Many years ago in my quest for Life, an adventure and expedition, I reduced everything to three questions: Where did I come from, why am I here and where am I going? If I’d had my four-year old grandson, Prince William, around way back then, he could have helped me find the answers to those questions.

Yesterday, here in beautiful North Georgia, the red clay hills were covered by a beautiful, gently-falling snow. An awesome sight to behold.

Just as the snow started falling, the mother of Prince William dropped him off for 5 or 6 hours, and he came running in the house excited about the snow. Immediately wanted to take a styrofoam, Sponge Bob swimming float and convert to a snow sled, to ride down the slope in my front yard. He already had a preconceived idea of how to convert the float, by tying a rope around it so I could pull him in the snow.

I bundled him up in a stocking cap, jacket with a hood, and handed him a pair of gloves. He did not want the gloves on his hands. We went outside and the snow had really started falling and began piling up. The styrofoam sled did not work too well, but it did not matter to him, he was so happy playing in the snow, whooping and hollering about how much fun he was having, one would think he had climbed Kilimanjaro.

He tried to make a snowman but the snow was too soft. His little hands were very cold and he decided he wanted the gloves. I tied two zip-lock bags over the gloves, so they would not get wet. It didn’t work very well, and he decided he wanted to come inside to warm up.

From inside, we watched the snow falling and other kids having a snowball fight.

Then he wanted to play his favorite card game, Doodley Squat. As we began playing, I mentioned my grandfather and playing in the snow. When he asked where my grandfather was, I told him he had passed away. Then he asked where my father was, then my mother. To all I just said they had Passed. Flipping the cards over, he said, “I know how they could have not passed.” Then I asked “How?” He replied, “By surviving.”

I told him I thought he was pretty smart for a four-year old and impressed with his conversation. He looked up with those beautiful brown eyes and said, “It’s because I’m smarter than a fifth-grader.” That cracked me up.

After the card game he wanted to make a milk shake with chocolate ice-cream, then added lemon juice. I told him he probably would not like it. Sure enough, he decided adding vanilla ice cream would improve the taste. When it didn’t he wanted to add strawberries. I had some frozen ones, he added. I knew he would never drink that milk-shake, but I allow him to express his ideas and learn from his mistakes. Then it becomes his decision, he should take another route.

Like putting on gloves to play in the snow, he had to experience cold hands before deciding to wear the gloves. Instead of saying you must do this or that, as much as possible I allow him to exercise his choices, by making decisions, to figure out for himself what works and what doesn’t, the times he spends with me.

However when I do say No, you can’t do that, he knows that’s as far as he goes with his ideas. It’s important for a child to understand “No.” Sometimes in the grocery store, I see parents arguing with a screaming child, wanting everything he sees, and throwing a tantrum when he doesn’t have his way. The child has never been taught, no means no. I think it’s because the parent says no when it’s unnecessary, and doesn’t allow the child to experience, when it is appropriate to do so, then when no really means NO the child rebels to have his way.

I am certain Prince William will not want to make another milkshake with the same formula he used yesterday, because he knows from personal experience, it’s not going to turn out to suit his tastebuds. I threw it out.

I have learned, when he prefaces a remark with, “Anna, I have an idea,” or begins with, “actually,” I pay attention to what’s coming next out of his little 4-year old mouth. Nothing like crowing over your own, however he is a very smart and unusual child, and a joy, and challenge for me to have for a visit.

He teaches me, like learning to love watching the Sponge-Bob show with him, a cartoon I couldn’t stand when I first saw it. Now I know all the charactors and emote over their actions along with him. And he can mimic Sponge-Bob’s laugh and sound just like him.

He goes to school 3 days a week, and his writing and spelling has really improved. Last week his Dad was on a trip to Mississippi, and when he returned, I had taught Prince William how to spell and write the word Mississippi. He could hardly wait for his Dad to return to show him.

To all my Senior Citizen readers, instead of spending your time browsing travel brochures, looking for some resort to visit for fun, you are missing a treat by not spending time with a four-year old. If you don’t have one in your family, there are plenty of children in child services, orphanages who need love and attention, having someone spend time with them. Or you might have a working-mother neighbor, who would appreciate an offer to help her out by keeping her child a few hours a day. You might be surprised at the wonderful benefits of joy and fun, derived from the company of a small child. Probably more than standing in long lines at an airport to travel to some destination, to unpack and sit on a beach someplace. Try it.

LET FREEDOM RING

JUST ME, AC

Email: annecleveland@bellsouth.net

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