comes ahead to greet me
spring in motion
–Mitsu Suzuki (1914 – 2016), A White Tea Bowl: 100 haiku from 100 Years of Life Translated by Kate McCandless
My granddaughter is poetry herself.
A blur of activity, a brain that never stops, a trickster, a climber, a jumper, exuberance that makes me stop and watch, stop and breathe in her 8 year old essence.
Her brown hair sprang forth from the top of her head when she arrived that freezing cold December day, with no hair on the sides, a mohawk to end all mohawks, well past their prime in popularity. It continued to grow from the center, falling straight towards her face, and we tied it up on top, where it became a fount, springing upward.
The spring in her step leaves me breathless. She jumps on and off the couch with ease, from climbing bars to ground, over stepping stones and teetering boards, over waves on the beach and lines on the sidewalk.
She springs along our newly made backyard path, onto the dome climber, up along the back ledge, behind the shrubs and magnolia tree where she remains hidden. Then jumping down she is gone, racing around the side yard, leaping onto the rock wall, nimbly balancing on the long row of boulders. Then jumping down, she slides behind the shed, around the cedar tree, and into the yard on the other side, laughing breathlessly.
She goes out one door only to appear suddenly at another. She locks us outside and laughs at the window. She says she wants to visit next Wednesday. Why? we ask. It’s April 1st she says, and starts in rehearsing for it.
She knows numbers and sees patterns and logic everywhere, and I love to watch her face as her little brain picks apart a mathematical equation, answers spring from her lips with confidence. She hears everything and understands almost all, and feels free to ask when she doesn’t. No shrinking violet she.
Her hands stay busy, yet her nose is often in a book, motionless. Screen time in her early years was never still. She curled, she stretched, she watched on the floor with limbs spread on the couch. Then the other way around. Once I saw her twirl in circles as she watched, tablet outstretched in her arms. She calms to dive deep into art but leaps up ready for the next thing when she’s done, or her attention is called away.
She is sensitive to the extreme, and watches few movies because the unbearable suspense causes her to spring out of her seat and run up and down the hallway, back and forth, back and forth, terrified yet not wanting to miss anything.
Her eating is sensitive as well. She eats only a dozen different foods, so varied I can’t figure why some and not others. Breads, almonds, Parmesan cheese. But also arugula and seaweed. She’ll pluck chives and rosemary from the garden to chew on. She prefers the raspberry patch to the blueberry patch, and the golden raspberries over the red ones. She can’t explain why.
Once, at the river beach, another child tried to exclude her little brother. She sprang immediately to his defense, arm protectively around his shoulder, a fierce defender.
She loves to win games and I tried to teach her good sportsmanship, just shaking hands and exclaiming “Good game!” Sometimes she’ll do that, but then jumps up and runs to her room, shuts the door, and we hear dancing feet and shrieks of jubilation pouring forth at having solidly beat me at Cribbage or Crazy 8s.
She knits, making hats and scarves, keeping a long list of people to make them for. She made a set of tiny pieces for her stuffed animals (mostly unicorns). She is thrilled to meet other knitters, immediately asking if they want to be in her knitting club.
She has formed many clubs in her short life. One was a rock club when she and her classmates banded together for the joy of smashing rocks to see what they looked like inside. The club part was her idea. She decides to be a girl scout and makes her own badges for each activity she completes. She learned html and css to make a webpage, because she has a club at school, and no one else knows how to make a webpage. (I don’t tell her she’s third generation of this family curse.) Her brain makes quantitative and qualitative leaps that outpace the adults around her.
She asks me, can I join your writing group? No, I tell her, but we can have our own. She jumps up to fetch paper and pencil. Let’s make the rules, she says, already writing. She has her own ideas for rules and we never do get around to the writing part. The structure of the club is what she loves, and prefers our back and forth stories – taking turns writing a word each, creating something ridiculous, and unrestrained laughter springs forth.
When we visited Portland for her 2nd birthday (before we lived here) we spent a blissful week rebonding after some months away. We were sad about leaving and didn’t know how much she understood until she patted Alan’s cheek, and said, “Pa, stay.” Brokenhearted, that was when we decided we had to move closer, and went home to begin packing up.