Oh tell me, who invented you? Surely, nowhere but in a nimble nation could you have been born . Once you count the milestones, you may count on till a speckled haze dances before your eyes.
- Nikolai Gogol
April 23 my granddaughter is 10.
While we celebrate her special day well play the familiar game she invented 3-4 birthdays ago. Shell say, First Im going to be 10, then 11. On and on, up the aging scale we'll go, she giggling, I feigning distraught tears and begging, No, no, don't get any older! I want you stay my little girl forever!
She, of course, wants no part of eternal childhood. But, she promises, shell still love me when shes 20 or 25, even when youre old and cant walk and I have to push you around in a wheelchair.
So much for the view from opposite ends of life. When I was nearer her end than I am now, I asked my mother how she could think the way she did about whatever we were discussing at the time. Shed tell me to wait until I was her age, had my own children, or reached some other milestone I wouldnt understand until I was there.
How could I know then that the view is better now? My granddaughter may think her mound of wrapped presents and a birthday party at Funsville are the supreme joys of life, but she wont really know how happy she can be until she has a child or grandchild of her own, and starts counting the milestones of their togetherness as Im doing today:
Mega! I hear across the diner-filled restaurant as I meet my toddler and her parents for lunch. Mega, my name ever since, may correspond to my dimensions, but more likely its dyslexic for Grandma. Though she eventually formed her ds and bs with their loops on the correct side, I saw no need to correct my title. The way I see it, to a little girl, mega could just as well mean very important as very big.
Im ready for my first trip.
Now shes five and packed to join me for a 10-hour ride to Florida and her cousins wedding. By the time we reached Waynes-boro she was ready for the trip to be over. Some of my excitement wore off, too, after hearing, Are we there yet? five zillion times. We play that game now, too, during the 17 miles between my house and hers, but only in fun. A side trip to Floridas Sea World cemented her love for dolphins, and a continuing desire to work there when she - sob! - grows up.
She had just turned 8 when we took our longest - and fastest - trip together, an airplane ride to Maine to see where her grandparents used to live and her daddy was born. She climbed on ocean rocks, fed animals on her cousins farm, planted flowers on her great-grandparents graves, and pouted because she only saw moose crossing signs but no moose. (She thought the signs were a promise, not a warning.) A stopover in Philadelphia on the flight home allowed another side trip, to see the Liberty Bell.
Now that Im 9, I think Im old enough to have a purse, and make-up - and a diary with a key.
I left the make-up decision to her mother, but the purple purse was a big hit - until she lost it sometime during the first month. We found a diary, too, though I wondered what secrets a 9-year-old needed to keep under lock and key.
She enters her 11th year gorgeous in glasses, learning to be an acolyte at church, and - sob - talking about her boyfriend. (Maybe she does need that diary after all.) Shes also talking about her drivers license and wanting me to tell her how to drive now so when she is 15 or 16 - sob - shell already know how its done.
Dear Lord, thank you for this beautiful child. But, couldnt you slow the pace a little so the coming year wont go by as fast as the last 10?
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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