Rings and Swings
May 17, 2008
When I picked up Random Granddaughter at her preschool she seemed very happy to see me and dashed to collect her things. Her fellow students were perturbed that she was leaving and asked me probing questions about why I was taking her away. One student in particular emerged from another classroom and started giving me a severe third degree interrogation. A teacher led the child back into the classroom, but after a minute he popped out again and started questioning me even more severely.
(Later, I mentioned the incident to the mommies. They knew the child in question and told me he has severe problems, one of several such children at the pre-school, whose parents are complacent about their distressing behavior. )
On the way home, we saw a large crowd of about a dozen adults congregated at a bus stop. RG steered me down a side street to avoid going through the crowd. RG’s tip of the day for pre-schoolers: Do not try to push your way through a large crowd of adults.
When we got home, I said to RG: “Here are the rules for today. Please do not do anything dangerous and please do not cause trouble. As long as you follow these rules, you will be in charge and I will do what you say. If you break these rules I will act like a mean mommy.”
She seemed to regard these as reasonable rules.
Then I asked, “What is the best way for me to get you to take your nap?”
She replied, “Take me upstairs, read me a story, and then I will take a nap.”
I said, “Before you take your nap, let’s have lunch.”
Mommy had packed a lunch. Before RG looked at the prepared lunch, she pulled a large plastic container of strawberries from the refrigerator and helped herself to a large quantity. She then suggested I take some strawberries as well. As the day progressed, RG frequently turned to the strawberries as a life-saving nutrient.
She picked her way through various parts of her lunch. There was a bowl of noodles which did not generate enthusiasm. I suggested she eat two noodles. RG was in a “placate adults” mood. She ate two noodles without argument and pushed the bowl away in a decisive manner.
We went upstairs. She picked a book about dogs. It was a clever beginning reader book with many easy words, most of which she recognized. After the story, she hugged and kissed me and promptly lay down.
I felt as if I were on the grandparent all star team.
After her nap we got ready to go to the playground. I said, “Do you want to bring some snacks?”
RG said, “No, I don’t feel hungry.”
Realizing I would be traveling in the company of a snack monster, I brought her bag of snacks anyway.
I had been told that she had made great advances in her playground skills. However, the truth was more complicated.
RG has been working on swinging from rings. She can hang from the rings, but she hasn’t quite grasped the technique of vigorously wriggling and twisting her body to get enough momentum to move her from one ring to another. Several other children (some smaller in physical size than RG) were traveling from ring to ring with considerable success. I could see RG watching the other children with irritation and frustration. She used the rings for a bit; stopped using the rings for a bit and engaged in other activities; at times went back to the rings.
After a while she decided to consume some snacks to build her strength. After devouring some strawberries, she went to work on a bowl of popcorn with single-minded enthusiasm.
A small child about 1-3/4 years of age with a mom in tow approached RG as she ate popcorn. The tiny toddler stood staring at RG in fascination and envy. It was obvious tyke considered eating a bowl of popcorn the ultimate in adult sophistication. Mom explained to tyke, “You aren’t ready for that type of food yet.” Tyke’s face expressed considerable irritation. RG looked complacent as she munched on popcorn with a look of adult sophistication on her face.
Strength restored, RG decided to return to swinging on swings, more familiar territory than swinging on rings.
After we got home, I could tell she was moody about her inability to master swinging on the rings. We sat on the porch and she began to untie my shoes. She told me to keep my feet still in a very bossy manner.
After untying my shoes, she pulled them off my feet and threw them on the grass, and looked at me with a What are you going to do about it? expression.
I thought. The situation of being without shoes didn’t seem very dangerous to me. The grass seemed fairly calm and placid, so I couldn’t really say that the shoes were causing trouble.
“I’m going inside,” I told RG. While she hadn’t caused trouble yet, I didn’t want to provoke her into pushing the limits. She is a little girl with a lot of imagination.
Shortly after we went inside, I pointed out the window. “I think Mommy just drove up,” I said. RG rushed outside to greet her Mommy, saved just in the nick of time from any more painful experiences with Grandpa’s babysitting.
When she came in, Mommy said, “I brought your shoes in.”
“She was being very bossy with me,” I explained.
“She gets very bossy with Mama and me as well,” replied Mommy. “Don’t take it too personally.”