Then she’ll smile, revealing four upper teeth and a matching set below.
“Mmmmmmm,” she will mimic grandpa as he pauses while pondering what next animal sound she might recognize.
Lion, dog, horse, cow. She knows what each of them has to say.
But to hear her rendition of kitty or lamb is sweetest of all.
One day, too soon, this little lamb will be off to school.
It’s just a matter of time.
If seating is alphabetized in Kindergarten, she’ll sit in the first row, first chair.
And she will be first to blurt out the answer until she first learns to raise her hand.
I wonder if grandpa’s school will still be standing when it is her turn to take her place.
Or will time have ravaged its hallowed halls?
“Still sits the school-house by the road,
A ragged beggar sleeping;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
And blackberry-vines are creeping.”
She’ll be the smartest for sure.
Already she knows how many fingers she has, or at least where the five are located, looking down at her hand at grandpa’s query after he has exhausted his short-list of animals.
At the school-house, as surely as time goes by, a special someone will be found as grandpa’s replacement.
“Near her stood the little boy
Her childish favor singled
His cap pulled low upon a face
Where pride and shame were mingled.
“Pushing with restless feet the snow
To right and left, he lingered
As restlessly her tiny hands
The blue-checked apron fingered.”
Until a suitable substitute is found, grandpa enjoys his adored (it’s mutual) role.
Making conversation at the dinner table, she in her highchair, grandpa seated close by, with her tiny hand she will form a tiny fist when grandpa asks, “What does a frog do?”
Hop, hop, hop the tiny fist will go, bouncing from one imaginary lily pad to the next.
Both tiny fists pile one atop the other while grandpa sings, quite offkey, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon A Rock.”
She adds “Amen” – or something similar – her contribution as mealtime grace is concluded.
She lifts her bare feet with her toes protruding just beyond where remnants of green beans and macaroni vie for space on the flip-over top of her highchair, and points to which little piggy went to market.
And which one stayed home.
Which is where – home – we are so blessed to have her until, with the cherished collection of memories and the certain passage of time, she grows up.
Postscript: She cried – her mother did, as we have since – when she opened on this just past Mother’s Day the Mommy Edition book pictured here. The baby’s name and her mother’s are personalized, as are even their remarkable likenesses. The stories too are chosen, and a heartfelt dedication was included in this gift from one of her sisters.
Excerpts from the poem are the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, “In School-Days.”