Another day, another celebratory meal, another pretty table.
No, not really. Yesterday’s birthday dinner was more than just another whatever. Yesterday, my newest granddaughter Tayler, turned eleven years old. Yesterday, I worked my fingers, if not to the bone, at least to dry chapped wrinkly skin, to make a meal perfect for a young girl whose name I barely knew two years ago.
How is it that this young lady can already have claimed a place in my heart? Is it because, no matter what or when, she always wants to spend the night at her new Nana’s house? Is it because she has the wisdom to know, at such an early age, how sisters truly make the best of friends — even when they are young kid sisters who have a bent to tell sibling tales to parents with wagging tongues — wisdom it took both her mother and me years — or should I say decades? — to realize about our own wonderful sisters?
Pensive one moment, giggly the next, Tayler is a “good egg”, to borrow a favorite expression of my mother-in-law Janice. Tayler is not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. She asks for what she wants, come what may. When she goes down in defeat with a circle of ‘no’s’, she bounces right back with a smile and a new plan.
We enjoyed a red banner evening together — spaghetti with red sauce, red velvet cake and her favorite cookies, swirled with red food coloring, that I bake, whenever a grandchild is promised to be in sight. With two dozen cookies left over, Tayler asked if she could carry them to school today to share with her classmates. “Of course,” I said. Mostly, it’s easy to say ‘yes’ to Tayler.
Grandmother’s are better at saying ‘yes’ than ‘no.’ As a parent, I said ‘no’ too many times. No. No. No. Sometimes in a string, just like that. My new grandson Ryan — Tayler’s older brother — wanted another piece of cake. “Yes,” I said. His new mother — my daughter, Kate — said “No.” If I had been Kate, I, more than likely, would have said “No” too. But I’m thinking the world is filled with too many “no’s”, that it’s up to families to speak the much-needed “yes, yes, yes.”
Of course, my final word last night was “No.” Predictably, Tayler asked to spend the night. After a rough night of sleeping, after working all day to make her birthday dinner grand, and with my husband, the disciplinarian, out-of-town, I spoke the safe and sorry ‘No’.
I wish I had said “Yes.” I wish I had thrown common sense out the window and remembered what it was like to be eleven and spend the night at my Aunt Jo’s or my Aunt Carol’s. Then maybe I would have said “Yes.”