Two weeks after the death of my dog and dad, my friend Paula called to ask if I could watch her four-year-old daughter, Kaili, while she attended a meeting. I hesitated, almost said, “No, I can’t possibly put on a happy face and entertain a young child for a couple of hours. I’m still so sad.” Then Paula said, “I can take her with me to the meeting if you can’t watch her, but Kaili specifically asked if she could ‘come play with Mrs. Rodgers.'”
Play. With Mrs. Rodgers. How could I possibly say no to that?
Within minutes after Kaili’s arrival, we were both caught up in the little-girl world of imagination. We giggled, ate frozen yogurt princess style – tiara and all – and danced around the house, singing and making up tunes of our own. It’s the first time I’d danced in days. Then Kaili asked, “Do you have any toys?” And my first thought was, “Yes, Bubba’s doggie toys.” Then I realized she meant toys left over from my sons’ childhoods. Oh boy, did I ever.
Up the stairs we went to the playroom, Bubba’s old hangout once the kids were grown. I opened the closet door, shut for years, and stared into the faces of my boys’ childhood friends. Ninja Turtles, Gargoyle action figures, and a squad of GI Joes grinned back. Surely my little dancing partner, who loves to play dress-up, would go for the Teenage Turtles over some tough looking dudes in uniform. Nope, she plucked up the soldiers and went to work, arranging them in groups on the couch. Fascinated, I took out my phone and snapped this photo to share with my grown sons.
By the time Kaili’s mother came to pick her up two hours later, I had a smile on my face and joy in my heart. And some tough looking guys in uniform, hanging out on my couch, sweet-talking me into letting them stay awhile.
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