Disney songs continue playing in my head long after the music has stopped. Hours of such selections on Pandora will do that. I’m not the enthusiastic fan, although I do have some favorite selections, but my 5-year-old granddaughter loves the tunes. So we listen to songs about princesses, mermaids, Prince Charming and fanciful characters with whom she’s on a first name basis.

I’m the unofficial Nanny for two days and while her older sister and brother are in school, Brinley and I have time to ourselves. We have two important commitments in our day: Easter Seals therapy at 8 a.m. and the school bus that picks her up at noon. Dependability is my strong suit, punctuality a distant second. But I’m determined to be, at least for 48 hours, an organized, on-time, put together Grandma.

Technologically challenged but an advocate of independence, I figured out by myself how to set my iPad alarm clock. Early mornings are my preference, and I need adequate time to have coffee, peacefullycollect my thoughts, and get myself “put together.” Feeling good about my progress, I’m working on the putting together part when Brinley decides to chat with me. She’s a talker with a straightforward approach. After a long, lingering look at me, and with no awkwardness or apologies, she says, “You need makeup.” Might be a challenging two days!

She watches intently to be certain I follow her advice. When I’m as ready as I can be, she smiles and says, “You look a little beautiful.” I’m flattered and feel confident. As we walk outside, she asks, “Are you an old Grandma?” I force myself not to launch into an explanation about how age is relative, and I’m not old, although I likely seem old to her. My wisdom would not impress her.

I’ve been to therapy sessions with her before, and I tell family and friends if they’re feeling discouragement or discontent, visit Easter Seals and watch young children do therapies to strengthen their bodies. Or volunteer to deliver meals to shut-ins or engage nursing home residents in conversation. Life won’t seem as complicated after seeing others’ daily reality.

Brinley’s therapists are infinitely patient, even when she tries to talk her way out of exercises she prefers to skip. It’s not possible for me to be objective about this child whom I love with all my heart and who has various challenges. She’s made remarkable progress, but still must do movements and stretches and procedures not of her choosing. I need to remember that when I’m grumbling about doing my own exercises.

We’re kindred spirits, Brinley and I, often more dawdlers than doers, but I can pick up the pace when necessary. More music, an early lunch, details about her recent birthday and a fast grooming fix so she’s not late for her bus. The driver greets her enthusiastically, and Brinley responds similarly.

I blink back tears as she walks down the short aisle. She loves school and enjoys being with her wonderful teachers and friends. As I wave goodbye, I silently give thanks for this precious child who teaches me volumes about gratitude, resilience, humor and the latest in Disney music. May she discover joy in her life as abundant as the joy she brings to others.

Sandra Dempsey Post

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