In a Child’s Eyes

-by Sally Kirk Goodman-

Being a Granny has many perks, but the best one is that little people love you. They don’t mind if you’re overweight or skinny. It doesn’t matter if your hair has gone gray or if you dye it. It’s okay if you’re not as athletic as you used to be. The only really important thing is your love for your grandchild is unconditional. You’re their safe haven from a world of rules and limitations. You are the queen of their world. But they have questions. Lots of questions.

I remember vividly the first time my grandson Ian asked, “You want to run, Granny?” Run? I hadn’t thought about running in, well, in a long time. I snuggled him close and said, “Oh, Ian, I don’t run. I don’t jump. I don’t climb.”

“Granny, what do you do?”

Goodman with Ian on Grandparent's Day.
Goodman with Ian on Grandparent’s Day.

“Well, I rock and I read. How about that?”

It must have been what he needed to hear because rocking and reading became our favorite activities. He still wondered about my lack of athletic activities, but our hours were filled with all the magic of a wonderful grandparent-grandchild relationship.

Then one night, my kids drug out a box of old photos. Ian loved seeing his Granny as a child. I explained what was happening in every picture. As we were putting the box away, an old black and white photo slipped out and fell at Ian’s feet. He looked in wonder at the picture and turned it around for me to see, saying, “Granny, who is this?”

“Oh, that’s me, sweetie,” I said. There I was in all my high school basketball glory blocking an opponent’s shot.

Ian exclaimed, “But Granny, you’re jumping!” We all had a good laugh. I told a couple of basketball stories, but the best part was Ian being so impressed to see me jumping.

As we cleaned up, he asked, “Granny, do you think you’ll ever jump again?” Who could disappoint that precious little face?

“Yes, Ian, I will jump at least one more time just for you, but you’ll have to watch and wait for it.” Off he went, content with the knowledge that his Granny would jump again.

Now, folks, the last time I had jumped was twenty years prior when I found out I was pregnant with Ian’s uncle. To say my new pregnancy was a surprise was an understatement, but oh what a joyous understatement. I had jumped and clicked my heels at the prospect of another baby. Still, twenty years later, I wasn’t too concerned about my promise to make one more jump in my life. Ian was four at the time, and four-year-olds forget stuff pretty quickly. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to a beautiful spring afternoon, perfect for flying a kite. Ian and I found ours and headed outside. The kite was too big for him to get it up by himself, so I did my best to start it for him. The wind was gusty, and we had a little difficulty getting it aloft.

“What are we going to do, Granny? You don’t run.”

“Hang on, Ian. We’ll get it.”

Then my sweet little grandson said, “Granny, if you could just jump, I bet you could get it to fly.” Moment of truth. I had promised one more jump, and now was the time. Like any good illusionist, I knew I was going to have to focus a lot of attention on everything but my jump.

“Watch the kite, Ian. I’ve got to get it just right.”

Like a bird trying to help her baby bird fly, I waved that kite, shook it, talked about it, laughed about it—did everything I could possibly do to make it fly. But it wouldn’t. I knew then that I had to keep my promise and jump!

With much fanfare and giggling, I screamed, “Watch, Ian! I’m going to jump!” And so I did. Miraculously, the kite became airborne, and we spent the afternoon reveling each other’s company and in flying our kite.

Later that evening, at supper, all my kids were there. I was having one of those “sippin’ from my saucer ’cause my cup has overflowed” kind of evenings. Talk, laughter, and good food were the order of the day. Suddenly, Ian said, “Granny, jumped today.”

Everyone smiled as the room went strangely silent. Where there had been laughter and conversation, now there was complete silence. My grown children exchanged bewildered looks. It was no secret that jumping was not my forte.

Then my oldest son asked his little boy, “Granny jumped?”

“Yep,” Ian replied, giving me that big “I’m so proud of you” smile as if I had just won a gold medal.

The room was still quiet when my son asked, “How high?”

Oh, this was going to be good. After all, I had jumped and in a child’s eyes. Ian proudly sat up straight, little arm extended and all of his fingers furled straight out. “Granny, jumped thiiiiis high!”

As he finished his sentence, he brought his little forefinger and thumb close together, barely an inch apart. The room erupted in laughter. Ian and I laughed the loudest. It didn’t matter that this old Granny’s jump hadn’t been much or that I hadn’t fooled him at all.

When we cuddled up in my rocking chair, he gave me the proudest little smile and said, “Granny, you jumped today.”

I hugged him close and buried my lips against his sweet little head and whispered, “I sure did Ian. I sure did.”