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TALKING TO MYSELF: 21 December 2012 Today, December 21, is our oldest granddaughter’s 12th birthday. Because this date is so near the day we observe the birth of Jesus, her parents named her Eliza, in part because they liked the way it sounded but also because it means oath of God or God’s satisfaction. They added on my grandmother’s surname, Noel, which means Christmas. But they could have called her anything, and she still would have been what she is – a unique and wonderful gift to our family, and to the world.
Smart and independent, Eliza is blessed with numerous talents. She sings like an angel, draws and writes with skill, and she’s funny, too. I could list her many accomplishments and accolades here, but you might think I was bragging (which no self-respecting grandmother would ever do!) Instead, I’ll share an essay I wrote about her when she was five – which may embarrass her – but hey, what’s a grandmother for? Happy Birthday our sweet, dear Eliza!
Our Eliza Noel
Our granddaughter Eliza looked up from her cradle with the oldest eyes I’ve ever seen in an infant. She was already preparing herself to take over my matriarchal duties. Eliza is five now -- a pretty, blonde pixie -- but don’t be fooled by her delicate appearance into thinking she is a child. She and I know we are the lynchpins that hold the family together.
Eliza cautions her daddy not to get lost when they go to the mall. That happened once, she says, when he wandered away from her. She quickly located a policeman, and told him her daddy was lost, but she doesn’t want to go through that again!
She listens carefully to the pediatrician’s instructions when she accompanies her younger brother for his check-ups, and reminds her mother daily to brush Baby Owen’s teeth.
When her older brother, Jared, does something too heinous to be ignored, a reluctant Eliza is obliged to report him to the authorities.
And a big fan of broccoli and other vegetables, herself, she continues her futile campaign to get the whole family to take the “Healthy Food Challenge” promoted on one of her TV shows.
Sometimes she gets her facts wrong. For example, she was near frantic when she thought her mother was mistaken about the name of the president of the United States. Everyone knows, Eliza said, that it’s George Washington.
But most of the time she does a superb job at rescuing us. Case in point - when I couldn’t find our car in the shopping center parking lot one rainy day, she quickly grasped the gravity of our situation. “How will we ever get home?” she wailed. Quick as a wink, she shouted out to a passing stranger with an umbrella, “Miss! Please help us! We’ve lost our car!”
Sandwiched between two princely brothers born to be served, Eliza learned early that a female’s lot in life is – well - not to be served. When one wants a glass of milk, for example, the quickest way to get it, is to pour it. Beginning at about age three, it was not uncommon to find Eliza pulling herself up the refrigerator shelves like a mountain climber scaling Mt. Everest, and yelling, “I’ll get it.”
And whenever family finances get a little tight, Eliza goes to work. This past summer, she set up two businesses in the front yard. The first was a whistling stand. Eliza is a champion whistler, and she thought this idea was a sure winner. She did earn a dollar with her talent, but had only one customer, Henry, the boy next door, who may, or may not, be in love with her.
Second time around, she decided to market a product with broader appeal – the juice boxes her mother had purchased for the soccer team’s snack. At a quarter apiece, she was selling them like hot cakes to the neighborhood children before her horrified parents closed her down. Eliza didn’t understand why they were in such a snit – after all, she’d made a profit.
Despite her flair for business, Eliza plans to make her living as an artist when she grows up since she is very good at drawing. Unless she goes to clown college, she says. “We need clowns,” she observes.
But her grandfather sees MIT in her future. She can take apart and put together toys with the deftness of an engineer, and she loves nothing better than a good dig for bugs in the back yard.
Eliza is ambivalent about boys. She’s seen the dark side of the male psyche since her big brother and his male cronies dominate her world. Yet, though the details are fuzzy, she understands that she will have to acquire a husband in order to have “her babies.”
Two years ago, she thought she had the problem solved when her mother brought home a new brother from the hospital. “Owen, I’m going to marry you when I grow up,” she cooed. As gently as I could, I explained that since Owen was her brother, he was not husband material. Eliza was stunned.
“You mean I have to go out and find a boy?”
I have no doubt that she will -- if that is what Eliza makes up her mind to do. With Eliza in line to take charge of my family, I can rest in peace.
©COPYRIGHT Georgia Green Stamper 2012
Butter in the Morning, Stamper's 2nd book of essays, is now available on Amazon.com and from local Indie bookstores.