As I played with my granddaughter, Judy, I was fortunate to be reintroduced to the world of ‘let’s pretend’ and ‘make-believe’. My adult daughter had strongly imprinted her most charming qualities on little three-year-old Judy, and early signs of the mother’s free spirit; of her creativity and curiosity; and her adventurous nature all came together naturally to make up the little one’s personality. It had been a long time since I played with a child as precocious and imaginative, and I was surprised every time the phenomenal traits showed themselves in one so young as Judy.
Outside, she made a bee-line for the flower beds. I cringed at the thought that she might trample my beauties but, like the song goes, she “tiptoed through the tulips”… er, cornflowers and cosmos. She carefully picked a mixture of colours and came to me quite proud of them. I thought the bouquet was for me. But, no, she sat down on the grass and, with an imaginary mirror in front of her, she plucked a soft bloom and smudged its petals over her face as though applying make-up on her already pink cheeks.
Then, she chose a brighter shade of rose, pursed her lips just so and smeared the imaginary lipstick over her smile and kiss-blotted it, as she’d seen her mother do, on her palm. She lifted her hand and blew the kiss my direction. I blew one back.
She held her sweater out, “Help me, granny.” I tied it around her waist, and she smoothed the bulk of it over her hips. With a quick pirouette, her arms waving side to side over her head, she began the prelude to a private performance. “I’m a dancing faery,” she swayed and wiggled for my eyes only. The sparse patch of grass beneath her feet was her stage; dandelions adorned it. When she stopped suddenly, she looked bewildered. “Well…!” she exaggerated and cast her eyes downward to the earthy stage and bowed.
It took a moment to finally hit me that she expected an applause. I obliged enthusiastically. She danced again, in her fashion, stopping again with eager anticipation of my next move. I clapped and her baby teeth glistened in the sun as she grinned. Finally, she went into her swan song, and it followed that I applauded endless encores. She danced and danced until her twig legs gave out then collapsed on the grass looking like the depictions in her stick drawings.
Later, as we played hide and go seek, I’d never been so gripped in mystery as with my little girl. One of her favorite hide-aways was a small closet where only she had the slight enough frame to crouch and be totally hidden behind the vacuum cleaner. The hidey hole I’ll never forget was conceived by her while I closed my eyes and counted. She draped a couch throw over the last three steps of the staircase to the upstairs. Then, she scrunched herself into the cozy cubicle under the shadowy arch and became totally invisible and secluded from the world. A hushed voice called, “Come find me.”
I replied, “Coming, ready or not.”
With impatience, she called back, “I’m ready, granny.”
I took my time searching for her—just to build her excitement. As I did so, I was the one who became utterly mystified and filled with the excitement of suspense. At sixty, the adventure of meandering through a make-believe castle, which a wee girl designed all by herself, led me through a magnificent passage… a secret one of my very own… to my second childhood.