As I bemoan my latest physical issues and the fact that age and time are overtaking my failing body, I've been able to remember simpler times. While babysitting my two year old granddaughter last Saturday, I began the holiday weekend taking her on a little adventure.
We began by walking hand in hand to the park. The three block walk included conversations about the yards we passed and looking both ways before crossing the street. Among the usual sliding and swinging and piling of wood chips on the climbing platform were observations of birds, squirrels and a steady diet of small aircraft passing overhead. Teaching a toddler to sit still and quiet so the squirrel will get curious and come back around the tree is a tough task. It was more entertaining for her to have grandpa run around the tree and see the squirrel scurry around and up the trunk. She was able to spot the tail or head when the breeze blew as the squirrel sat on a limb more patiently than she was able. She was very alert to hear the small planes and we would stop whatever we were doing until we spotted it or concluded that the surrounding trees were to tall for our sight lines.
When enough time had been spent at the park, the real activity was coming into play. "Would you like a treat?", I asked her. What tot doesn't know the value of a treat from a grandparent. Never mind that it was only 9:30 in the morning, I had set my sights on taking my buddy for an ice cream cone. Rules shouldn't be adhered to at all times with a grandchild, especially on a holiday weekend. She was anxious to see what the treat would be as she grasped my hand to walk once again.
The PDQ was another 2-1/2 blocks away and the pace was slower as we observed all the school buses idly sitting behind the chain link fence. Prompting her to check both ways for traffic and tell me when it was safe to proceed left me wondering how much she really comprehended of this safety concept. Thankfully traffic was light and we were in no hurry so I was able to ask her questions multiple times until I was confident we were on the same wave length.
Our destination being reached, we entered the convenience store and proceeded to the frozen section. After having some fun with the child experiencing the cold air from the cooler door being opened, I modified my plan opting for something a little neater than cones. The thought of her walking with a cone and the mess on her face and clothing that I would have to clean up was enough to cause synapses to fire and come up with a plan B. Malt cups and wooden paddles would be the order of the day. Always a favorite of my daughters on our family trips to the ballpark, it would be the initiation to a summer walk to the store for a treat with grandpa.
I purchased two malt cups as she carried the wooden spoons thereby carrying her share of the load. We exited the store and walked to the end of the walk furthest from the entrance. I parked myself on the curb and had her sit next to me as I opened her nutritious morning snack. With every other taste she put her head back with eyes closed and a smile saying, "mmm." A number of times she informed me that the treat was cold and she always said it was good as I asked her if she liked it. The beautiful simplicity of a young child is that repetition is welcome to them and deep thoughts are not essential. I was able to sit and smile with her thinking only about childhood memories of what seemed to be a much simpler time. I decided that this had to be done much more often both with her and future kiddies in the family.
The walk home was at a much slower pace as the journey progressed. The initial walk was a half of a mile with the same distance being experienced on the way home. Throw in running around the park and that equals a lot of activity for two year old legs. The rest of the morning was peaceful around the house as we continued to enjoy each others company. I decided not to worry about her pants being dirty from the curb. It was her mother's problem if she is going to send her kid to grandpa in the summer wearing white pants.