Other People's Treasures

July 31, 1999

Saturday mornings are generally pretty nice around here.

It's my day to sleep in. (We take turns. Me Saturday. Chuck Sunday.)

My dad comes about 9:30 to pick Zoe up and they go out to McDonald's for breakfast, or for bagels or muffins, and then they go to a local bookstore where they listen to the Story Lady. He usually buys her a book and then they come back home.

My dad never did stuff like that with us when we were kids. It was a different time. A different life. Fathers were not evolved. My father is certain that he never changed one single diaper. As for presence in the delivery room--it was strictly forbidden. Dad's were providers, not nurturers.

Anyway, Zoe gets to spend some bonding time with her grandpa. He is absolutely head over heels for her. She likes the time she spends with him. When Zoe is with grandpa there are no rules. Feet with shoes are allowed on his white sofa. Candy can be eaten in lieu of dinner. Whatever whim passes through her three year old head is quickly satisfied. It wreaks havoc with parental discipline but I suppose this is what grandpa's are for.

When Zoe was tiny she was very afraid of my dad. He's a big man. Well over six feet tall and quite large to boot. She never wanted to be held by him. She would cry whenever he was around. She would run from him when she was big enough to do that. It used to break my heart. I could see in my father's eyes that it hurt him deeply, but on the outside he was understanding. I'm glad she's gotten past that.

After today's time with grandpa we had a family walk. This involves a very leisurely stroll around our very large block. For Zoe it's the trip, not the getting there.

I have learned the hard way that the proper attire for me for the family walk is something with very large pockets. Pockets? Yes, pockets. Because the biggest part of the trip is the collection of treasures. Apparently for Zoe it's a leopard-print chiffon scarf tied like a sarong. At least for today's walk. She cut quite a dashing figure.

Today's list of finds: 10 dandelions, 4 rocks, 1 pine cone, 2 other assorted weeds, 1 flower of indeterminable genus, and the biggest treasure of all: about 20 styrofoam disks (the kind that are like packing popcorn but are round).

When we saw the first disk laying on a neighbor's lawn Zoe's comment, "ooooh, cool." Daddy told her it was trash. "No daddy, it's a treasure."

It's all a matter of perspective.

About five of these little disks fill her little hand so whenever she'd try to put another in her hand she'd lose three. Those were the first items to go in the pocket.

Another critical feature of the walk is making footprints. We have to step in every puddle of sprinkler runoff and then make footprints. Everyone has to do it. Then we have to talk about it.

And the dogs. Zoe has no fear of dogs. She has two very large ones of her own so it's understandable. It's good and bad.

Kids that are afraid of dogs are missing something. Dogs are great. Dogs and kids can be a great combination. I have had dogs my whole life. We had the same schnauzer my whole life. We got her when I was about seven. My mom finally had her put to sleep when I was in college. Though I hadn't lived with this dog for almost five years I was still devastated.

Anyway, we've taught Zoe that before she touches any dog she has to ask their mommy or daddy if she can pet them. "Please I pet your dog." Some people say no, which can be devastating to a three year old, but she's pretty understanding. She knows to say thank you anyway. Most people say yes and have their charge sit and she pets away. Dogs lick children. It's some kind of rule. Small person, lots of licking. Zoe loves it.

One of the houses on our route has a wizened old German shepherd. This dog must be about 20 years old. It sits out on the lawn and just watches us walk past, sometimes gracing us with a howl. Zoe loves this dog. She howls right back. When we passed that house today and the dog was not in the yard she wondered where the dog was. We all agreed that he must be inside taking a nap.

Now Zoe is in bed, not napping.

A pretty typical Saturday around here.

Until next time. . .