“Two raspberry smoothies coming right up. Time for the berries now, little man.”
“I not a widow man,” said the tyke on the tall stool beside me, dumping them in the blender. “I’s Ezwa! I WIKE kitchens!”
He’s towheaded, three and unstoppable, our youngest grandbean, Ezra. And he just had his first solo overnight stay at Hope House, as we still call our Ebenezer home. (No, contrary to rumour, we haven’t moved, but the Beans did, about a hour away.)
Ezra’s first sleepover came late, compared to his five older siblings. Most of them first spent the night at Nana and Gampa’s place at around two.
When Benjamin and his sister Tabatha (teen and almost-teen now) started sleepover visits, I’d just hit the half-century mark. Their bedtimes came early, and I stayed up for hours after. Nature doesn’t deal fairly. As the Preacher’s and my energy levels wind down, the Beans’ levels wind up.
When the older grandbeans visit now, our early bedtimes dismay them, and our suggestions for their own bedtime even more. “Nana,” started Tabatha recently, on one of her sleepovers. She sounded frustrated. I’d just suggested (again) that she put away her book and turn off her booklight. “Nana. I’m allowed to read as long as I want on Friday evenings.” And she did—half the night, she revealed after rising the next (late) morning.
(Her mother did that too, often devouring an entire thick book after climbing into bed. At her age, I did the same. The habit lingers. I still read in bed. Sometimes I manage an entire page before falling asleep.)
I try to stay up when the oldest siblings stay over, but I don’t need a prophetic gift to know what comes next. Soon, perhaps in only weeks, those Beans will be tucking me in, reading me a story, saying a bedtime prayer over me before tiptoeing out of the room to make popcorn.
For now I manage (barely) to stay up past the bedtime of Ezra and his five-year-old sister, Lois. The Preacher has given up trying. But in spite of our age-related energy crisis, we still cherish their sleepovers. I adore revisiting childish things. Forgetting my workday life of writing and helping desperate people solve big problems with government agencies, I easily play once more with dolls and trains and dress-up games.
I love remembering what pleases a small child—a cuddle, a story, a silly song with Gampa. I enjoy meeting the needs of the little persons visiting our home—a hug, a special blanket, a flashlight at bedtime. I leap at opportunities to talk about Jesus. And, perhaps best of all, I love hearing their little voices expressing their own unique thoughts.
“I WEALLY wuv kitchens,” Ezra said, our smoothies made and nearly finished. “Nana, tank you for yetting me be in yo kitchen.”
“Oh, Sweetheart! Little persons are always welcome in my kitchen.”
“I NOT a person. I’s EZWA.”
Indeed. And a gift from God. I’d tell him, but he’d argue the point.