On my recent trip to Boston, Catie unknowingly confronted two of my inner issues in one short rest period.
First, this G’ma gets tired! I’m constantly reminded when I visit that child raising is an endeavor best accomplished by the young. But Allie and Ben are not fools and need restoring, too. So while Zach naped, they sent Catie up to rest.
Catie’s G’ma was ready to doze. In fact, I read her several books aloud, drifting off so that I got the kind of nudge my own children once gave me when I performed the miracle of reading (albeit nonsensically) in my sleep.
But I’d come prepared. I brought a new audios with first three volumes of Catie’s favorite early chapter book, Shannon and Dean Hale’s Princess in Black (books from Candlewick , audio from Listening Library, ages 3-6). All three are given a superb read by Julia Whalen who gives portrayals of all characters, makes marvelous fighting sounds, and expresses the tension Princess Magnolia fears at being caught while transforming into her super heroine, secret identity.
Surely this would conk Catie out so that I could nap. But no! Instead of being lulled to sleep she was stimulated into dramatic action. I turned down the honor of playing Frimplepants (alias Blackie), Princess Magnolia’s horse. So Catie set up scenes around her room–her beanbag chair was the castle, my bath towel was the pasture where she fights monsters. I was roused a couple times by Catie’s superhero actions and mimicking the words of the story.
And finally her needs and my guilt meant I could no longer sleep. After all, I was only going to be with her a few days and how could I waste precious time? Catie needed help–she wanted a costume that would turn her from a princess with a tutu into the super-heroine clothed in black. “G’ma I don’t have a black suit,” she lamented. But tights and a black dress would do and a towel worked for a cloak. We scooted downstairs to fetch the black Anna boots her Baba (her other grandmother is deeply involved in costuming) had given her for Christmas.
“I have to have a mask,” she cried. And my 2nd great challenge stared me in the face for I am highly art phobic. Allie, my daughter-in-law, fetched supplies and neither she nor Catie seemed to read my panic. I talked myself down–“she’s only four” …. “all I have to do is get take a piece of black papers and make holes big enough that she can see through them.”
I never met the sleep challenge, but I was able to muster enough creativity to complete a (pseudo) costume, a mask she could (almost) see through, and I even settled into the supporting role of Frimplepants.