Little did we imagine when we brought our five-year-old granddaughter back with us the first week of a supposed three-week lockdown in March that we would have her almost weekly for the next five months. When Aubrey started kindergarten that fall, I thought our sleep over visits would be confined to school vacations and an occasional weekend. The pandemic changed all that, unexpectedly for the better.
Suddenly Grandma became a teacher again using an online program called SeeSaw. Assignments were uploaded, or videotaped, and her teacher, Mrs. Johnson, would provide feedback. We made art projects and took photos of them to upload. Aubrey recalled her letters and sound. Most of the time, I did all right. However, when I tried to straighten out a crooked letter on Aubrey’s alphabet online sequencing, I made it too small and even more crooked and I had no idea how to fix it. I soon learned not to ‘help” on computer assignments because my five-year-old had better coordination.
What fun we had! We played with Auntie Megan’s old toys—her doll house, her Barbies, her stuffed animals. Her Felicity doll became the prize student in our school, with Aubrey becoming Mrs. Johnson and Grandma the somewhat struggling student. This was how I had to trick her into doing school work when she would rather play.
We took long walks to the park, especially at the beginning when all the playgrounds were off limits. We watched the ducklings and goslings grow and fed them bread. We noticed birds, and squirrels, and flowers. We picked up interesting rocks, sticks and pine cones. We took books along to read on a park bench in the nearly deserted park. Her stuffed cat came along sometimes in the toy stroller. Aubrey’s imagination worked overtime. A pitching cage turned into a home for her pet dragon. A boardwalk become the runway for an imaginary fashion show with glittery gowns that glowed. Her bike became a unicorn as she flew down the sidewalk, with me running behind her yelling, “Stop at the corner and wait!”
We dug out all of Megan’s stuffed animals that had been packed away in the basement and made a pet store, a veterinarian’s clinic, or a zoo. Of course, we had to make signs, so I snuck in a little writing practice.
But our favorite game was dress-up. Aubrey dug out dresses from the dress up box and sometimes I dressed up too, in Megan’s old long dresses. Sometimes Aubrey donned one of the princess dresses I had found at rummage sales. Then we would dance to old Tom Petty songs.
Almost every afternoon, we had a tea party. We’d set the dining room table with our pink tea set dishes, and arrange little treats on a fancy tray—grapes, goldfish crackers, miniature cupcakes or cookies. We’d pour the root beer tea and have an elegant time—just talking, no iPads. Sometimes her brother or grandfather joined us.
I realized time is fleeting and I’ll never have her five-year-old self back again. Consequently, parts of Aubrey have crept into my newest book in the character of Kaitlyn, another five-year-old. In my writing, I can make her immortal. The plague year did not seem fortuitous, but the deeper connection with my granddaughter is precious beyond words.
Poison Survey Results—The Winner is….
- Monkshood/Wolfbane 62.5% Also my poison of choice, incidentally
- Oleander 25%
- Belladonna/Nightshade 12.5%
Thank you to all who responded. Look for the description of the poison’s effects on the murder victim in my third book.