Not so smart

I’m not so smart without you. That’s wierd because you are only three.  But you are the kind of guy who repeats so precisely what I say, that we thought, “Oh, isn’t he a clever boy.”  But then I  remembered that I said it first.  Yes, it was my idea that related to something concrete and relevant to both of us.  When we shopped at New Leaf, at check-out, Id’ give you the bring-your-own-bag tokens (maybe 3 or four of them; one for each bag) and perched in the cart, you’d push them into the slots of your choice. We’d glide along in front of the donation boxes and you’d recite each in order:  “Hungry people,  bicycle riders, flowers, animals, oceans,  students learning to grow food,  houses for people, growing organic vegetables.” You’d “vote” for who would get the store’s donation at the end of the month right along with the other shopper’s. You picked up the words, the predictable sequence of them and recited them dutifully.

You often surprised me with your ability to talk about things using the words you’d gathered and concepts, too.  Once we stopped to give a guy on the street a rain poncho after picking up a few of them at the hardware store to distribute in front of the Safeway store.  You said out the open window, “I gave you a ticket for a new house. “  Though the initial idea, the ritual of putting tokens in boxes and the thought and words were mine, they were about our shared, special daily activities.  And you made them yours. They were  smart and you; a clever two-year old.  I let it make me feel smart, too. I hear your words everywhere I go.  The very words and ideas I offered you, and the ones you chose to make your own;  at the barn, in the car, on the trail, at the mailbox, in the kitchen, the bathtub and at tea time.  Daily rituals, repetition and language for it all that knit our memories together into something that we understood and used to build more. “I hear the coyotes.  They want to share their food with their friends.”  “Grandpa is at his office spinning around in his chair.”  “I see grandpa’s antennas all over the mountains.”

You crafted rich and interesting conversations with all of us to answer your questions and fill you with more. You and Grandpa talked while you worked.  I used to listen while you guys were using the Ohm Meter in the library, practicing morse code and discussing soldering and electrical circuitry.  All at a three-year old level. Grandpa found ways to translate complex thinking into simple language for you.  You and he had very special ways that you talked about your shared work.

I hope your mom and dad and other adults in your Montana trailer keep working to connect your experience with words,  build memories and relationships with others and your interests.  You flourish when listened to,  your questions respected, answered and are thoughtfully guided through misunderstandings.  You curiously explore, try to make things occur, again and again and look to adults for words to describe it and practice saying them.  “Talk to me, please,” you once said to your daddy.  Keep asking.

Meanwhile, I’ll talk to the dogs, to grandpa and to myself; seeking the smartest me that I have ever known.  The one when I was with you, little buddy.

Storm Brewing

For a few days a storm has been building here in the mountains.  The fog and mist thickened and the sky deepened-gray, then black.  It was you that heard the phrase spoken by your friend Caillou in his small worried voice, talking to his grandpa-“a storm’s brewing.”  We all say it now.  Grandpa said it yesterday as he left the house to feed the horses their lunches.  I called, “Ask our little buddy if he wants to go..”  “Oh”, moaned grandpa ” I can’t, he’s moved to Montana.”  The rain spattered.  The wind got so mighty that small branches cracked and snagged in the trees below.  Smaller ones flung across the driveway.  There was a roll and clap of thunder.  A crackle of lightning. And the power went out in the house.

I wish you were here, so we could watch the sky together.  We’d build a fire in the wood stove. We’d talk about the storm, the branches and grandpa’s raincoat. Families have a special language they use with one another, from their own childhoods, their toddlers, from talking to their dogs and each other.  Their experiences get word-tagged as they remember them together with unique choices, sometimes silly and made-up phrases;  special phrases  juicy with memories, special to us.

Grandpa ran into the house calling.  “Whew,” he shouted, “that was loud!” His antenna for his radios were swirling, bending and rocking about. He slipped in the mud. It was wild.  You’d have been a little worried, but then after a bit we’d laugh about grandpa’s excitement.

Happy Birthday, buddy

Today is your birthday, little buddy.  Happy, Happy Day.  Grandpa and I sent you a present.  I was so mixed up after you left that I forgot to wrap the presents.  Sorry.  You’d have fun tearing off the paper.  The tearing sound is part of birthdays. Maybe your mommy will do it. We sent your sister a present, too. Her birthday is far, far away. We sent some snuggly warm things so you will both stay cozy and warm.  She’s tiny and a little too skinny, I think. I like our babies a bit chubby. Never let her cry long.  She uses her cry to say I need food, hugs, to play. Because she can’t talk yet. Try all three, okay? Food, snuggles and pat-a-cake. Make your silly faces and sing some songs.  I hope your mommy sends us pictures of your birthday party.  And that you get some yummy cake.  Blow out your candles and make a wish. Kisses to you and your daddy and mom.  They made a pretty wonderful little person…YOU. I say to them on your birthday- Thank you. You are no longer 1. You are no longer 2. Today you are 3!

Dance and Play

It’s so cold today in Billings.  The newscast reported wind, snow and -15 degrees.  Stay inside today.  Don’t go out to play. The park will still be there another day. Dance in the living room, jump off the couch, climb the backs of chairs and scoop dry beans in big tablespoons, pouring them into plastic cups of different sizes.  Dig your hands into the bucket and listen as the beans rain down.  That’s how it sounds in Bonny Doon today.  It’s raining.  Not too cold but we are in the clouds up here so it looks foggy.  The orange tractor glows hotly through the mist.  The rain rinses the mud from the tread of its big knobby tires.  You’d have liked helping me smooth out the new gravel near Grandpa’s shop.  Shelby and Geoff brought the dump truck two times and carefully driving very slowly, slipped past the shop, back by the hoop shed where the Echo Lake boat is parked. The back up beepers sounded like this: beep-beep-beep-beep.  Three of Geoff’s lug nut covers scraped off when he got too close to the retaining wall. Shelby waved and Metro had to get out of the way. We had to shout at him like this: “Move Metro. Move!” Geoff dumped two loads of small rocks called gravel and after he left I drove over the piles and used the tractor scoop to smooth them out.  Your feet will be noisy when you run back to play in the boat.  Maybe you’ll stop and sit down in the gravel and play.  I know that’s what you would do.  You are a sensory learner.  You organize your mind that way.  You dig, scoop and think.

To Montana

This is my blog. It is a collection of letters to you, grandson after you and your mommy and daddy left the little cabin where you’d been living next door to me.  You were not yet three when you left in a big truck packed high with toys and furniture, pregnant Mommy and your daddy, my son. We had spent a lot of time together, days when Mommy was sick in bed, many nights too. Since infancy Grandpa and I played, lived with and enjoyed our little buddy. When you left, we missed you. Even though you would not read these letters for many years, if ever, I had much to say. I wasn’t sure you’d ever come back. Grandma

Hi sweetie, I’m thinking about you today. A book on my coffee table suggests when the wind blows that a grandma is blowing kisses. Let’s you and I believe that, okay? I think its really, really windy in Billings Montana, so there will be plenty of kisses for you. And that’s a good thing, because my arms are full of them. I can fling them out to you each day, everyday and be sure that in the Montana wind they will get there. I wonder what the snow does to kisses. Maybe they are just a little more snappy, crisp and noisy. Maybe they have to come with hugs. Yes, that’s it. Winter kisses come wrapped in hugs. So, little buddy, when you feel the wind, that chilly Montana wind, open your arms wide then catch yourself up and wrap your arms around your tummy. Criss-cross your middle, breathe and swoon. Grandma’s sending kisses on the wind, and is hugging you, too. And loving you always.