Sunday in The Park
I got home from work late last night. It was dark and cold and I was tired and crabby. I put the mail down on the living room table and poured myself a glass of wine. When I sat down on the couch, a shiny object caught my eye from across the room, under the big overstuffed chair. Upon examination, I realized it was an escapee marble. It was then I smiled, and the weariness of the day melted away. I baby-sat twice this weekend for my two different sets of grandchildren. Saturday in Salt Lake City and Sunday at my own house. Tyler, the almost-two year old had been a very, very busy boy at Oma’s house. After he whimpered when his parents left for dinner, I tried to amuse him with all the old standbys. I pulled out the toy box and tried to build with the blocks, race the cars, make funny noises animating inanimate objects. The sweetest of children, his disdain for my feeble attempts at childish things was palpable. He went right for the utility closet and pulled out the vacuum, which at first I took as an affront to my housekeeping but this is a boy who loves machines and he pushed the vacuum around with complete glee. For awhile. Then he would go to the front door with the saddest of faces and say "Mama, Dada" and look at me like, what had I done to his parents? So I fixed him the dinner his Mama knew would be a hit, a kind of combination Tater Tots and chicken nuggets that were colorless and bland and he loved it. He dined at the coffee table in the living room, sitting on the tiny antique wood rocker with the needlepoint seat that had been mine as a child. He rode it like a horse, straddled it backwards, and took off across the carpeted floor. I gave him baby Oreos with his milk and his big blue eyes twinkled. He searched the room and his eyes fell on a family favorite. Glass bead coasters in a glass ball basket, covering up about three dozen glass marbles of all sizes. That was it for the rest of the night. We lay down on our bellies and rolled those marbles all over the room. He would reorganize them into a tidy pile and then take the big marbles and crash his own design. He would gather the marbles and do it all again, putting the big marble in my hand and making me take a turn, all the while giggling so hard tears would roll down his sweet baby face. All too soon his parents returned. They were rather shocked at the condition of the house. And I suppose it did look like bit of a disaster, what with the cars and blocks and sippy cup and vacuum and coasters and marbles all over the place. They scurried to tidy everything up before they left, although I insisted it was not necessary. Tyler left giving me a gentle hug and an Oreo-flavored kiss and I swear, a wink, like, you did OK Oma, we’ll do this again soon. Just the night before in Salt Lake City, my son and his wife went out to dinner to discuss the new house they’ve purchased in the very next block of their charming old neighborhood. They have outgrown their tiny two-bedroom home that was perfect when they were just married. But now with two children it is too small. Izzy, four and her brudder, Axel, at 16 months are whirlwinds of energy. I was told if they ate their pasta suppers then they could have treats for dessert. Acceptable treats were in the treat box and popcorn could be made while we watched the Spiderman movie. Izzy loves Spiderman, Axel loves Izzy. I was along for the ride. There were no fusses when The ‘Rents left. We’re old hands at having dinner and playing games. In no time at all, Izzy was suggesting I make that popcorn and she would add some treats to the bowl. Axel would laugh that old man’s deep belly laugh that convinces me he is an old soul that is having a great time ’round this lifetime. Izzy said she wanted to look on top the refrigerator for chocolate ba#$% to put in the popcorn. The bright, bright girl has a bit of lisp. So I inquired, with what I thought was great patience, "I’m sorry, what is it on the top the fridge?" She repeated, as wise ones do with measured words, "chocolate ba#$%." We both were frustrated at the break down in communications. And so once more, I said slowly, "I don’t understand Iz a chocolate what?" And looked at me with mild disdain as if she been given the slowest grandparent on the planet and said sweetly, "Chocolate ba#$%. You know what a ba#% is, Oma. It is a circle you play with." "Ah, a BALL," I enunciated and she sighed and nodded and stuck her thumb back in her mouth. The Spiderman movie is a favorite with Toby McGuire slinging webs and swinging from buildings and stopping trains and flipping cars and beating up bad guys. It is rather old-fashioned at its core. Boy gets girl, bad guys lose, goodness wins. Izzy told me in great confidence that Spiderman was A Saver. "He saves people, Oma. I want to be A Saver." There is a point in the film, I think, when Spiderman is referred to as, A Savior, but I decided not to push the elocution point. Being A Saver is close enough for me. And as occupations go, I think she may have heard her calling. I will be searching the Internet for the just right web-slinging present for Iz this holiday season. That and maybe a toy vacuum for Tyler. Axel will laugh at any gift. As for the marbles, I plan to keep those as a treat at Oma’s house for now. And I will buy a big ol’ box of chocolate balls just to ensure the solidarity, which should always exist between child and grandparent. It is a precious time and I want to savor each sticky, melting minute this and every Sunday I’m asked to sit, in and out of the Park
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Summit County has launched a new program aimed at overturning wrongful convictions.