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  • Jeanette Baker

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice




Two years ago, Baby Charlotte Rose, all 7 pounds 5 ounces of her, made her debut on an icy, bone-chilling January evening in Evanston, Illinois. Until then, my experience with grandchildren was limited to boys, California boys accustomed to golden sunshine, bare feet, hot pavement, playing at the beach in January, attacking each other with light sabers, building forts in the yard, block towers in the family room and pillow fighting in the bedroom. Like puppies, they jump on each other, panting and shouting, red-cheeked and noisy. Calm is not in their vocabulary.


Charlotte, my first granddaughter, would turn out to be a completely different little being, thoughtful, quiet, delicate, less active, more intense, discriminating and, yes, more complicated and serious than her California cousins who find her fascinating. She lives with her parents in Sacramento and from the beginning our pattern was established. Her eyes focused and wise, would follow my movements. Later, she would hold up both arms, a sign that she was available for cuddling, limited time only. Silently, cat-like, she glided from the kitchen to the living room to the toy box, avoiding the stairs. Her preferences were clear; books, her purse, the color pink, anything with bling and “pretty hair.”


Now, when we read together, she patiently waits while I finish each page and in a voice somewhere between a whisper and a sigh she repeats my words, broccoli, pumpkin, goldfish, birdie, Grammy, Charlotte and more. Then she says them over again, this time in Vietnamese. My son asks her which card has seven dots, three dots, five dots and she aces them all. She wows me by singing the ABC song, every syllable high and clear. Yes, she likes push toys and blocks and her red wagon, but her favorite toy is the Melissa and Doug kitchen complete with stainless steel pots and pans, colorful pseudo fruit and vegetables, cupcakes, salad and slices of bread that are Velcroed together and, later, cut apart with a wooden knife.


My granddaughter is still an only child which could account for many of her mannerisms. Another sibling could change the family dynamic completely. As of now, her preference leans toward the feminine. I can’t imagine her wanting to dress up as Darth Vader or the Dark Knight. But, I remind myself, she’s barely two. Just for good measure, I’m going to see how she feels about the “Wild Thing” costume for next Halloween. My guess is she will smile and when she smiles, the room lights up.

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