WOSTER: A grandchild can bring out the kid in everyoneIn all this wide world, not more than five people exist who could talk me into crawling under the storage racks and behind the big boxes of ceiling fans at a Lowe’s store to play fort.
In all this wide world, not more than five people exist who could talk me into crawling under the storage racks and behind the big boxes of ceiling fans at a Lowe’s store to play fort.
Unfortunately for some startled customers at the store in Brookings last Saturday afternoon, one of those few people is named Sage Marie. She’s 4 years old, and she’s my granddaughter. (The other four are the other granddaughters. I doubt any of them would ask me to do something so silly.)
There are some things I would do for just about anyone, and many things I would do for a very select few. With Sage, you could say we’re still testing the limits of what I might be willing to do if she asked.
It turns out, getting down on hands and knees, bumping my head on the metal racks and scrunching into a hidey-hole created by gaps in the merchandise boxes isn’t on the won’t-do-that side of the boundary line.
We were in Brookings for the university graduation of Jackie, Sage’s oldest sister. After the ceremony and the photos and the reception, several of us went to the big store. That isn’t the way I usually like to wind down from a college graduation, but it was family, and that makes all the difference.
Sage was in a playful mood, skipping and running down the aisles, disappearing around corners and laughing as she popped her head back in sight to make sure her mom and dad knew where she was — and to make sure she knew where they were, I rather suspect.
I don’t know about you, but I find it impossible to be anything but upbeat when a 4-year-old granddaughter is skipping around. It’s such an open, expressive age.
It seems to me that most children that age haven’t figured out there’s anyone in the world who really and truly disapproves of what they do. Most of them haven’t learned to hide their exuberance in the very act of being alive, and most of them haven’t had to develop a shell to protect their feelings from the people — other children as well as adults — around them.
It’s terribly sad but true that some children already have learned such things by the age of 4, and it almost breaks my heart to think that can be so. Learning about the bad things in the world, even learning to be reserved and hidden, comes way soon enough for us all. It shouldn’t come to a child — not any child, not any age.
So far, Sage seems to be oblivious to such things as she laughs and runs and shouts for joy.
When she’s in that mood, she can usually count on one or the other of her parents to be tagging along behind, playing amiable sidekick to whatever characters and drama Sage is making up as she rushes along. If not her parents, then certainly her Grandma Nancy will go along.
However, there were serious conversations under way over purchases. Both parents and Grandma were involved, all of them more or less enthusiastic about the activity. That left Sage with a playmate some 64 years older than she, and she made the best of it.
I joined the game willingly, I confess. The store had tall, wide metal shelves plumb full of boxes of merchandise. The space below the bottom shelf was tall enough to stack a couple of ceiling-fan boxes and wide enough to push them four or five deep.
When Sage crawled into a space between a couple of boxes and disappeared, it looked like fun. I picked another space, made my creaky knees bend, ducked my head and crawled in, too. We met in a cave with cardboard sides about halfway between the spaces where we entered the maze.
What a wonderful thing it can be to forget you’re an adult and make believe you’re living in a cave deep in the woods.
When we crawled out, we startled a man with two young children. As we got to our feet and skipped away, I heard him say, “Must be her grandfather, and, no, you can’t go under there.’’