Wandering with child restores wonder

Published 12:54 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

Do you ever get so busy you feel like you are trapped in high gear and can’t slow down? I ran across some notes I kept about a memorable day I spent with my granddaughter when she was 5. I discovered the experience gave me a completely new perspective.

I remembered it well as I scanned my notes. She skipped down the sidewalk on the way to the car, leaped in the back seat and searched for her seat belt. I wondered if she was going to be bored during our 25-mile ride. It was too dark for her to color or draw. I had nothing to worry about. She broke forth in song, with selections ranging from ten-verse kindergarten ditties to Sunday school tunes to variations from Sesame Street. Next, she offered a few she had learned at her mother’s side on the piano bench. Those songs, she explained, were “presents for Jesus.”

Her enthusiasm inspired her grandfather. He begged for one time to break forth with one of his favorite tunes. “O.K., Paw-Paw, but wait until I do this one,” she would say, starting on a fresh one.

Soon after she got into her pajamas that night, she turned serious: “I want my mama. Do I have to sleep in that bed by myself?” What grandparent could ignore that? I crawled in beside her. She snuggled close to my back and placed an arm and leg across me. She was asleep within five minutes. I soon extricated myself, but several times during the night, she moved into the same position.

The next morning she awoke with a smile and announced she was hungry. “I want grape juice and a flood egg. Nobody knows what a flood egg is but me and my daddy.” She showed us by cutting around the center of a fried egg and breaking the yellow.

Later that day, we two went for a walk with a neighbor’s friendly Springer spaniel. She and her two cousins had previously dubbed him “Wonder Dog.” He sprinted along ahead of us with his ears and tail lifting in the breeze. He poked his nose in brambles and stroked sandy spots with his paws. We approached a lot with a chain stretched across it with a “Keep Out” sign. Wonder Dog looked up at it and turned back to the road. “He can read,” my little visitor said. “Look how he’s wondering all over.”

“Wander, he’s wandering all over,” I corrected her. I stopped to think. “Wonder Dog is wandering around, wondering about everything,” I corrected myself.

As we continued our walk, she cautioned me to be careful of fire ant mounds and avoid smashing crawdad nests. “My mama said some of God’s creatures live there.”

When, I asked myself, had I ever slowed down to look at a stack of mud through a five-year-old’s eyes and recognized it as the house of one of God’s creatures?

How’s that for changing one’s perspective?


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.