Growing up, I wasn’t particularly attached to any of my grandparents. I liked them well enough; and enjoyed the few times a year I spent with them but I didn’t get as excited about seeing them as my oldest does to see his Ouma. My mom.
Seeing as he spent the first four years of his life living a mile or two from her house, he’s pretty fond of her. And now that the distance between our houses has increased a few thousand-fold, he eagerly anticipates visits with her.
There’s a countdown of the number of days until she arrives. There’s talking on the phone to her about what will happen when she comes to visit. There’s the preparing of gifts – drawings, crushed-up-paper placed in a box, etc. And the anticipation of the sleeping arrangements: he insists on sleeping in her room, usually on a sleeping bag.
So Ouma arrived in Calgary a few days ago, and Mr. G’s excitement was not for naught. There have been daily tea parties with cookies, stories read in abundance, even a trip to a local amusement park. Not to mention daily baths, which these tired parents inevitably defer as much as possible. There’s something endearing about scruffy, slightly dirty little kids, isn’t there?
Last night, as I was cleaning up the toys in the basement play room, I watched my oldest as he was busily doing who-knows-what. He’d taken a gray and white silk scarf and had lain it in the middle of the floor of the guest room. The new, still-wrapped tabletop ironing board we’d bought at IKEA (at my mom’s insistence) had also been placed in the middle of the floor. Mr. G called it his ‘surfer board’. And the four pennies he’d found – somewhere – were placed in a little dump truck in the same vicinity. He called it his ‘allowance’.
I asked him what he was doing. (Who wouldn’t?!) He said he was ‘making a party.’ Clearly the kid needs to get out; maybe go to some real parties, for I can’t quite recall having ever attended a party like that. But who can understand the mind of a five year old? I said good night, turned out the light and went upstairs.
There was weeping and gnashing of teeth several minutes later. Apparently Ouma had found him, in the dark, standing on his ‘surfer board’. And she’d taken it away for fear he might break it. Which led to a round of the most pitiful tears he’d shed…..that day.
Eventually there was peace and quiet, and all involved fell asleep for the night, forgetting about the great injustice that had occurred.
Until Mr. G woke up this morning; speaking of the incident from the moment he woke up. ‘Ouma took away my surfer board,’ he reminded me once he was awake. Just in case I’d forgotten. He mentioned it a few more times in the course of the morning. Finally I saw him scribbling with a black marker on a white sheet of paper. With my limited vision and interpretative ability of five-year-old ‘writing’, all I could discern was that he’d strung together some letters on a page. Which he placed in the center of the guest room floor; on top of the scarf that had remained in position overnight.
‘This says: the party’s over‘, he announced matter-of-factly, without a hint of anger or accusation.
Let all who pass by this place know: the party he’d been making the night before had been nixed by the ‘old’ lady who was trying to keep an ironing board intact.