It was a dream come true to have Olivia stay with us for a spell last month. The plan was for her to attend day camp for the coming week, after which her mom would return with baby sister Leah and stay a few days before heading back. A mother with whom Elizabeth remained friends from their years here in Michigan also signed her daughter for the camp session. The two girls took to each other as if they’d never been apart.

How sweet it was to return to childhood routine: readying Olivia’s backpack the night before; settling into our morning tasks which included making our beds, eating breakfast and putting on sunscreen before she and Grandpa watched music videos. They revisited favorites from The Magic Flute and Swan Lake and enjoyed a new crop which included selections from Frozen and of course Encanto‘s hit We Don’t Talk About Bruno. Martin usually dropped her off  mornings and I took the afternoon shift. It was a new/old experience becoming part of the milling crowd of parents waiting for the kids to be brought out.

When the heat relented, we took walks, found bird feathers and watched a platoon of ants carry their finds to their subterranean home. Olivia read book after book while I made dinner. We tie dyed T-shirts and made a mooncake, inspired by the eponymous book by Frank Asch.  We had loved reading the book together and had made a mooncake once or twice before.

One morning Olivia refused to let me apply sunscreen. “You’re not the boss of me!” she said. “Mom is the boss of the family!”

Undeterred and uninterested in arguing, I simply agreed. “You’re right. Mom is the boss. And your mom is the boss of me, too.” Olivia’s eyes widened to mooncake circumference. “See,” I continued, “Mom told me that you have to put on sunscreen before camp. If Mom says it, I have to do it.”  End of story.

Being a grandmother means certain rules can go by the wayside.  Ice cream for dinner? Sure. Ten extra minutes in the tub. Yep. Making one more soap bubble? Let’s do it. We played rounds of SET and some Ravensberger board games she was ready for. The intense heat nixed plans to go berry picking and an afternoon at the zoo, but there was also something quite lovely about staying close to home and making our own fun.

The morning we went to synagogue, I played a certain song I had played in the early years. Dodi li, v’ani lo (my beloved is mine and I am my beloved’s) is taken from the love poetry of Song of Songs. This version is sung in the call and response form of kirtan music. Back then Olivia had just learned the words.  They all came back to her and we sang our way to synagogue. Although she didn’t remember as many people as those who remembered her,  she found her place again, playing with the same friends she’d played with nearly three years before. Now a big girl, she sought out one of the little ones, a not-yet toddler and kept her entertained for a bit.

Before we knew it, Elizabeth arrived with Leah. She and Elliot had a great time having some alone time with Leah.  It was a win-win all around. Thanking us profusely for keeping Olivia for the week, Elizabeth asked as they left, “Can we do this for two weeks next year?”

“Of course,” I replied. “Let’s see what the year brings.”

I’m already planning.


Portrait of Olivia and me by Miss O herself!

Seems to be a collector’s item now.