Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reflections on Piper Snuggles 2005

Recently while cuddling in bed with my six-year-old granddaughter, Piper, she asked me what life was like when I was a little girl. It made me reflect on how my life is suddenly seeming long to me. Looking back made me keenly aware of the changes that have taken place within me and the world I call my own. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was a cake walk compared to today and yet it was laced with trials and tribulations, excitement and great joy, hard work and fun times too. It was filled with love and learning, family, the perplexities of life and a boat load of boring days too. Each era seems to have a unique way of molding and shaping us into who we are destined and desirous to become. One thing that has become apparent over the almost 58 years I have lived is that each of us continues to learn, grow and change all of our lives. I am beginning to realize more and more that the essence of who we are also remains somewhat the same while our environment and our experiences create and hone the facets of each diamond in the rough.

As I thought about how my life was different than Piper’s as a little girl I saw clearly that the changes are just as dramatic as those experienced by my grandparents and me. She was flabbergasted to know that when I was six we had just gotten our first black and white television. There were no microwaves, cell phones, Barbie Dolls, computers, video games, VCRs, DVDs, CDs, I-Pods, Palm Pilots, Videos, Air-conditioning in homes or cars, no electric hair dryers for home use, no fast food, and no huge and abundant birthdays or Christmases. She could not comprehend only having three or four dresses to wear to school and church and a few play clothes. I can still remember that in the fifth grade I had a blue dress with a drop waist and a rhinestone pin and a red plaid dress and that one week I would wear one of them three times and the next week two times. She didn’t comprehend why as a girl I could never wear pants to school, or that we washed our hair only once a week and went to bed with wet pin curls to have curly fluffy hair for church on Sundays. We didn’t have Wal-Mart and we didn’t just go shopping for stuff as entertainment. If we ever went out to dinner it was a very special occasion, not the twice weekly trip out the kids are use to these days. Dessert was also a very special treat, not a twice daily occurrence or more as it is today.

When I was her age the dentists did not believe in using Novocaine on children and I can still remember the pain and terror of having my teeth that were untreated by fluoride drilled and filled. Life was more painful and less painful at times than today. It was harder in some ways because we didn’t have so many of the modern conveniences we now enjoy, but less complex because life was less complicated and less stressful. We didn’t have so many choices to make for every little thing. Sometimes I find myself yearning for those days when I go to buy diapers, or ice cream or a cold remedy and have to filter through 80 choices. We didn’t have to read the labels on food to make sure we could recognize anything that was actually contained in the package as edible. In those days we could walk to the store alone or with a small friend and not fear pedophiles or kidnappers. We didn’t need our own swimming pool, playing in the sprinkler was just great.

Ironically, with all the differences in our worlds of growing up, the essence of that little girl I held in my arms was not that different from me at her age. We both were sweet and innocent, had a longing to be pretty and feminine and to feel loved. We both wanted the attention of our parents, our grandparents and our teachers and friends. We both had a deep and inborn longing to one day meet Prince Charming and have a little family of our own. We both had an abundance of goodness within our hearts and a desire to please. We were both the firstborn in our family and ladened with the responsibility to be a good example to our siblings. Sometimes we relished that and other times it was a burden we didn’t care to bear. Somehow, we accepted and carried out the role as best we could. Somehow that role of the firstborn carries on for a life time. Piper is doing an excellent job. She is great with Julia and almost like a little mother to her baby sister, Chloe. She is sensitive and wants everyone to play by the rules. I am the same and it has hurt my heart a lot to know that people sometimes don’t care how I feel nor do they live by the rules. People often just make up their own rules as they go along and fair or right has little to do with it. I hope that as Piper grows those painful learning experiences will be gentle on her kind and tender heart.

Piper loves being a girl. The pinker and frillier and sparklier something is the better she likes it. She loves to dress up and have fairy dust on her little arms and to feel like the true Princess she is. I hope that as she grows she will continue to enjoy her femininity and that she will learn to love her body and enjoy it. I pray she never falls into the body image trappings of society like thinking she is too tall, too big, too white, too anything that causes her distress and makes her feel awkward or different or less beautiful than she is. I hope that a good and healthy self-concept just grows within her naturally and that she doesn’t struggle with it like so many of us do. I have not grown up with the luxury of that blessing. In my era I don’t think many girls have. I hope Piper’s generation is smarter.

Somehow, I saw in her hope for a bright future. She has a wonderful faith in the temple and a great desire to marry there one day. When she was tiny and didn’t quite understand marriage, she cried because she could not go right in and marry me in the temple one day as we were strolling by. I hope that she can marry a man as wonderful as her grandpa and that she can know the joy in her own family that I have had. I hope that her husband will cherish her and help her and love her as much as she deserves, not because she will be perfect but because she has a pure heart. That is just something you can see in a little girl’s eyes when you hold them close and snuggle up with them in the morning. The joy that I felt when looking at her made me realize that one of the blessing of grandparenthood is that there is a bit of ourselves that has the chance to vicariously do things over again. The mistakes I have made do not have to be hers if I can teach her and share my cache of experiences and wisdom somehow. As my heart is turned to her I hope that hers will also be turned to me as she grows up. The more chances I have to cuddle up with her in the mornings now the better the outcome will be later. Those precious moments bond us together one little snuggle at a time.


Laura said...

How sweet & tender. This is an entry that will mean so much to little Piper and she will read it frequently as she gets older. I wish I had writings such as this from my Grandma or grandparents!!!

Bon's Blog by Design said...

Me too, of my fondest memories was cuddling up with my grandmother in her old iron bed when I was a little girl. When we visited her I would always get invited into her room for a little while before she would get up and make breakfast. My mom (I know this is hard to believe) was very tiny...135 lbs the day I was born. She was beautiful and skinny but my grandma... she was round and soft and warm without a bone poking out anywhere. I remember that was very comforting to me. Isn't it odd that that is what I would remember?

Miss Jen said...

you didn't have novocain at the dentist!!??!! WTH!?! yikes! that is just evil.

this is very sweet and Piper will love reading it over and over.

Miss Jen said...

Hi, Grandma! This is Piper. I think what you wrote about me was cool. I still remember when we talked about that. That is cool that you wrote about that time. I love you!

Bon's Blog by Design said...

Piperpoozala...I love you too! I will never forget our fun times together! Love, Gramma