"I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life which God has given them, for this is their reward." (Ecclesiastes 5:18, NET)

December 28, 2012

Pinky promises

I promised in my first post that not every one would be about grandkids, but I didn't say the next one wouldn't be. And since this story involves a ton of fun with no money and no toys to speak of, I think it's especially appropriate after the toy excess of Christmas.

My two little blondes, Evyn (5) and Ezra (4), arrived for a sleepover as the sun was going down. They wanted to play outside, but I told them we'd have to wait until tomorrow. So they went to my office, which doubles as a playroom on the weekend, and began playing with the junk in the toy box. Ah, Nana's toy box. Inside that plastic container is an old collection of giveaway items stamped with logos, along with a few cheap toys I actually bought. All of the grandkids have more toys at home than they know what to do with, but Nana's crummy little toy box has an inexplicable, enduring appeal. My kids and their spouses must surely be jealous.

Evyn and Ezra love doing crafts, so they grabbed my tin of odds and ends—leftovers from teaching children's Sunday School and sundry other "these-might-be-good-for-something" items. They made several refrigerator magnets that looked like something Jackson Pollock might have created if, instead of paint, he used markers, stickers, foam letters, and rhinestones. Afterward, I tucked the kids in my king-size bed, started a Nick Jr. video, and went to clean up the magnet mess. (Now don't you be judging me for not making them help.)

Ezra appeared in the doorway and, tapping his fists together excitedly, said, "I can't wait to snuggle with you, Nana!" As he ran off, the scraps fell from my hands back to the floor, and I went to climb in bed between the kids. During all the snuggling and talking, Evyn went to the living room to say goodnight yet again to Robert. She informed Ezra and me that she and Poppy said their "prays." At her request, Poppy prayed that Evyn wouldn't have any bad dreams and that it wouldn't rain tomorrow so we could play outside. God answered in the affirmative. Evyn had a giggling fit while she slept, and we had glorious weather the next day.

The kids woke up early, while it was still dark. The first thing both of them said was that they love me. Good morning to me! The second thing was that they wanted to go outside. I promised it would happen later. Then I brought them orange juice, and we stayed in bed another hour talking, snuggling, and watching videos. When they were ready for breakfast, Robert was still asleep in the living room, so I did something I've never done before—let children eat food in my bed. I thought it would be a nice treat for them anyway to have breakfast served on bed trays. Maybe next time, though, I'll make something less crumbly than cinnamon toast.

We got dressed and gathered a few items from the toy box to play with outside—a pink frisbee with a company's faded logo and contact info, some little plastic balls, and a paddle-ball toy held together with duct tape. Here's some of what we spent the next several hours doing:
  • Throwing the frisbee: We worked on the kids' technique so they'd enjoy it more and so Robert and I would have fewer retrievals beyond the fence.
  • Playing baseball: The paddle was the bat, the frisbee was first base, and we all got celebratory home runs every time at bat.
  • Hiking along the bayou behind the house: We found walking sticks, looked at birds, watched for turtles, went all the way down to where the duck hangs out, and skipped stones. OK, so we actually kerplunked rocks.
Evyn's pitching form and Ezra's batting stance
Robert had no choice but to stay outside with us all day because Evyn had extracted a pinky promise that he would. As she left the living room after saying goodnight, she turned, raised her pinky, and solemly said, "Remember."

When we were saying goodbye as she sat in the car, Evyn reminded me of the time I took her and Ezra to the movies where we watched "Puss in Boots," danced in the aisle to the music of the closing credits, and played games in the arcade afterward. She asked if we could do it again, and I gave the noncommittal answer, "Maybe one of these days." As Evyn hugged me, her pinky finger slowly, tightly curled around mine. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. I was committed.

That pinky promise is going to cost me some money, and I bet it won't be any more fun than our Saturday in the backyard. The main thing is to give my little darlins' memories of good times—things that will last forever, or at least as long as a duct-taped paddle.

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