Three-feet high children view life differently than I do – the giant grandmother. Sometimes, I must kneel down and see life from a child’s viewpoint.
For instance take cars. Except for color and general shape, I can not differentiate models. So as I walked through the church parking lot one day trying to figure out where my husband had parked our car, I commented to a passing friend that I was blind to the differences in automobile models.
She laughed, “my son can tell which cars people drive by their hubcaps.”
I looked around me and saw – for the first time – the variety in hubcaps. From her son’s height the hubcap connection made sense.
To their shorter view of the world, children also bring a vivid imagination.
Last year, we visited a toy shop with our then youngest granddaughter. The shop had a wonderful selection of skillfully made cloth hats. The little charmer wanted to try them all. She really liked the purple dragon hat until she found the Roman soldier’s helmet and immediately became a knight in shining armor. I bought it for her upcoming birthday. Her mother added a little white and pink stick horse and, riding her imagination, the child galloped away.
Our youngest grandson also hears things differently.
Last year, I watched as his mother showed him the picture of a whale and talked about it. Listening to her, he studied the picture.
“It is a whale. Can you say whale?” she asked.
He looked at her and back at the picture.
“Say wh, wh, whaaaale,” she encouraged him.
He looked at her.
“The whale says aaahhoooohhhhaaaa,” she moaned out the low whale pitches.
His eyes lit up and he happily echoed her, “aahooohhaa.”
He does it every time. The child knows animals by the sounds they make not their names.
When he came to visit last summer and saw the cement deer in the neighbor’s yard, he wanted to go look at it. Momma told him it was a pretend deer. She emphasized the word deer and added a sound that real deer make – blowing a huff through their nose with a bit of a vibrating lip sound. Later, as we piled in the car to leave, he tugged on her clothes, pointed across the street, huffed like a deer and asked, “please.” He wanted to go see the animal that made that puffle sound.
A couple weeks ago she brought him down so we could sew up curtains and crib sheets for the new baby’s room.
While we sewed, he played with his grandfather and explored our toy cupboard. He pulled out the cars, trucks and blocks, but he also found the stash of dress-up clothes I have collected.
He ignored the dresses, but the shiny, pink fabric, cone-shaped princess hat with a veil and Mickey Mouse ears fit just right. He pulled it on and walked out where we worked wearing that pink hat.
“Are you a wizard?” his mother asked.
He shook his head and hummed a few bars of music from a Disney princess story. Not a wizard – a princess.
“His father would be appalled,” she laughed. She let him wear the hat anyway while he and his grandpa ate strawberry ice cream cones and watched a half hour of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
The two of them stood about two feet away from the set, licking their cones and staring at a clip of dancing ballerinas.
“His father will just die. His son is wearing a pink princess hat, eating pink ice cream and watching ballet.” Of course, she grabbed a camera and took their picture.
After he finished wearing the hat that day, we tucked out of his view … and the next day I began shopping for a soft, blue, wizard hat for the child to wear. I’m sure he and his cousin with the gladiator hat could have a wonderful afternoon in the land of imagination.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)