The Joy of Little Things

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This Sunday, like quite a few since Sarah started her job at the Emory Hospital in Smyrna, I hung out with Jonathan and the kids.

The visit started with me attending Grayson’s pool attendant orientation with him. This summer, Gman will be earning real money, working for as much as an hour a day, five days a week, for three weeks, maintaining the buildings and grounds of the neighborhood pool. It’s a lot of responsibility. I think it will be a great experience for him.

Back at the house, we all enjoyed a glorious day in the yard. Grayson mowed the lawn in the back and then tossed a football with his dad while Izzy and Ellie herded and held the chickens swung on (and argued about and constantly asked or told me to push them on) the swings, and Jack crawled around behind the playset, playing with rubber balls, trying to eat wood chips, and occasionally grabbing for the necks of the younger chickens, evoking memories of “Lennie” in that crucial scene from “Of Mice and Men”. A healthy breeze made the mid-80s temperature quite delightful. Jack eventually was ready for a nap, and I generously offered my reclined body as his bed. We napped together in the family room for almost 2 1/2 hours, during which time the others played kickball and then took showers.

I awoke to two sweet granddaughters, bedecked in in Izzy’s dance recital dresses, standing over me, asking if I was ready to watch their recital. Of course I was.

After dutifully watching (“no talking, no iPhones”) and appropriately applauding, we moved to the kitchen, where Jonathan prepared dinner for the kiddies. I sat on a stool at the island, feeding Jack, who sat in — and tried several times to climb out of &mdash his high chair, while the older three sat and ate at the kitchen table. Actually, Grayson and Izzy sat and ate at the kitchen table while Ellie tried to “help” me feed Jack. In hopes that Ellie would join Grayson and Izzy at the table (yes, and to leave me and Jack alone), I went into storytelling mode.

My first story was about the origins of the ballerina’s tutu. It was a ridiculous tale about how the first ballerinas, who were dressed only in leotards, needed to eat prior to their recitals. Unfortunately, they often dropped their food on the floor and thus went hungry (hence their classic small frames). One resourceful ballerina realized that if she put a big hoop around her waist, the hoop might catch the falling food so she could grab it and eat it. However, some of the food fell onto the hoop and bounced to the floor. So she decided to add a second hoop, to catch the bouncing food. Since there were two hoops, she called them her “two-two”, which, over many centuries, simply became “tutu”. This same ballerina later added additional hoops, but she thought better than to call them her “three-three” or her “four-four”.

Naturally, I was asked to tell more stories. A second, equally ridiculous, story about why the net was added to the basketball rim, and a third (equally ridiculous) story about how trees came to be, followed. I hope I never forget the rapt attention with which the girls listened to my ridiculous stories and the giggles that accompanied each story’s contrived ending. (Grayson, quite the sophisticated 10 year-old, also got a kick out of it all.)

It was getting late, and I was ready to head back home to spend some Sunday time with Margie and Jake, but I acceded to one more diversion. It was a guessing game in which the girls would choose one of the giant domino tiles I built for them last Christmas, look at it, commit it to memory, and then hold it backwards over their heads while I peered into their eyes and souls to devine how many dots each had.

We went through half of the tiles, and I was fourteen for fourteen!

What a wonderful afternoon. I finally tore myself away, to Izzy saying she didn’t want me to leave. Can a grandfather ask for anything better?

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