By Becky Mahoney
Elmo has been recuperating at my house over the weekend. He arrived in serious condition, life-flighted inside my middle granddaughter’s overnight bag. Her baby sister sent him with explicit instructions for Mimi (me) to mend his dangling arm. The initial checkup revealed a badly torn rotator cuff requiring microscopic surgery and lots of red thread. Looks like he’s going to be here for a few days. She checks in on him daily. When I told her what a great friend she is to Elmo for loving and caring for him, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “That’s what we do; take care of each other.” She already knows what our purpose is. It’s just that simple.
My three granddaughters are streams of sunlight, the smell of fresh air after a rain, and Socrates all clothed in innocence, joy, and optimism. Every time I’m around them, I become the student, sitting at their feet, lapping up the next life lesson. These little teachers with their honesty and unadulterated wisdom, have made me laugh, put me in my place, enlightened, and humbled me. The littlest one is still fresh enough from heaven; she’s not yet learned to be coy or manipulative. She calls them as she sees them with not a hint of malice. At a church picnic a few years ago, she kept glancing nervously over her shoulder. Her mom asked her what was wrong. Wide-eyed and a little fearful, she whispered, “Here he comes, the black man.” Curious, her mom turned around to see “the black man” was our Caucasian Priest. I can see why she would be puzzled by some of the mysteries of our faith. Why would the “good guy”, wear black? On Ash Wednesday, I explained to her we would be attending Mass that evening to get ashes on our forehead. “What’s ash?” she asked. It told her it was like dust and we were supposed to think about Jesus and all he gave up for us. I went on to say, “ To honor Him, we give up something too. For example, you might want to give up temper-tantrums or candy.” She wrinkled up her nose, looked at me incredulously and said, “Nah… I’m giving up church!” Really, can you blame her? Men in black, dirt on your face, and no candy for six weeks?
These little girls are my reality check too. My middle granddaughter has a creative eye. Along with Elmo, she brought a little thank you gift, a beautifully sketched and colored portrait of me she had drawn. It captured my essence to perfection. All girly-girl, smiling big, brightly stained lips, flirty eyelashes, jewelry dripping from my neck, trendy polka-dot purse dangling from one arm. Best of all was my flowing blonde hair with four inches of black roots at the crown. I looked like I had a mini-Mohawk. The economy has put a crimp in my discretionary spending and becoming a real blonde again on a regular basis has fallen down the priority list right behind food and shelter. Her artistic style is clearly Realism. The oldest one is a tender hearted girl, incapable of malice…or dishonesty. Browsing through old pictures, she came across one of this bikinied blonde frolicking on the beach, Farrah Fawcett, hair flying in the breeze. She asked, “Mimi, who is this?” Proudly, I responded, “Why that’s me.” The look of horror on her perfect face was suitable for a Stephen King flick. She said, “Wow. You sure were a “babe” back then. You wouldn’t wear that today, would you?” Her truth set me free. As free as one can feel sporting a full coverage, swim dress from now on! It is what it is. She hasn’t perfected her social rhetoric.
In reality, I prefer the naive candor that comes with youth to the calculated and malicious verbosity spewing from the mouths of the majority of our politicians today. How different our world might be if governments conducted their affairs with the same purity, honesty, and simplicity of the young. I like the way little people think. If something doesn’t make sense, they question it. They don’t try to make nonsense work. They see things as they are, no sugar coating. Yet they aren’t consciously judgmental. Most of all, they intuitively know what’s right; sensing having empathy and caring for people, is the honorable thing to do.
I’m thinking I should become the little one’s Campaign Manager and help her form her own tea party. Her Cabinet would gather round her little plastic table, sipping away, nibbling on Cheez-its, and solving the world’s problems. I can venture a guess of who would and wouldn’t be appointed. Not on the list, Chicken Little. We don’t need any more of this “sky is falling” mentality. Eyore, although terribly cute, will be excluded. Whining inhibits the flow of positive energy. Now, the brave lion, Aslan is a given. He’d make a great Secretary of State. He’s already had some experience restoring order and peace in Narnia. Winnie the Pooh is the obvious choice for VP. That little yellow bear’s simple wisdom can unravel even the most convoluted thinking. Cookie Monster could be Secretary of Health and Human Services, but only if he pinky swears a promise to share his treats. Everyone knows a little junk food is good for our emotional well-being. Of course, Elmo, champion of children everywhere, is being considered for Secretary of Education. The lessons he teaches our little ones reflect this party’s desire for a peaceful world. He’ll be in attendance. After rehab on his arm.