Yesterday, I was sitting in my chair with Kenny on my lap, and she was fiddling with her soother, the one with the little froggy attached. She was worrying the legs, as I bounced her up and down.
She was having a terrible day, drooling everywhere, really crabby thanks to those dastardly teeth coming in.
Scott, meanwhile, was unpacking the fake tree, the one we got free of charge about four years ago when the neighbor put it out in the trash. It is decorated with donated ornaments and lights which have replaced the ones that my son Nick accidentally threw out.. Man, was I mad at him that Christmas.
We simply didn't know what to do. We had no money that year. And that's when we spotted the tree, out there in the snow, still in its original box.
Free to good home, the neighbor had scrawled.
I mentioned on Facebook that all of our ornaments were gone, and a few kind people dropped off boxes of them, or donated their old ones. I was truly touched. You people, you know who you are, and I am still thankful when I take them out of the boxes.
The recycled tree is still as beautiful as it could be, at least in the eyes of Kenny, a baby on her first Christmas, who was looking at it through her shiny black eyes, laughing between munches of her soother.
I often hold her beautiful, pudgy little hand and examine it next to mine. Hers is smooth and dark, mine is gnarled from onset arthritis and age. And I think about how awesome it would be to have a shiny new brain instead of a craggy old Swiss cheese brain that has been battered by life, disappointment, bad cholesterol and a high lifetime average of red wine.
Thankfully, everyday, she sprinkles me with new baby stardust, and I feel, at least for a few hours, young again. She has taught me to see the world with new clarity, spirit and purpose. I've missed that, through the in-between years, the after graduation years when the kids went off on their respective journeys, and I was left at home, rudderless, alone. I was sure that I would die in my chair, and be found eventually, having been eaten by pugs.
Kennedy has arrived at a good time in our lives. She is the gift that keeps on giving, with her gummy smiles, her unruly curls, and her fury when she is grumpy. I spend every day with her, and I love it.
I have grown patient in my dotage. I no longer get frustrated with flying spoons of baby food landing in the pug's hair. Nor do I get mad when she cries all afternoon. I just smile at her, and try to make her laugh, and sing corny old songs to her.
I love you a bushel and a peck.
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.
What an incredibly stupid song. What the heck does that mean, anyway?
Kenny doesn't care, she just stops the waterworks and starts bopping her head. She is so trusting, and loving, and full of joy and possibility.
She has made me famous at the grocery store. Everybody, and I mean everybody, stops and smiles when they see her, the little mixed race baby being driven around by a couple of old flabby white folks.
People are nicer to us, I swear.
It took Scott about an hour to put up the fake tree, give it light, and sweep up. I looked at Kenny with her eyes wide open, admiring the colored lights, then I looked at Scott and smiled.
Nobody is luckier than we are on this Christmas.
And I mean nobody.
I looked back at Kenny and she was sound asleep, sitting straight up, still slurping on her frog soother. I let her fall into my arms, and I hugged her for an hour.
Somedays, I never want to let her go.
Being a Grandparent is the coolest.
Ah man, life doesn't get better than this.