Friday, April 09, 2004

My Favorite Monster, Shauna

My sister’s granddaughter, Shauna, is seven this year and in the first grade. She’s the only child on my side of the family at present and she’s about as spoiled as adults can make any child and not be Rotten. She is a little too obsessed with toys and thinks everything she sees is hers or ought to be, but she’s still pretty pleasant to play with when she doesn’t just tell you, “Leave me alone, I’m busy!” Okay. Well, maybe my family doesn’t really know what the words mean, “spoiled rotten”! Still, sometimes she insists that I get out the big cardboard box that I cut doors and windows in a couple of years ago so that she can play in the “cardboard house”. It always astonishes me that the kid with all the million-dollar toys can still have fun in a large beat-up shipping carton.

Shauna came along with me to the library the other day and for once I was thinking how glad I was that our local library is rather lax about letting kids (and adults, too!) make noise. Our library doesn’t like to be the cop. Admittedly, I find the adult noise worse because kids have many good excuses, such as that their brains are not fully developed yet. The adults will never get any better, I don’t imagine, unless someone was to SLAP the crap out of them and tell them to quit it! I can pretty much assure you that that event will NOT transpire at my civilized library.

As we got to the library parking lot, Shauna was in the back seat talking to two of her stuffed dogs that she’d brought with her. I’ve seen her bring along a suitcase with 12 puppies in it just for an afternoon’s visit at my house, so I felt lucky that we only had to keep track of two. She was busy telling the puppies that we were going into the library now and they’d have to be quiet.

“No barking,” she told them. “And no whining!”

Well, they didn’t make any noise and she didn’t either. She talked so quietly that I almost wished she would speak up. I know she’s been to the library with other members of my family, but I hadn’t been aware she was so well trained about it! At every turn she made sure I knew which kid’s corner she was going to be playing in and what the plan was. When I told her I was going into a small room “over there” where the music CD’s were kept, she came with me and made sure she knew where the room was. Then she went back to her play area. She was so good and so cautious that I felt guilty about having deserted her and hurriedly made my two jazz CD choices and went back to the middle part of the library where I could more nearly keep watch over her. When another little girl her age wanted to show her the small kitchen area (a thing that seemed to delight them both, though I didn’t know why), she made sure I knew where she was going before she went.

It was very strange. At home I’m used to her running out of sight without a word or a wave and having to chase thereafter. If the two little girls whose grandparents live next door are visiting, the only reason that the three of them don’t disappear into thin air is that they are making too much noise and can be tracked by their sound alone. Fun at that age is Loud.

But, anyway, we had a good time at the library, and she decided at the last minute that I should check out a videotape for her about wildlife puppy dogs (wolves, coyotes, etc.). She explained at length to the librarian that her card was at her house and she’d have brought it with her if she’d known we were coming to the library. Later in the house (my house, not her house where the famous library card was located), after being such a well-behaved child at the library, she pretty much got back to normal. She watched that tape—at least, sat in its presence--while opening four or 5 new toys and playing with nearly all of them at the same time and she got a little crazy. Revved up. I got tired just watching her do what she was doing, jumping from one to the other and back again. When her parents came to get her, I was a little glad for them to get her and there was enough of her “stuff” to have filled a wheelbarrow and it all had to be carried to their car. Then there remained just enough stuff on the floors to fill HALF a wheelbarrow and it had to be picked up before the floor could be safely navigated by anyone over 12.

I can’t help but think about this--that Shauna will soon have a little brother to help her strew the mess, and then how safe will it be for us clumsy adults to navigate the floors?

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Never have children, only grandchildren.” -- Gore Vidal

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