I remember the days when I was a young Mommy with 4 young kids, and every once-in-a-while I got to spend an afternoon with one child… One-on-One. Most times this little time-gift wasn’t planned. It just happened because it just did. And that time-gift wasn’t about going somewhere and doing something, but rather just being.
Now, as a young (haha!) Grandma of 9, being given a One-on-One time-gift with one of my grandchildren is the greatest gift of all. I was lucky enough to have one of these afternoons with 4-year old Alexander yesterday. This is what a time-gift sounds like… Alex walked into my home, immediately shed his coat and sneakers and requested, “The Monsters vs Aliens puzzle, Grandma!” Alex knows that I hide all the 50 and 100 piece puzzles from the younger ones because they, well… lose misplace the little pieces. But Alex also knows where that hiding place is. (No, I’m not telling here!) Now all this time, Alex was talking about where we got that particular puzzle (“Remember, Grandma? We got it at Benny’s when we were with Grandma Rita and you said we could each pick a puzzle and I wanted Monsters vs Aliens and I know there is another one there and…”).
The beauty of this time-gift is that I could listen to each and every word. Each syllable of excitement. I could look into his eyes and see the adventure. I could watch his beautiful little hands carry that 100-piece puzzle box into my dining room and see, really see, his concentration at turning over each piece and beginning the creation of his puzzle. I could see the miraculous connection of mind to eyes to hands to masterpiece. And all the while Alex was talking up a storm. I sat with Alex, mesmerized. Then Alex asked if I could take down the music box from my dining room mantel and wind it up for him. “Grandma, you know, the one from when my Mommy was a baby and it plays Christmas music and Mommy loved it and it says COUTO on it…” I knew the one. I’ve already begun decorating for Christmas and I had told Alex the story of the COUTO music box last week. I told him again. And again. How the gift had been from Mommy’s babysitter’s husband… a man who loved ceramics and loved his Mommy and made this special little music box for our family 31 years ago. I wound that little Santa’s Home music box again and again as Alex built his puzzle and listened to my story and listened to “Jingle Bells” tinkling in the background.
Then Alex asked for his favorite snack… vanilla yogurt. And when I came back to the dining room with two bowls of yogurt in my favorite-dishes-of-all-time Christmas bowls… well, Alex’s eyes danced with the greatest excitement of all. “Grandma! Christmas bowls!”
One of the most beautiful afternoons of my life. Alex. A puzzle. A music box playing Jingle Bells. A couple of Christmas bowls filled with vanilla yogurt.
I’m going to play this game more often!