Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Sense of Self, A Sense of Presents

She’s not quite three, this granddaughter of mine, the one known as Lola Buckelew, or as she will have it, Lola Buckaboo.  But the signs of character have long since emerged, even when she tried oh so persistently and oh so hard to raise herself up to the standing position pulling at the coffee table when she was probably seven months old.  She finally made it, and no one helped her, and as she would now say, “Do it myself!”  It’s hard to know who has the stronger will, Lola or her mother Sara (my stepdaughter.)  They look alike, they act alike.  Except Lola is a blondie.

She looks all around her, she learns from her mother, and she socializes and is socialized.  Her favorite A’s player was Jamile Weeks.  That’s right, at two years old she had a favorite A’s player, Jamile, and a favorite Giants player, Buster Posey.  She met Jemile at an A’s fan day and Sara told Jemile that Lola wanted him to be invited to her birthday party.

Poor Jemile got demoted and was sitting on the bench.  How to explain that to Lola at two and a half?  We didn’t have to explain it, she figured it out.  “He’s waiting his turn,” said Lola.  Just last Sunday we went to pay at The Vault, our Sunday breakfast haunt, and as she saw a lady at the counter talking to Hooshie, the owner, Lola told me, “Wait our turn, Baba,” and she lined us up behind the lady.  Well brought up – väl upfustrad, in Swedish, where it is an important concept.

Then I was carrying her past our refrigerator and she spied the Valentine card she and Sara had made last year and she wanted it.  We took it with us to the TV room and I asked her if she was going to make me a Valentine’s card again this year.  She said, “For me!”  That’s right, this year she is making a Valentine’s card for herself.

That same night I figured that calmness would be encouraged if we sat in the TV room with the TV off and I took my laptop, which she uses for Bye Bye Birdie DVD viewing and other pursuits, and put it on the kitchen table.  It worked.  Ann and I sat and read and Lola was on the floor playing with something, and then looking at her books.  She left for a while and all was quiet.  “What’s she doing?” asked Ann.  I went to see.  She had opened the laptop and found a video of herself and was watching raptly at the kitchen table, all alone.

The night before last we were coming home from dinner at Celia’s restaurant and I banged my knee, but good, on a door as my ankle rolled.  Sara and Ann and Lola found me sitting on my chair with leg straightened and propped on the coffee table with icepack on the knee.  Ann got me some Aleve.  Sara expressed concern.  Lola went upstairs, got a large SF Giants bag in which I had brought home Giants gear, came down with it (it is more than half her size), reached deep within and pulled out her gift to me to get better with.  It was the remote control for our space heater in the bedroom.  She looked expectantly at me and I thanked her warmly.  Caring is a kind of magic.

Last night I had her for a little while before Sara got home from work.  We knocked around the house a bit, played our recorders, slid down the stairs, and then Lola found a street map of San Francisco, one of those fold up maps on smooth coated paperboard.  Lola said, “Let’s wrap it for Mommy.  She’ll love it!”  “She’ll love it” – that’s what Sara would say.  So I said, “You want to wrap this as a present and give it to Mommy?” 

Lola said, “Yes.  And for me.  We’ll share it!”

Then she said, “I’ll open it for her.”

So she went upstairs and got some Christmas wrapping from Ann’s study, and we cut the paper wrapping up and Scotch taped it.  Sure enough, when Sara came home Lola gave it to her, took it back and tore it open, and they shared it.  And sure enough, Sara loved it.

Budd Shenkin