So much happens when you babysit a two-year-old on a Sunday morning. She climbs up on your lap and sees the lone piece of a building set sitting on your desk beside your laptop and she asks a question, “What is that, Grandma?”
And I know her question isn’t a purely factual one. She doesn’t want me to say, “It’s part of your building set, sweetie.” It is an invitation to enter that world of pretending that she so loves. I suggest it is a cell phone, but that doesn’t catch her imagination this morning. “It could be a crayon,” I say and, yes, that is what she pretends it is. And we use it to colour a pretend sun, a pretend moon and a pretend orange, all on the surface of my desk. “Eat the orange, Grandma,” she says and then the building set piece transforms into a knife, which she uses to cut the pretend orange, so that I can eat it.
Later, as she sits on the veranda ledge, holding onto the grills and swinging her legs outside, we discuss the ways in which we are the same as our dogs outside and different from them. She likes same and different. We have ears, we have eyes, we have mouths. We have hands and feet, but they have paws. “I have toes and Bala has toes.” But no hands. No fingers. And suddenly we are into a long discussion about what we can do with our hands and fingers that the dogs can’t do. Colour with crayons. Put on our shoes. Pick up a piece of tomato to eat.
Tomatoes are red. “Red is my favourite colour,” she says, as she picks up a piece of tomato from the bowl and puts in into her mouth. “Watermelon is red too,” I say, only to be told, “Looks like pink to me.” And now we talk about the colours of all the foods we like to eat. Brown naseberries and lentil stew. Orange carrots and pawpaw and pumpkin soup. Green callaloo and broccoli. And what colour exactly is rice and peas?
Time and perspective shift in the company of my granddaughter. Such a gift.