!" Finishing the cup with a few sips and a few slips, she wanted a little more milk ("More!" Such an important early word!) Although in recent weeks she has lost interest in her bottle, think how much more fun milk is when it can be enjoyed in this way? With a lively audience? 

Papa took the cup and added another half inch of milk...but here's what cracked me up; this dear man was not moving fast enough for Frog. I suppose she was afraid he was taking the cup away for good. Here's the scene: Papa's holding the cup and she's grunts at him impatiently and then TAPS her index finger for him on the table to PLACE THE CUP RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. She knew full well that she needed him to put the cup down now, so that she might control it fully, all by herself. 

Twenty-one months old and she is ordering her Papa about. She is going to be a force.

The look of surprise on my husband's face is what makes me smile still - I know Tony saw, in that one impatient gesture, not just Frog's father, our son, but her Nana, his wife: needing things just so. Right now. 

Yep, that's me.

“There is hope.
There is hope everywhere.
Today God gives milk
and I have the pail”
― Anne Sexton


  1. “Frog” sounds downright delightful. I bet being with her is the highlight of the week.
    BTW: Both of my kids went through a matryushka doll phase. (Well, Ari wouldn’t have if Isabelle hadn’t found my matryushka dolls and showed him how they opened and how they squeaked if you turned them In a funny way.)

  2. Such delight to spend time with our grands. Love the way you told this slice, down to the last imperious gesture from Frog.

  3. I love reading this post and thinking of my own grandson just a few months younger. We'll have to bring out the breakable (a word he understands but can't say) cup. I've so enjoyed spending time with ours this summer. Grandparenting is so much fun. Thanks for sharing Frog with us.

  4. As I read your post Maureen, I found it very much paralleled my own experiences. We look after our grand-daughter(11 months) for two days per week. So, here we are on opposite sides of the world sharing magical moments with our grandchildren, Magical moments indeed. We are most fortunate to have this time and grow these memories. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am.

  5. Ah! Love this! My granddaughter is two years old and we haven't seen her since January because of COVID. We talk almost every day, though and I can't wait for my daughter to bring her for a visit! Keeping my fingers crossed that it's sooner rather than later.