I found the most amazing little book at our hospital auxiliary tag sale many summers ago. It was dog-eared and tattered, but I let out a little gasp when I read the title; A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I gently thumbed through the pages and the beloved verses rose up to me from my childhood; “when I was down beside the sea a wooden spade they gave to me to dig the sandy shore..” or “how do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue…” I closed it quickly, clutched it to me and went to pay my quarter for this treasure.
My mother recited Mr. Stevenson's poems to me and I’d almost forgotten they existed. You see, I got lost in the gap between mother and grandmother for a good fifteen years or so. These days it is considered wise to wait for childbearing often into the thirties. And so the delightful world of babies and toddlers gets closeted in some cozy place in the back of the mind.
I didn’t become a grandmother until I was 50. As the saying goes If I’d known how much fun it was to be a grandma, I would have done that first. It took some getting used to. As the years rolled on more precious little ones were added – we’re up to six now. I’m on intimate terms with the Fresh Beat Band, Capri Sun, and fund raiser cookie dough. The oldest, at fourteen, is all about The Hunger Games. When Elaina was a toddler I remember her tears when I couldn’t pronounce Caiou. It’s Ki – you, in case you didn’t know – a popular toddler cartoon character. How swiftly the years pass. But with each new baby I’m drawn back to the hundred acre wood of Winnie the Pooh fame. Dimpled hands and happy giggles have led me into that quiet, enchanted place and I just love it. I often wish I could stay, leaving the more troubled adult world behind.
I long to share every good thing with my grandchildren; especially those old poems. I also want them to know Mother Goose, Wilbur the pig, Peter Pan, and Henny Penny. And I hope they want to go with me to the book store to choose some treasures of their own. Our only grandson, Sam, has read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Good for you, Sam! Our youngest, Sierra, is only fourteen months old, but she already loves lift the flap books. It’s a great start.
When they are older and no longer sit on Grandma's lap for a story, preferring their own comfy chairs, I know they'll understand what my beloved poet wrote so long ago…”Who hath a book, has friends at hand and gold and gear at his command . . ”
Mr. Stevenson had it so right.
Image: Three of our darlings