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After Work: My Little Treasures

…We knew a family whose kids had knocked out a supporting pillar in a basement rec room and had attempted to shove it back in place so their parents wouldn’t know they were rough housing. The parents didn’t notice a thing until the first floor breakfast nook toppled into the basement…

Dona Gibbs, enchanted by the antics of her three-year-old grandson Tucker, recalls some of those experiments and investigations which "little treasures'' undertake.

“Tucker, please don’t run your bulldozer up the wall,” my son said quietly, but firmly, to our three-year-old grandson when they were visiting us for a couple of days recently.

I laughed. “I bet you never thought you’d hear yourself say that.”

He raised his eyebrows, thinking no doubt that my giggles were undermining the seriousness of his admonition.

I then re-told the story so charmingly recounted in “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” a delightful book of essays by Jean Kerr. As I recall, Mrs. Kerr found to her dismay her daisies with all their heads bitten off. Her boys in sweet-faced wonderment complained that she’d never told them not to eat them.

Brad rolled his eyes. I’d told him the story often when he was growing up and explored kid-like things that mom had never specifically told him not to do, but were astonishingly creative and often physically dangerous.

All parents have these tales.

We knew a family whose the kids had knocked out a supporting pillar in a basement rec room and had attempted to shove it back in place so their parents wouldn’t know they were rough housing. The parents didn’t notice a thing until the first floor breakfast nook toppled into the basement.

I suspect that he and our daughter-in-law will have many such “Please, don’t eat the daisies” moments in their future with Tucker and his younger brother Phin. At three and one, the boys are on the cusp of what I call the roly-poly years.

The initial phase is characterized by a desire to grab one’s younger brother by a chubby ankle and haul him around the floor like a stuffed toy – all in good fun and high-spirits. Told this is not an appropriate activity, one affects an injured pout; the other chortles.

I’ve observed that the roly-poly stage soon escalates into the rough-and-tumble years, and I shiver to imagine the household for the next decade. Think of the yells. The startling sound of bodies hitting the floor. The scuffs on the floors. The chipped paint. The bloody noses. How brothers actually survive to adulthood in the same household amazes me.

It’s great fun being a grandmother and observing this. From time to time I’ve already gotten myself into trouble along with Tucker. Tucker appreciates a good joke. Although verbal humor still eludes him, he’s big on slapstick. So when I got into his fold-up teepee and stumbled around the room, he was literally rolling on the floor with laughter.

“Mom, please don’t walk around in the tent,” said my son. Oops.

I’m not one to press the latest pictures on my friends. Fact is, I rarely have a picture with me, and when I’ve been asked I’m given a questioning glance, as if to say, “Mm, maybe there’s something wrong with them. Or with her.”

Nope, nothing wrong. Two ears. Two eyes. One nose. One mouth. And in the right places. Legs and arms all accounted for.

But I’m still the sappiest grandmother you’re likely to meet.

I was sentimental as a mom too. Still am.

I saved our son’s umbilical cord in my jewelry box until it was no longer recognizable and resembled something like a short piece of dried-up rubber band. I still have one of the teeth he shed about thirty years ago tucked away in cotton in a tiny box.

Of course, I have all his report cards, selected art projects, science reports, team photos, short stories – you get the idea. I treasure a recent article he coauthored. The fact that it’s on an esoteric financial topic –and in German –doesn’t lessen the welling up of emotion I feel when I look at it, not comprehending a word.

As a grandmother, I am fortunate to be the recipient of one of my grandson Tucker’s early paintings. A year ago when he was two, he was in his blue period, and for me, it’s more valuable than a Picasso. I’m looking forward to Phin’s creations. Probably an homage to Braque, I imagine.

I was reflecting on all these joys today as I was cleaning. The bulldozer tire marks came off with a quick spray. The dried drool on the floor was gone in a swipe of a mop. Our younger grandson is teething and the amount of drool he produces is equivalent in volume to a Great Dane’s, but I digress. I found a Cheerio in a far corner and another across the room. I lifted the rug and there discovered part of a biscuit. It all made me chuckle.

Then on a window I found a perfect handprint. Tucker-size. He had gazed out the window, longing to get to the outside world. Yearning to be a big boy, allowed out alone.

I approached the handprint, spray bottle in hand. I gazed at it. It was so pure little boy that I could not bear to wipe it away.


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