Does she or doesn’t she?
“I stole your chair!” Jazz is triumphant, wickedly gleeful.
I have not been sitting in that chair for at least five minutes. At the moment I am sweeping the dining room floor. Clearly, the dogs are not on the job this morning. Too flayed by the heat, poor beasts, lying in panting heaps on the hardwood floor. I don’t need the chair, I don’t care that she’s in it … but I don’t have it in me to disappoint a child so cruelly.
“Well, love, I am sweeping the dining room, so I don’t need it.” Her face falls a bit. How mundane! How predictable! How boringly adult! But I know what I’m doing. “And that’s a good thing, because if I did need it, I would have to come right over there and drop you right on the floor — on your HEAD!” I make a cartoon-fearsome face.
Jazz pauses. Stands and peers at me, and uncertain smile on her face. You can see the thought bubble. “She’s joking, right? Is she joking?” I thought my mock-scary face would have conveyed the joke, but seems it was too subtle, because God knows, Mary is JUST the sort of woman who goes around dropping toddlers on their heads!
My laughter reassures her. “I’m teasing, lovie. I’m just being silly. I would never drop you on your head. Never, ever, ever!” The relief on her face, in her whole body, is palpable.
“You go on the chair, Rory! She won’t drop you on your head!” Now that she’s in on the joke, she has to share it. Gleeful laughter — perhaps slightly hysteria-tinged for Jazz — all round. Toddlers loooove ‘silly’. Heeheehee.
“No, I won’t. No dropping children on their heads. Why, I hardly ever even think about doing it. Hardly.” Making private jokes in the presence of small children, knowing that no one will get it but you, is one of the perks of working with small children, I figure.
there’s a scream of laughter from Grace.
And I wonder.
Is she just three beats behind the conversation? Entirely possible. Grace lives in a sweet and puffy little cloud-world of her own. Her voluntary visits with us here in our shared reality are intermittent. Generally, you have to call her name to switch her from her private, happy world to the one the rest of us are in.
But that laugh. Was so perfectly timed. Its tenor so perfectly suited to the irony of my comment.
Is it possible?
Did she get my joke?
Grace is one of those kids. One moment I think that, sweet as she is, she’s not the brightest crayon in the box — and that’s FINE! Popular opinion to the contrary, we are NOT all ‘exceptional’! It’s not an insult to be average. But then there are those moments where I’m almost convinced that the child is brilliant. Not just ‘average’, but brilliant. I feel a growing conviction that she’s not the space cadet she so often appears to be, she’s just working out the secrets of the universe. Those blue eyes are vague not because she’s vague, but because they’re focussed on wonders unimaginable …
Only time will tell …
It’s stuff like this that keeps the job interesting.