Most interesting for me were the early morning hours when I picked Kennedy up out of her portable crib and brought her into my bed to “play” games of her devising, which I had to figure out. “I want to go under,” she said, and I concluded she meant “under the sheet.” And I guessed then that I was to become the searcher for Kennedy: “Where is Kennedy? Is she under the bed?” I asked. And a little voice responded “Noooo,” with an inflection that conveyed my silliness and asked me to try again. “Is she in the closet? Is she in the bathroom?” As I went on with my questions, the no’s became more and more entwined in giggles, finally ending in a surge of laughter as I “found” her under the sheet.
Occasionally, when she had gone to sleep with a book in her bed, she brought it with her into my bed, and I read it to her on request. She knew by heart the book about the “hungry caterpillar” who eats and eats and eats and turns into a butterfly. If I missed a word, she corrected me, and if I paused, she filled in the missing words. If I tried to change anything, she said, “No,” and gave me the language of the book.
And every day Kennedy asked to play with four thumb-sized turtles on my bookcase, each made of different materials, inventing games for them in the bed-clothes. On the second day, the silver one with black markings was lost in play, probably under the bed, and I said, “Lucy would find it.” When Lucy came the next day, she did find it, and for the next five days, Kennedy called that turtle “Lucy.” She also played with a stuffed turtle I had had for years, a gift from a friend. But when she left for her home in Kansas, she didn’t ask to take any of the turtles with her. She wanted only two stuffed animals that had been given to her, a bear from Helene Goldfarb and a dog from Rebecca Seawright. Somehow, this two-year-old knew that those were hers, and that the turtles lived in Baba Florence’s house.
Yes, I left this for last: I couldn’t be called Grandma, since she knows Alice as Grandma. And I couldn’t be called Florence, since her aunt is named Florence (after me). So we settled on my name for my grandmother, “Baba,” the Yiddish word for grandmother. And she loves saying “Baba,” perhaps because she calls her father “Dada” and her mother “Mama” and she certainly is aware of the sounds of words. Lots of photos, some here, including one in bed on the last morning.