Early deadlines, a surprise birthday party and out-of-town guests were on my to do list last week.
It’s no wonder I almost forgot to play.
Luckily, as fate would have it, a teacher, in the shape of a four-year-old boy, came along to teach me that valuable life lesson.
Remember to smell the roses or at least take a few minutes to jump over some mud puddles.
They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
I must have been ready.
He arrived at my house Friday night and even after a long, long car ride he managed an endearing smile for his hosts, grandpa Peter and me. His biological grandpa and his mom had told him, not once, but several times, that he had to be good, even better than good. He had to be on his very best behaviour, because he was, after all, a guest in someone’s home.
He listened, shook his head and then proceeded to be not good, not bad, but simply his very own four-year-old self.
And he was delightful.
Being four-years-old in an adult world is not easy. And it is confusing.
No doubt, that is why the little guy kept asking, “why?”
“Why is the sky blue? Why do you have too much to do to play with me? Why can’t I call grandpa cute? Why do you call me darlin’? My name is Taren.”
I took him with me shopping. I was busy. My mind cluttered with about a million and one adult tasks that I needed to accomplish yesterday.
“Why?” he asked.
His question made me stop and think. “Why did it matter, anyway?
What if I forgot something? What if I couldn’t find matching napkins and my guests had to use milk instead of creamer for their coffee? What if the ham wasn’t big enough? What if nobody came and the ham was too big?”
I looked at my little companion perched on the seat beside me and I said, “why, indeed?”
I held his little hand and together we jumped over all the mud puddles in the parking lot on the way to the grocery store. Then we did it again backwards.
On the way home he sang Pop Goes the Weasel to me and I clapped and said, “‘wow’, you are not even off key.”
“Why?” he said.
I let him push a miniature cart all around the grocery store, which he did with great finesse, until he rounded a corner just a little too sharply and everything spilled out.
“Whoops,” I said and we giggled.
As predicted, the party was not perfect, but the fun and laughter and visiting just kind of bounced off the walls in a good way, and I was pleased.
Twenty-nine people showed up, including the guest of honour.
As usual, when I throw a party there is standing room only in my basement.
And as usual, there was a party after the party, and the remaining guests laughed, and sang together until the wee hours of the morning.
As for me, I disappeared for awhile while everyone was singing and laughing and went downstairs with my new little friend. Together we curled up with a huge storybook.
“Grandma Treena is going to read you three stories and then you have to go to sleep,” I said sternly.
“Why?” he said.
“Because I’m very tired,” I replied.
“Why?” he said.
But I didn’t answer. It was too late. One of us was already asleep.
And I’m sure no one will even have to ask why!
Treena Mielke lives in Sylvan Lake and is editor of the Rimbey Review. She has been a journalist and columnist for more than 25 years. Treena is married to Peter and they have three children and six grandchildren.