Jenn is still on the mend and asked me to take Sophie for a haircut today. I was planning on taking her to the mall anyhow just to browse around and help me spend a Christmas gift card. Sophie phoned all morning to remind me of our date. Her last phone call admonished me, saying “You were going to come in an hour, Babci. It’s over an hour.” Now that the child is polishing her primary skills in kindergarten, I have to be on my toes. Sophie is becoming quite good at reading and now getting the hang of math. She insisted on counting to 100 the other day when we played hide-and-seek in the playground and, by golly, she did just that!
We have a routine in the car. (Read on for Sophie’s definition of routine and then decide whether I’m using the right word.) Anyhow, I let her take winter hat and gloves off but then find “mother Mary’s” small blue-and-white afghan and cover Sophie’s lap and legs. She’s grown quite fond of the little crocheted blanket which was made for her mommy by my mommy many years ago. My mom thought the kids needed an extra cover to keep warm in our blue Oldsmobile and color-coded the blanket to match the car. Who would have thought this labor of love would be keeping a new generation warm?
Next comes the audiotape selection, preferably classical or polka music. I swear that Sophie got hooked on polkas in utero. I can still remember Jennifer, about eight months pregnant, riding in the front seat and bouncing along to one of my polka bands as they sang of weddings and daughters and dancing with the bride. We laughed a lot at the lyrics but the music was lively and made us all feel good. Today, I only have Pachelbel’s Canon and Vivaldi and Bach. No Happy Louie in the glove compartment. Sophie is quite content to go classical.
As I’m driving, I look in the rear view mirror and see her hands gracefully conducting the music.
“I like this song, Babci. I can see a princess riding Pegasus.”
I smile; the kid is on to something. The music is bold and dramatic. I can imagine a hero riding a flying horse too.
“Sophie, I like that you try to see things in your mind when the music plays. That’s your imagination.”
By now, we are listening to one of the slower pieces in a minor key.
“This one makes me sad.”
She continues to conduct the music and I can’t help but ask, “Would you like to conduct an orchestra when you’re bigger?”
“Oh yes, Babci! And I can write music too!”
“Yes, there are all kinds of songs and songwriters. Mariah’s mommy writes her own songs.”
Sophie ponders this bit of information and weighs its validity. Luckily, I have heard Mariah’s mom play her guitar and sing her songs so I’m standing on empirical high ground here. This is good because my granddaughter no longer thinks I am the end-all-be-all walking font of knowledge. Lately, she has taken to correcting me. What’s humbling is that sometimes she’s right. Her parents are trying to temper her need to correct with the need to respect her elders. I think it goes with the territory of being five “and a half”. She’s testing the waters.
The day is overcast with occasional snow showers. We fall into a comfortable silence, letting the music speak to us and the mountains peek at us from alternating sides of the highway.
The rhythm of the driving and the music, along with secret glances at the passenger in the rear seat, provide a temporary respite from my everyday worries. I become aware of a strong feeling of peace which has settled upon me as securely as my mother’s afghan has wrapped itself about Sophie. The mountains outside are also covered with a light blanket of snow. I am grateful for this unexpected bliss.
I feel like I’ve been transported, that my auto and its precious cargo are flying above and beyond all worldly cares. Sophie and I are aloft on our flying horses and life is good, very very good. I know what this feeling of transcendence is and know that it does not happen often. I live my timeless moment and prepare to let it go.
Soon we are in the mall parking lot, putting Mary’s afghan away and covering our heads with winter hats to stave off the blustery wind. We run into the nearest department store and find our way to a hair cuttery where Sophie’s flowing locks are about to be cut “shoulder length, no bangs”. I watch her sitting in the hair dresser’s chair, propped up on three pillows, long hair clipped above her face and I suddenly see an image of the young girl to be - Sophie as a teenager having her hair done for prom.
Next stop is Wild Things, a nature store that has oodles of carnivorous plants, hermit crabs, precious stones … we go no farther. Sophie is in gemstone heaven. She can fill a small drawstring bag with as many stones as she can fit and, of course, I’m saying “yes” because it really is the best buy in the entire store. We then stop at a Native American store and Sophie finds a small pink turtle for her sister. Pink is Hannah’s favorite color.
We end our outing with a fruit smoothie because she always gets a fruit smoothie after a hair cut in the mall. I make the mistake of saying to her, “Sophie, this is such a fun routine.”
“No, Babci, having a smoothie is not a routine because I do not do it every single day.”
I have to admit, the kid may be right. This was not a mindless, repetitive kind of day at all. In fact, it was quite extraordinary and filled with hidden grace.