Although I only qualify as a grandmother by default — I acquired five when I married Pete — grand is the pleasure of having this big old house ring with the laughter, thundering feet and banter of a couple of kids. These are particularly nice kids, too — smart, funny, comfortable in their own skins. Hana is 11 and William 7. Their older sister Bella, whom I adore, did not come to visit this year. I miss her. She's bookie and that is a pleasing thing for me to share with a squirt. Besides, she makes a great banker in Monopoly.
I've been told that having these children descend on us is disruptive to our lives. When I replied, "Au contraire," these same folks told me of course they are. Which is interesting. What possesses anyone to presume the sure knowledge of another's heart? Perhaps they were merely transferring their own discomfort to me. Who knows?
What I do know:
I love having these kids around. Their arrival here is much anticipated, occasioning as much joy and excitement in the planning as in the execution of games, outings, movies, jokes, and general horsing around with them when they actually get here.
This afternoon I took them to the toy store with a little mad money in their pockets, supplied by Pete. It is interesting to watch children shop for themselves. William, deliberate and focused, knew the categories he wanted to explore — Legos and Star Wars. His $20 wouldn't quite cover the $119 Star Wars Lego kit he really wanted — it was the biggest one in the store and might have posed a problem getting it back to Mexico where these kids live. So he picked an air gun that shoots multiple small green foam balls, the kind you wouldn't point at anyone's face but can without fear of harm or reprimand fire at any passing butt. Hana began by being overwhelmed by choice. Eventually she settled into shopping small. Small items travel best. She did the math (being able to) and spent $19, not counting the tax.
Afterwards Cajun proved before two capable judges (Pete and Hana) that she could jump higher than William stands. William doubted her ability. But not any longer. Hana threw the ball for Cajun in the river; William climbed up the beech tree, in between firing off rounds of green balls everywhere. All were content.
Then we took them to Dairy Joy. The name itself is a give-away. It's one of those seasonal soft-serve/hamburger joints that I remember from the 50's. Picnic tables, paper boats for the french fries, paper bags for the burgers, paper cups for the chicken fingers and fried (fresh belly) clams. William shot ketsup up his nose. Hana fumbled her cone and lost it to the ground. I ate too much and loved it. Pete was happy that everyone was happy.
We must tiptoe down the hall tonight. That's about as disruptive as our lives and routines get hosting our grands.
Truffle: Gardening at Sissnghurst by Tony Lord. I discovered it in the Lake District and my very own copy arrived today in the mail. Owning it involves a bit of reliving a wonderful period in my past (living at Sissinghurst over the summer of 1979 and working on volume six of the Virginia Woolf letters) but also anticipating one in the future, namely our new home and my idea to recreate a bit of Vita in Concord.
Quote of the day: "For nothing is flixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out." (James Baldwin)