The quiet chatter of the grandkids cozied up in their sleeping bags inside their tent. Having spent the night on the land of my nephew Eren and his partner Maya at a country house in Sebastopol, they emerged into a sunny day and went with Maya to gather eggs from the chickens. While waiting for Eren’s pancakes and fresh-orange juice squeezed from the oranges they had gathered the day before from my sister’s orange tree, they sipped hot chocolate around the fire pit and delighting in poking little sticks in and out of the flame. After breakfast, we practiced our frisbee skills and then I taught them my childhood game of SPUD, which now was their favorite game ever.
From that auspicious beginning, we packed up the car to drive back to San Francisco to arrive in time for Zadie’s Zoom music class taught by… me! Usually she’s in Portland tuning in on the screen from her day care provider, but now she was by my side while Malik took a much-need bath. A fun class about nursery rhymes and how it always seems to make sense to leave out the last line of the rhyme and throw something out the window.
The moment we signed out, we walked out of the house and through the park to meet Maynard Moose and Willy Claflin. Zadie and Malik had spent a snow-bound day enthralled by his stories played on cassette tapes(!) and they were amazed that I knew him! (He actually was my student in an Orff Level I class some 30 years ago.) So I set up the meeting, we lunched on chicken gyros and French fries and he kept them enchanted with three or four Maynard Moose stories, complete with the Maynard puppet itself!
Well, that should have been more than enough for one day, but no, after buying two books and a double CD from him (the books personally signed!), Maynard left and a friend joined us and gave the kids some chocolate bars. And then we met their beloved Aunt Tita and went on the Ferris Wheel. Their first time and the excitement of getting up high and seeing all of San Francisco!
Enough? Nope, not yet. A short romp at Tita’s house, then come join the monthly neighborhood sing out on the street—50 songs with dancing! Followed by Zadie’s request of take-out Chinese dumplings from a local restaurant she remembered. And then settle in for a movie—The Black Stallion (holds up—truly beautiful) with, of course, fresh-popped popcorn.
By any standards, that would be a memorable day. And yet in the midst of it, the kids still managed to have a senseless fight in the back seat of the car that required strict admonishment and Zadie melted down when she lost her mask and kept sulking a bit even after it was found. I had a little talk with her about resilience and privately worried that my efforts to create this high standard of rich experience was feeding some sense of life as indeed, rainbows day after day and an expectation that every whim be fulfilled.
So I’m proud to report that when we spotted the ice cream truck we had been looking for in vain the whole week, I resisted getting them an ice cream. This old man can be tough when he needs to be!
They’re leaving to return to Portland today while my wife and I get our second vaccination. If we have bad side effects, I’m definitely getting myself an ice cream.