When I started writing a column for the Vashon Loop nine years ago I wrote about you and titled the column, “Grandma's Diary.” You were my newborn grand daughter then, and the apple of my eye.
You gave me a lot of material to write about when you were small.
There was the time you threw the package of ramen noodles into the dishwasher when I wasn't looking and I didn't find out until after the load was done washing. Man, those noodles were clean.
Then there was the time I went to the bathroom, leaving my laptop computer out, and when I came back not three minutes later, you were busy writing on the computer screen with a black marker. When you saw me, you dropped the marker, said, “I done,” and ran away. I went to look at the computer and found you had colored almost the entire screen black.
Handy tip: acetone will remove black marker from a computer screen, but try not to inhale the fumes.
We had a lot of fun together back in the day. Once you and I traveled to California to visit my cousin Nancy, and coming home Nancy rode up the coast with us. The three of us went swimming in a motel pool in Crescent City. Like your dad and your uncle when they were little, you enjoyed riding on my back like a cow girl as I plunged through the water.
After a few years I decided not to write stories about you for the paper any more. I figured it was hard enough growing up in a small town, without having people know stories about you and come up to you in the store or at school and say, “You're the girl who...” whatever the story was. I made this decision after a woman came up to us at the supermarket one day, looked at you, and said, “Oh, you're that naughty little girl!” She was kidding around, but I figured you didn't need anyone saying anything like that to you, even kidding.
Now you are about to turn nine. You are half-way to eighteen, which is considered adult in many ways. I thought I was adult when I was eighteen. Now in my 60s I think people in their 40s are kids, so an eighteen-year-old is practically a baby. When you are eighteen, you will not think you are a baby.
When your father turned nine I remember the shock of realizing that he was halfway to adulthood and I hadn't done a fraction of the things I'd wanted to do with him. We never drove a van across the country to visit all the parks and monuments and historical sites I wanted to see and show to him. We didn't go live on the beach in Mexico for six months so we could all learn to speak Spanish. Stuff like that. We did once take a train trip across the country and back, visiting family in Ohio and New Mexico, and we drove to California to visit the grand parents several times, so we did some traveling. It's just that I had these ideas about what I wanted to do with my kids, that's all, and when your dad turned nine I realized that there was so much I'd never get done.
Now we're sitting here on the couch together and you're watching me write this letter about your turning nine, which you're going to do any minute now, and I find myself thinking of the things I wish I could do with you – train trips, road trips. I wish I could be like Auntie Mame (I'll explain who Auntie Mame was later) and take you to see the wonderful things this world has to offer, the places and people. But instead you have to stay here and finish second grade.
That's life. We dream about flying to Maui, but we have to stay home to finish second grade, and turn nine with our mom and dad and grandmas and grand dads and our friends around us to eat cake and give us presents and wish us well and try as much as possible to make right where we are the best place for a beloved child to grow up.
We grandparents know that at nine you will not be a child much longer. Adolescence will soon begin creeping in, and then you'll be a teenager, and the beautiful talented brilliant child you are will be gone forever. Instead you'll be a beautiful talented brilliant young woman, but you know what? I can wait for that. I can wait, and I can savor this brief time before you emerge from childhood.
In closing, I want to say: you rock, grand daughter, you rock now and you always will, and I am so blessed, so fortunate, so lucky that I get to know you. Happy Birthday. Love, Grandma