Dragons and Sparkles

Satchel and Temple July 2009, Sonoma, California

Brooke and the kids are visiting in Sonoma for a month. My son and his family moved to Vancouver, Canada last year—they had the nerve to not only move there, but to take my grandchildren with them—and this is their first time back. Satchel is six but tall enough to look like eight. We do our favorite things: cook eggs (he scrambles), play dominoes (he wins), draw dragon pictures (he makes good castles, I make good trees), bake chocolate chip cookies (he does it all, “let me, let me,” other than cracking open the eggs as eggshells in batter are a drag), and eat out (his favorite restaurant: The Red Grape).

Last week we had lunch there. Pemba greets us at the door. He remembers Satchel and is pleased to see him again. They make small talk, he seats us, then comes back to take our order. “What would she like?” Pemba asks. I stick my head behind the menu, lean in and whisper, “He.” Flustered, Pemba apologizes to Satchel and says he’d gotten confused and had thought he was a boy, and…

Satchel says “That’s okay,” and as Pemba walks away, my grandson mutters, “that is sooo irritating.”
“Well, you can see how people get confused. Why do you think that is?”
“My hair,” he says, which is now down to the middle of his skinny little back.
“Well, what could you do about it?”
“I could cut it.”
“And when do you think that might be?”
“When I’m ten.”
“So then here’s the deal: upon occasion for the next four years—you get to be irritated.”
We play tic-tac-toe (he wins) until our order comes.


My granddaughter is a year and three months, all pink and sparkles. She waves frantically hello as if she’s truly happy to see you, and kisses you sweetly goodbye as if she truly loves you. I think both are true. New at walking, she careens like a drunken sailor and every fifteen minutes like a clock pinging the quarter hour, cracks her head on something, howls for nine seconds, and is up and staggering again, exploring her two-and-a-half-foot-high world on the run.

Satchel & Temple summer 2008Temple adores her brother and is as cute as cute can be, but is no shrinking violet. Satchel gets in her face, and when she’s had enough, she lets out a banshee wail and latches onto his cheek or arm like a five-clawed lobster, digging her adorable little painted fingernails right in. She did it to me once and I see why he stops bugging her. It’s brutal, and no, I wasn’t teasing her. I think she was just letting me know for future reference who might be in charge if the question were to arise.

Between the head nodding, signing (quickly tapping her fingertips together for “more”), and a vocabulary sufficient to get one through any domestic area or foreign country, she communicates succinctly and clearly.

Temple 70She finally has hair, soft tufts of blonde. Her mother cut it so you could see her little neck. Wrong head. I now have one grandchild who is mistaken for a girl and the other who could be taken for a boy.

They head back to Canada in a few days. Their poppa misses them terribly. I know how he feels. Temple, Matt & Satchel

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