We spent Thanksgiving week with a seven year old . I'll call her "P". I've known P's mom since she was eight years old. P reminds me so much of her mother. She's the same gentle soul, but unlike her mom, P is a furious ball of energy and a verbal tornado.
Much to our delight, she made Tarun and me feel younger with her contagious energy.
P is a single child with two super bright and very engaged parents. Her language skills stopped Tarun and me in our tracks. P peppers conversations with "persistent", "alternate" and "metaphor" as if these are everyday words.
I am sure that our boys didn't use these words adeptly until they were in high school!
When I am in California our streaming service allows us access to a channel that shows "Deal or No Deal" 24x7. I admit I have a slight addiction to this show. The chances the contestants take given their circumstances fascinate me. Naturally, when P and her family were visiting, I manipulated our quiet time towards DOND.
To my pleasant surprise, P caught on to the rules and understood the nuances of the game in about...oh....five minutes,. It had taken me a couple of shows to reach the level of understanding P exhibited watching one contestant play the game.
While I internalize my anxiety when someone passes up on $380,000 in favor of the chance that their case holds a million and then walks away with $50, P transformed into a physical storm. She jumped up and down and ran in the hallway trying to calm herself down or cheer a contestant. Briefly I worried that DOND was a terrible influence on P. But then I thought that's a worry for her parents, not a constraint for rule-breaking, indulgence-loving grandparents.
To keep P engaged and away from a DOND addiction, I moved on to teaching her how to crochet. This is not an easy activity. There are many steps to remember and the fingers have to move constantly to push, hook and pull. To help her along, I came up with a sing-song set of instructions. I showed her the steps while repeating the words several times and then handed the yarn and crochet hook to her. The next day she chain-stitched a four-feet long string!
Gasp. I was tempted to handover the 50x70 blanket I am making for Josh.
In between DOND episodes, World Cup soccer games, cooking, Monopoly, grazing, drinking, roasting marshmallows, and time at the beach, P and I painted our nails and she served as the best helper in the kitchen. She peeled potatoes, set the dining table, mixed cake batter, and fetched supplies from the pantry.
Being with P reinforced how reading and communication skills trump every other skill. When kids are able to articulate, they can be trusted with responsibilities. As adults they have the potential to make the world a better place by synthesizing and representing complex concepts faster and better than others.
Thank you P for visiting us with your parents and grandma, for making this Thanksgiving holiday one to remember, and for being our guide on how to interact with Mina in the coming years. Never stop being a ball of energy, happily looping everyone around you into an orbit so full of promise.